Woo-Hoo! 'Blur' and the Britpop Boom

Blur in 1997
Photo Credit
John Stillwell - PA Images via Getty Images

With their 1997 self-titled album, Britpop band Blur earned the highest position on the Billboard 200 of their career up to that point, not to mention a hit single which...wasn’t nearly as big a hit as you’d think, actually, especially considering how many times you probably heard it.

Co-produced by the band with Stephen Street, Blur provided a significant musical change of pace for the foursome, with guitarist Graham Coxon steering them in a direction that took them stylistically closer to, say, Pavement. There are other points of reference, too, of course, but that’s certainly the one that’s cited more often than not, so we might as well cite it here, too.

Given how different it was from such previous Blur albums as Parklife and The Great Escape, it’s no wonder that EMI and – perhaps more concerningly – the British music press believed that Blur’s existing fan base would balk at the band exploring their more experimental side.

Boy, were they wrong...

READ MORE: August 1991: Blur Debut with 'Leisure'

Despite spreading their wings, creatively speaking, Blur found themselves with an album that was embraced in a big way by U.K. audiences: “Beetlebum,” the first single released from the LP, topped the U.K. Singles chart; the second single – the appropriately-named “Song 2” (a placeholder title representing its place on the album, known the world over for its distorted "Woo-hoo!" hook) – hit No. 2; the third single, “On Your Own,” landed at No. 5; and even the fourth single, “M.O.R.,” managed to climb to No. 15. Blur as a whole, meanwhile, provided the band with their third consecutive British chart-topping album.

And how did it do in America?

Well, to be fair, U.S. audiences had always been less receptive to the extremely English sounds of Blur (and most Britpop in general) but the change of sound certainly had an impact: the album made it to No. 61, making it their first LP to crack the upper half of the Billboard 200. The singles, however, didn’t capture the attention of audiences in the same way: only one of them even charted on the U.S. alternative chart.

Yes, of course it was “Song 2,” but here’s what may surprise you: even on that chart, it never got any higher than No. 6...and it didn’t make it onto the Billboard Hot 100 at all!

READ MORE: Blur: Their Greatest Deep Cuts

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