The 5 Best British Rock Songs from 1994

The 1990s was the perfect decade to be in a rock and roll band. Guitar-forward bands dominated pop culture and you could make a killing selling albums.

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This was a time before the iPod or iTunes. At concerts, music fans used to look in the direction of the band while they performed instead of staring down at their phones, checking for how many friends had liked (or not) their latest post.

Britain, like America, had its own ’90s rock and roll revolution and the songs below were the best of 1994.

“Parklife” by Blur

At the 1995 Brit Awards, Blur’s “Parklife” won British Single of the Year and Video of the Year. It dominated Britpop, which means it also dominated pop culture. The single arrived on August 22, 1994, preceding a press-invented 1995 chart war between Blur and Oasis—the middle class versus the working class. Soon, stadiums full of fans shouted Damon Albarn’s lyrics back at him like the rowdy crowds at football (soccer) matches.

All the people
So many people
And they all go hand-in-hand
Hand in hand through their parklife
Know what I mean?

“The Wild Ones” by Suede

Suede didn’t achieve the worldwide acclaim of Oasis or Blur, but you can thank singer Brett Anderson’s midriff on the cover of Select magazine in April 1993 for kick-starting Britpop. The London band recorded their second album Dog Man Star with equal parts drugs and tumult. Guitarist Bernard Butler fought with Anderson and left before the album’s completion—a devastating blow as Anderson and Butler were at the time considered their generation’s Morrissey and Marr. The album reached No. 3 in the U.K. and thankfully “The Wild Ones” had been recorded before Butler split. It may be Suede’s finest recorded moment.

There’s a song playing on the radio
Sky high in the airwaves on the morning show
And there’s a lifeline slipping as the record plays
As I open the blinds in my mind, I’m believing that you could stay

“My Iron Lung” by Radiohead

Radiohead’s record label wanted another “Creep.” They responded with the brilliant and defiant “My Iron Lung,” the first single from their 1995 album The Bends. “My Iron Lung” was released during the throes of Britpop on September 26, 1994. But Thom Yorke and his band had little interest in Britpop. Instead, they looked to America’s northeast alternative bands like Pixies and Throwing Muses. Jonny Greenwood became an unlikely guitar hero, and his glitching chords sent a thousand kids to Guitar Center looking for a Digitech Whammy pedal.

This, this is our new song
Just like the last one
A total waste of time
My iron lung

“Live Forever” by Oasis

Noel Gallagher began writing “Live Forever” before he joined his younger brother Liam’s band. At the time, Gallagher worked for a building company and had been moved to the storeroom following an accident that injured his foot. He’d written “Live Forever” as a response to Nirvana’s “I Hate Myself and Want to Die.” It became the first Oasis single to reach the UK’s Top 10 and it is one of the era’s defining rock songs.

Maybe I don’t really wanna know
How your garden grows
’Cause I just wanna fly
Lately, did you ever feel the pain
In the morning rain
As it soaks you to the bone?

“Supersonic” by Oasis

Oasis attempted to record their debut single, “Bring It on Down” in Liverpool. But they struggled to get it right and were running out of studio time. Noel Gallagher had been fumbling around with a new riff and Chris and Tony Griffiths from The Real People suggested he do something with it. In less than an hour, Gallagher wrote and arranged “Supersonic.” The band quickly recorded it and sent a rough mix to Creation Records boss Alan McGee. It became the Manchester band’s lead single and along with Blur and Pulp, Oasis changed British youth culture. The rough mix of “Supersonic” became the final version included on the band’s debut Definitely Maybe.

You need to be yourself
You can’t be no one else
I know a girl called Elsa, she’s into Alka-Seltzer
She sniffs it through a cane on a supersonic train
And she makes me laugh
I got her autograph
She done it with a doctor on a helicopter
She’s sniffing in a tissue, selling the Big Issue

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Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images

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