Madchester (so named because it originated in Manchester in the north of England) was the dominant force in British rock during the late 80s and early 90s.
A fusion of acid-house dance rhythms and melodic pop, “Madchester” was distinguished by its loping beats, psychedelic flourishes, and hooky choruses, but while the song structures were familiar, the arrangements and attitude, and even the retro-pop touches (namely the jangling guitars and swirling organs) were modern.
There were two distinct sides to the Madchester sound, as evidenced by The Stone Roses and Happy Mondays.
The Stone Roses were a traditional guitar-pop band, and their songs were straight pop tunes, bolstered by baggy beats – it was ostensibly modernised 60s pop.
Happy Mondays cut and pasted like rappers sampled, taking choruses from The Beatles and LaBelle and putting them into the context of darkly psychedelic dance.
Despite their different approaches, both bands shared a love for acid-house music and culture, as well as the hometown of Manchester.
As the group’s popularity grew, the British press tagged the two groups (as well as similarly-minded bands like The Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets) “Madchester” after a Happy Mondays song. The movement was also known as “baggy,” since the bands and their fans wore very baggy clothing.
Madchester was enormously popular for several years in the UK before fading, largely because the bands (and their fans) fell prey to laziness and drug abuse.
The genre never made much impact in America outside of alternative circles, but Madchester’s offspring – bands like Oasis and Pulp that were heavily influenced by the mix of contemporary and classic pop – became international stars in the mid-90s.