Song Of The Week - Oasis - Stay Young
Twenty years ago this week Oasis released their debut album Definitely Maybe. In its first week it became the fastest selling album in British chart history, and what had become known as Britpop rapidly exploded. Seen by many at the time as a reaction to the dominance of grunge, this was indigenous pop music that blended the past and tried to conquer the future. Noel Gallagher wanted to be as the big as The Beatles, his brother Liam mixed and mashed Johns Lennon and Lydon and became one of the finest frontmen pop music has ever known.
Numerous other bands swam in their wake to varying effect, but what separated Oasis was what initially appeared to be an endless reservoir of perfect songs, and a genuine desire to let everyone in the world not only hear them but get them singing along as well. No false modesty was ever present in this band. Like their idols before them, they were aiming for the toppermost of the poppermost and for a while the world went along with them, moving off the charts and into mainstream popular culture, headlining Knebworth and the national TV news both, causing controversy on MTV and taking the cover of Vanity Fair. Along the way they also found time to bring all-important tribalism back to rock and roll – as anyone who remembers the whole Oasis Vs Blur battle can attest.
It all fell apart just after their third album, Be Here Now, initially hailed, soon after derided, but now rightly regarded as the coked up masterpiece that it really is. (Trust us – listen to it again right here now.)
OK, so it didn’t last, these things never do. Liam spat his beer all over the stage of the MTV awards and lost America, tours were cancelled, members of the band were kicked out, Noel stupidly allowed other members to provide songs (Liam’s Little James – really??) and the brothers just simply couldn’t stop knocking seven shades of shit out of each other, both verbally (which Noel always excelled at), and later physically.
Like all great moments in pop music, Britpop passed and most of those associated with it proved to be lost in a moment in time. Oasis (and Blur, and a couple of others) rose above it all. But they eventually split – although this twentieth anniversary has led to inevitable talk of high figure payday reunions, so far wisely denied and avoided.
Oasis were very picky about how and where their songs were licensed in terms of TV and film (except when later song Falling Down jarringly cropped up over a crime lab montage in CSI once.). The BBC sitcom The Royle Family got early B-side Half The World Away as their theme song, largely because Noel liked the sow and it was made by fellow Mancunians.
The first movie to make use of them was Danny Boyle’s A Life Less Ordinary (the follow up to his Britpop-scored Trainspotting),, which uses the B-side Round Are Way over the Claymation end titles. Boyle once told lastword of this coup that he got “the first song. And the best song.”
Although it’s twenty years since Definitely Maybe indelibly changed the world, we haven’t chosen anything from that album. Instead we’ve gone for yet another B-side - Noel was writing so prolifically that the band’s B-sides were every bit as good as the As. Robert Rodrigues got that and quickly nabbed the anthemic Stay Young for the end titles (again) of his teen horror Body Snatchers riff, The Faculty. This is a terrific live version from a hometown gig in 1997.
Oasis wanted to be The Beatles. They didn’t quite manage that (who could?) But for a brief while they were simply beautiful. And not many bands can claim that. D'you know what I mean?