Noel Gallagher and influences

I don’t normally post about stuff that I don’t like. I prefer to praise. The easy kind of praise is to try to suggest that something that people don’t like is in fact brilliant; far harder is to find a new angle on something generally agreed to be great. However, the Guardian today ran a series of extracts from interviews with songwriters and one of the interviewees was Noel Gallagher, who gave us this wisdom on the art of songwriting, his own personal practice, and the cultural context in which he works:

I only listen to music derived or from the 60s. I’m not interested in jazz or hip-hop or whatever’s going round at the minute; indie shit. I don’t loathe it but I don’t listen to it. My education as a songwriter was from listening to the Kinks and the Who and the Beatles. I don’t listen to avant-garde landscapes and think, “I could do that.” I’m not a fan of Brian Eno. It’s Ray Davies, John Lennon and Pete Townshend for me. [. . .] It would take all the magic out of it to break down “I Am the Walrus” to its basic components. I listen to it and go, “It’s fucking amazing; why is it amazing? I don’t know, it just is.” That’s why I find journalists such joyless fucking idiots. They have to break music down and pull it apart until there’s nothing left, until they know it all; they analyse it down until it’s bland nonsense. They don’t listen to music like the rest of us.


First off, Mr G has to be given a certain amount of respect for not dissing music he’s not interested in, although there’s a certain wishy-washiness in his professed indifference to, but not actual loathing of, ‘whatever’s going around at the minute’ — isn’t he even curious? Doesn’t he feel like there’s any competition? But that’s not the main point. The main point is his claim that ‘my education as a songwriter was from listening to the Kinks and the Who and the Beatles. [. . .] It’s Ray Davies, John Lennon and Pete Townshend for me.’

I don’t especially care who Noel Gallagher thinks are his influences, or who he would like us to believe are his influences as a songwriter, or who he would like us to believe he considers his influences. But the Kinks, the Who and the Beatles are not among them.

There was an idiotic media trope in the late 90s which was about asking whether or not Oasis were better than the Beatles. Oasis had beaten Blur in terms of stadium attendance, although nobody realised at the time that Oasis had already peaked, whereas Blur were just about to enter one of their most creative periods. The Beatles invented the modern practice of being a band, wrote the book of modern rock/pop stardom, generated the practice of pop music journalism as we know it and have one of the most covered catalogues of songs of any musical creator in the history of music. Oasis are a pub-rock band that got lucky and their only notable cover version is by Mike Flowers Pops.

It’s not that Oasis don’t have influences. You can hear all sorts of traces of previous music in theirs. Roll With It has always struck me as being 50% Status Quo and 50% late-period Husker Du; the first half of the chorus (‘You gotta rolll with it’, etc.) is generic Quo, and the latter half, with the arpeggiated folk-rock roll down from the IV to the ii chord, is from Husker Du’s Makes No Sense At All, slowed down because Oasis can’t play fast. Don’t Look Back In Anger is early 70s Bowie with any trace of sexual ambiguity ruthlessly expunged, and therefore minus a lot of the fun. Wonderwall vaguely reminds you of lots of people, mostly from the softer end of 80s/90s US alternative rock, but nobody in particular, except insofar as the title is taken from a film that George Harrison did the music for. Oasis don’t even have the manners to steal from obscure bands: the verse of Lyla is a direct cop from the Stones’ Street Fighting Man, but less, you know, good. Of all their singles, Live Forever is the only one where the direct influence of the Beatles can be detected: specifically, the early songs of George Harrison. In terms of its primitive harmonic movement and sulky, leave-me-alone mood, Live Forever is a coke-fuelled, fuzz-addled descendant of Harrison’s early and not very good Don’t Bother Me. To be fair, Live Forever enjoys its own bad humour a lot more than Don’t Bother Me does, but karmically speaking it’s no more dignified.

They used to say that Noel Gallagher was the greatest songwriter since Lennon & McCartney. I used to joke that he was indeed like Lennon and McCartney; he had all of Lennon’s knack for seductive, catchy melody and all of McCartney’s gritty, hard-edged directness.

It wasn’t a very good joke. In fact he’s like neither. Gallagher’s melodies, such as you can call them that, are relentlessly four-square and regular, with none of Lennon’s obsessive rhythmic quirks, such as the brief snatch of 3/4 built into She Said She Said, the kind of song that Gallagher probably imagines to be one of his big influences. Noel Gallagher songs are built on the most basic first position guitar chords because Gallagher’s never bothered to learn any other instrument, and hasn’t really learned the guitar either; McCartney, by contrast, tinkers endlessly with other instruments (most notably the piano) and has written many memorable songs derived from that same tinkering, with a hell of a lot more seductive harmonic sophistication than you can get from just farting about with G, C, D, A minor and E minor. The Beatles’ songs were meticulously arranged, in many cases for instruments such as sitar and French horn which had seldom if ever appeared on pop records before. Noel Gallagher had exactly two ideas about how to arrange Oasis songs: one was to dub endless guitars over the top, and the other was to hire a full orchestra. The Beatles were a band. Oasis was Noel Gallagher and a bunch of fuckwits from Manchester.

Ray Davies? Please. Noel Gallagher wouldn’t dare write something as pawky as Sunny Afternoon, as vulnerable as Lola or as beautifully observed as Waterloo Sunset. Pete Townshend, unlike Noel Gallagher, reads books and writes songs that are about things. Noel Gallagher, on his own admission (‘I’m not a great reader of books; I’m not a great art lover’) doesn’t read books and writes songs that are about nothing.

And that’s not even including the songs that were subjects of lawsuits. Shakermaker rips off the melody from I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing, although the older song is characteristically more interesting than Oasis’ ripoff of it, because having stated its hook it then goes somewhere else with it, whereas Oasis, frozen with ineptitude, hang on the same chord. Exactly the same thing happens with Whatever; having quoted the opening melody of Neil Innes’ How Sweet To Be An Idiot, the tune gets lost in a blurry harmonic mush, whereas Innes’ skilfully-crafted original traverses to a minor key via whole-tone harmony and . . . well, anyway. Oasis paid the composers of I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing half a million dollars by way of apologising for taking their tune and fucking it up, and Neil Innes was awarded a composer credit on Whatever because his line is the only catchy part in the whole song. This wasn’t the band’s only ‘borrowing’ from other bands, of course. Half The World Away doesn’t sound like REM’s Half A World Away, but the titles speak for themselves.

In conclusion, then: Noel Gallagher’s influences are the odd bit of pop music he heard on telly as a kid during the 70s, and the stuff he listened to in the 80s when he was young and impressionable, as opposed to the 60s music he discovered or rediscovered in the 90s, when he was old enough to hear how good it was, but too old to learn anything from it.

Noel Gallagher, I seriously doubt you’ll ever read this, but in the ridiculous arrogance of late-night blogging, here goes: don’t you dare call me ‘joyless’. I love music. I love music which makes me feel good, surprises me, excites me. I love music that comes from a tradition but which makes that tradition seem like a living thing. I love music that seems to come from nowhere, and yet speaks directly to me. I love music that jumbles different things together and forges them into something powerfully expressive that couldn’t have come from anywhere else, but is still a wholly new thing. What I don’t love is your lazy, unimaginative, self-consciously thoughtless, craft-free approach to making music. You dare to call people who love music enough to think about it ‘joyless’? Is it because, if anyone thinks about your music for more than two seconds, it falls to pieces?

Well, as you would say: whatever.

Noel Gallagher and influences

41 thoughts on “Noel Gallagher and influences

  1. matthew vaughan says:

    I don’t know how I’ve happened across this nonsense but here I am. Noel Gallagher is a living legend. He’s by far and away the beat song writer in this country today and frankly if you don’t see that then you are an idiot. you don’t win “god like genius” for nothing! Have you ever seen Noel live? He can actually sing, that’s right, he can sing. He doesn’t need a machine to change his voice or a 100 piece orchestra. Noel Gallagher can really do it and he can do it with him and an acoustic guitar and nothing else. He’s been around for 20 odd years and his last album was at number 1 for weeks on end. He wrote the songs that became the sound track of a generation simple clever catchy songs with unforgettable guitar riffs. He writes about what he knows, he was brought up on a council estate and his songs speak directly to people like me. Music doesn’t have to be complicated or contrived to be great. And to try to say Oasis weren’t influenced by The Beatles you’d have to be from another planet. It seems to my you haven’t got the first clue what your talking about. You seem to have completely missed the point. All you have achieved in this article is to prove Noel exactly right in his observation of journalists.
    you need to go and have a long chat with yourself mate….and whatever you do never ever ever come to Manchester!!!!!!

    1. Al says:

      Well said Matthew, Noel is a Genius, I play loads of instruments and still never wrote a song even a tad close to Oasis. It’s not about playing around G, C, D, A minor and E minor! it’s what you do creativley with them and Noel found away. Noel has used loads of other chords too, so it’s how you put them into action, and yes Noel has a voice that connects to millions and millions of ears.. if he wants to use a 100 piece string section thats his choice with the money he has. A good song is a good song weather or not recorded on a phone or in a million pound (dollar) studio. and a shit song is a shit song simple.

      I’m guessing the critique is from America?

      Most of the best or if not all bands in the world are from Manchester, Liverpool, london ans some where in between.

      End of the day Nole is the one with all the money in his bank.

      1. Thanks for the comment!

        ‘I play loads of instruments and still never wrote a song even a tad close to Oasis.’ Good for you, the world doesn’t need any more songs a tad close to Oasis. However, as I pointed out in my post, Noel Gallagher didn’t exactly write some of those songs either; some of his best-known songs were in fact written by other people, or at least the best-known bits of them were, which in turn means that ‘Nole’ is not, in fact, the one with all the money in his bank, because he had to give away a chunk of his royalties to the people the law courts decided had written the tunes in the first place. To paraphrase the old quote, his songs are both good and original, but the parts that are good are not original, while the parts that are original are not good.

        ‘Most of the the best or if not all bands in the world are from Manchester, Liverpool, london ans some where in between.’

        I don’t think you really mean that all bands in the world are from Manchester, Liverpool, London or somewhere in between (Coventry?) But although the Beatles really are my favourite band, I disagree with what you really meant. And no, I’m not from America, but I think it’s interesting that you think I am; I’m actually from Ireland, although in terms of popular music, I’m not as much of a chauvinist as you seem to be. The only Irish band I like is Thin Lizzy.

        Incidentally, if making money is the measure of quality in popular music, then the top five popular musicians ever are Herb Alpert, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and Gloria Estefan. I’m guessing you wouldn’t agree.

    2. Malte Laurids Brigge says:

      Mathew – and your fellow spelling-challenged fellow, Al – how is it you missed pretty much every point of the post you’re replying to? The points you do make are pretty much, well, pointless. (Though it’s good to be reminded, perhaps, that you don’t win “god like genius” for nothing and that shit songs are shit.)

      I came upon this post while wondering what Noel’s influences were – while watching Oasis’s oft-recommended best concert (G Mex 97) and thinking, “These guys are extremely boring in concert.” None of them even move. Liam has a definite presence even standing still but watching Noel watch his fingers isn’t too exciting – though offstage that one might be different. Apart from a few catchy parts, their music is a plodding wall of noise with almost no variation, no loud-quiet, stop-start, etc. And that, by definition, is boring. I don’t know how I forgot Noel’s unforgettable guitar riffs that are supposedly part of my life’s soundtrack but I honestly can’t recall a single riff of his, and I’ve actually just watched their documentary and been listening to them a fair amount over the last week. Every electric song is a similar “wall of noise” – and not in a good “Be My Baby” way.

      And what links these 2 cases of boredom, it seems to me, is this: Noel can’t dance. In other words, there is no damn rhythm in his music, no roll to go with the rock. Which started me wondering what his influences were, knowing I had never heard him cite early blues giants in the way that, for example, Keith Richards endlessly does with great reverence. Keith may have been born white and English but he has grown up, musically at least, black and American. He put up with Chuck Berry just for the opportunity to be in his band in service to his music. Keith is dancing, even just in his mind, when he’s bobbing and slashing away at his guitar. (Slashing out riffs that are easily remembered.) Noel, while barely moving and staring at his barely moving hands, seems energized by, at most, some no-name, watered-down blues broth, mostly just Atlantic ocean. Noel don’t know Diddley.

      Go watch any Noel/Oasis song you want then go watch this below and Keith, and then tell me that Oasis is the greatest band in the world, and Noel the greatest song writer, or a great guitar riff-meister. OK, the Stones are nothing now but Noel often speaks about how Oasis will be remembered and ranks them ahead of the Stones, but beyond their 1st record and maybe 2 other songs, some sales records and fueds, outside of the UK I don’t see much legacy of greatness. Their too boring.

      A not-boring band and guitarist:

      -As a side note, I love listening to Noel in interviews. I think he’s hilarious and I often agree with his opinions.

      (Edit: why does your site keep saying various emails are invalid when they are not?)

      1. Hi Malte, thanks for the very thoughtful comment. ‘If I cried out among the angels’ hierarchies, who would hear me?’ You, apparently.

        I think your comment that ‘Noel can’t dance’ is spot on, and goes right to the heart of my trouble with Oasis. They sound like they learned their own songs from buskers’ versions of them. Keith’s whole generation learned to play from listening to black American musicians, and you can tell. Some of those 60s white-boy bands had more swing than others, but even the Yardbirds, who were stiffer than the Stones, brought a speed and violence to the music that the Stones never really had, which is what enabled the Yardbirds to mutate into Led Zeppelin. I learned to play bass and guitar not from playing U2 songs over and over again, which is what the other guys in my high school garage band wanted to do, but from woodshedding in my room to Talking Heads, especially the version that had guys like Busta Jones and Bernie Worrell and Alex Weir. (It would be nice to be able to claim that I’d been listening to the Funk Brothers and Booker T and the MG’s aged 14, but I wasn’t much.)

        I don’t know why my site is saying that some emails are invalid: it ain’t me, it’s WordPress. Please let me know if you have any difficulties posting stuff. Thanks again for the comment.

  2. MD says:

    So.. we have 5 kids from a council estate decide to play Knebworth. One in 20 households in the UK apply for a ticket. You have a blog with 4 replies . Hmmm. Good luck with your media career…

    1. Two million ticket applications do not equate to one in 20 households in the UK. You can bet your ass that there were more than one application from any given household.

      In any case. (Sigh.) I’m not sure what your argument is. I’m not even sure you have one. Is it maybe something like ‘Oasis are popular and you’re not, and so shut up about them!’ Because that’s just stupid, right? I have not argued that Oasis aren’t popular. I know they are (or rather, were) popular. Not so much now, mind.

      I argued that Noel Gallagher’s influences are demonstrably not what he says they are. That’s not a matter of opinion. He has tried to set himself up as belonging to some grand court of 60s rock royalty and all I have done is point out that he has not earned the right to belong to it. You could have done as much, if you’d bothered to do the research. I didn’t even have to do much research. Most of it was done already. I merely repeated what other people have said, and indeed what’s commonplace about Oasis: that they are unoriginal and pedestrian. That has nothing to do with how popular they are.

      I did not argue that two million people didn’t want to go and see the band at Knebworth. I have not even pretended that I haven’t liked Oasis, now and again. If you think that I expect to get rich and successful from writing a blog, you are even stupider than you think I am. You think that Oasis’ fame and success has something to do with them being musical geniuses? Really?

      Please. Go away, and get some rest, and think a bit about what I actually wrote, not about what you think I wrote, and then, if you can, come back and try to argue with me. At least try to argue with me. It’s no fun shooting down people like you. I could just not bother, but I would hate you to think that I don’t wish you were at least trying to think about what you’re saying.

      If you can’t be bothered to engage with what I actually wrote, as opposed to the imaginary person in your head that you’re actually arguing with, then do us all a favour and please, go to bed.


        >>you are even stupider than you think I am

        Haha, I am going to read everything here just because of that comment 🙂

  3. I stumbled across this site quite by accident but really enjoyed your article. I have to say that I agree with pretty much everything you have said.

    In my opinion Gallagher is an idiot who writes music for idiots. I find comparisons to the likes of The Beatles and The Smiths quite laughable – but I guess it keeps rock journalists in jobs.

    Keep speaking your mind and keep up the good work!


  4. jon says:

    This is as lazy a critique of Noel Gallagher as i have ever read.Sure he’s lifted riffs and chord sequences…i hate to break this to you but he has admitted this.The intro to Cigarettes and Alcohol is clearly a T-Rex lift which Noel wrote never thinking anyone beyond the Boardwalk rehearsal room would hear.The songs you cite in your blog are what all the Noel haters bring up.How about mentioning how great a melodist he is.Indeed Bono rates him with McCartney.I note you don’t mention songs like Rock and Roll Star,Wonderwall or Champagne Supernova.Predictably the Imagine piano lift at the start of Dont look Back in Anger gets a mention by the haters.It’s an obvious homage intro but the song takes its own melody after that and the chorus soars.Tell me what other song it sounds like on a melodic level??…because you won’t be able to.
    Sadly you insultingly call the rest of Oasis “fuckwits”.This will include one of the greatest singers and frontmen the UK has ever produced in Liam Gallagher?..really?.His peers don’t share your bitter outlook.Surely you can concede this?.
    You seem to think you have all the answers with regards to Noel’s songwriting ability.Tell you what why don’t you write a Def Maybe if it’s that easy?…you won’t and you can’t as you do not possess the natural talent to do so and that;s what really eats away at you .You’re just a musical snob who can’t live with the thought of a working class lad having a genius for writing anthems for a generation.What a pity you lack the grace and musical education to recognize talent when you hear it!

    1. Hi, thanks for the comment.

      Noel Gallagher did more than lift ‘riffs and chord sequences’. He lifted entire songs. It should have occurred to you that I know he admitted it because he lost entire court cases about it.

      Bono rates Gallagher with Paul McCartney? That says a good deal more about Bono than it says about Paul McCartney.

      No, of course I don’t mention songs that don’t support my case. That would be stupid. I quite like Champagne Supernova (although it’s way too long.) But it and the other songs you mention suffer from the problem of all Noel Gallagher songs, which is bland unoriginality. They’re kind of all right until you realise where he got the ideas from, then all you can do is think of how his influences are much fresher and more interesting than he is.

      Yeah, I’m sorry I called the rest of Oasis fuckwits and I grant that I was wrong to do so — except in the case of Liam, who is a colossal fuckwit. He makes Noel look like Pete Townshend by comparison. I know you’re a fan, but really, come on.

      For god’s sake, don’t trot out that tired old bullshit line about ‘how dare you criticise, could you write a song like that?’ No, I couldn’t write a song like that, but I don’t want to be able to write songs like that. I like songs, but I’ve never wanted to be a songwriter. It doesn’t mean I don’t know crap songs when I hear them. I can’t make tables either, but I know a crap table when I put a slightly heavy weight on one and it falls to pieces.

      You have the nerve to call me a musical snob? Read what I have to say about almost anybody else in on this site, and then come back and tell me exactly how I’m a musical snob. I say ‘almost’ anyone else because the closest I get to writing about anyone from the upper classes is Duke Ellington, who came from a middle-class black family in DC and was the son of a White House butler — although I couldn’t have cared less if he’d been the son of a toilet attendant. I ‘can’t live with the thought of a working class lad having a genius for writing anthems for a generation’? Count yourself lucky I haven’t written anything yet about my fondness for Black Sabbath, Robert Johnson and Irving Berlin, all of whom fit that description, whether you like it or not. If you think that I don’t recognise talent when I hear it, read what I’ve written in praise of the Beatles, Charlie Parker, Ellington, Throwing Muses, REM, Bud Powell, Louis Armstrong, William Byrd and even bloody Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose stuff I otherwise can’t stand, except for one album.

      And so, go on liking Oasis and if you’re going to comment on my blog, please comment on my blog, not on what sort of person you incorrectly imagine me to be. That’s not a good move.

  5. Cillian says:

    I don’t see how Noel Gallagher’s songs can be called crap just because his musical influences aren’t what he says they are. Does it really matter where he gets his influences from? If I see a badger out on my lawn and I write an album about it that sells 20million copies does that make me a bad songwriter? Can 20million be wrong? Surley just listening to the music is the best way to know if you like it or not? Not because it’s chord progressions are not complicated enough or whatever it may be.
    So next time a song comes on the radio and I’m singing along and tapping my foot should I pause for a minute to consider weather the artists musical influences are just or if he uses enough ‘seductive harmonic sophistication’? Noel’s dead right about pulling the music apart. It’s ruins it
    Your missing the point of music here my friend. If one person in the world likes a song then it’s good music to them. It’s nobs telling everybody what to like that ruins it. It’s a matter of opinion that’s the beauty of it. Different music does different things for different people. Surley someone who obviously likes music as much can see my point?

    1. Hey Cillian, thanks for your comment.

      I never said that Noel Gallagher’s songs were crap because his musical influences weren’t what he said they were. I don’t think his songs are all that crap. I think that some of them are all right. Not great, just all right. What I object to is Noel Gallagher trying to claim that his influences are more conventionally prestigious than they actually are. I’m fine with him being more influenced by Neil Innes than by John Lennon; I like Neil Innes, but also, as someone with some musicological training, I can prove that he’s more of an influence on Noel Gallagher than John Lennon, and I think it’s been proven. But Noel Gallagher obviously wants to claim the reflected glory of Lennon, Townshend et cetera, by way of making himself seem like belongs in their company, and what I argue is that he would need to show a fuck of a lot more of their influence in his music before we can allow that. I’m not bitching about his music so much as I’m bitching about the claims he makes for it. If he just sat down and admitted that his stuff is third-rate, entry level shit, I’d admire his honesty. But no, he seems to think he’s a genius.

      I like a lot of music and some of the music I like is a lot simpler than Oasis. One of my favourite recordings ever is The Kingsmen’s ‘Louie Louie’. I just don’t like musicians trying to make bullshit claims about their own music being better than it sounds, which is what Noel Gallagher does on a regular basis.

      I would also add that pulling music apart only ruins it when it exposes the music as being shitty. I have spent hours pulling apart music by people like Charlie Parker and Ludwig van Beethoven and the Beatles, and trust me, it has only made the music seem better. Noel Gallagher hates people thinking about his music, because it show his music up as being as mediocre as it really is. Not always totally shit. Just not great.

  6. Lee says:

    Dear Factory Sunburst,

    I enjoyed reading your engaging piece; it is well written and entertaining. I agree with you on certain points; however, I respectfully disagree with some of your vehement assertions.

    Firstly, I am under the impression that certain aspects of what you have written are not entirely objective. In essence, I sense an intense level of chastisement, which I can only assume is driven by negative emotion — i.e, anger towards Noel Gallagher (NG) with his petulant “Joyless” comment — as opposed to truly objective and impartial reflection.

    The points with which I agree are as follows. As you implied, I feel that NG is a complete bullshitter; I would even go as far as to say the he suffers from serious narcissistic tendencies. I agree with you that NG is an incorrigible plagiarist in certain instances (“Shakermaker” and “Whatever” are perfect examples of such). Furthermore, I concur absolutely that Liam Gallagher is borderline retarded; he has, over time, transformed into a caricature-esque figure whom nobody in Western civilisation takes seriously.

    The main point with which I deferentially disagree is as follows. As a musician myself (modern classical mostly), I believe your comment with respect to Oasis’ compositions being “entry level shit” is a bit of a stretch. Granted, from a theoretical music perspective NG appears to possesses a very limited range. For example, it is obvious that he commences a song by developing a standard chord progression, after which he applies a melody on top of such to create, as it were, an “inverse harmonisation”. That is, instead of conventionally harmonising the melody with chords it seems that he harmonises the chords with the melody, which I believe is a relatively underrated skill. Moreover, he also always uses the 4/4 time signature (or at least 99.9% of the time), which is, indeed, rather mundane. Aside from the poor and forgettable songs he has written, such as “Roll with It”, “Lyla” and many more, there are some very skilfully crafted songs in there, particularly with respect to the aforementioned “inverse harmonisation”.

    I think, overall, NG possesses a strong ear, he is a talented rhythm guitarist and he also possesses the ability to write very good, albeit simple, melodies to complement some of the nice, yet simple, chord progressions he has devised. A good example of this is the B-Side song “Take Me Away”, which I think is a very good song, indeed. I fully agree with you that, perhaps, 85% of Oasis’ entire catalogue contains instantly forgettable, and distinctly average, songs. However, there are a few excellent songs (and bits of magic) in there, IMHO.

    In conclusion, I believe that NG is a talented songwriter, a talented rhythm guitarist, but he is most certainly not gifted with a diverse theoretical musical range. That is, he will always follow the same pattern and style as regards “middle of the road” songwriting because he does not possess the ingenuity to be truly innovative and creative (i.e., he is not a genius); however, I contend that he has done pretty well in terms of maximising the talent that he does possess.

    All the best.

    Kind regards,

    1. Thanks Lee.

      However, in delivering my opinions about musicians for whom I lack respect, I have never pretended to be ‘entirely objective’. In criticising some music writing, I have tried to be objective, in that I wanted to prove using evidence that the writer concerned was misrepresenting facts. However, I stand by my assertion that Oasis are ‘entry level shit’ and I maintain that no musical criticism of any value is objective. Musical analysis, perhaps, may be objective, even if Schenkerian analysis itself was heavily influenced by Schenker’s difficulty in taking seriously composers later than Beethoven, but analysis and criticism aren’t quite the same thing. All good criticism is driven by the impulse to make an argument, and no value judgments can be made by anyone confining themselves to mere analysis of the structure of a piece of music. Since most musical analysis doesn’t work too well when it comes to popular music, and since I’m writing a blog and not musicology term papers, I will defend my right to be subjective and insist that you are wrong to wish that I were less so. Since you yourself describe ‘85%’ of Oasis’s catalogue as ‘instantly forgettable, and distinctly average’, I would argue that you are not exactly immune to subjectivity yourself.

      As far as ‘[doing] pretty well in terms of maximising the talent that he does possess’, well, that’s no more than simply doing his job as a professional musician. I don’t believe he deserves any special respect for it. As a guitarist myself, I disagree that NG is a talented rhythm guitarist. He is barely competent. Good rhythm guitar is rarer and more precious than good lead guitar. NG is a strummer, not an inventor of rhythm guitar parts; John Lennon, Jimmy Page, Malcolm Young, Joan Jett, Peter Buck and Bob Mould are great rhythm guitarists, but NG is nowhere near their level.

      May I ask what music you love? I’ve not hesitated to share music that I love, and since you see fit to (as I see it) comprehensively damn Oasis with the faintest imaginable praise (if 85% of their songs are ‘instantly forgettable’, that’s an epic fail indeed) I’m curious about what music you yourself like to play and to listen to.

      Just one small thing: I must upbraid you for calling NG ‘borderline retarded’. Mental handicap is not something that should be thrown around as a term of abuse. Mentally handicapped people are usually working harder with their brains than the rest of us, if only because they have to. I think NG could do better, but I think he’s not ‘borderline retarded’: he’s just very arrogant, very lazy, very uninterested in music as such, and not very talented.

    2. Nova says:

      I was doing some research on chords and found this article. Brilliantly written, I like your analytical part of his music.I find myself getting annoyed more often than not when Noel talking about music and songwriting. To me he’s great, but he’s not as great as he’s trying to convince himself to be.
      However, there’re a few things I’d like to say. I think an essence part of music is emotion. Oasis songs, basically all of them, are writing about their personal emotions. People feel connected to their songs, and I guess that’s the magic Noel Gallagher’s talking about by going like “you cannot break down music”. Surely music can be break down, and yet surely there’s some undeniable magic there.
      So I don’t agree that he “writes songs that are about nothing. ” I read 2 books about them (one written by Paul Gallagher, their oldest brother, the other written by Paolo Hewitt, who spent 7 months on the road with the band), went through a good amount of Oasis interviews from 1994 to 2016. To me the Gallagher brothers really put lots of their struggle and feelings they carried since childhood into their songs, and they still have not addressed them very well so they keep writing about them, and I found it quite touching (and a bit tragic). I understand that it may not interest some people, but cannot say it’s about nothing.
      Plus I think you are certainly too harsh about Liam Gallagher. If anything, I’d say he’s childish in both a good and bad way. Yes he’s not a intelligent person, or a talented musician – but he never claims to be. Unlike his brother, he doesn’t care to be remembered as a good songwriter, doesn’t want people to see him as a celebrity, all he cares about is being in a band and a singer. Yes he has a huge ego – but he’s possessed that since he’s a nobody, since they performed in front of only 2 people. His confidence doesn’t rely on the recognition of the outside world. He showed bad manner, but simply because he cannot be pissed and if he thinks something is wrong, he’s not gonna have it, no matter how others may think of him. (And some reporters know how to wind him up so well they call it Liam-baiting.) He doesn’t take good care of his voice, but he gives full passion even though his way of singing makes his voice unsustainable, and that’s his unique power.
      He’s truly honest with himself, a trait that we tend to lose grip on when grow older. On the contrary, Noel is not as honest as his brother is. The fact that Noel keeps contradicting himself from time to time is laughable and, shall I say, pathetic even.
      You didn’t strike me as some brainless haters because you said at the beginning “I prefer to praise. The easy kind of praise is to try to suggest that something that people don’t like is in fact brilliant”. So I hope you can give a second thought about Liam being nothing but “a colossal fuckwit”. Oasis is big because of the music and spirit. Music alone or spirit alone, they cannot achieve what they’ve achieved. And I think Liam carried most of the spirit part, and he still does. It can hardly be quantified and analyzed the same way as we analyze the technical part of songwriting, but you can tell if one has it. It’s okay to say you don’t like him, but it’s just unfair to throw a judgement like that.

      1. Nova says:

        Furthermore, since we are mainly talking about music here, I think Liam’s songwriting is underrated. Just my personal opinion. His songs bring something that’s not so self-concerned, so refrained (which is the dominating theme of Noel’s songs) to the band’s portfolio. I really like “Born on a Different Cloud” and “Pass Me Down the Wine”. Songbird and I’m Outta Time got more mentions, and they are good tunes. Not classic, but beautiful and genuine. I wish he could write more of those, but he doesn’t have an ambition in songwriting so that’s his choice. As much as I appreciate songwriters and their creativity, it’s understandable not everyone involved in music sees being a great songwriter as the highest reward. Wish in a parallel universe Noel and Liam could write more songs together, because I think their songwriting can be complementary to each other if worked out well.

      2. Hi Nova, thanks for your comment, and thanks for providing some heartfelt and thoughtful praise of Oasis. Most of the people who hated this post defended Oasis on the grounds that Oasis is popular, or successful, or working-class. I think you’re the first person to defend them on the grounds that they’re good, and so I’m delighted to see someone do that. I don’t agree, but I don’t block comments on the grounds that I don’t agree with them. I only block comments that I think are purely abusive, or batshit insane.

        As I said in my original post, I quite like some Oasis songs. I would only add that I haven’t listened to Oasis in years. I just don’t like them much. But my post was not about whether or not they’re any good, it was about the claims that Noel Gallagher had made about his own influences. And I think that’s been talked about enough, at this point.

      3. Nova says:

        Well I didn’t say “they are a good band you should like them”. I don’t think they are that good either in spite of being a fan. It’s more of a personal taste thing which I’m totally fine with. What I said was: 1. Their songs have some substance and shouldn’t be dismissed as about nothing. 2. Liam Gallagher is a better person than you think. You may think these two things are too trivial to be argued about compared to your main point, but I think your article was undermined by throwing in these arbitrary and unnecessarily hostile comments. There are many people I can’t stand, hate or have no interest in whatsoever, but I won’t say they are fuckwits if I don’t know them well enough, especially if I want to focus on another topic I’m only serious about.
        When you say you don’t agree, I’m not sure you don’t agree that you went too harsh on the 2 things I mentioned above, or don’t agree that they are a good band. If it’s the latter, I already knew that from your original post and I have no intention to persuade you to like Oasis.
        Thanks for your reply. And thank you for keeping a good blog. It’s always a great thing to be able to communicate with strangers and take some new angles of seeing the world. I thought it’s a default rule that comments should not be blocked unless they are from trolls, so I guess you don’t need to specifically explain that, but thanks for not blocking and I appreciate it.

      4. Hi Nova,

        You are undoubtedly a better person than I am. But Oasis are big boys and can stand being insulted by me. Especially considering the number of times Noel has insulted his own critics. Happy listening.

      5. Nova says:

        That’s funny. You don’t like Noel’s “joyless” judgement, but you ended up being no less judgmental than him. What’s so great about bringing yourself to the same level as the one you despise? And if it’s about Noel’s arrogance, what’s the point of slagging other band members off? Liam is a big-mouth man but he didn’t insult critics did he? Is it because other band members didn’t write songs as Noel did, so they certainly deserve bigger insult, since you are way more sophisticated than them?

        I may have sounded more serious than I meant to be. In fact I enjoy sarcasm and witty digs very much. Insults and banters – everyone gets them, let alone celebrities. They don’t need extra protection on that. But you are not writing banters. You put a fair amount of effort into your reasoning, but couldn’t bother to be less biased. It has nothing to do with the people you want to insult – it’s simply an attitude. The reason I commented in the first place, was that I thought a true music lover would be more openhearted. That being said, you are free to hold whatever opinion. Have a good day.

      6. Who says I have to refrain from being judgmental? This is a blog. I’m not performing Schenkerian analysis. Not on Oasis anyway.

        But fine, here’s a judgment for you:

        Oasis are a popular but mediocre band, and the Gallagher brothers are a pair of ignorant, foul-mouthed twats who think they’re god’s fucking gift to music because they sold a shit-ton of records. I don’t buy it. My original post was about how Noel lies about his influences. Job done. That’s my last word on these guys.

      7. Nova says:

        Of course I know you are writing subjective opinions. I already said I have no problem with people saying they are not that good.

        The problem is you don’t like them for their arrogance, but you are arrogant as well. It’s like saying “I don’t like this man because he treats people badly”, and turned out you are not nice to people either. “they think they’re god’s fucking gift to music because they sold a shit-ton of records” – in your mind they are both snobs aren’t they. Noel might be, but Liam’s not. He would think he’s fucking great no matter how many records sold. Noel and Liam are actually quite different – it’s okay that you don’t care to know, I’m simply pointing it out. You were like “both brothers are twats who committed murder and I hate them!” and someone told you in fact one of them didn’t do it, and you going “whatever, they still deserve my hate. My original post was about how the other one lies about having connection with prestigious people anyway.”
        That’s my last word on this too. You seemed to miss my point every time and quickly jump into self-defense rather than listening. So there’s really no need to say more.

  7. Lee says:

    Thanks for the reply.

    I respect and concede the point about objectivity and subjectivity; indeed, I am certainly not immune to subjective assertion!

    I wish to clarify that I did not assert that NG is retarded; if you re-read my original post you will see that I was referring to Liam Gallagher. Moreover, I concur absolutely that one should not colloquially make light of mentally handicapped individuals. Please note that the word “retarded” most certainly does not imply reference to mentally handicapped or disabled persons. As quoted from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word “retarded” is defined as follows: “slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress”.

    In my original post, I did not “comprehensively damn” Oasis’ music, to use your language; this is a misinterpretation on your part. I was merely asserting my viewpoint, which is as follows: I feel that, perhaps, 85% (rough figure) of Oasis’ catalogue, which includes B-Sides et cetera, consists of ultimately average and unremarkable material. To reiterate, I believe that there are moments of creative magic in some of NG’s compositions, however simplistic those compositions may be. The songs that stand out to me are as follows (in alphabetical order): Champagne Supernova, Columbia, Gas Panic, Go Let It Out, It’s Good To Be Free, Live Forever, Morning Glory, Rockin’ Chair and Take Me Away. Some of the other songs — such as Wonderwall and Don’t Look Back In Anger — are well crafted, but I don’t particularly enjoy listening to them.

    I possess an extremely eclectic taste in music, ranging from classical to pop to dance to Middle Eastern music et cetera. Rather than focusing on single artists/bands, I am, as it were, a “song person”. I do not care about the image, or “coolness”, associated with a band (or artist) or genre; I am interested only in songs and, indeed, songs that capture my full attention. To give some examples, I love the following 30 compositions (in alphabetical order):

    1) ABBA – SOS
    2) Alanis Morissette – Ironic (from Jagged Little Pill – Acoustic Album)
    3) Beatles, The – She Said She Said
    4) Beethoven – Für Elise
    5) Chakra – Home
    6) Coldplay – God Put a Smile upon Your Face
    7) Cyndi Lauper – The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough
    8) Dario G – Voices (Acoustic Version)
    9) Doug Wood Group, The – Drag Racer (Snooker Theme)
    10) Enigma – Sadeness (Part 1)
    11) Fleetwood Mac – The Chain
    12) Frédéric Chopin – Nocturne (C-Sharp Minor)
    13) Howard Blake – Walking In The Air (Piano Solo Version – C-Sharp Minor)
    14) James Horner – The Portrait
    15) Lost Witness – Happiness Happening (Lange Remix)
    16) Madonna – La Isla Bonita
    17) Michael Jackson – Thriller
    18) Moody Blues, The – Nights In White Satin
    19) Mozart – Piano Concerto No.20, K.466 I. Allegro Part 1 (D Minor)
    20) Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit
    21) Pink Floyd – Shine On You Crazy Diamond
    22) Queen – These Are The Days Of Our Lives
    23) Rhythm of Life – You Put Me In Heaven With Your Touch (Lange Remix)
    24) Roxette – It Must Have Been Love
    25) Seal – Kiss From A Rose
    26) Shadows – Apache
    27) Smiths, The – What Difference Does It Make?
    28) Stellamara – Zablejalo Mi Agance
    29) Sundance – Sundance (98 Remix)
    30) York – On the Beach (CRW Club Remix)

    I have been producing music for over 16 years (I am presently 35 years old). I started out with trance music, I then evolved to producing acoustic — piano and guitar — rock/pop (vocal-based), then on to electronica and I have settled on producing so-called modern classical music. I would say that my main influences, as far as classical composing is concerned, are as follows: Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and James Horner.


    1. Thanks for the comment, Lee.

      Apologies for misreading you. It was indeed Liam Gallagher you called ‘retarded’, but whatever the dictionary definition, you must be aware that the word is commonly used as a term of abuse, even if it’s supposedly a value-neutral description of someone with learning difficulties. Personally I think that Liam Gallagher’s mental capabilities can be summed up in the phrase ‘thick as shit’, although he is a far better singer than his brother.

      I can see that you value NG’s more successful songs far more highly than I do. I noted your list of favourite songs; we have very different likes (I really don’t need to hear ‘It Must Have Been Love’ or ‘Kiss From A Rose’ ever again) but differences make a world, etc. I noticed that your list doesn’t contain any folk songs (that I’m aware of), or classical songs (no Schubert, really?), or blues songs, surprisingly little from the 1960s and 70s, and nothing from the so-called American Songbook. If I were to compile a list of favourite songs, it would certainly have to include ‘The Month of January’, ‘The Bonny Hind’, ’Wandrers Nachtlied II’, Erlkonig’, ‘Gretchens Spinnrade’, ’In Darkness Let Me Dwell’, ‘Hellhound On My Trail’, ‘Hard Time Killing Floor Blues’, ’I’ve Got You Under My Skin’, ‘A Foggy Day’, ‘Have You Met Miss Jones’, ‘It Never Entered My Mind’ and, as they used to say on TV spots for compilation albums, many, many more, including probably a few from people like Dylan, Mitchell and Cohen. Whereas, ‘Walking In The Air’ would certainly not make the cut. Nor would anything from Coldplay. But that’s just me.

      In general I find that NG’s songs are just too rhythmically foursquare, harmonically clumsy and much too similar in mood. Whatever knack he has for hooks can’t disguise the fact that in terms of being able to find interesting ways around chord changes, NG isn’t in the same league as someone like Freddie Mercury, who despite having formal musical training that consisted of no more than a couple of years of piano when he was a kid, became a songwriter of genius. This probably has to do with the fact that FM, unlike NG, was insatiably curious about music and was always checking out new stuff, whereas NG claims to listen to ‘the Beatles, the Kinks and the Who’ and hardly anyone else.

      You yourself produce ‘so-called modern classical music’. Do you mean produce as in produce recordings of it, or do you write it? I’d be interested to hear some of it, and I’m interested that you give your main influences as ‘Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin and James Horner’, three of whom are not modern, the other one of which was a chronic plagiarist, and all of whom are dead. Are there any living composers you admire? And any modern ones? Other than James Horner, whose love of ripping off dead composers got him through many a commission?

    2. Jean Lemonade says:


      You say that you’re “educated” in music and yet you listen to Abba, Kiss, Madonna, Roxette, Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Seal and Coldplay… What the heck have you been tokin’?

  8. 17 million albums and still counting love the chief mad for it”we are the mods” whoops quote from quadrophenia like anyone gives a shit were it comes from, it’s not we’re your from its were your at mate. Bucko

    1. Oh right! I get it! You’re posting comments the same way that Noel Gallagher writes songs. Like his songs, your comments are badly structured, kind of meaningless and suspiciously similar to each other. But I get now that you’re making a brilliant satirical point about his music. Sorry I missed that. My stupid. Thanks again!

  9. Jean Lemonade says:

    Great post! I actually think that around 5-8 Oasis songs are enjoyable to listen to now and then, but the main bulk is like shitty glam rock from the 70’s/80’s or early 2000’s “teenage rock” à la Wheatus or Blink-182 (even that stuff is probably better). Just have a listen to some singles or tracks (like Supersonic, Hello, Hey Now, Digsy’s Dinner, Morning Glory, Up In The Sky, Stop Crying Your Heart Out, etc) on their 2 most heralded albums, Definitely Maybe and What’s The Story Morning Glory, and tell me that passes as “Beatlesque” or “historically great music”. And those horrible productions that made them sound like a “soft” commercial version of the Sex Pistols (mixed in with some U2) for pre-pubescent boys, just made it ten times worse.

    Noel mentions his influences all the time but he never actually incorporates anything in his songs from them — except for some blatant and really poor, straight out, plagiarism (sure, Beatles and other bands copied and stole stuff all the time, but usually not as non-creative or blatant as Noel). I hear no Stones, no Smiths, no Stone Roses (comparing John Squire and his band to Noel is ridiculous beyond comprehension), no Townshend/Who, and DEFINITELY NO Kinks/Ray Davies or Beatles in the songwriting or melodic compartment. Oasis shouldn’t even be in the same league as bands like Mott The Hoople!

    Noel and the rest of Oasis owe a huge debt to the junk media for giving them the gigantic and over-hyped attention as “the next Beatles” and giving them press headlines for picking their own coke-filled noses. This band wouldn’t even make a good tribute band to the Beatles, yet they themselves talked about how the Beatles influenced them in everything in every interview, and the media branded them as the best thing since sliced bread. Pathetic!

    While the press kissed the Gallagher brothers butts, other bands during the “Britpop era” like Teenage Fanclub, Super Furry Animals, The Boo Radleys, etc, — pretty talented bands with good melodies and texts — were not given even 5% of the attention that Oasis received.

    Despite this, I do enjoy the wits and humour of Noel in most interviews (even though he mostly does it for attention and some press), until it, as it often does, borders on severe grandiose narcissism and lies.

  10. Jean Lemonade says:

    Ian Brown (who himself wouldn’t be anything if it weren’t for his massively talented bandmates) made this accurate statement on Oasis in 1998:

    “Nah, I think they’re boring, they’re like Status Quo. You know exactly what you’re going to get. I think Oasis have set music back 20 years. Oasis are just babies taking coke and pretending to be the Beatles. They’re wasting all of our time.” – Ian Brown

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