Happy Anniversary: Blur, Parklife
Throughout the course of the mid-1990s Britpop movement, the battle royale remained the same: Blur vs. Oasis. Which was bigger? Which was better? Well, they’ve both got plenty of top-notch radio fare in their back catalogs, so we’d hate to really take a stand one way or the other, but we will say that it’s not exactly a hardship for us to shine the spotlight on Blur’s Parklife, which first hit stores 20 years ago today.
One of the first arguments a Blur fan is likely to make against an Oasis fan who claims that their band is better is that Definitely Maybe didn’t even come out until August 30, 1994. Not only had Parklife been in stores for ages by then, but it had already spawned three top-20 singles (“Girls & Boys,” “To the End,” and “Parklife”), with a fourth (“End of a Century”) just around the corner. Plus, no one’s ever going to let Noel Gallagher forget that, in an NME interview, he once described Parklife as being “like Southern England personified.” (That’s not to say that Damon Albarn never offered praise for Definitely Maybe, but if he did, it never made it into the album’s Wikipedia page the way Gallagher’s comment turned up in the Parklife entry.)
Funnily enough, when Blur finished the album and played it for David Balfe, the owner of the band’s label, Food Records, he didn’t like it, even going so far as to tell the band’s management, “This is a mistake.” Yep, it was a hell of a “mistake,” all right: Parklife debuted at the top of the UK Album Charts, was nominated for the 1995 Mercury Prize, and went on to win four Brit Awards, most notably Best British Album, and now that it’s found its way into the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, there’s little doubt that Parklife will live forever.
Wait, no, hang on, that’s an Oasis song, we can’t end on that. Better we should say that Parklife will be considered a classic...to the end.