Some 30 years ago, Liam Gallagher was invited by Paul ‘Bonhead’ Arthurs to audition for a band called The Rain. Little did they know the journey they were about to set foot on. A quick name change that followed after Liam’s older brother, Noel, joined the group, and Oasis soon began laying the foundations to become the biggest band that Britain had witnessed in decades with a canon of era-defining songs in their pocket.
Their debut album, Definitely Maybe, managed to change the musical landscape in a way that nobody has done since. Not only did the album soundtrack a generation, but they had the ability to change the way the people dress, how they speak, and architected a masterpiece that transcended music in the process.
The weight of expectation on the shoulders of Oasis loomed as the whole world waited on a follow up from their faultless debut. The Gallagher brothers didn’t feel the pressure, though, and duly delivered in stellar fashion in the shape of (What’s The Story) Morning Glory.
The rest of their arsenal of studio albums were mixed bags, with the occasional moment of genius propping up their legacy. More commonly, Oasis failed to hit the heights that they somehow managed to cluster on their first two efforts, which predominantly feature throughout the list of their ten best songs.
Let’s get to it.
The 10 greatest Oasis songs:
10. ‘Some Might Say’
From the first moment of Noel Gallagher’s stadium-filling opening riff, you know you’re in for a treat with ‘Some Might Say’. It’s a unifying, arm-waving anthem that was purpose-built for the masses, with an infectious message of positivity oozing out of its core. The track is the sound of a band who are on top of the world in every sense, there’s a swagger to it that just makes everything feel better and alludes to an optimistic future.
The confident and wishful attitude resonated with adolescences across Britain, all of whom felt a powerful connection to the band and hung off every word that came from Liam Gallagher’s voice. ‘Some Might Say’ offers that pivotal injection of hope that made people see Oasis as their saviour and made them the voice of a generation.
Taken from their debut album, ‘Supersonic’, as a word, epitomises the walk-on-water abilities that the band possessed during their early years. As debut singles go, they don’t get much more emphatic than ‘Supersonic’, which immediately perked up people’s ears and, within twelve months, everybody knew who Oasis were.
Even though nobody recognised the Mancunians before ‘Supersonic’, they already acted as though they were bonafide superstars, and the single proved that they were no pretenders.
8. ‘Morning Glory’
‘Morning Glory’ is a rip-roaring sermon that Liam Gallagher puts every fibre of his being into, despite preaching to the choir that is already well and truly converted. “Another sunny afternoon, Walking to the sound of my favourite tune,” is one of the best from the Noel Gallagher playbook, it’s a simple line that everybody can connect with and only bolstered their image as the band of the people.
Noel’s thumping solo, even decades later, takes you to a euphoric state when coupled with Liam’s dazzling vocal performance, which makes it one of the true great Oasis tracks.
7. ‘The Masterplan’
As an example of how good Oasis were during their pomp, ‘The Masterplan’ didn’t even make it on a studio album. Instead, it was the B-side to ‘Wonderwall’ in 1995. ‘The Masterplan‘ showed a more tender side to Oasis and proved that they could do more than just write anthems. The track also helped Noel Gallagher step out of his little brother’s shadow and, while most already knew he was a supreme songwriter, here Noel exhibited that he could sing too.
Noel Gallagher recalled in 2020: “I remember writing ‘The Masterplan’ at home in Camden and then going to Maison Rouge [Studios] in Fulham the next day and playing it on an acoustic guitar to silence.
“I’d write ‘The Masterplan’, ‘Talk Tonight’ or ‘Half The World Away’ and nobody would say, ‘Do you want to hold that back?’ It’s only as the years have gone along that I’ve realised that was mental. But we were all mad in the ’90s – Alan McGee was off his tits and he was running the label.”
6. ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’
‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ is a radiant effort that has aged superbly and is quite possibly Oasis’ most universally loved track. However, on this list, it has to settle for sixth place, which will undoubtedly enrage countless readers. There’s no denying that ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ is iconic, and the sheer brilliance of it impossible to deny. Few choruses could unite people from all walks of life in how the track has succeeded in doing.
The track has become an unofficial national anthem of Britain over the last quarter of a century. It would take on a deeper, personal meaning for the people of Manchester when the city united in singing ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger‘ in the face of terrorism following the tragedy that occurred at the Manchester Arena in 2017.
If anybody tries to make a case against Oasis and say how their songs all sound the same, point them to ‘Columbia’. The track will wrap you in all of its masterful magic and leave itself spinning around your head for days. Remarkably, it was the first track that Noel Gallagher brought in for Oasis, and he only managed to better it on a handful of occasions.
Noel Gallagher explained the song’s background in the liner notes to Definitely Maybe’s 2014 reissue: “When we started, we didn’t have a lot of songs so we would jam out current Acid House favourites and fuck about. ‘Columbia’ derived from one of those nights. It was an instrumental and we played it the first night I ever did a gig with Oasis. When we started at The Real People’s studio, somebody had the idea of adding lyrics and it’s still a bone of contention to this day who actually wrote the words. We were all on acid at the time, but I know I wrote 90 per cent of them.”
‘Acquiesce’ was the B-side for the band’s first number-one single, ‘Some Might Say’, and was later included on the 1998 release The Masterplan, which included a compilation of B-sides. It has graduated from being a deep cut over the years, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any true Oasis fan who doesn’t have ‘Acquiesce’ in their own top ten.
Alan McGee tried his hardest to convince Noel Gallagher to release it as a single instead of ‘Some Might Say’, but this would have meant writing another B-side, so Gallagher decided to gift the world ‘Acquiesce’ as a hidden treat instead.
3. ‘Champagne Supernova’
‘Champagne Supernova’ is a piece of art, one that is high up in the echelons of Noel Gallagher’s creations. Liam proves yet again on the number that his mouth isn’t just good for firing off elite insults. On the track, his vocals are immaculate and his finest vocal effort to date.
It’s almost impossible to listen to ‘Champagne Supernova’ without feeling gratuitous for just being alive. It’s impossible not to resonate on some level with: “Someday you will find me, Caught beneath the landslide, In a champagne supernova in the sky.” Everybody has their own landslide that they find themselves caught between, and the absurd imagery of a champagne supernova in the sky is a beautiful one.
When speaking to the NME in 1995, Noel Gallagher explained: “It means different things when I’m in different moods. When I’m in a bad mood being caught beneath a landslide is like being suffocated. The song is a bit of an epic. It’s about when you’re young and you see people in groups and you think about what they did for you, and they did nothing.”
2. ‘Slide Away’
It was an ardent task to pick between the top two on this list, with a last-minute change of heart seeing ‘Slide Away’ drop to a silver medal. The Definitely Maybe number wasn’t even one of the seven singles released from the album, but it’s an Oasis classic that’s legacy has continued to grow over the decades.
There’s something about Liam Gallagher’s vocal delivery here, and the passion that he throws into the recording, that gives the track an intimate edge. Despite the powerhouse riffs chugged out by his older brother and Bonehead, which amalgamate to create an utter behemoth.
1. ‘Live Forever’
The debut album by Oasis was something they had subconsciously been building towards for their entire lives. ‘Live Forever’ encompasses the uplifting and refreshing mantra that they swore by inside five minutes. It’s about being present in the moment and not letting life get you down, but on top of that, it’s just an unapologetic anthem with a killer chorus and solo to boot. Most bands search their entire careers to create a track like ‘Live Forever’, and Oasis did it at the first time of asking.
When Liam Gallagher was asked by Q in 2008 about the best Oasis song, he instantly replied with ‘Live Forever’, and explained: “I think the words still mean something powerful. You talk about Oasis capturing a spirit, and I think that song is how a lot of people feel when they’re down on their luck.
“Even when we’re starting it now I always feel like we’re going to perform our best version of it. It makes me think of me mam. And it’s the song that makes me feel I have the best job in the band. I may not have written it but I get to sing it.”
Noel and Liam don’t agree on much, but they see eye to eye on ‘Live Forever’. “With every song that I write, I compare it to The Beatles,” Noel once said. I’ve got semi-close once or twice, with ‘Live Forever,’ for example… the solo on that is one of the greatest things in rock music.”