Blur Top 30. Number 21 – Song 2

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For some this might come as a surprise. It’s without a doubt this is Blurs most successful of tracks. Even reaching the shores of America and becoming successful over there. An extremely rare occurrence for a Britpop band or even any English band of the 90s. Even Oasis struggled to gain a foothold in the States, though they could have easily taken the states by Storm if it wasn’t for a break up in the band during their US tour. No second guesses about the two people who couldn’t see eye to eye. Blur however achieved some success in the US; the track became something of a hit on the US grunge scene and was even used extensively in commercials, films and TV. However the popularity of the song must have come to some surprise of Damon and the band, with little to no effort actually being made to produce the song.

Song 2 (because it was the second song on the album) or more commonly known “that whoo hoooo song” was released in 1997 on Blurs 5th studio album ‘Blur’. I get the feeling this song was nothing more than an Easter egg on the album or even a bit of light humour. The song lasts a mere 2.02 minutes, one of Blurs shortest ever songs. The song is a parody of the US grunge scene at the time, most notably taking influence from bands like Nirvana. It’s extremely unusual and a little embarrassing as to how big this song got. It’s the unusual phenomena where you have a song that took little over 30 minutes of time to produce which ends up becoming one of the most notable tunes from the 90s. It’s crazy to see how popular this song is, it’s appeared in South Park, The Simpsons, used variously when football teams or NFL teams score a goal (not in the UK but widely in the US), it’s been used in the film Charlie’s Angels and is used hugely in commercials across the world. This song is a commercial success and for some reason the world just loves it.

It’s difficult as it is to dissect a normal track, but a 2 minute song is near impossible. Especially Song 2 which has no real meaningful lyrics and is mostly just sounds and not actual music. I don’t hate this song but I just get frustrated at the popularity of it, especially when I know Blur have done some amazing music that gets little to no notice from the majority. But despite this there is some kind of mystical charm this song has over people. The songs intro has been claimed as Graham Coxon’s “finest moment”. It’s without a doubt that it’s this intro that makes the song what it is. First we have Dave Rowntree playing a Dave Grohl/Nirvana like drum beat similar to that of ‘Smells like teen Spirit’. Then Graham comes in playing that hugely remembered and hard grunge rift. The song rarely changes its tune apart from the “whoo hooo” vocals of Damon. There’s only 2 distinct sounds in the song the “whoo hooo” bits and the verses. It’s a short song with very little change in sound, but it’s the chorus and the repeating of the tune that sticks in peoples ears. It only has two choruses, two verses, and two bridges  (another reason the song was called Song 2).  It’s very very catchy and is probably one of the catchiest songs of the 21st century.

It’s a parody and that’s all it was meant to be. The fact that this became such a popular song shows how knowing the band was at trying to replicate that grunge tune. The song shows how much the band knew about the music industry, you couldn’t see any other band in Britain try and pull of an accurate grunge parody but Blur managed to do it. They knew the ingredients to make a popular, successful grunge chart topper and within a few minutes they had achieved in making one. I can imagine at the time it may have been a little embarrassing for the band, seeing this song become so popular. However you can probably ignore the embarrassment when you think how much money they make through royalties. Everyone from Robbie Williams to Radioactive Dragons has covered the song.

If you take away the fact it’s a parody and the knowledge it took very little effort in making it, the song itself is incredibly energetic, exciting and can create chaos where ever you hear it. When you listen to this live or in a club you’ll start to see people jumping in the air and then suddenly you’ll find yourself in the middle of a mosh pit. It’s a high tempo head banging tune that can excite the masses and makes people go wild. I don’t think any music fan can have a real problem with that.

Dissecting the lyrics is an impossible task. Why? Because they don’t actually mean anything, it’s just jumbled up words. But there is a reason for this. Damon wanted to show how grunge and popular US music had no meaning and was only used as a way to make money. The ‘whooo hoooo’ parts especially show how a meaningless sound can become addictive and popular. You can see this in action with modern music where popular songs are mostly ‘la la la’ sounds and have lyrics with no meaning. In that way you could say the lyrics are cleverly used, it’s trying to say that songs don’t need meaning any more. It’s a stab at the music industry and is parodying sell out musicians. This is why I love Blur so much. They only believe in making original meaningful music, not for the money or fame but for the art and enjoyment. They’re a perfect example of what musicians should be, not aspiring to be rich but to make good music with meaning.

This is a difficult one to evaluate, on one hand the lyrics have no meaning and despite the tune being addictive and exciting is nothing but a generic grunge melody. In spite of this however the song is more about the message of how artists can sell out for money. This song is supposed to be dumb and addictive for a reason; it’s showing us how music can be used to make profit and how easily a dumb song can become hugely popular. The fact that it became hugely popular is a little embarrassing and saddening. You would think more people would recognise the message the band was trying to portray but many ignore it, mistaking it for another classic grunge tune. Nevertheless the parody is an accurate rendition of popular dumb US music. It’s a top Blur song not for the song itself but for the message the band was trying to get across. Dumb, repetitive, meaningless songs sell and it’s sucking the soul out of music.

Listen to it here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SSbBvKaM6sk&feature=kp

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