A short history of Welsh language pop music

Pop and folk emerges from the eisteddfodau and chapels, protesting a loss of language and community. But then a group of long haired young men clutching electric guitars called Y Blew release one record- Maes B- and change everything.

Record label Sain releases the music that soundtracks language activism as English roadsigns are ripped down and slogans daubed on walls. Then a shy young poet from Cardiff releases a series of edgy rock albums celebrating urban life. He’s Geraint Jarman, the language’s first real rock star.

A Welsh language TV station is finally launched, playing pop as light entertainment for all the family. A group of sullen teenagers form Recordiau Anhrefn and the Welsh underground scene is born.

Recordiau Ankst tap into youthful rebellion as the hedonism of the age sees raves appear near the Eisteddfod field and rock bands experiment with dance beats. Catatonia become the scene’s first bona fide pop stars kickstarting Cool Cymru, leading to the opening of the Welsh Assembly.

Sung entirely in Welsh, Super Furry Animals’ album Mwng is a UK top 10 hit. Devolution sees the Senedd- the Welsh parliament- open in Cardiff Bay. Maes B becomes an annual rock festival funded by the National Eisteddfod. But what is there left to fight for?

Recession takes hold as boys with guitars make anthemic rock for festival stages like Green Man and No.6 while Maes B becomes bigger and bouncier. Then a young woman with a synth releases an album about humanity’s last day. She’s Gwenno, Y Dydd Olaf the album.

Illustrations by Phil Morgan, Words by Gareth Potter. Listen to the songs behind the history on this specially recorded Mr Potter Podcast here.


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