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The 11 best Oasis songs

Why have a top 10 when you can have one more? The 11 best songs by the brothers Gallagher, ranked

Say what you like about Oasis. Talk about ego, excess and lad culture. Write a thesis about the deep-rooted sibling rivalry that has kept the band apart for going on 15 years. Turn your nose in the air about the Beatles fetish that supposedly led to them sacking their drummer for having curly hair. It all misses the point. Noel and Liam Gallagher only ever wanted to be huge. They believed in nothing more than their talent and their God-given right to stardom. Say what you like about Oasis, they achieved everything they set out to… and more.

This is a band that hasn’t even been in the same room for 14 years, that last released an album everyone agreed on in 1995. Yet they’ve kept the entire world talking about them. Any mention by Liam Gallagher on Twitter that he’s open to reconciliation sets the rumour mill whirring (at least until he calls his brother a potato again, which is usually his very next tweet). Even Matty Healy made a very public “grow up” plea to get them to patch things up.

As Oasis reunion rumours resurface and Liam has announces his plans to play Definitely Maybe on his own next June, it seems right to look back over the Gallagher’s volatile/wonderful 15 years together and pick out the best Oasis songs.

11. Married With Children

(Definitely Maybe, 1994)

Yes that opening chord progression sounds more than a little like Nirvana’s ‘Lithium’ but ‘Married With Children’ was a clear sign that there was a lot more to the band than bravado and ego. Nowhere else on their debut do Oasis so clearly nod to their roots; instead of bragging about how big they’re going to be. This scruffy acoustic epilogue feels like living in a too small house with too thin walls. Liam enunciates the hell out of “sh*te” on the choruses.

10. Stand By Me

(Be Here Now, 1997)

Be Here Now was a difficult beast to unpack at the time, as Oasis leaned into every rockstar excess they could find – perhaps best summed up by the image of a Rolls Royce in a swimming pool on the cover. The fallout was disproportionate, with music writers the world over now falling over themselves to suggest that maybe they were a little too harsh in the first place. Case in point: ‘Stand By Me’. Nobody does a great big overblown ballad like Oasis and only they would have the temerity to name it after one of the biggest songs of all time.

9. Rock ‘N’ Roll Star

(Definitely Maybe, 1994)

It’s hard to resist the urge to pack this list with all of Definitely Maybe. If your copy is gathering dust somewhere, you owe it yourself to clean it up and play it loud. The exhilaration of its first airing is still etched into its DNA. This is the sound of a million teenagers, Kappa tracksuits zipped up to their chins, swaggering in the mirror, caught in its tractor beam of self-belief.

8. Half The World Away

(B-side to ‘Whatever’, 1994)

Oasis’ first album was barely months old when fans started discovering a goldmine of B-sides. Noel’s weary ode to wanting to be anywhere but where he was made the perfect theme song to The Royle Family, maybe the second biggest thing to come out of Manchester in the 90s. Shoutout to Fran Healy’s Star Wars-themed cover on The Adam & Joe Show.

7. Slide Away

(Definitely Maybe, 1994)

One of the best songs on the band’s debut, ‘Slide Away’ also boasts one of their best choruses. The whole song just seems to build and build until it has no choice but to fade out before it blows up. Anyone who doubts Liam’s value to the band needs to listen to this on repeat until they come to Jesus.

6. Talk Tonight

(B-side to ‘Some Might Say’, 1995)

Is this the most moving Oasis song? It’s certainly Noel’s most raw and honest, detailing a dark night of the soul in San Francisco when he did a bit of an Almost Famous and disappeared with a fan who subsequently talked him out of splitting up the band. The in-the-room recording of just Noel and Bonehead feels like you’re there, inside the head of a man on the verge of throwing superstardom away.

5. The Masterplan

(B-side to ‘Wonderwall’, 1995)

The A-side gave us legions of drunk guys with acoustic guitars at festival campsites and petering-out parties; the B-side makes up for that in spades. That minor-key verse into the major-key chorus is a favourite trick of Noel’s but this might be his best. The band’s most majestic song and one of the most fun to shout back at them live.

4. Don’t Look Back In Anger

((What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, 1995)

‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ was already a special song but the meaning it took on following the Manchester bombing has made it an unofficial anthem for the city. It’s become a statement of defiance and solidarity, and not just any song can do that. There’s a sense that ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ was sitting there in the public consciousness, waiting to be needed. It’s beyond a tragedy that it was needed in the way it was, but its unifying power can’t be understated.

3. Acquiesce

(B-side to ‘Some Might Say’, 1995)

Oasis B-sides were left off albums for a reason. Most, like ‘Talk Tonight’ or ‘Half The World Away’, feel almost like they belong to an alternate universe version of the band and would have unbalanced their albums with their quiet introspection. ‘Acquiesce’ is the one they got wrong. It should have been front and centre on (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? because it absolutely rips.

2. Champagne Supernova

((What’s The Story) Morning Glory?, 1995)

The point where Oasis’ ambition and ability were in absolute tandem. So many things have been said about the supposedly nonsensical lyrics but Noel has correctly pointed out that they mean something different to everyone who hears them. It’s an enigma and a mood all of its own. There’s a reason Liam’s performed it on his own with Beady Eye and Noel with his High-Flying Birds. You can’t be a part of a song like this and let go of it.

1. Live Forever

(Definitely Maybe, 1994)

The song that broke Oasis. Back in 1994, hearing ‘Live Forever’ for the first time was one of those “Holy crap what is this?” moments. Noel has said in interviews that as much as he loved Nirvana, he couldn’t identify with sentiments like “I hate myself and I want to die” and wanted to write its polar opposite. To release something so blatantly optimistic at the height of grunge was a bold move but it proved that the disaffected malaise of Gen X was fading. The genius of ‘Live Forever’ is how cyclical it is, revolving again and again through that chord progression, like it could indeed live forever.

Liam Gallagher is playing Definitely Maybe at London’s O2 on 6 June 2024. Find tickets here