June 18, 2021

Oasis vs. Blur: A Musical Rivalry With Soccer Edges

Damon Albarn and Liam Gallagher.

Damon Albarn and Liam Gallagher.
EFE, Reuters

Who was going to tell the Gallagher already Damon Albarn that more than 25 years later they were going to relive their fights offstage on a soccer field. It no longer matters who wins the most prizes or which single sells the most copies. Now the battle is fought on a soccer field, with Liam and Noel in the Manchester City scarf and with Albarn wearing Chelsea’s Gianfranco Zola elastic 90’s.

“Those years we had a fucking great time, man,” a nostalgic Albarn told Noel not so many years ago in a London bar. They were getting drunk together, reminiscing about everything that happened in the mid-1990s, when the britpop war broke out and when a gang rivalry was the day-to-day of the British tabloids. Because Oasis and Blur they were two opposing styles, as they could be today Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, although the personalities of their singers do not adapt to theirs.

Oasis was the working class who drank from the Sex Pistols and took refuge in drugs, beer and soccer to forget the pathetic life they were dragged into being born in the north of England. “Manchester City, drugs, women and Oasis. In that order,” one of the band members said. Noel and Liam were the rage of having grown up with a father who abused them and who fled to return years later to profit from the luxury of his children. The same father who instilled in them that love for City when he took them to Maine Road – the stadium they would fill for two consecutive nights in 1996 – to watch a game against Newcastle United in 1971.

Blur was the bunch of posh kids from London. The songs that play on the glittering streets of Fulham, where to this day ‘Parklife’ continues to rumble before every Chelsea game. Albarn was a good boy, student, educated, away from the troubles of his contemporaries. He would never have been deported from a ship to Amsterdam like Noel and Liam did on their first adventure outside the UK.

They were two forces made to collide and the trains crossed the day that ‘Some Might Say’ became number one. To celebrate, Oasis threw a party and Alan McGee, the legendary founder of Creation Records, invited Albarn. There was no problem then they were all friends and had even laughed together at the 1995 Brit where Blur’s ‘Parklife’ triumphed. But of course, Liam and alcohol got together. A very young Liam, 20 years old, who did not keep quiet about anything and who was not controlled by anyone. I mean, exactly like the current Liam. “Na na na we are number one and you are not,” began to sing the Gallagher to the face of Albarn, who left the party embarrassed with the intention of giving it back.

And he did it his way. He counterprogrammed in August 1995 the release of his next single, ‘Country House’, to coincide with Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’. A clash of antlers, an insult. Carnaza. Blur’s pijerío won. By a few thousand copies, they beat out a few Noel and Liam who ended up winning in the long run. The success of the album ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ It was not equaled by Blur, and not even by Oasis, which never touched such high levels of exquisiteness again.

Did that calm Noel? Not. “Hopefully Damon and Alex (Blur bassist) catch AIDS and die“, he told The Guardian months after the battle of the ‘singles’. He had to recant and say that AIDS was passing, that a cold was enough. But the ‘worst’ was reserved for the awards ceremony of British music, in February 1996.

In a gala in which they swept, with the three most important awards, for best group, best album and best video, Oasis laughed at the blur in his face, singing a modified version of ‘Parklife’ (changing the word Parklife for ‘Shitlife’ (shitty life)) when collecting the award for best album.

Albarn got tired and got out of the fight. He didn’t have much more to gain either. He focused solely on music and proved to be a more complete and versatile composer. Both with Blur, with which he released the hit ‘Blur’ in 1997, as in his career with Gorillaz and even solo. Oasis, however, never got out of the loop and when they had no one left to fight with, they killed each other..

The football duel

To the brothers, at least, They still have the link of Manchester City and the thorn in the fact that the success of the band did not coincide with that of the team. “My theory is that you can’t get Oasis and City to do well at the same time, because it would be greedy. The same thing happened to the Stone Roses. When they came back, United went downhill,” Liam said.

Albarn is more stealthy and goes to Stamford Bridge regularly. He was even in the Munich final where Chelsea won their first European Cup as just another fan. He will have to dust off his Zola shirt this Saturday, as Liam remembers the prophecy he once made.

“What do you prefer? For Oasis to come back or win the Champions League?” “Win the Champions, damn“replied the little Gallagher.


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