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Dublin: 13°C Tuesday 18 May 2021

Who won the Battle of Britpop: Blur or Oasis?

People used to really, really care about what happened in the singles chart.

IT HAS BEEN 20 years since Blur and Oasis faced each other in what would come to be known as ‘The Battle of Britpop’.

The chart battle saw Blur’s single Country House going up against Oasis’ Roll With It.

The conflict was instigated by Food, Blur’s record label, moving the release date for its band’s single to coincide with the release of Roll With It.

To anyone under the age of 25, the idea of supporting a band through the mass purchasing of a physical single probably seems a bit quaint – but at the time it was serious business.

Soccer Six Charity Football Tournament Damon Albarn and Liam Gallagher sharing a few friendly words in 1996 Source: David Cheskin/PA Archive/PA Images

The media really got on board  

Perhaps because the chart battle fell in what is traditionally “silly season”, the event was given major prominence in the British press.

In the run up to the announcement of the winner, the BBC and ITV featured it as a main story in their main 10 o’clock news programmes.

BBC children’s programme Newsround even did a feature documenting the rivalry between the two groups:

Source: luludaydream/YouTube

Source: TheRoute19/YouTube

Popular music magazine NME ran with a front cover referring to the event as the ‘British Heavyweight Championship’, which featured Blur frontman Damon Albarn and and Oasis’ Liam Gallagher on its front cover.

blur oasis nme Source: NME

Was it all for show?

With something so beneficial to both sides, it is natural to be a bit cynical about whether it was all a promotional ploy.

For a while at least, the two groups did seem to have something approaching genuine animosity towards each other. In a 1995 interview with The Observer, Noel Gallagher commented that he would like to see Damon Albarn and Alex James “catch AIDS and die”, a comment he later distanced himself from and apologised for.

Speaking in the 2003 documentary Live Forever – The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop about the beef between the bands, Albarn said:

I’m not going to tell you the real reason why. Because you know, there are other people involved in the real reason why we fell out so publicly.

In recent years however, any residual bad feeling seems to have been put to bed.

In May of this year, Liam Gallagher, typically characterised as the more belligerent of the two Gallagher brothers, tweeted that Blur’s new release Lonesome Street was the “song of the year”.

In 2013, Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Noel Gallagher all appeared on stage  at the Teenage Cancer Trust together to perform the Blur song Tender.

Source: ON Brasil/YouTube

Who won? 

In the end, Blur came out on top in 1995, outselling their rivals by 58,000 copies, by 274,000 to 216,000.

The result was finally announced on Sunday 13 August 1995, followed by a Top of the Pops which saw Blur introduced by Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker, Blur’s bassist Alex James wearing an ‘Oasis’ t-shirt.

blur oasis

Source: StashPuppets/YouTube

While Blur may have won the battle, Oasis went on to see their album ‘What’s the Story Morning Glory?’ sell more than 4 million copies and become the fifth biggest selling album in British history.

Following the success of Country House, Blur took a change of direction, with their follow-up self-titled album gathering critical acclaim but bringing to an end to the band’s Britpop sound.

What side were you on in the ‘Battle of Britpop’? Tell us your memories in the comments.

To get you started, here are a few of our own recollections of the time…

I was also always in the Oasis camp, although I liked Blur as well. I had a ticket for one of the Pairc Ui Chaoimh gigs to go with my older brother but I wasn’t allowed to in the end as I had managed to put a sliotar through the neighbour’s bathroom window the week before.
I went down anyway and hung around outside. There were a couple of hundred other people there, a fine summer’s evening it was. I remember a group of older lads there had a ghetto blaster and were playing Blur to drown out Oasis. They were run out of it by another bunch of older lads. Serious stuff.

“I don’t think I was too aware of the chart race, probably because I spent all day blaring Oasis and obsessively reading the Definitely Maybe album sleeve to make sure I’d every word perfect. The eight-year-old me saw it as no competition, the 28-year-old me agrees.”

Always sided with Oasis in this debate. Managed to get into Pairc Ui Chaoimh with my two cousins for Oasis gig in 96 by my father, who was a Guard at the time in Cork and got us past the security. We missed the first half hour I think but getting in for free and on to the pitch for most of it was a good result all round.

“I was Blur all the way. It was 1995 and it was a heat wave if I remember correctly. Ten-year-old me and my walk-man were super cool. I remember it was a BIG thing during lunch in the school yard one day where people had to say out in public who they were siding with. Then there were the girls in class that didn’t actually care because they were all about Take That. Losers.

“…On a side note, it inspired me to go to five Blur gigs from the age of 10, accompanied by my mum as I was too young to go alone. One gig resulted in my mum being lifted over the barriers at the RDS as she got carried away in the mosh pit! Morto.”

One of the Gallagher brothers’ aunts lived in the village where I grew up so one small pocket of Co Tipperary took an unnaturally fervid interest in the Britpop Wars.

The brothers sealed the deal on our unwavering support by whisking the aunt and cousins off to VIP seats when Oasis were huge and playing Pairc Ui Chaoimh. Although their cousins did tell me Liam was a bold little fecker when they all were gathered at their Nana’s house in Mayo. You wouldn’t expect otherwise though, right?

“I was only 7 at the time and didn’t have much interest in either of them. However my brother was CRAZY into Oasis (still is actually) and basically just played their music 24/7. He once taped over one of my favourite videos with an Oasis music video from MTV. I still haven’t gotten over it.”

I was in secondary school and firmly in the Blur camp. It was ridiculous, they beat Oasis to number 1 with Country House over Roll With It and everyone was obsessed. I think most people liked both though to be honest, with most of the sheep declaring their Oasis fandom!
Having said that I was at Oasis in Pairc Ui Chaoimh after Morning Glory came out and it was great. They played Knebworth and Loch Lomond after that and had crowds of like 125,000 I think, something mental like that.  
Noel Gallagher called Damon Albarn Dermot Oblong which I thought was pretty special (a play on all the stupid names Blur would put on their tracks – they were very cheeky chappies)
Who was better? 

Poll Results:

Oasis (5411)
Blur (3363)

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