Blur is a pop band from England.
Blur formed in London in 1989, consisting of vocalist and keyboardist Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, and bassist Alex James. After playing a dozen or so shows under the moniker of Seymour, the band picked up drummer Dave Rowntree. After gaining some underground popularity with their live shows, the band signed to Food Records, a subsidiary of EMI, who suggested that the boys opt for a slightly catchier moniker. The record company offered a lengthy list of names; from this list the group selected the name Blur.
Their debut single in late 1990, She's So High, hit the Top 50 in the United Kingdom, but it was their catchy, hook-filled second single, There's No Other Way in early 1991 which gave the band their first Top 10 hit.
At this time, the group's sound was probably best described as "electric dance"; they fused loud guitars with a danceable rock mentality, a much different sound than the one that would bring them great successes later on. The single was very popular with the indie-dance culture popular in Manchester at the time, but this scene was already on its last legs. The band released the album Leisure in August of 1991, but the sound's time had passed; the album really didn't go anywhere.
The band realized that a change in direction was probably needed, so they spent the next year honing a pop sound that would later bring them their greatest success in the mid-1990s. The sound was Britpop, and it borrowed greatly from the history of British pop music, from The Beatles to The Stone Roses and everyone in between. Simmered with a 1990s mentality, the sound was actually new and fresh, but somehow familiar as well.
They debuted their new sound with the single Popscene in 1992, but the country just wasn't ready for the sound. If this single had been released three years later, it would have been monstrous, but many people identified the name of Blur with the Manchester indie-dance scene and left the single alone. Disheartened, the band disappeared for the rest of 1992 and early 1993, re-emerging in March 1993 with the album Modern Life is Rubbish; the album reached 15 on the UK charts and was well-received by the critics, just as the Britpop movement was dawning and the name Oasis was just around the bend.
The group released their biggest single to that point in early 1994; the single Girls and Boys topped the charts in Britain and even cracked the top 100 in the United States. When the subsequent album Parklife was released in the UK in April 1994, it went straight to number one on the British album charts and really marked the (re)birth of guitar-heavy Britpop, which would very quickly bring great bands like Oasis, Pulp, and James to the forefront as well. It was a breath of fresh air to Britain, whose music had previously been dominated by electronic dance acts. Two more singles from the album also neared the top of the charts, the song To The End and the wonderful mod anthem Parklife, featuring narration from British actor and former star of Quadrophenia, Phil Daniels.
At the same time, though, the pop group Oasis utterly exploded onto the British pop culture scene, and the two bands began a very public war of words. Oasis had just come off the success of their huge single Some Might Say in early 1995 and the unbelievable early success of their album (What's The Story) Morning Glory? and were about to release the single Roll With It in June of 1995. In response to this, Blur (who had been recording a new album) convinced EMI to release the first single from the album, Country House, on the very same day, making it clear that a true "battle of the bands" for pop successs was underway. The song featured a very sarcastic video done in a Benny Hill style and the lyrics themselves took a few potshots at Oasis. When the charts came out, Country House was on top; Blur had won round one.
However, that didn't stop (What's The Story) Morning Glory? from becoming a huge international success, spawning seven hit singles in the United Kingdom, three big singles in the United States, and selling millions of copies. Blur's 1995 album The Great Escape was overshadowed by this, and in the end, they could easily be considered the losers of the battle of the bands.
Again, the group disappeared for a while, re-emerging in 1997 with a self-titled album and a new sound. This time, the group borrowed from the grunge sound popular in America and infusing it with a strong pop mentality. The first two singles from the album, Beetlebum and Song 2, reached the top of the singles charts in Britain, and the madhouse anthem Song 2 (often known as the "woo hoo" song) even managed to reach the top ten in the United States, their biggest chart success in America to date.
This success didn't stop the group from reinventing themselves again in 1999 on their album 13, their first album not produced by Stephen Street. This time, they used producer William Orbit, best known for electronic dance music and for producing albums in that vein by Madonna and Prince. The resulting album had an electronic feel, but it was widely varied and actually quite emotional. The first single, Tender, did very well in Britain but it was a shock to most fans of the group; the second single, No Distance Left To Run (written about Damon's breakup with his longtime girlfriend, Justine Frischmann of the band Elastica) did OK but not as well.
The band toured for a while in 1999 and have since disappeared again. They resurfaced a few times only to release a singles compilation box set in 1999 and blur: the best of, a two-disc career retrospective along with a new single, Music Is My Radar (itself another change of pace for the band, delving deep into electronica), in 2000.
Recently, the group has been involved in several side projects, most notably Damon Albarn's involvement in the popular group Gorillaz. This perceived "splitting" of the group led to the departure of Graham Coxon from the band in December 2002, as the band prepared to record their latest album, Think Tank, which was released in May 2003 to critical acclaim and moderate sales.
Lesiure (August 1991)
Modern Life is Rubbish (May 1993)
Parklife (April 1994)
The Great Escape (September 1995)
Blur (February 1997)
13 (March 1999)
Think Tank (May 2003)
Special Collectors Edition (1995) (Japan only - b-sides compilation)
Live at the Budokan (1995) (Japan only - live show between Parklife and Great Escape)
Bustin & Droning (1998) (Japan only - remixes, b-sides, and excerpts from Peel sessions)
blur: the singles (1999)
blur: the best of (2000)
She's So High (October 1990)
There's No Other Way (April 1991)
Bang (July 1991)
Popscene (May 1992)
For Tomorrow (April 1993)
Chemical World (June 1993)
Sunday Sunday (October 1993)
Girls & Boys (February 1994)
To The End (May 1994)
Parklife (August 1994)
End of a Century (November 1994)
Country House (June 1995)
The Universal (November 1995)
Stereotypes (February 1996)
Charmless Man (April 1996)
Beetlebum (January 1997)
Song 2 (April 1997)
On Your Own (June 1997)
M.O.R. (September 1997)
Tender (March 1999)
Coffee and TV (June 1999)
No Distance Left To Run (November 1999)
Music Is My Radar (October 2000)
Out Of Time (April 2003)
Crazy Beat (July 2003)
Good Song (October 2003)