Exploring the Sound of Britain

Published on 06 May 2021

On this day in 1995, Oasis scored their first number one single with the track Some Might Say. After their colossal first album Definitely Maybe propelled them into public consciousness as one of Britain’s most exciting, electric and rowdy acts, their follow up What’s the Story Morning Glory cemented their place as bonafide rock legends. Combining indie, rock and shoegaze influences to create a sound that was totally their own and represented Manchester in every beat, Oasis became the latest in a line up of quintessential British bands. No matter what genre you look at, or what style of music, the British sound is unmistakable, so we thought we’d explore some of our biggest tracks in today’s blog.

Oasis - Some Might Say

Oasis’ snarling vocals, lazy tempos and anthemic choruses have earned them legions of Parka wearing fans. We could’ve picked pretty much any track from their first two releases here but we thought we’d start with their first number one, Some Might Say. This was the first single of their now overwhelmingly popular second album, What’s the Story Morning Glory. Straight to the point, boisterous and laced in the band’s edgy rock sound, this anthem let the world know that Oasis were here to stay. Much to the bickering brother's delight, its lyrics ‘Some might say we will find a brighter day’ are printed on a banner which hangs at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium. This tune's as British as they come and just begs to be sung with a pint held aloft!

Blur - Parklife

Much to the dismay of the Gallagher brothers, you can’t mention Oasis without mentioning Blur! The two band’s rivalry was hyped up by the press to the point of madness and near phsyical conflict, although to be honest, Blur seemed a lot less invested in it... All of that aside, their sound is a very distinctive one, taking indie rock to its experimental edge and drawing inspiration from Albarn’s everyday surroundings. We opted for the ever so cockney Parklife here, a jaunty and genius track which pokes fun at English life and features Quadrophenia actor Phil Daniels on vocals. If we were to pick one unmistakably British track, this is probably the one we’d go for. Any track that talks about feeding the pigeons and uses the phrase brewer’s droop has got to be up there!

The Beatles - Penny Lane 

Preceeding the Blur and Oasis rivalry quite considerably, the Beatles may have been legends worldwide but even in achieving the dizzying heights of their fame, they still maintained at least a touch of their hometown Liverpool sound. Tracks rooted in their working class upbringing, culture and the people they grew up around proved that no matter how Hollywood they got, they were still the same cheeky chaps from Merseyside at heart. Penny Lane is one of the finest examples of this, reflecting back on a street Lennon and McCartney would pass as children. Combining surreal imagery with typically British phrases and the hustle and bustle of a suburban English high street, this track paints a picture to anyone who listens of the idyllic fondness both writers had for the place they came from. 

The Kinks - Dead End Street

If ever a song was the antithesis of Penny Lane, Dead End Street would be it. Ray Davies writing has always been firmly wrapped up in his North London upbringing and this track focuses on a working class neighbourhood where residents had little money and even less chance of a better life. Rather than romanticising his memories, Davies instead looks at the struggles of living on the Dead End Street, crooning over the thick, twanging Duanne Eddy style guitar. The track spoke on the British class system and remains every bit as relevant today. Ray and The Kinks had a unique ability to make music that would stand the test of time and this is one of their finest moments.

Sex Pistols - God Save the Queen 

What list of iconic British tracks would be complete without the Pistols? The ferocious, sneering God Save the Queen caused outcry upon its release, with the BBC among others refusing to play the track due to its controversial lyrics. Frontman John Lydon (or Johnny Rotten as he was once known) pulls no punches here, pitting the British public against the public and the ‘fascist regime’ of the Royals. In terms of writing alone, there are few tracks with as many rage fuelled one liners that hit quite as hard. Lines such as “no future” and England’s dreaming’ became something of a slogan for the UK punk scene. Although their spark burned fast it burned very bright - this track, among many others in the band’s explosive debut are among the UKs most well known anthems. In fact, since Nevermind the Bollocks essentially became a blueprint for the British punk scene, it’s probably one of the most influential too!

Final thoughts

Even narrowing down this list was tough! We may have picked our most iconic British anthems but we haven’t even touched on bands like Led Zep, The Stones, Queen and so, so many more… Oh well, we’ll save em for the next one! The UK really have birthed some phenomenal and world changing acts and we’re proud to have a sound that’s so varied, yet recognisable the world over. We’d love to hear your favourite anthems so drop a comment and let us know who we’ve missed!

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