An in depth study of Oasis´ “Don´t Look Back in Anger” and Blur´s “Country House” and the repercussion of these videos in their era.
For this One On One I’m taking you back to the days of Britpop and the rivalry that defined the scene that took Indie music out of the working-class terrace and in to all-together more expensive surroundings. And indeed, it’s this move in to ‘a very big ‘ouse in the caaantry’ – as Damon Albarn put it in his finest Dick Van Dyke impersonation – that forms the centre of this analysis.
Firstly, we have Oasis. As the video begins we see the band in a chauffer-driven car (keep an eye on the chauffer…), a clear sign that the money has started to flow their way. They are on their way to a country mansion. They are rock-stars. They intend to party, surely? On arrival at the mansion they find it is populated by hordes of pretty women dressed in white (a virginal implication maybe?). So far, so good.
However, the band clearly aren’t in the mood. They sit around, looking serious. Noel takes a chair out to the garden and strums his guitar. The drummer sets up in the pool (this is quite ‘rock n’ roll’ I’ll grant you, although how he gets to and from the kit without getting wet is anyone’s guess). There are beds, but they are outside and the band roll around on them like bored teenagers. All this time, around the other side of the building, the women patiently queue seemingly waiting for the band to snap out of their sullen mood. Only the chauffer (I told you to keep an eye) seems to have the right idea, as evidenced by the grin on his face as he spies on the band (presumably to make sure they don’t know what he’s up to) and again at the end as the band depart…
Meanwhile, Blur’s situation is arguably even worse. Having achieved major success they seem to be still sharing a flat in a London tower block and have only got as far as dreaming about such things. Unfortunately they don’t even seem able to get that right, and as a result their imagining of a rock-star mansion party seems to be like a combination of The Benny Hill Show and some very bad acid. Giant board games, pig-riding around an indoor haystack, and all the while the doctor is invited in to chase a fleet of young country maidens around as Albarn and co. simply sit and giggle.
Considering this is some kind of collective band fantasy, I can only conclude that they either have over-active but ultimately very odd imaginations, or that they genuinely had digested some very bad acid. My persistent attempts to contact the band to clarify this matter resulted in nothing more than an injunction and a pending court case. Harassment, apparently. Pffft.
The key characters in the videos are the chauffer, played by Patrick Macanee of Avengers fame and the doctor played by the Little Britain comedian Matt Lucas. They know how to party. In fact, it’s as if their roles are that of providing contrast to the drippy ennui of the supposed ‘rock-stars’. Maybe we can read in to these videos a common message: being a rock-star isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, you lot are probably having more fun than us in your ‘ordinary’ jobs? Or maybe they’re ‘ironic’ statements masking the fact that both bands were up to their necks in cocaine and women and orgiastic mansion parties? Or maybe both bands really are that dull? If you have any answers, please let us know.
In conclusion, it would seem that at the height of their mid-90’s success these big rivals had very different approaches to the rock n’ roll lifestyle that so many groups in their position previously had done so well. On the one hand we have Oasis, at the party but with no idea what to do; on the other Blur, not at the party and with no real idea of what such a thing should even consist of. If this had been Led Zepellin vs The Who it would have been 2 videos displaying Bacchanalian debauchery on a grand scale. Instead we have two bands without a clue. Not so much the call of the wild but the call of the mild; not party animals but party vegetables.
Released on 19th of February 1996, Don’t Look Back In Anger was the second British #1 for Oasis, and the 5th single to be taken from their enormously successful double LP ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?’ and it was also the first single on which Noel took lead vocals; Country House was the lead single from Blur’s fourth album ‘The Great Escape’ and reached #1 in the UK on it’s release, 14th of August 1995, as part of the ‘Battle of Britpop’ with Oasis, an event that is now seen as the defining moment of the era.