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Music

Why Damon Albarn thought Oasis were better than Blur

@josephtaysom

Despite The Battle of Britpop commencing over a quarter of a century ago, the debate still rumbles on today regarding the prowess of Oasis and Blur. The rivalry dominated the music press throughout the 1990s, and now enough time has passed to allow Damon Albarn to reassess his opinions.

Despite operating in similar shares musically, culturally the two acts didn’t have much in common apart from being the biggest bands in the country and understanding that controversy was a priceless marketing tool. They were relentless at throwing jibes at each other and happy for the media to portray them as mortal enemies, but Albarn’s feelings have now softened.

They used to hang around in similar circles and often frequent The Good Mixer in Camden. Initially, they had a civil relationship, but this all changed after Oasis went to number one with ‘Some Might Say’ in 1995 and a remark by Liam Gallagher to Albarn which would spark their feud.

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Albarn told the NME: “I went to their celebration party, y’know, just to say ‘Well done’. And Liam came over and, like he is, he goes, ‘Number fuckin’ One!’, right in my face. So I thought, ‘OK we’ll see…’”

They then began to trade insults back and forth. Noel even jokingly once jokingly said of Albarn and Graham Coxon to The Guardian: “I hope the pair of them catch AIDS and die because I fucking hate them two.” Meanwhile, Albarn was more lighthearted in his appraisal of Oasis and called them “Oasis Quo”.

Thankfully, it’s all water under the bridge, now, and Noel has even recorded a track with Albarn’s project, Gorillaz. But at the time, his comments “really hurt” Albarn and made for a big splash across the red tops. The Blur frontman later admitted: “Noel Gallagher used to take the piss out of me constantly and it really, really hurt at the time. Oasis were like the bullies I had to put up with at school.”

When Albarn appeared on the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme, Newsnight, in 2014, he gave an unexpected answer when he reflected on their rivalry and definitively said who the greater group was. “Well that’s not a very grown-up question for Newsnight is it? I think Oasis were better,” he commented. His statement surprises the interviewer, and he was clearly expecting Albarn to go to battle defending Blur. “I think they were better at communicating who they were.”

Albarn was then asked, “Were they a bit more honest, and you were a bit more phoney, is that what you’re saying?” The Blur frontman beautifully quips: “No, you’re saying that”.

Musically, even Noel Gallagher would likely say Blur were the more talented. Their technical creativity and desire to pursue more alternative sounds on the pop spectrum set them apart in that respect. However, nobody can deny Oasis were genuine and connected with the public as such. Referred to as the “sound of the council estate singing it’s heart out,” and that’s why they successfully managed to connect with an entire generation.