Blur

Song 2

Song Review by

Oh, the irony. For a band that reveled in irony like Blur, they had to appreciate that their mockery of grunge gave them their biggest hit in America. Arriving on a hail of "America, she's really awright, ya know" hype by Damon in the U.K. press, Blur was seen as perhaps Blur's stab at being Pavement, since Damon just wouldn't shut up about the California quintet. (According to rumor, Pavement leader Stephen Malkmus returned the favor by having a fling with Albarn's then-girlfriend and Elastica leader Justine Frischmann while a houseguest with the couple.) Therefore, "Song 2," the heaviest song on the album, would logically have been the most Pavement-like tune on the album. Wrong. First of all, nothing on the record sounded remotely like Pavement, and secondly, "Song 2," with its stomping four-chord riff and loud-soft dynamics, was clearly a Nirvana sendup. It's a testament to Blur's tremendous gifts as musicians that the song only sounded like a parody to those in the know and, furthermore, it didn't matter, since it was catchier, hookier, and more concise than any grunge tune. The song is practically over once it's begun, something that just never happened with lethargic grunge. And the hook -- Damon yelling "woo-hoo!" as the guitars come crashing in (you can practically see him doing his trademark jumps in your mind's eye) -- is brilliantly simple and dumb, as catchy as anything Nirvana wrote, and better than anything any Seattle group outside of Stone Temple Pilots did. It was a pure rush of sound and if the words didn't necessarily make sense, well, it was hard to follow what Layne Staley was talking about, and Albarn's snide "It's not my problem" cuts deep into the heart of slackerdom. And "When I feel heavy metal" is just plain funny.

"Song 2" was timed perfectly. Grunge had fallen by the wayside in early 1997, but it still could win a teenage audience, thanks to the loud guitars. "Song 2" managed to be reminiscent of grunge, but was fresh, due to its brevity and songcraft. Therefore, it became their first U.S. hit since "Girls & Boys," which was generally lost in the hubbub in 1994. So, what did Blur do once they had a hit? Like any band worth their salt, they whored it out. They didn't tour the U.S. that much -- they sold the hell out of the song. They turned down a U.S. Navy ad, but let it be used for the National Hockey League and ads for Paul Verohoven's ultraviolent Starship Troopers. It also showed up in a memorable episode of The Simpsons, serving as the soundtrack for a nutty chase through the Superbowl. Then, in late 1999, it moved to a car commercial. This omnipresence didn't dilute the song's message, since there wasn't a message -- it was a parody that was designed to be a hit. So, it got the fate it deserved, and it became a '90s modern rock classic in the process.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Summer 1996 Moonraker Music 2:26
Blur 1997 Parlophone 2:01
Song 2 1997 Food
Smash Hits Summer '97 1997
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 1:59
M.O.R. [US] 1997 Virgin 1:56
On Your Own [UK Single #1] 1997 Food 1:55
Bustin' and Dronin' 1998 Virgin / EMI Music Distribution 1:47
Live in Holland 1998 EMI Music Distribution 1:55
Triple J Hottest 100, Vol. 5 1998
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:03
Summer Festivals '98 1998
Various Artists
Q Magazine 2:03
Tender 1999 Import 2:02
Anniversary Box Set 1999 EMI Music Distribution 2:00
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 1 [Universal] 1999
Various Artists
Universal International 2:02
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 1 [Disc One] 1999
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:02
Best Anthems...Ever! [2000] 2000
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:00
Shine [UTV] 2000
Various Artists
UTV 2:01
The Best of Blur 2000 Virgin / Food/Virgin 2:02
The Best Pub Jukebox in the World...Ever! 2000
Various Artists
Virgin 2:01
Music of the Millenium 2001
Various Artists
Umusic 2:00
Jock Jams: The All-Star Jock Jams 2001
Various Artists
Tommy Boy 2:00
Music of the Millennium, Vol. 2 [Virgin Import] 2001
Various Artists
Virgin 2:01
Indie: The Anthems 2002
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
This Is Rock Ballad 2002
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
World's Greatest Air Guitar Album 2003
Various Artists
Hollywood
The Best Air Guitar Album in the World...Ever! 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:01
The Best Beer Drinking Album in the World...Ever 2004
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:00
Later... with Jools Holland Cool Britannia, Vol. 2 [DVD] 2004
Various Artists
WEA International
World Cup Of Hockey 2004 2004
Various Artists
Universal International 1:51
The Best Pub Jukebox... Ever! 2004
Various Artists
Phantom Import Distribution / Virgin 3:43
Songs for My Ute, Vol. 3 2005
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd.
V8 Supercars: A Full Tank of Rock 2005
Various Artists
Festival Records 2:02
John Peel: A Tribute 2005
Various Artists
WEA International 2:00
Absolute Very Best of the World's Best Ever Beer Songs [CD] 2005
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
The Ultimate Bands: The Classic Anthems 2006
Various Artists
EMI/Virgin TV
Essential Bands 2006
Various Artists
Universal 2:00
No Image 2006
Various Artists
EMI / Parlophone 2:02
90s Anthems 2007
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:00
No Image 2008
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
Midlife: A Beginner's Guide to Blur 2009 Parlophone 2:01
All the People: Live in Hyde Park 2009 EMD Int'l
101 Running Songs, Lap 2 2010
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 2:01
No Distance Left To Run - A Film About Blur 2010 EMI / Virgin
No Image 2011
Various Artists
Ministry of Sound 2:02
Now That's What I Call British 2012
Various Artists
Capitol / Universal Music Group 2:02
Blur 21 2012 EMI / Parlophone
Parklive 2012 EMI Catalogue / Parlophone / Virgin
100 Hits: 90s Anthems Karaoke 2014
Various Artists
100 Hits
10 Yr Boxset Food
Best of British [Universal]
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:00
Blur 21: The Box EMI / EMI Catalogue 2:03
CMJ New Music, Vol. 44
Various Artists
College Media
End Sessions, Vol. 1: Live on the End
Various Artists
2:01
No Image
Various Artists
The Best of School Disco.com: 10th Anniversary
Various Artists
EMI TV 2:01
Triple J's Hottest 100: 20 Years
Various Artists
ABC Music 2:00
blue highlight denotes editor's pick