The 90s was full of great head to head battles: Major v Blair, Tyson v Holyfield and Lisa Riley against fast food, but one of the most publicised conflicts wouldn’t take place in a sporting arena or the campaign trail but on Radio 1 and “Top of the Pops”.
Blur had achieved major success with their 1994 album “Parklife” which stayed in the album charts for 90 weeks, and soon after Oasis released “Definitely Maybe” which became the fastest selling debut album in the UK in September 1994. With both bands releasing new albums in 1995 the rivalry would begin.
During the year the two bands had traded insults as their previous mutual respect had dissolved, and noticing an opportunity their two labels decided that they should compete against each other for the number one spot, and so in August 1995 Blur’s “Country House” would go up against the Gallagher brother’s “Roll With It”.
The battle was soon picked up by the press and it became a mini-UK class and regional war between the middle-class Southerners Blur and the working-class Northern lads of Oasis. NME summed it up well at the time when they said:
“in a week where news leaked that Saddam Hussein was preparing nuclear weapons, everyday folks were still getting slaughtered in Bosnia and Mike Tyson was making his comeback, tabloids and broadsheets alike went Britpop crazy.”
With everyone expecting an Oasis win it was actually “Country House” that came out on top, selling 274,000 copies and going straight to the top of the charts, with “Roll With It” entering at number two with 216,000.
However the Manchester lads would have the last laugh as their album “(What’s The Story?) Morning Glory” trounced their rival’s “The Great Escape” and became the third best selling album in UK music history.
Whilst neither song was either group’s finest piece of work, the battle helped put British music well and truly back on the map. The feud between the two has seemingly ended and coupled with the break-up of Oasis last year it seems unlikely that round two will ever happen.
Then again, if Rage Against The Machine can get to number one, Simon Cowell is actually straight and Jedward can get not one but two record deals, I suppose we shouldn’t take anything for granted anymore in the music business.