Music: blur

From left to right: Graham Coxon, Alex James, Damon Albarn and Dave Rowntree

Not to be confused with the video game.

Blur are an Alternative Rock band from Colchester, England (though more often associated with London), chiefly existing in The Nineties. Partial founders of the Britpop movement. Consisted of singer Damon Albarn, guitarist Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James, and drummer Dave Rowntree.

Debuted in 1989 on the Shoegazing and Madchester scenes as Seymour before signing to Food Records under the condition that they change their name to Blur (and, according to fan legend, that drummer Dave Rowntree stop wearing pyjama pants on stage). Soon after released their first album Leisure to moderate success, followed by the very British "Popscene" single and a tour of America to predictable results. Achieved great success with Parklife a couple of years later, they switched to noisy, experimental Alternative Rock for the next couple of albums until eventually dissolving after Think Tank sometime around 2004. The original lineup, with Graham Coxon in tow, reunited in 2009 to much anticipation and released a new song, "Fool's Day" in the Spring of 2010. The band released two more new songs - "Under the Westway" and "The Puritan" - in July 2012 and performed at an Olympics closing ceremony concert in Hyde Park in August along-side New Order, The Specials and Bombay Bicycle Club. After a bit of a Troubled Production, they are set to release their first album in 12 years, The Magic Whip in April 2015.

Discography
  • Leisure (1991)
  • Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993)
  • Parklife (1994)
  • The Great Escape (1995)
  • Blur (1997)
  • 13 (1999)
  • Think Tank (2003)
  • The Magic Whip (2015)

You can now vote for your favourite Blur album by heading over to the Best Album crowner.


This band provides examples of:
  • AcCENT Upon the Wrong SylLABle: For instance, Song 2's refrain (it has more lyrics than WOO-HOO) goes "When I feel heavy meTAL / And I'm pins and needLES".
  • Affectionate Parody: The song "Song 2" parodies Grunge.
    • It was intended to be an affectionate parody of Graham Coxon's favorite band at the time, Pavement. The lyrics might be, the music certainly isn't.
  • Album Title Drop: Modern Life Is Rubbish in "For Tomorrow". Parklife in... well "Parklife".
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Alex James in the "Parklife" video.
    • And Damon Albarn here, mirroring Blondie. Good Lord.
  • Audience Participation Song: "The Universal." During live performances, the audience takes the place of the choir.
    • During the Hyde Park performance, the audience singing along to "Coffee and TV" and "Girls and Boys" was actually louder than the band at times.
    • "Tender" is probably Blur's ultimate example of this. When performed live, it becomes a massive ten-minute audience-participation epic. Also, during Graham Coxon's hiatus from the band, the audience sang his lines "oh my baby/oh my baby/oh why/oh my," and these lines have been used to call the band back onto the stage for an encore.
    • The audience supplies the "TRAY-CEE JAAAAACKS" shouts on "Tracy Jacks."
  • Badass Boast: "I'm the original" in Me, White Noise.
  • The Band Minus the Face: Fans of Coxon saw Think Tank as this.
  • Bank Holidays: "Bank Holiday", weirdly enough.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "To The End" has Stereolab singer Lætitia Sadier speaking French between the lines of the verses. The "French version" from the "Parklife" single renders all of the lyrics in French instead (thus making the song hilarious because of Damon's terrible pronounciation), and the "La Comédie" version from the "Country House" single replaces Sadier with Françoise Hardy.
    • "Yuko and Hiro" features backing vocals in Japanese, which the band wisely decided to hire Cathy Gillat to sing instead of attempting it themselves.
    • "Girls and Boys" has a bit of Gratuitous German.
    • Also, a b-side to "Girls and Boys" called "People in Europe" contains lyrics in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Swedish, all with some embarrassingly, comically bad pronunciation.
  • Britain Is Only London: The For Tomorrow video is like this, but it makes sense since London is referenced several times during the film.
  • Breakup Song: Most of 13 is about Damon Albarn's split from his long-term girlfriend Justine Frischmann, the singer for the band Elastica.
    • "No Distance Left to Run" is pretty much the breakup song.
  • B-Side: A 22 CD set was released in 1999: 22 singles with all their original b-sides, a 127 track total. They were also collected, with additional rarities, on the blur 21 boxset.
  • Call-and-Response Song: "Parklife", with the spoken lines done by Phil Daniels.
  • Call Back: "M.O.R." contains the line "here comes a low," a potential reference to the earlier song "This Is A Low."
  • Camp Straight: Most obvious on "Mr. Robinson's Quango."
  • Concept Album: Modern Life is Rubbish, Parklife, and The Great Escape form a loose trilogy about the lives of the Working, Middle, and Upper classes in Britain, respectively. Also Think Tank is a very loose concept album revolving around war and love.
  • Darker and Edgier: Their first few albums were bright and bubbly, but their albums gradually got darker and melancholy as their sound progressed, with the subject matter of 13 mainly being that of Damon's split from his girlfriend, having a very eerie and somber feel to it.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: A truly creepy example in "I'm Just a Killer for Your Love."
  • A Day in the Limelight: The songs penned by Coxon, "You're So Great" and "Coffee & TV" where he gets to sing the vocals. (He also sang the "Rednecks" B-side in a Fake American accent.)
    • Alex sings lead vocals on "Far Out". Unfortunately, on Parklife, he does so through a ridiculous pitch-shifting effect that makes him sound like a strangled chipmunk. Thankfully, the superior "Beagle 2" remix of the song available on the "No Distance Left to Run" single features his normal vocals, as well as a longer running time and a harder-rocking arrangement.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: "Yuko and Hiro".
    I drink in the evenings
    It helps with relaxing
    I can't sleep without drinking
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Beetlebum" is about negative drug experiences that Damon Albarn had with the aforementioned Justine Frischmann.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: "Death Of A Party" was originally recorded in 1992 as an acoustic demo, but not released. The band forgot about it until they rediscovered it in 1996 and released it on CD as that years fan club release. They liked it so much they decided to rerecord it for their 1997 album Blur. Remixes were commissioned, but it didn't make a full single.
    • The same is true of the song "1992" which was written and home demoed in the year it's named after, but but was deemed too dark and depressing. That is, until 1999, when Blur made their dark and depressing album 13 on which it fit perfectly. The demo of "1992" has never been released. What is interesting about the 1999 version is that guitar effects are used which Blur hadn't used since their unreleased 1992 album (compare about 3:40 in "1992" to those at the end of "Into Another").
    • "I Got Law" is an early demo version of the Gorillaz song "Tomorrow Comes Today" - so early the only recognisable element is Damon's vocal melody, and the incredibly lo-fi drum machine and outdated synths make it sound like something recorded by The Cheat. "I Got Law" is so obscure (it only appears as a bonus track to the Japanese version of 13) that it isn't known whether Damon actually wanted to release it.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Their first album, Leisure, is mostly a Shoegazing-Madchester fusion. The weirdness is lessened once their early Shoegazing references creep back to the surface on Blur, 13 and Think Tank. The alternative dance elements also return with a vengeance on Think Tank.
    • Pre-dating even Leisure, their material as "Seymour", which eventually surfaced on the B-sides of "Sunday Sunday" and the Blur 21 boxset, was noisy, fast-paced Pop Punk-y stuff. This was similarly nodded to with their recording of noisy, rapid rave-ups like "Bank Holiday", "B.L.U.R.E.M.I." and "We've Got a File on You".
  • Epic Rocking: The studio version of "Tender" is seven minutes long, and ranges from nine to ten minutes long when performed live.
    • Also "Essex Dogs", "Battle", "Caramel", "Me, White Noise" and "Jets".
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: "To The End," with an alternate version recorded entirely in French. As mentioned above the original featured French spoken word backing vocals by Lætitia Sadier of Stereolab. The all-French "La Comedie" version features vocals from Françoise Hardy.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Song 2" is the second song on Blur, lasts exactly two minutes and two seconds, was released as the second single from the album (after "Beetlebum") and peaked at #2 on the UK Charts. Almost as if they willed it.
  • Genre Shift: From shoegazing-pop to Britpop to blatantly Pavementish to melancholic electronica to whatever the hell Think Tank was.
    • Seemingly to make their abandonment of Britpop clear, the band even fled the UK itself and recorded most of Blur in Reykjavík.
  • Gratuitous Panning: The drums and guitar in "Essex Dogs".
  • Greatest Hits Album: Two: The Best of Blur (2000) and Midlife (2009), though Midlife wasn't much of a greatest-hits as a plain old retrospective, as it purposely excluded a few key singles like "There's No Other Way" and "Country House" (not because the band didn't like them but because their label wanted to market them as a Serious 90's Guitar Band) in favor of relatively obscure album tracks like "Blue Jeans" and "Strange News from Another Star".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Damon and Graham.
  • Hidden Track: 13 features a few instrumental tracks hidden after the end of "Coffee & TV", "B.L.U.R.E.M.I.", "Battle", "Trailerpark" and "Caramel", making those songs seem longer than they actually are. The ones after "Coffee & TV" and "B.L.U.R.E.M.I." are short organ doodles (the latter being notable for being played on a synth organ that makes it sound like an Earthbound soundtrack outtake), the one after "Battle" is Graham and Alex soloing over a keyboard drone, the one after "Trailerpark" is Graham and Alex playing a chugging Krautrock riff over a Casio drum machine, and the one after "Caramel" starts with a spooky, lo-fi keyboard melody before transitioning into a distorted, funky groove. There's a similar hidden track after "Bugman", sometimes referred to as "Bugman Exitlude": the song itself ends with overwhelming guitar noise and the sound of a motorbike starting up, before switching into an almost funky bassline played by Alex, Dave pounding the drums in unison with an electronic drumloop, Graham adding some fuzzed-out complementary licks, and Damon singing "space is the place" in falsetto.
    • Think Tank hides "Me, White Noise" in the pregap before the first track.
    • Blur hides "Interlude" in the length of the final track "Essex Dogs", making it look longer than it is.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: With some regularity, especially when distorted vocals become their norm.
  • Intercourse with You: "Beetlebum."
  • Irony: The Chemical World video is set in a forest area, a waterfall, and a large grassy field with many animals making an appearance.note 
    • But chemicals are natural...
  • Large Ham: "Mr. Robinson's Quango."
  • Last Note Nightmare: "Sing".
  • Limey Goes to Hollywood: Inverted; the band experimented with recording abroad in Iceland (Blur) and Morocco (Think Tank).
  • List Song: The lyrics of "Far Out" are a list of stars and moons visible at night.
  • Looped Lyrics: "We've Got A File On You" is... well... just that. And nothing else. "Jets," as well.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Country House" is a bright, shiny pop tune about a horribly depressed rich man dealing with the emptiness of his existence.
    • Many, if not most of their songs have Lyrical Dissonance to some degree. They epitomize the very Britpop tendency of marrying rather melancholy lyrics to bouncy, bubbly pop songs.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Implied by the first verse of "Song 2".
    I got my head checked
    It wasn't easy
    But nothing is
  • Metal Scream: A rather impressive one in "Swamp Song".
  • Mundane Made Awesome: "This Is A Low", a sweeping, gorgeous, emotional, epic track based off of a weather forecast.
  • Murder Ballad: "I'm Just A Killer For Your Love", if you can understand it.
  • Music Video Overshadowing: "Coffee and TV". That video with the walking milk box.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: The band's influences grew more eclectic as its career progressed, which initially manifested itself in frequently light-hearted experiments (the Country pisstake "Rednecks") and forays into genres like jazz ("Got Yer!"), sixties' lounge-pop ("To The End (La Comédie)"), music hall (covers of "Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Made for Two)" and "Let's All Go Down the Strand"), cheesy background muzak ("Supa Shoppa", "Eine Kleine Lift Musik"), Synth Pop ("People in Europe", "Peter Panic") dramatic faux-soundtrack work ("Theme from an Imaginary Film") and waltz ("Anniversary Waltz") showing up on their B-sides, but their abandonment of Britpop saw their adventurous tendencies come to the forefront, through the electronic influences permeating 13, the Afrobeat Funk Rock of the single "Music Is My Radar", and in their The Band Minus the Face incarnation, the Middle Eastern orchestrations ("Out of Time"), Blues guitar ("Brothers and Sisters") and Afrobeat-influenced funky jamming ("Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club", "Jets") of Think Tank. During their Britpop-era rivalry with Oasis, this was one of the primary arguments brought in Blur's favour.
  • New Sound Album: At least half of them: Modern Life Is Rubbish, Blur, and Think Tank.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Song 2," "Moroccan Peoples Revolutionary Bowls Club," "M.O.R." (which stands for 'middle of the road', which does appear in the song), "Essex Dogs," "Country Sad Ballad Man" (technically- it contains the all of the words in the title, just not together).
  • Pac Man Fever: In "Jubilee", right after the lyric "So he just plays on his computer game" some beepy sound effects are played. Justified, though, as the song was released in 1994.
  • Perishing Alt Rock Voice: Used in the shoegazing songs on Blur's first album, dropped for their Britpop albums (with a few exceptions), and then reappeared again from their self-titled album and onwards.
  • Protest Song: The rare single "Don't Bomb When You Are The Bomb" was written as a protest against the invasion of Iraq; most of its copies were handed out and destroyed at an anti-war rally.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Blur themselves were the blue to Oasis's red oni during their rivalry. Within the band though, Damon and Alex are reds, while Graham and Dave are blues.
  • Self-Titled Album: The one where they abandoned Brit Pop.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Damon Albarn, frequently, with Graham Coxon doing additional back-up vocals as well.
  • Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: The premise of "Crazy Beat"
  • Significant Anagram: The title of "Dan Abnormal" is an anagram of "Damon Albarn". Albarn also made guest appearances on Elastica songs under anagram pseudonyms, once as Dan Abnormal and once as Norman Balda.
  • Singing Simlish: Very much! Let's see: "For Tomorrow," "Magic America," "Charmless Man," "It Could Be You," "Song 2," "Swamp Song," "B.L.U.R.E.M.I." and many more.
  • Shout-Out: The video for The Universal is a shout out to Stanley Kubrick and A Clockwork Orange.
    • The video for "To The End" is a shout out to Last Year at Marienbad.
    • The "Parklife" video is a homage to Tin Men.
    • Fela Kuti's drummer Tony Allen is given a shout-out in "Music Is My Radar", with the line "Tony Allen got me dancing".
  • Solo Side Project: Graham Coxon wrote and released his own albums while the band was still together, and has continued his solo career post-breakup.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: Song 2 goes "WOO-HOO."
  • Spelling Song: Top Man and B.L.U.R.E.M.I.
  • Spoken Word in Music: "Parklife," most notably.
    • The "...and the radio says" before each chorus of "This is a Low."
    • In "Ernold Same" and "Essex Dogs" too.
    • "Me, White Noise" also featuring Phil Daniels.
    • The verses of "Sing" are almost spoken word.
  • Title Only Chorus: "I'm Just a Killer For Your Love."
  • Theremin: "Essex Dogs".
  • Together in Death/Winged Soul Flies Off at Death: Milky the Milk Carton (and his strawberry milk carton lover) at the end of the music video for "Coffee & TV".
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: B.L.U.R.E.M.I.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Damon Albarn's average singing voice early on versus his much deeper speaking voice.