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Music

Watch Graham Coxon of Blur explain the creation of 'Song 2'

While the 1990s saw a fine crop of British rock groups grow into the light before the end of the millennium, few garnered the attention that Blur and Oasis received during the so-called Britpop war. The London group, fronted by Damon Albarn, locked horns with the gobby Gallagher brothers in the mid-1990s, firstly thanks to the press stirring the pot, but later, the groups appeared to play up to this “war”. As the bands bickered, many of us took a side and stuck to it loyally. Due to my greed, impartiality and laziness, I took them both. 

Apart from the fierce chart battle and the ambiguous Britpop label, Blur and Oasis had little in common. Where Oasis focused on Noel Gallagher’s knack for anthemic, electrifying crowd-pleasers, Blur took on more of a multipronged attack, showing more of an eclectic base of inspiration and often more conceptually based lyrics. 

The Britpop battle bubbled up from time to time with such scenes as Blur bassist Alex James ironically sporting an Oasis T-shirt during performances and Liam Gallagher and Damon Albarn squaring off at a charity football match. The warring appeared to culminate in the highly anticipated single releases of August 14th, 1995. Oasis and Blur released ‘Roll With It’ and ‘Country House’, respectively, on the same day. This battle was won by Blur, who managed to pip Oasis to the top spot on the UK singles chart.

The wider objective at hand for both bands was to take America by storm in an effort to emulate the 1960s’ British invasion of the US charts. While both bands struggled to make a huge impression in the US, Blur caused an undeniable sensation with one song in particular. This was, of course, the second track on their 1997 eponymous fifth studio album, aptly named ‘Song 2’. 

The high-energy grunge-infused rock-out seemed to push the right buttons on the other side of the Atlantic. While Albarn incepted the track, it was guitarist Graham Coxon who was to thank for the catchy pace of the track. As he describes in the video below, ‘Song 2’ originated from a slower chord progression that Albarn played on his acoustic guitar with more of a cat-calling whistle in place of the later “woo-hoos”. Coxon pitched the idea of injecting the raw electric pace into the progression, and the song unfolded from there. 

Allegedly, the band originally wrote the song as a joke to poke fun at the US grunge scene and alienate their label. When they first got the track up to speed, they thought it was far too noisy and grating to be released as a single. Alas, upon hearing it, the label loved it and saw its true potential. 

Watch Graham Coxon’s interview with Warren Huart on the feature Produce Like A Pro below. The guitarist reveals the magic behind Blur’s biggest hit, ‘Song 2’.