More To Hear
Some groups spend years chasing stardom, and others seem to just instantly will it into existence. The latter was certainly the case with Manchester’s Oasis, who named the first song on their first album “Rock ’n’ Roll Star” as if their fate were preordained. Arriving in the midst of the peak alt-rock era, Oasis’ 1994 debut, Definitely Maybe, was a bird-flipping retort to the navel-gazing angst of grunge, rolling the melodicism of The Beatles, the swagger of T. Rex, the sneer of the Sex Pistols, and the strobe-lit grooves of The Stone Roses into alternately sleazy (“Cigarettes & Alcohol”) and celebratory (“Live Forever”) pint-raising anthems. And it wasn’t just the group’s sound that harkened back to the glory days of British rock—in the simmering tension between the guitarist who wrote all the tunes (Noel Gallagher) and the singer who brought them to life (his braggadocious brother Liam), Oasis came pre-packaged with a sibling-rivalry soap opera to rival that of The Kinks. Definitely Maybe’s No. 1 debut on the UK charts turned Oasis into the ubiquitous bad boys of Britpop, an image they gleefully indulged through their tabloid-baiting pissing matches with London’s Blur, the art-school antithesis of the Gallaghers’ working-class laddism. But with 1995’s follow-up, (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, Oasis shed the Union Jack trappings to become the only English band of the era to match their domestic success in the US, thanks to karaoke-ready sing-alongs like “Wonderwall” and “Don’t Look Back in Anger.” With more than 20 million copies sold worldwide, Morning Glory effectively turned Oasis into an institution, one that would continue to sell out arenas for years to come (even after 1997’s infamously over-the-top Be Here Now signaled the end of Britpop’s pop-cultural dominance). The Gallaghers’ ever-fraught relationship would sink Oasis in 2009, but the enduring, cross-generational appeal of their most popular songs—with “Wonderwall” ranking among the most-streamed tracks of the ’90s—ensures a legacy that will live forever.
- Manchester, England