Artwork by Grace Snow
In 2017 I spent the summer with a friend in Leeds where we stayed in a house with 3 strangers in Burley. One of my favorite bars there is this place under a bridge near the city center called The Stone Roses. They’re the last to close (at 6 am), they only play british alt-rock and they always end the night with the same Oasis song. One night when we were there my housemate David explained to me it was named after the band and promptly introduced me when I told him I’d not heard of them. Their debut self-titled album from 1989 was not only a raving success but helped establish the Madchester movement, a collection of music releases from the early 90’s in the city of Manchester featuring elements of psychedelia, house and 1960’s pop. I Wanna be Adored, the first song off that album, remains to be one of my all-time favorite songs.
Originally released as a single through Silvertone Records, this song helped them gain cult stardom before touring abroad and gaining world-wide attention. It begins with an ambient Bauhaus-esque soundscape during it’s one minute and 40 second intro, followed by breathy subdued lyrics that basically repeat “I want to be adored” throughout the song. Contrary to most people’s first impression this song is not discussing the need to be adored by the band or even by lead vocalist Ian Brown, but more through the lens of idolization of sin like lust and pride. It’s repetitive lyrics and removal of context works in favor of this concept in that the need for adoration can consume people to the point their existence is centered around it.
The Madchester movement was a youth culture starting in Manchester during the late 80’s and early 90’s which consisted of baggy clothes and elements of several sub-genres commonly recognized today. The Stone Roses was a founding member of this movement, specifically showcasing these styles of clothing and music in the video for “I Wanna be Adored”. Bands like Oasis, Pavement and Pulp gained a lot of inspiration from this movement and The Stone Roses in particular. “I Wanna Be Adored” remains one of the most iconic songs of their career and has even been used in television and cinema like in 2015 when it was used in American Horror Story.
After the success of their first, they released a second album in 1994 which was met with mixed reviews. Around this time the Madchester movement began to die as it’s bands broke up and their followers succumbed to drug abuse. The Stone Roses called it quits in 1996 after several members of the original band left and were replaced. They had a short comeback career starting in 2012 when they played a Madchester revival set but broke up again shortly after. Despite their lack of success as an actual band, their song “I Wanna be Adored” and their entire first album continue to be incomparably inspirational to new generations of musicians.