How Blur won the Britpop battle but Oasis claimed victory in the legacy war
The age-old debate between Blur vs. Oasis has been rumbling on for over 25 years but, now as the dust has settled, we can definitively say that the Mancunians have won the legacy war despite losing that famous chart battle—a time when Oasis edged out their so-called rivals to number one when ‘Country House’ pipped ‘Roll With It’.
The battle pitted the two giants against each other with Oasis being seen as the face of the working classes and the North of England, which was the antithesis of how Blur was represented in the music press. It was being talked about across the country, the constant coverage was unavoidable with it being billed as the greatest rivalry since The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.
The bands were more than happy to pour fuel onto the fire, throwing playful digs at each other in the press which included Oasis comically dismiss Blur as being “Chas & Dave chimney sweep music” leading to Blur to patronisingly refer to them as “Oasis Quo”.
The battle was the best week for UK singles sales in a decade, with Blur’s ‘Country House’ shifting 274,000 copies in comparison to Oasis’ ‘Roll with It’ that was bought 216,000 times. Blur rubbed salt into the Manchester band’s wounds when they performed their chart-topping single on Top of the Pops with bassist Alex James wearing an Oasis t-shirt.
“It was ridiculous, really,” Noel Gallagher reflected in 2019. “That whole part of the Britpop thing was so unnecessary. This was gonna be our single from the record then some people from Creation said Blur are putting a single out on that date too, so we decided to put it back a week. Then they called and said they’ve put theirs back a week too.”
Adding: “The whole shame about the thing is that the two songs are shit, that’s it. If it was ‘Cigarettes and Alcohol’ and ‘Girls & Boys’ but ‘Country House’ is fucking dogshit. ‘Roll With It’ has never been played by anybody since the band split up, which tells its own story,” Gallagher said with a brutal pinch of honesty, as always.
As Noel states, both of the tracks are not remembered as either band’s finest hours. That said, the music was secondary to the circus of the media pitting these two giants against one another, with Blur being seen as the victors when in reality both of them were winners.
Despite losing the battle, Oasis won the legacy war with iconic moments at Knebworth, Wembley and Maine Road cementing their legendary status. The fact that Liam Gallagher is still headlining the biggest festivals in Britain with sets largely relying on material from those halcyon Britpop days in 2020 is a testament of how the current generation of kids have connected with Oasis in the same way that people did all those years ago.