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Look Back at Oasis

Alexandra Kilpatrick | Monday, November 10, 2008

Many have written Oasis off as simply a Beatles rip-off, while others have called the Manchester-based group the quintessential Britpop band. Their second studio album “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” certainly helped to establish them as not only a best-selling band but also iconic figures at the forefront of the second coming of the British invasion. The 1995 album proved to listeners that the Gallagher brothers’ music could be clear and focused after their debut album “Definitely Maybe,” which had more swaggering chords and a much rawer sound.

“(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” was a huge and enduring success, selling more than 18 million copies worldwide and charting as the third biggest-selling album in U.K. history, after Queen’s “Greatest Hits” and The Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”

Much success is owed to the band’s single, “Wonderwall,” which can best be described as a bittersweet hybrid between a beautiful Beatles love song and a pop hit tailored to the angst of the 1990s music industry.

Often characterized by avid fans as the archetypal Oasis song, the 90s ballad has exquisitely-written lyrics (“Because maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me, and after all, you’re my wonderwall”) accompanied by melancholy violin, soft guitar chords, and well-placed cymbal crashes.

The British group’s most popular song brought back the concept of a simple love song, supplementing it with the poignancy of the decade, and listening to it brings back memories of the Britpop era.

The CD’s classic pop-inspired lyrics are not always that deep and hardly subtle (fingers point toward “She’s Electric,” which has somewhat nonsensical lyrics but a popular appeal), but compared to modern pop’s vapid lyrics, they’re well written for their genre and often desirably to the point.

A personal favorite is “Some Might Say,” a song with ingenious guitar chords and simple yet insightful lyrics, “Some might say that sunshine follows thunder/ Go and tell it to the man who cannot shine/ Some might say that we should never ponder on our thoughts today ’cause they will sway over time.”

Another favorite is “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” a song that can very easily be mistaken for a Beatles hit with its adept sense of timing and loud vocals. According to Pops and Scratches, a music news site, even Noel, the elder brother Gallagher, principal songwriter, lead guitarist, backing vocalist, and lead vocalist on “Don’t Look Back in Anger,” admitted in his Manchester snarl, “[It] reminds me of a cross between “All the Young Dudes” and summat the Beatles might’ve done.”

The CD’s closing track, “Champagne Supernova” endured as a No. 1 radio hit in spite of many believing it was too long at seven and a half minutes. The mellow indie anthem spent five weeks as Billboard Modern Rock Tracks’ number-one single.

The lyrics (“How many special people change? How many lives are living strange”), the soft drum beat and sound effects of water flowing all evoke feelings of nostalgia and fear of change in a world where people quickly lose their innocence and base their interactions with one another on social class.

The song is about a simple desire for unity and forgiveness, and a hope to maintain friendships that might be lost as people’s values change.

The quality of Oasis’ music was often overshadowed by disputes between the brothers Gallagher, Liam and Noel, and frequent comparisons to the Beatles, but their 1995 album “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” not only helped to bring Oasis to wider fame but also established a new genre called Britpop, which would influence later British groups, including Coldplay.