It's been over a decade since Oasis split yet the band are still making headlines.
Whether it's the mutual indemnity fostered by Noel and Liam Gallagher, or the key role their catalogue has played in so many lives, Oasis simply refuse to go back into the shadows.
With the Oasis Knebworth 1996 documentary on its way, fans have launched an #oasistop15 countdown, featuring personal picks from the band's catalogue.
So, Clash writers decided to construct a list of our very own, with hit singles, deep cuts, and more.
Dive in now.
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Rockin' Chair (Clarke Geddes)
Slowly fading in this gem bursts into life to become one of Noel Gallagher’s best B-sides. The fact it’s a B-side shows you Noel’s run of talent at the time. An immaculate chorus and guitar line reminiscent of Johnny Marr, ‘Rocking Chair’ remains one of the highlights of ‘The Masterplan’, which in its own right must surely remain one of the best B-sides albums of all time.
Noel was on a golden run at the time, putting out classics at every occasion, and ‘Rocking Chair’ is just another example.
Little By Little (Jess Atkinson)
Though it was Liam's voice—caustic, colloquial, sometimes caterwauling but always clear—that joined with the preternatural songwriting skills of his brother to create a monolithic pop moment in Oasis, the songs that Noel took upon himself to sing were also quite good.
Take 'Little By Little', an anthem with such a cathartic chord progression and melodic build that it brings tears of emotion to the eyes. Add in lyrics so poignant that they point quite significantly to the conclusion that NG isn't actually as cynical as he'd like you to think and you've got a latter day Oasis belter.
Quite possibly one of their best ever.
Champagne Supernova (Laviea Thomas)
‘Champagne Supernova,’ is the ultimate campfire song, it’s a blissful ballad that catches you right in the feels. At some stage, we’ve all swayed along to this song, screaming the lyrics, “someday you will find me, caught beneath the landslide, in a champagne supernova in the sky.” ‘Champagne Supernova,’ has this superpower of sounding like the perfect ending to a troublesome ride.
Famously known as the track that made keyboardist Paul Arthurs cry upon first listen, in an interview Noel recalls Arthurs asking him,: “you’ve not just written that have you?” Continuing, Noel recalled: “I was looking at him thinking, you f**king soft lad. Either that or its sh*t.” I’d go as far as saying that ‘Champagne Supernova,’ is up there – right at the top – as one of Oasis’s best tracks.
From the emotive lyrics to the psychedelic music video, this track will always remain a certified Oasis banger.
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Cigarettes & Alcohol (Finlay Holden)
Hailing from their raw and rowdy debut record, 'Cigarettes & Alcohol' is an established fan favourite from the legendary Mancunians, and it's easy to see why. A swaggering riff, steady percussion and a good old tambourine shake lead straight into the moody first verse where Liam demands, "Is it my imagination / Or have I finally found something worth living for?" The moody tone is set immediately.
This sentiment shows that the members of Oasis felt empowered through the crafting of 'Definitely Maybe', and Britpop followers relate by discovering a band with powerful music that provides the sound and message they've always needed. The track is an audible embodiment of the consistent and undeniable appeal of the rock'n'roll, with smart snide lyricisms to boot as per usual.
Noel’s commentary from a working-class perspective (“Is it worth the aggravation / To find yourself a job when there's nothing worth working for”) delivered by an acclaimed voice in its prime grants us an insight into a purer, simpler time - in 2021, this remains as appealing as ever.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Star (Susan Hansen)
The sound of Liam Gallagher’s snarl on ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ when he sings the words “In my mind my dreams are real” still feels more resonant and empowering than ever. The song is a perfect reminder as to why Oasis continue to matter to many millions as they did when ‘Definitely Maybe’ came out in August 1994. Not released as a single, it is one of the most evocative songs, and the celebratory opening track of their debut album.
The explosive energy and punk attitude make it an unequivocal stomper, and the song has since become an obligatory set opener of sorts at Liam Gallagher’s live sets. Written around the idea of being a rock ‘n’ roll star in your own head rather than in reality, it offers swagger and confidence in abundance, and is known to be a favourite Oasis track in many fan circles.
Vibrant lyrics such as “I live my life in the city/There’s no easy way out” and “I live my life for the stars that shine” authentically depict working class culture, and the idea that if you believe something for long enough, it will become reality one day.
Live Forever (Susan Hansen)
When Liam Gallagher dedicated ‘Live Forever’ to those who lost their lives in the Manchester Arena bombings during the One Love benefit concert held in June 2017 in Manchester, it was as if he also reiterated the universality of the song.
First released in 1994, it was the band’s third single. Famously known as the song Noel Gallagher’s bandmates instantly thought so good that there was no way he could have written, it remains one of the most critically acclaimed Oasis singles to date. While Gallagher – on the other hand – is often quoting talking about his awareness of the specific compositional quality of the song. Its timeless melodic quality combined with the gritty Northern English depiction of life through lyrics such as “Lately, did you ever feel the pain/In the morning rain/As it soaks you to the bone?” would come to play a key part in lifting the band to mass popularity.
The origins of the song are said to be events in 1991 when Noel Gallagher worked at a builder’s merchants. Having hurt his foot in an accident, he was given a job in the storeroom, and this allowed him to write songs, and the original inspiration for the track came from the song ‘Shine A Light’ from ‘Exile On Main Street’ by Rolling Stones.
Supersonic (Susan Hansen)
“Can I ride with you/In your BMW/You can sail with me/In my yellow submarine”.
There is no denying; Oasis carried their admiration for The Beatles with pride, and their debut single ‘Supersonic’ plays with references to the Liverpudlian four-piece in various ways, some are direct, while others are still up for discovery. Noel Gallagher is said to have written the song in one day. At four minutes and 34 seconds, it is significantly longer than many famous rock ‘n roll anthems, but it feels as though it could go on for much longer.
Also the title of Mat Whitecross’s 2016 documentary about Oasis, the song pinpoints a crucial time when the band had to undergo producer changes starting with Dave Batchelor, and moving to Mark Coyle, before settling with Owen Morris. Lyrically, it is one of the most frequently discussed songs, and its original meaning is still the object of vigorous debate today. What is it to feel “Supersonic”, and who is the girl referred to as “Elsa” who’s into “Alka Seltzer”? Allegedly, this was a reference to a rottweiler belonging to their sound engineer Dave Scott.
Cast No Shadow (Sam Walker-Smart)
Oasis is a band synonymous with the word 'swagger,' but it's arguably their tender side that has given their music longevity. With the likes of 'Wonderwall,' 'Don't Look Back In Anger' and 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' standing as their top most-streamed songs over a decade since their split, it's apparent the fans love a good ballad most of all.
Wedged between Morning Glory's SIX singles, 'Cast No Shadow' is a perfect marriage of Noel's bedroom poetry and the group's unstoppable ambition. A simple strum along number at its core, Liam's forceful vocal accompanied by Noel's high pitched backing and a sea of strings proves why, at their peak, Oasis were pop magic. The lyric “As they took his soul / They stole his pride” is a deceptively dark but wholly relatable lyric for anyone who's been through the wringer.
Special praise has to go to Alan White's light-footed drumming, which elevates the whole track from possible campfire fodder to something majestic.
The Masterplan (Emma Harrison)
Is this one of the finest Oasis songs ever? Quite possibly.
Not only is it a shining example of Noel Gallagher’s exemplary songwriting – “Life on the other hand/Won’t make us understand/ We’re all part of a masterplan” - but musically, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. It poignantly captures the universal truth of one’s journey through life and how all we know is that we don’t actually know and how sometimes you just have to leave things to fate.
Taken from the 1998 album ‘The Masterplan’ (the last album to be released on Alan McGee’s Creation label) which featured a stellar collection of B sides. The song of the same name was originally released as a B-side to their monster hit ‘Wonderwall’ and its accompanying animated video follows the band in the style of the celebrated artist L. S. Lowry.
It has been noted that Noel regrets giving away ‘all those great songs’ as B-sides and when asked why he put out ‘The Masterplan’ as a B-side he replied, ‘They asked me to write a B side and that’s what I’ve wrote’. Gallagher himself describes the track as the ‘favourite song that I have ever written and with lyrics like “The best of all the things that come our way / ‘Cause everything that’s been has passed / The answers in the looking glass”, you can’t really argue with the man.
If you are looking for a masterclass in song writing, you would be hard pushed to find a better example than ‘The Masterplan’.
The Importance of Being Idle (Emma Harrison)
One of the strongest Oasis albums of the band’s later years, ‘Don’t Believe The Truth’ includes ‘The Importance of Being Idle’. Written by Noel, it features the unforgettable lines: “I lost my faith in the summertime, ‘cause it don’t stop raining/The sky all day is black as night/ but I’m not complaining”.
With the opulent theatrics of the music hall style drumming coupled with Gallagher’s impressive guitar work, the song plays out like a film with its accompanying video featuring Welsh actor Rhys Ifans (and a group of undertakers) doing a little song and dance routine to the track. The band only appear in the video very briefly and includes Noel shaving in front of a mirror. In the video, Ifans is preparing for his own funeral and we hear different perspectives from the people around his character.
Lyrics like “My best friend called me the other night/He said, man, are you crazy/My girlfriend told me to get a life/She said, boy, you lazy” provides the listener with an intriguing insight into the singers’ existence. Centred around themes of apathy and addiction, the song explores how you just can’t get excited if you don’t have anything to get excited about. ‘I can’t get a life if my heart’s not in it’ screams of despondency coupled with a growing realisation that sometimes hope is not enough.
Lyrically, ‘The Importance Of Being Idle’ effortlessly showcases Gallagher’s unique delivery and impeccable storytelling and this is why it is one of my favourite Oasis songs.
Talk Tonight (Lucy Harbron)
“A beautifully tender and vulnerable track in a discography that can often feel like the official lad culture soundtrack, ‘Talk Tonight’ is a song so sweet that it softens all my harsher feelings towards the Gallagher brothers. Stripped back and simple, the track is utterly timeless, at once sounding like being both 14 scrolling through Tumblr and crying on the bus after a heartbreak at 20.
Pulled away from all the ego the band got caught up in, the lyrics ‘all your dreams are made of strawberry lemonade, and you make sure I eat today’ talk of a love that seems so real and calmly caring while still being infused with that early Britpop magic that made us all grow up wishing we were Kate Moss or one of her mates.
It’s been on every chill playlist I’ve ever made, and always finds its way onto any mixtape I make for any crush, from being a foolish pre-teen till the day I finally grow out of the habit.”
Acquiesce (Joe Rivers)
At the height of their powers, Oasis could write songs that most acts could only dream of, and afford to chuck them away as B-sides. One of the finest examples of this is ‘Acquiesce’ – a track Alan McGee wanted released as a single yet ended up as track three on the CD and 12” singles of ‘Some Might Say’. The verse is typical mid-90s Oasis: guitars awash with reverb, a melody you feel you’ve always known, and Liam getting the chance to wrap his vocal cords around some long vowels in his signature style
. But where ‘Acquiesce’ really takes off is the chorus where Noel takes over, the pitch soars and a message of a loving relationship shines through. For an act whose lyrics often featured a raft of cliches which are great to sing along to at a gig but ultimately mean very little, the clarity of ‘Acquiesce’ (“Because we need each other / We believe in one another”) is disarmingly candid.
There were always rumours the relationship in question was that of Liam and Noel themselves but, like all the best songs, it’s intimate and personal while being broad and relatable at the same time.
Don’t Look Back In Anger (Andy Hill)
I mean, of course, it’s derivative as hell. That brazen John Lennon rip off in the intro. And verses. Suffice to say I’ve had a wild ride with ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, over the years. It was the first song I put on after my girlfriend in sixth form let me touch her boobs. It’s the anthem’s anthem, I think. The second (or maybe third) song I learned to play on guitar.
Later, at uni, I was into Radiohead and obviously much too cool for Noel Gallagher’s lumpen meat-and-potatoes football chant. Didn’t once think about ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ again until my mid 20s, when I was messing around in cover bands. Man alive, that song can get any crowd going. I’ve busked it on the London Underground, played dive bars in Sydney, Paris and New York and let me tell you – every single fucking time it goes down a storm. Our lead singer announces it like this: “ladies and gentlemen, please be upstanding for our national anthem”.
Cos that’s what it is.
The Hindu Times (Robin Murray)
The song that saved Oasis? Perhaps. Y’see, the band were bad news post-‘Be Here Now’ – losing long-standing members didn’t help, while the Britpop hangover saw the group’s stock become about as appetising as three day old Coca-Cola and some crisps you found down the back of the couch.
2000’s ‘Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants’ was largely absent of the Gallagher Bros’ trademark swagger, with the music press turning on a group who they had once rushed to anoint as the spokes-people for a generation.
But then came ‘Heathen Chemistry’. A shot in the arm for the beleaguered group, it found new members Andy Bell and Gem Archer making themselves known, particularly on electrifying comeback single ‘The Hindu Times’. Eastern-tinged from the title to the guitar effects, it found Noel Gallagher matching his Beta Band obsessions to some old fashioned rock ‘n’ roll. Put simply, it felt like they were hungry again.
Rocketing to number one, it stuck two fingers up to the doubters while re-affirming the faith of their fans. Sure, this lift might lean heavily on those scorching opening statements – and the attendant B-Sides – but at their best, Oasis’ latter-day efforts proved that they could go toe-to-toe with any rock ‘n’ roll band on the planet.
Some Might Say (Robin Murray)
As a young and then-unknown Pete Doherty once put it: “Noel Gallagher is a poet, and Liam is a town crier…”
The fusion of bravado and introspection is what makes Oasis so unforgettable – that feeling that you can take on the world, if only you could escape your own head. Nowhere is this mixture of substance-fuelled helter-skelter energy combined with such potent melancholy than on ‘Some Might Say’.
The band’s first number one, it’s chunky, glam rock inspired riff gives way to a psych-infused breakdown, Liam Gallager’s voice lost in a morass of sound. A song about hope, and reaching out through the darkness, it’s brash edge can’t quite escape the poetry of the lyrics: “Some might say / That we will find a brighter day…”
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Photo Credit: Michael Spencer Jones