2014 marks the twenty year anniversary of Oasis' hit release 'Definitely Maybe.' While Oasis may be the band everyone loves to hate, there is no denying that 'Definitely Maybe' did for Britpop what Nirvana's 'Nevermind' did for grunge. But how has the album held up for two decades?
'Definitely Maybe' broke records, premiering as the fastest-selling British debut at the time of its release. The record broke at a perfect time of excess, as England emerged from a recession and leapt into a more open acceptance of sex, drugs and rock n' roll not seen since the 1960s. The youth of the generation lapped it up, and it launched the genre of Britpop into superstardom, where it clung for most of the past two decades before slowly being replaced with fresher sounds.
Looking back, it's easy to see how 'Definitely Maybe' broke the ground that it did, and yet at this point - compared to the electronic offerings of today's pop - just as easy to recognize how outdated 'Definitely Maybe' and even the rest of Oasis' catalogue sounds. "Rock n' Roll Star" opens the album regaling what life as a rockstar was like in the past, while today's youth are perhaps more interested in the realities presented in songs like Passion Pit's "Take A Walk." As 'Definitely Maybe' descends into the classic Oasis riffs of "Shakermaker" and "Live Forever," the influence this album had on future generations of pop-rock are clearly felt. "Supersonic" is pure nostalgia, back to the days of cheap gasoline and long conversations in the back seats of cars, before texting and cramped hybrid vehicles came around. "Cigarettes & Alcohol" is an ode to the lazy bliss of 1990s teenhood, and "Slide Away" is a prelude to the biggest Oasis hit of all - the over-karaoked "Wonderwall." Closing out 'Definitely Maybe' is the brief ditty "Married With Children" - perhaps what most of the one-time oasis fans now are. It does make one wonder if the lyrics "your music's shite / it kept me up all night" have ever been uttered between spouses disagreeing over playing Oasis.
Overall, 'Definitely Maybe' is a Polaroid frozen in time of what life was like for the youth of the early 1990s, a generation that grew up in the last era of, well, cigarettes and alcohol; a time that will never be rivaled. Musically, it has not stood the test of time as well, perhaps, as Oasis and their fans may have once hoped, but still stands strong for what it is.
If you want to relive 1994 all over again, pick up the reissue of 'Definitely Maybe' and enjoy not just the original tracks, but unreleased demos, live versions, and B-sides including the excellent "Fade Away." While there may not be hope of ever seeing a live reuniting of Oasis, if you never got to see them in their heyday you can check out what it was like in this video posted on Rolling Stone.
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