The original song is very well known.   I think the majority of you will already know the cover too.  It’s Jarvis v Captain Kirk:-

mp3: Pulp – Common People
mp3: William Shatner – Common People

The former is, arguably, the greatest of all the Britpop era anthems. The latter is 2004, in which Ben Folds hooked up with the veteran actor to help write and then to arrange and record the album Has Been. They also settled on recording a cover of Common People, for which Joe Jackson was also brought in to assist with the chorus.

I don’t see the latter as a comedy or novelty record – the music is too well handled for that while Shatner delivers the lines in the way you would expect from an actor. It’s different and, for the most part, it’s an entertaining few minutes, probably introducing the song to an American audience wholly unaware of its significance in the UK and Europe some ten years earlier.

The result from the Villain Towers adjudicating panel?

A win for the original. It’s one of those songs which will never be bettered no matter who tries and in what way they make the effort.

Once again, this verdict can, should you choose, be overturned on appeal via the comments section……



  1. I’ve a lot of love for Shatner’s Has Been album but you’re absolutely right, JC, the original version of Common People by Pulp is unbeatable.

    Picking up on your “no matter who tries” comment, being born in the West Country, I feel obliged to mention that The Wurzels’ version. And yes, it is godawful.

    Tying in with yesterday’s post, comedian and impressionist Stevie Riks also seems to have fooled people into thinking Bowie recorded a cover of Common People.

    I wouldn’t recommend either, but the morbidly curious can find both on You Tube.

  2. Never quite got the love for ‘Common People’. Found it difficult to view a bloke called Jarvis, with a sister called Saskia and a Conservative councillor mum, as a convincing voice of the proletariat railing against slumming poseurs. All seemed a bit Rik Mayall in the Young Ones.
    Then again John Lennon wrote Working Class Hero and Imagine no possessions in his massive white mansion in Surrey.

  3. Easily my favorite song since 1996 and not bettered yet [though “Running The World” scrapes close…]. But I’ll have to have a gun in my mouth before I listen to William “Trollmaster” Shatner desecrate the song!!!

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