In reality, Noel Gallagher probably could have filled up four albums full of amazing songs before releasing Oasis’ third album, Be Here Now. The sheer amount of amazing material that he was tucking away as B-sides during the early ’90s was just astounding: “The Masterplan”, “Acquiesce”, “Round Are Way”, “Step Out”… The list could go on, but surely it must have been difficult for him to pick the tracklistings for Oasis’ two classic albums, Definitely Maybe and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, with such a wealth of options.
In the same way, it’s hard to pin down their 10 best songs. While Oasis may divide opinion, mostly due to the loudmouth antics of the Gallagher brothers, it’s hard to argue against such a strong collection of songs. Missing the cut were all-time classics like “Live Forever” and “Some Might Say”, and while their later albums may not be as potent, you could always count on them delivering at least a couple of impressive songs.
Twenty years have passed since their debut, so here’s a look back–but not in anger, more in admiration.
Described by Noel as “specifically designed for pogoing,” all you need to do is look up any live video of this tune: the crowds go apeshit. Strategically placed during the first few songs of their sets, it was the perfect song to get everyone going and in the right mood. Their first UK No. 1 since 2002’s “The Hindu Times”, “Lyla” was also one of the few Oasis songs to chart in America reaching #19 on the US Modern Rock Charts. Noel also commented that the tune is “a bit like… The Soundtrack of Our Lives doing The Who on Skol in a psychedelic city in the sky, or something.” It’s not quite psychedelic city, but it is a pounding rock tune in the typical, rousing Oasis fashion. Bonus points: the tune was also covered by Foo Fighters a few months after its release. –Stevie Dunbar
09. “Cigarettes & Alcohol”
1994’s “Cigarettes & Alcohol” shed light on a side of Oasis that was absent from their first few cuts. Gone was the psychedelic imagery and brit-pop charm of the earlier Definitely Maybe singles, replaced with a defiant punk-rock edge. The majority of Oasis’ most beloved singles are prime for shedding a few lonely tears over a pint; during “Cigarettes & Alcohol”, the pint glass is better left shattered on the pub floor. But the message was deeper than the exterior drug- and alcohol-fueled hedonism; the song embodied a popular disenchantment with the mid-1990’s working-class lifestyle. –Derek Staples
08. “Gas Panic!”
The early ’00s marked a dark time for Noel Gallagher. After shoveling cocaine down his nose for the better part of the last decade, he found himself sober and having to face the consequences of his overindulgence. His previously optimistic songwriting took a dark turn with Standing on the Shoulder of Giants, exemplified perfectly in the swirling psychedelia of Gas Panic! During the few years that they played the tune live, they jammed out a heavy psych, wah-filled outro that culminated in a massive tempo speed-up and noisy finale. Though never destined to be a staple of their stadium shows (on their live album, Familiar to Millions, Liam tells the crowd that “it’s a good fucking tune! Listen carefully.”), the song is nonetheless a solid fan favorite and one of Noel’s shining moments in the latter half of Oasis’ career. –Stevie Dunbar
“Acquiesce” was such a weird and late discovery for me as an Oasis fan. That’s not a huge surprise considering it made its debut on a B-sides collection after already achieving some popularity in the UK. The song contains one of the band’s heaviest riffs and an unforgettable chorus. Not only that, but, in true Oasis fashion, it’s absurdly catchy. As I write this paragraph and am listening to a completely different song (“Regulators” by Warren G), “Acquiesce” is still popping into my head and drowning it out. One can’t help but sing, “‘Cause we need each other/ We could be with one another.” Side note: for ages, I was convinced that when Liam Gallagher sings, “Sleeping in our souls,” he was actually saying, “You stupid asshole.” –Ted Maider
06. “Underneath the Sky”
Kick-started by one of the most incendiary guitar riffs in the Oasis catalog, “Underneath the Sky” was initially buried as the second B-side on the “Don’t Look Back in Anger” single. Balancing that assertive intro is a tender acoustic guitar, emotive ivory plucks, and the thoughts of the Gallagher brothers before the fame and hubris got the better of them: “So wish me away to an unknown place/ And I’m living in a land with no name”. –Derek Staples
For almost 20 years, the cello in the background of “Wonderwall” has been stirring chills among the brokenhearted. Liam’s vocals are far from perfect, making the song that much more captivating. The love professed during “Wonderwall” is not about finding perfection, but manuevering through the unavoidable difficulties of life. A trek that is often best explored with a trustworthy partner by one’s side. The Gallagher brothers believed they could change the industry and the world; they just needed that special person by their side to help ease personal hurdles and family challenges. –Derek Staples
04. “All Around the World”
“All Around the World” was one of the better discoveries I’ve made from a television commercial, as it appeared in an AT&T spot roughly a decade after its initial release. While the song was typical Oasis in sound, it was actually an eight-minute extensive jam, something Oasis never particularly seemed capable of doing. This also led to one of the band’s most memorable music videos, involving UFOs and some very psychedelic animation. The track closed out their Morning Glory follow-up and proved that the band was capable of evolving their conventional pop format. –Ted Maider
03. “Don’t Look Back in Anger”
When people think of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, they generally remember the two hits that brought the outfit chart-topping success: “Wonderwall” and “Champagne Supernova”. However, the oft-overlooked “Don’t Look Back in Anger”, which follows “Wonderwall” on the album, is on par with its big brothers and one of the band’s best. From that thunderous piano intro to Noel Gallagher’s impeccable licks, the song is a sonic masterpiece. And lyrics such as “Please don’t put your life in the hands of a rock and roll band” and “You said the brains I had went to my head” seem more profound than a lot of lines in their hits. While the song gets overshadowed from time to time, it’s clearly one of the finest they ever crafted. –Ted Maider
It’s very rare for a young band to capture what they are essentially all about on their very first single. Singularly, you can trace the entirety of Oasis’ attitude down to “Supersonic”‘s first line: “I need to be myself/ I can be no one else.” Fully formed and ready to conquer, “Supersonic” was the world’s first taste of Oasis, and it was delicious. The slowly lolloping intro quickly fades into Oasis’ signature brand of crushing guitar and Liam’s, then, almost angelic combination of Sid Vicious and John Lennon. A live staple to their very last shows, “Supersonic” is a powerful reminder of Noel’s grasp of both melody and noise. –Stevie Dunbar
01. “Champagne Supernova”
It’s long been said that it’s better to burn out than fade away. If that’s true, it must be fucking incredible to find oneself caught “in the landslide of a Champagne Supernova in the sky.” A minor anthem for one of the globe’s most jilted generations and their third massive release, the cut also foreshadowed their own eventual egoism and demise. Add both the brothers to the list of “special people” who have changed. Fittingly, this was the track the group was performing during the outburst at the 1996 MTV Video Music Awards and their final original song played before disbanding in 2009. –Derek Staples