It’s been 26 years since Britpop rivals Blur and Oasis went head-to-head in an epic battle to top the British pop charts.
Both bands released their highly-anticipated new singles on August 14, 1995, setting up one of the biggest showdowns in pop chart history.
It was the apex of a long brewing feud between Britpop’s two biggest bands, who claimed to be bitter enemies.
Blur and Oasis had burst on the scene as part of the Britpop movement in 1994 and it became clear pretty quickly that the bands were not fans of each other. The media often compared their rivalry to the early days of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles.
Both bands had albums coming out in the fall of 1995 and for their first single Blur went with Country House and Oasis chose Roll With it .
The bands went back and forth on release dates with the original plan being to release a week apart. Then at the last minute Blur said screw it and released their single on the same day as the Oasis single for the ultimate head-to head battle.
The British media leapt on the story, catapulting the clash onto newspaper front pages and TV news. It was a perfect story for the press: the rough, working class, no-nonsense Northerners versus the pretentious, university-educated Southerners.
The battle amounted to the best week for UK singles sales in a decade, and in the end, Blur won, selling 274,000 copies of their single while Oasis sold 216,000, with the songs charting at No 1 and No 2 respectively.
Over the following months, while Britpop became a major cultural phenomenon, ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ emerged to colossal sales, and it became clear that while Blur had won the battle of the singles, Oasis would win the war of the albums. ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory?’ sold more than 4 million copies, making it the fifth biggest selling album in British history.
Not surprisingly, Noel Gallagher was not a good winner. In an interview for The Guardian about the success of the album, he said of Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon of Blur, “I hope the pair of them catch AIDS and die because I fucking hate them two.” He immediately apologized for the “joke”.
Things remained frosty between the Oasis camp and the Blur camp, but in the years since the Gallagher brothers’ own personal war saw their band split acrimoniously in 2009, things have mellowed somewhat.
Noel Gallagher joined Albarn and Coxon onstage at a charity concert in 2013, while in August 2018, Albarn admitted to The Sun: We don’t talk about our past, we talk about our present. I value my friendship with Noel because he is one of the only people who went through what I did in the Nineties.”
For more stories from the 1990s, make sure to check out my podcast “History of the 90s” on ApplePodcasts, Spotify, Google Play and anywhere else you stream audio. You can also listen at Curiouscast.ca.