Readers' Poll: The 10 Best Brit-Pop Songs - Rolling Stone
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Readers’ Poll: The 10 Best Brit-Pop Songs

See what tune managed to top ‘Wonderwall,’ ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and ‘Song 2’

Noel Gallagher

Noel Gallagher of Oasis performing in 1996.

Patrick Ford/Redferns/Getty

The Brit-pop era was extremely short. Nobody agrees on the exact timeline, but most accept that it kicked off around 1991, peaked in 1994 when Oasis and Blur both released career-defining albums and died when the Rolling Stones took legal action against the Verve and the Spice Girls arrived on the scene. The whole thing lasted only about five years, but if you look at a British music magazine you'd think it never ended. There's an obsession with the period that only seems to grow with age. Since there's a new Blur album and Noel Gallagher is on tour, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite Brit-pop song. Here are the results.

Noel Gallagher

UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 01: Photo of Noel GALLAGHER and BRITPOP and OASIS; Noel Gallagher performing live onstage, playing Epiphone Sheraton Union Jack guitar at Maine Road, Britpop (Photo by Patrick Ford/Redferns)

4

Oasis, “Live Forever”

In many ways, "Live Forever" is the song that gave birth to Oasis. Noel Gallagher began work on the tune in 1991 when he was working for a building company, inspired by the Rolling Stones' "Shine a Light." It was one of the first things the group recorded once they came together, and it helped them land their first record deal. The beautiful, soaring anthem was the third single from their debut LP, Definitely Maybe, which they promoted relentlessly on the road. They played it on their first David Letterman appearance, helping win them a ton of new fans in America. 

Noel Gallagher

UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 01: Photo of Noel GALLAGHER and BRITPOP and OASIS; Noel Gallagher performing live onstage, playing Epiphone Sheraton Union Jack guitar at Maine Road, Britpop (Photo by Patrick Ford/Redferns)

3

The Verve, “Bitter Sweet Symphony”

Most every rock group ever formed dreams of writing a breakthrough song like "Bitter Sweet Symphony," but for the Verve, that dream slowly turned into a nightmare. The song used a sample of the Andrew Oldham Orchestra playing the Rolling Stones' 1965 hit "The Last Time," which was owned by Allen Klein's company, ABKCO. Klein filed suit demanding full rights to the new hit, and this turned into a protracted legal drama ultimately settled out of court. "This is serious lawyer shit," Keith Richards said in 1999. "If the Verve can write a better song, they can keep the money." All the problems around "Bitter Sweet Symphony" didn't exactly help the Verve stay together, and they split in 1999, though they briefly reunited eight years later. 

Noel Gallagher

UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 01: Photo of Noel GALLAGHER and BRITPOP and OASIS; Noel Gallagher performing live onstage, playing Epiphone Sheraton Union Jack guitar at Maine Road, Britpop (Photo by Patrick Ford/Redferns)

2

Oasis, “Don’t Look Back In Anger”

Bob Dylan's Don't Look Back hit theaters in 1967, and 12 years later David Bowie released his song "Look Back in Anger." The titles were mashed up on the first Oasis song to feature Noel, who considers it one of his finest compositions, on lead vocals. He has since described the tune as a cross between the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Noel doesn't do a ton of Oasis songs at his solo shows, but on this tour he's using it to wrap up most gigs. It's the perfect way to end the night. 

Noel Gallagher

UNITED KINGDOM - APRIL 01: Photo of Noel GALLAGHER and BRITPOP and OASIS; Noel Gallagher performing live onstage, playing Epiphone Sheraton Union Jack guitar at Maine Road, Britpop (Photo by Patrick Ford/Redferns)

Patrick Ford/Redferns/Getty

1

Pulp, “Common People”

In 1988, Jarvis Cocker was studying at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design when he started talking to a wealthy girl from Greece who yearned, in her words, to live like the "common people." The encounter and phrasing stuck in his mind and inspired him to write "Common People," an enormous hit in England that's gone to have a huge afterlife and dwarf most every other song in Pulp's catalog. The number has become so iconic that numerous people have attempted to track down the Greek woman, and just this month reports came out that it's actually Danae Stratou, the wife of the Greek Minister of Finance. There have been similar claims about other candidates, but nobody seems to know for sure. The mystery only makes the song more alluring, and it's so powerful that even William Shatner managed to record a great cover.

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