Almost twenty two years ago, the British media focused on a wave of alternative music that started to attract the public’s attention, called “Britpop” by the British press.
Although there were many more Britpop bands that were successful both critically and commercially, such as Elastica, Pulp, and Suede, the two bands that were on the top of the Britpop media frenzy were Blur, which consisted of frontman Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree, and Oasis, consisted of frontman Liam Gallagher, lead guitarist Noel Gallagher, guitarist Paul “Bonehead” Arthurs, bassist Paul McGuigan, and drummer Alan White.
In August 1995, both bands released a single; Blur with “Country House” and Oasis with “Roll with It”, which sent the British media to pit the two bands into a competition to the number one spot on the British music charts.
“Country House” by Blur was their first single from their fourth studio album, entitled The Great Escape. The group’s previously released albums were Leisure, Modern Life is Rubbish, and Parklife. “Country House” was released on August 14, 1995, and their album was released on September 11, 1995.
“Roll with It” by Oasis was their second single from their second studio album, entitled (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? The group’s previous album was Definitely Maybe. “Roll with It” was also released on August 14, 1995, and their album was released on October 2, 1995.
A commercial competition, dubbed “The Battle of Britpop” by the magazine NME, the two bands unwillingly participated in a media whirlwind that was anxiously waiting to see which band would sell more copies than the other. The so-called battle gained headlines and was the highlight of pop culture news at that time, with the news showing clips of fans buying copies of which single they wanted to buy.
The commercial hysteria came to an end, when it was official that Blur, with their single “Country House”, was the winner of this media-created battle, selling around 274,000 copies while Oasis’s “Roll with It” sold an estimated 216,000. However, the album that sold more in the long run was (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, mainly because of their fourth single “Wonderwall”, which helped bring the United States into the mix.
Both bands still continued to experience critical and commercial success, even though the media started to focus less on “Britpop” artists. After The Great Escape, members of Blur were influenced by guitarist Graham Coxon’s taste for lo-fi and indie rock, and released their fifth and sixth album, Blur, in 1997, and 13, in 1999, both shying away from their previous sound. Both bands continued to push out albums in the new millennium. Blur released Think Tank in 2003, and after a long hiatus, they released universally acclaimed album The Magic Whip, in 2015. After Morning Glory, Oasis released their highly anticipated third album, Be Here Now in 1997. In the 2000s, Oasis released Standing on the Shoulder of Giants in 2000, Heathen Chemistry in 2002, Don’t Believe the Truth in 2005, and their final album Dig Out Your Soul in 2008, since Oasis disbanded in 2009.
Both Blur and Oasis have been important landmarks in music history and pop culture. Although the “battle” has resulted in tensions between the two bands, nevertheless, both Blur and Oasis have released brilliant music, and have shown themselves to be outstandly talented, which leads me to ask, why does the media feel the need to pit two successful and incredible artists together? Was it to give bored people a sense of bloated entertainment? Or a more morbid purpose, which was trying to see who would cave in and fail?
If trying to see who would fail was the media’s purpose, then they have definitely failed themselves.