Released in 1997 MO.R was on Blurs fifth studio album ‘Blur’. This is such a great tune and most of the song is sampled from the brilliant song ‘Boys keep swinging’ by David Bowie. It’s not entirely a copy and at least Blur put their own spin onto the song. It’s fast paced, energetic and just makes you want to jump into a mosh pit. The intro into this song is fantastic; it takes little time in getting into the hard electric guitar bits of Graham Coxon and he features regularly throughout this tune. Blurs song has a faster pace compared to ‘Boys keep swinging’ although the riff of the two songs are identical Blur have just made it their own. It’s a copy there’s no hiding it but no one gave a shit when Jeff Buckley stole Leonard Cohens’ ‘Hallelujah’. There’s no reason M.O.R should be diminished because it’s a cover, Blur made it their own and they should get credit for that.
It’s a tune you can jump around to; hearing this live or at a festival must be brilliant and exciting. Hard hitting electric guitar sounds and Damon screaming at the top of his lungs couldn’t be better. This was post Country House so this was Blur experimenting with much more alternative lo-fi music. I do love this genre and Blur do it brilliantly. Energetic, fast paced and exciting to listen to, these are great songs to watch live and put you in an active mood.
The lyrics give us an insight into the bands world and illustrates the stress that comes with being a puppet of the music industry. The following lines show how the band coped with the pressure of the music industry:
Under the pressure
Gone middle of the road
Fall into fashion
Fall out again
We stick together
Cause it never ends
They are under pressure, falling into fashion and falling out again. There would clearly be a lot of stress for Blur during this time. As of 1997 Blur was falling out of the Britpop limelight as they searched for a different music vibe. Oasis at the time was becoming vastly popular in the world but rather than claim fame Blur went for a lo-fi American feel in 1997. Showing that Blur was much more interested in experimenting with music, rather than keeping to the same ‘Country House’ sound that made them so popular. They are under pressure to go “middle of the road” i.e. play safe and make music people will buy. However the lyrics show that they don’t care about falling out of fashion, they stick together despite the pressure from the music industry wanting them to become sell outs.
Another few lines show how the music industry tried to manipulate the band:
Here comes a low
I’m a boy and you’re a girl
Here comes a high
The only ones that’s in the world
Here comes everything
We’re like monkeys out in the space
The low that comes is them making songs about love i.e. boy and girl songs. That’s a low to them not because they don’t like love songs but it has to be the typical “I’m a boy and you’re a girl” track. It’s the music industry that puts pressure to make those types of tunes and the band falls into a low. The high that results in them making these songs is the feeling that they’re the only one in the worlds i.e. fame and popularity. Damon is telling us that they are upset about being forced to make ‘boy and girl’ songs but there is a high of popularity that comes with it. This sums up the music industry not only back then but now. Artists are forced to make specific songs that will sell well, most artists are against it but there is the high of being popular. It’s the struggle of popularity vs artistic desire. The next lines of ‘were like monkeys out in space’ are a perfect similarity to how artists work. The artists are just monkey being told what to do, the people who put the monkeys in space are the humans i.e. the music industry.
This song is much more than a catchy tune but it is also a reflection on the music industry. It’s the struggles artists have with popularity vs artistic pursuit. Be a sell out and feel bad but have the fame that comes with it. Or follow your artistic desire but don’t achieve fame at all. 1997 was the start of Blur turning their back on the fame and music industry choosing to experiment in other genres of music. It’s very likely that if Damon had chosen fame instead of artistic desire that he wouldn’t have founded Gorillaz; a band that is built on experimenting with music genres.
Have a listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEGNwMrsy30&feature=kp