Happy Birthday Damon Albarn - here are Blur's best singles in order of greatness
Andrew Trendell

14:15 23rd March 2015

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23 March, 2015: Happy Birthday to Mr Damon Albarn. As the Blur frontman turns 47 today, we thought we'd celebrate just what it is that makes him a British institution - his impeccable songwriting, especially when it comes to hit singles. 

We're currently being spoiled rotten with new material from The Magic Whip, and when you run through their catalogue of game-changing singles up until now when they're still on such fine form, one can't help but feel blessed to still have Blur around. Lucky us. 

So in that spirit, here are Blur's 14 greatest hits, ranked in order of greatness. 

  • 14. 'For Tomorrow': The lead track from Modern Life Is Rubbish, written in reaction to a rather disastrous tour of the USA. Lost in a country of consumerism and grunge, the band fell on largely deaf ears. Albarn's response was this timeless tribute to British life, and the template for the Britpop movement that would follow. A jaunty and thought-provoking classic, worthy of its place in history.

  • 13. 'Parklife': Probably the most automatic earworm of the 90s, forever cemented in the psyche of all indie-disco goers for the rest of time. It's also probably the only time that Phil Daniels will appear in a top ten single.

  • 12. 'Under The Westway': With a smack of 'Whiter Shade Of Pale', but less in a psychedelic haze and firmly with its feet on the ground, as Albarn tender pines this love song to the sweet underbelly of London life.

  • 11. 'Girls & Boys': Britpop takes to the dancefloor with this epoch-defining mirror to the Loaded laddish culture and drug-fuelled hedonistic decadence of the mid-90s of those FOLLOWING THE HERRRD DOWN TO GREEEECE....ON HOLIDAY.

  • 10. 'Charmless Man': Described by Albarn as 'the end of Britpop, for us anyway' this Great Escape gem firmly plants a flag in where the band stood in the class war - with two fingers up to charmless toffs. It's also another great marriage of Albarn's social commentary with Coxon's exquisite guitar riffery.

  • 9. 'She's So High': Something of a novelty among their singles now, as it contains the 'baggy' sound that they (and the rest of the world) would soon abandon - but we love it for that curiosity. It's such fun.

  • 8. 'Song 2': Their most explosive live track and arguably most recognisable single, 'Song 2' is the sound of this band abandoning Britpop and feeding America back to them on a plate. All together now: WOO-HOO.

  • 7. 'This Is A Low': Parklife's beautiful centre-piece, this dreamy tale of slipping through misery to get carried away in the waterways and seas around Britain was inspired by the soothing side-effects of listening to The Shipping Forecast. Not only does it tingle the spine but also jerks the tears.

  • 6. 'Beetlebum': A White Album Beatles' era blend of searing guitar and soaring anthemics, this cut from their self-titled effort was inpired by experiences with heroin and then-girlfriend, Justine Frischmann of Elastica - taking a torn up memory and building it into an almighty pop-rock behemoth.

  • 5. 'Coffee & TV': Taking the mundanity of late 20th Century everyday life and turning it into a mini epic alt-rock ballad that shows Blur at the heigh of their matured grace and consistency . As if that wasn't reason enough to love it, it also gave us one of the most charming and iconic music videos of all time.

  • 4. 'No Distance Left To Run': Another one about Albarn's relationship with Justine, but this time showing the raw-nerved hopelessness and heartache of realising that something beautiful has run its course, and the painful acceptance of watching them move on.

  • 3. 'Tender': More a hymn than an indie single, and letting the true power of Coxon and Albarn;s writing partnership shine with such amazing grace, this sentimental lullaby is about as life-affirming as it gets - and is sure to be a life-changing moment when they play it live this summer.

  • 2. 'The Universal': Yes, the one off of those British Gas adverts, but also a cinematic sci-fi work of genius - showcasing the importance of each band member, and capturing that optimistic essence of 1990s Britain that yes, it really, really, really cloud happen.

  • 1. 'Out Of Time': Lifted from the unfairly maligned Think Tank, this ranks as our favourite Blur cut because it shows what they can achieve when they really catch you off-guard and experiment. It's subtle, crooning minimalism seeming lightyears away from the loudmouthed arena-ready stomp of their more renowned work, but in stripping away all of the Britpop posturing, it lays bare the true beauty of their music and the real genius of Albarn's songwriting.

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