Blur Vs. Oasis – flashback to the Battle of Britpop

Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment
Blur with their four Brit awards. Alex James, Dave Rowntree, Graham Coxon, Damon Albarn (from left to right).

In 1995 in Britain, a short lasting rivalry would play out between two bands. These bands, Oasis and Blur, were both making music known as Britpop. Nowadays the chart war has mostly been forgotten, especially among American teens. This is the story of what is known as “The Battle of Britpop.”

Brief Background

Blur with their four Brit awards. Alex James, Dave Rowntree, Graham Coxon, Damon Albarn (from left to right). (Doug Peters/EMPICS Entertainment)

Blur was a group of friends from London interested not in making money but making cool music. They developed a genre called Britpop, a form of pop rock music inspired by The Beatles. A couple of years after Blur’s debut, Oasis, a band from Manchester led by the Gallagher brothers, released their first album. The two bands seemed to be on good terms, but that would soon change.

Tension started rising between the bands at the 1995 Brit Awards. Blur won four awards, an unheard of amount at the time. They won best British band, album, single, and video, leaving Oasis with only one award. This is when the arguing started escalating, with the arrogant Gallagher brothers not being satisfied with only a single award. In multiple interviews, they stated their distaste of Blur.

Blur’s album “Parklife,” a celebration of British culture, won numerous awards. The album is still widely considered as their best release

Allegedly, the feud officially started because Damon Albarn, Blur’s frontman, had been seeing Liam Gallagher’s girlfriend at the time. These claims were made by Liam’s older brother Noel, and while Damon only made implications, it is very likely that the story is true.

The conflict between the bands became evident in the media. While Blur would sparsely make small comments, Oasis (mostly Liam) would constantly mock and insult his rivals in the press. When Damon went to congratulate Oasis for their number one single, Liam boasted about it right in his face.

“…I went to their celebration party, y’know, just to say ‘Well done.’ And Liam came over and … he goes, ‘Number fookin’ One!’ right in my face. So I thought, ‘OK we’ll see…’” Damon said to New Musical Express.

In a Blur documentary, Damon admitted that “Noel Gallagher used to take the piss out of me constantly and it really, really hurt at the time. Oasis were like the bullies I had to put up with at school.”

Oasis in 1995: Liam and Noel Gallagher (Stefan De Batselier)

British Heavyweight Championship

In the middle of August 1995, a week before Blur was going to release their single “Country House,” Oasis was set to release their single “Roll With It,” a move that was almost guaranteed to give Oasis the number one spot on the billboards. Blur thought Oasis was mad at them, so in retaliation they changed the release date of their single to the same day as Oasis’ single’s release date.

“Both bands have really upped the stakes and someone’s gonna come out on top and someone’s gonna come out second and y’know by the very nature of being in a band you’re always quite competitive,” Damon said regarding the rivalry.

The UK music press was loving pitting the bands against each other, with Oasis representing the North and Blur representing the South. The thing is, the sales battle was about much more than music; it was a battle between social classes. Based on southern stereotypes, Blur was seen as more rich and educated compared to Oasis, in which none of the band members attended college.

“Country House” ended up outselling “Roll With It” with about 58,000 copies.
It seemed Blur had won the battle, but who would win the war of Britpop?

Oasis, dubbed as “working class heroes” by the press, bounced back at the 1996 Brit Awards. They won three awards, best British video, album, and group, leaving Blur with no awards. As they accepted their second award, they drunkenly sang a mocking parody of Blur’s song “Parklife” called “Shitelife.” As Oasis left the stage, the Battle Of Britpop came to its end, with Liam and Noel Gallagher as victors.

The Aftermath

When it comes to records sold, Oasis crushed Blur. With the help of their beyond legendary single “Wonderwall,” Oasis has sold 71 million records more than Blur. Today the sales score is 6 million to 77 million. The reason for this huge difference in album sales is Oasis’ ability to reach audiences outside of Britain, an aspect that Blur failed in.

Damon Albarn went on to reinvent his sound with the digital band Gorillaz. Drastically surpassing Blur in popularity and sales, Damon reached the American market as well.
In 2017, Noel even performed “We Got the Power” with Damon.

Almost 28 years later, the debate of which band “won” or “is better” is one that still divides fans. But when it comes down to it, music is subjective and there’s no point in arguing what’s better than the other. Was the whole “battle” of Britpop just a clever marketing ploy to sell more records for both companies? Definitely…Maybe.

In a documentary from 2003, Noel Gallagher, arrogant as ever, made one final statement on the whole situation.

“You know what annoys me most about it all? It’s ‘Blur and Oasis.’
Why do their names get put first? It’s Oasis and Blur!”

Here is the best of both bands so you can form your own opinion on who is better:

“Song 2” (arguably their biggest song)
“Parklife” (hilariously British)
“End of a Century” (really neat and killer chorus)
“Coffee and TV” (super cute music video with a dancing milk carton)
“Charmless Man” (no comment just really good)

“Live Forever” (a sweet song about loving life, super awesome guitar solo)
“Slide Away” (very cool rock love song)
“Morning Glory” (really nice)
“Supersonic” (smooth)
“Wonderwall” (unforgettable)

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