We are approaching 21 years since the release of Disco 2000 by Pulp, a glorious piece of 1990s indie that slots in below Common People in a lot of people’s appreciation of the band, but deserves more of a life of its own.
Disco 2000 came out in November 1995, another single from Different Class, and a few weeks after the album. Both were to become classics.
It went away for a long time after the turn of the 2000s made it sound dated, it’s visions of a grimy future obsolete in the bright flashing colours of the nascent century.
Its feeling, through all of this, remained true. As a boy – I was 13 when it was released – Jarvis Cocker felt like he was telling the truth. He’d already won me over with Mis-shapes, truth be told, but his knack for capturing the kitchen sink drama of the North in stories that could happen to anyone struck me raw.
It would be wrong to say there was nothing sexual about Pulp – after all, their next album was This Is Hardcore – but given that they inhabited the equivalent part of Sheffield as Suede did London, Jarvis’ sexuality was up front and on the table rather than dripping down the walls.
Disco 2000 was different to what came before. It was a dream of the future. 2000 seemed so far away then. It was. Another five years. Things would be different then. We could meet up in the Fountain, some of our classmates would have babies, and we would be fully grown.
Perhaps the reason the song resonates now is that the future it talked of was no different to the present.
The great visions of the future were tawdry extensions of the life we already knew.
It is difficult as a 13 year old, growing up in a fairly poor part of the UK, to think beyond the boundaries of what you know.
Disco 2000 resonated that sentiment, but in a knowing way, as if by painting a picture of a similarly grim future, it would encourage the Mis-shapes to make more of themselves.
They had five years to do it, which is a decent window for such a clarion call.
All of the song gazes forwards, but only the timing of ‘lets all meet up in the year 2000’ provided glamour, the new century being the only glitz.
From damp and lonely Thursdays to walking girls home from school to whom you meant nothing; everything was very familiar and very menial.
It was something to look forward to, and it was nothing to look forward to.
I couldn’t say I based my life plans on a Pulp song, but to look back on it now, I see it in a very different light.
I did meet up with people in the Year 2000, and it was in the Fountain down the road – our Fountain was the Airedale Heifer – but that was the last year my life was like it was in the 1995.
I talk of this when I meet up with those friends, those increasingly rare occasions. We are dandelion seeds blown far from our home field, though our lives remain as intertwined as ever.
I still know people who drink in those same pubs, who married their Deborah – I went to some of the weddings. Maybe they were never Mis-shapes. Maybe they fitted in.
The point of Disco 2000, for me, then, turned out not to be a vision of the future, but a warning of what it might be.
Perhaps it might have been different if I had a Deborah of my own – there were girls I would have liked to have been at that age, but they, too, moved away.
Music is one of the easier ways to go back in time, and Disco 2000 allows me to do so fully.
The choppy intro immediately takes me back to a time when all I wanted was to have the life in the song.
The catchy chorus, even by the first time around, confirms that I’m glad I never got it.
It turns out that I didn’t need to wait five years to find out what I must have already really known.
A couple of tracks further into Different Class, Something Changed was a far more accurate version of the future.