Different Class was released in the UK at the height of Britpop. It followed from the success of their breakthrough album His 'n' Hers the previous year. Two of the singles on the album, "Common People" and "Disco 2000" were especially notable, and helped propel Pulp to nationwide fame.
The inspiration for Different Class came to frontman Jarvis Cocker in Smashing, a club night that ran during the early 1990s in Eve's Club on Regent Street in London. Cocker had a friend who used the phrase "different class" to describe something that was "in a class of its own". Cocker liked the double meaning, with its allusions to the British social class system, which was a theme of some of the songs on the album.