Wonderwall (song)

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"Wonderwall"
Wonderwall cover.jpg
Single by Oasis
from the album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
B-side
Released30 October 1995 (1995-10-30)
Format
RecordedMay 1995
StudioRockfield Studios, Monmouthshire, Wales
GenreBritpop[1]
Length
  • 4:19 (album version)
  • 3:45 (radio edit)
LabelCreation
Songwriter(s)Noel Gallagher
Producer(s)
Oasis singles chronology
"Morning Glory"
(1995)
"Wonderwall"
(1995)
"Don't Look Back in Anger"
(1996)
Music video
"Wonderwall" on YouTube
(What's the Story) Morning Glory? track listing
12 tracks
  1. "Hello"
  2. "Roll with It"
  3. "Wonderwall"
  4. "Don't Look Back in Anger"
  5. "Hey Now!"
  6. Untitled
  7. "Some Might Say"
  8. "Cast No Shadow"
  9. "She's Electric"
  10. "Morning Glory"
  11. Untitled
  12. "Champagne Supernova"

"Wonderwall" is a song by the English rock band Oasis, written by the band's lead guitarist and main songwriter Noel Gallagher. The song was produced by Owen Morris and Gallagher for their second studio album (What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995). According to Gallagher, "Wonderwall" describes "an imaginary friend who's gonna come and save you from yourself".[2]

The song was released as the third single from the album in October 1995. "Wonderwall" topped the charts in Australia and New Zealand. The song reached the top ten on another ten charts, including Canada and the United States at number 5 and 8, respectively, as well as number two on both the UK Singles Chart and Irish Singles Chart. The single was certified triple platinum by the British Phonographic Industry and certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

It is currently the most streamed 90s single on Spotify and the most streamed song released before 2000,[3] with over 565 million streams as of November 2018.[4][5]

It remains one of the band's most popular songs; on 9 June 2013, it was voted number one on Australian alternative music radio station Triple J's "20 Years of the Hottest 100".[6] Many notable artists have also covered the song, such as rock singer Ryan Adams in 2003, folk singer Cat Power and jazz musician Brad Mehldau in 2008.[7]

Background[edit]

The song was originally titled "Wishing Stone". Noel Gallagher told NME in 1996, that "Wonderwall" was written for his then-girlfriend (later wife), Meg Mathews.[8][9] However, after Gallagher divorced Mathews in 2001,[10] he said the song was not about Mathews: "The meaning of that song was taken away from me by the media who jumped on it, and how do you tell your Mrs it's not about her once she's read it is? It's a song about an imaginary friend who's gonna come and save you from yourself".[2]

Recording and composition[edit]

The song was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales, during a two-week recording of the Morning Glory album in May 1995. Owen Morris produced the song in a half-day along with Noel Gallagher using a technique known as "brickwalling" to intensify the sound of the song.[1]

Liam Gallagher served as lead singer on "Wonderwall" after Noel had given him a choice between "Wonderwall" or another single from the album, "Don't Look Back in Anger".[9]

"Wonderwall" is written in the key of F minor and is set in common time with a moderate dance groove.[11] Gallagher's voice ranges from an E3 to an F4 in the song.[11]

Live performances[edit]

Noel debuted the song on UK TV, backstage at Glastonbury and broadcast on Channel 4 on 24 June 1995. The song wasn't performed by the band during their headline performance the night before.

In August 2002, Noel changed the arrangement of his live performances of the song to a style he admitted was heavily influenced by Ryan Adams's cover of the song. That arrangement has persisted through his most recent live performances of the song, but prior to the band's 2008-9 tour, the original arrangement was used for live performances of the song by the full band with Liam Gallagher on vocals and electric guitars. During the 2008-9 tour, the band returned to performing the song in a semi-acoustic form, in an arrangement closely resembling the album version.

Music video[edit]

The music video original sequence by Johanna Bautista (Sweetheart Massive Attack) to the song was filmed by director Nigel Dick with his regular collaborator DOP Ali Asad in the relatively brief period when bassist Paul "Guigsy" McGuigan quit the band due to nervous exhaustion; Scott McLeod came in to replace him.[12]

The song won British Video of the Year at the 1996 Brit Awards.

The video has reached over 200 million views on the official Oasis YouTube channel, making it the most popular Oasis video on the Internet.[13]

Cover art[edit]

The sleeve artwork was inspired by the paintings of the Belgian surrealist René Magritte, and was shot on Primrose Hill in north London by Michael Spencer Jones. The hand holding the frame is that of art director Brian Cannon. The original idea was to have Liam in the frame before Noel vetoed that idea whilst the shoot was taking place.[14] Instead a female figure was deemed necessary and Anita Heryet, a Creation Records employee, was asked to stand in as cover star for the shot.[15]

Personnel[edit]

Chart and sales performance[edit]

"Wonderwall" reached the No. 2 spot in both Ireland and the United Kingdom in October/November 1995. In the UK, the song was held off the top spot by "I Believe" by Robson & Jerome. It finished at No. 10 in the end of year charts for 1995 and No. 26 in the end of decade charts for the 1990s in the UK. It has sold 1.34 million copies in the UK as of October 2016, making it Oasis' biggest selling song in their homeland[16] and the third biggest seller never to top the UK Singles Chart.[17]

In the U.S., it peaked at number one on the Modern Rock Tracks chart for a then-unprecedented ten weeks, and reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100; their biggest hit and their only top 40 hit on the chart (many of their songs were ineligible to chart). "Wonderwall" also proved to be a major hit in Australia and New Zealand claiming the No. 1 spot in both countries.

Awards and accolades[edit]

  • The American magazine The Village Voice's Pazz & Jop critics' poll ranked "Wonderwall" at number 11 on its annual year-end poll in 1995. The following year, "Wonderwall" was ranked at number four, tied with Pulp's "Common People".[18][19]
  • In the Grammy Awards of 1997 the band received a nomination for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group and Noel Gallagher picked up an additional nomination for Best Rock Song, winning neither.[20]
  • In May 2005, "Wonderwall" was voted the best British song of all time, in a poll of over 8,500 listeners conducted by Virgin Radio.[21]
  • In August 2006, "Wonderwall" was named the second-greatest song of all time in a poll conducted by Q Magazine, finishing behind another Oasis song, "Live Forever".[22]
  • In 2006, U2's guitarist The Edge named "Wonderwall" one of the songs he most wishes he'd written.[23]
  • In May 2007, NME magazine placed "Wonderwall" at number 27 in its list of the 50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever.[24]
  • On 28 June 2007, NME stated that Alex James, bassist of Blur, who had been long-standing rivals with Oasis, said: "Wish I'd written it. He's got a great voice, Liam (Gallagher)".[25]
  • In July 2009, "Wonderwall" was voted at number No. 12 in the Hottest 100 of all time countdown poll, conducted by Australian radio station Triple J. More than half a million votes were cast.[26]
  • In February 2014, the song was voted No. 36 of The 500 greatest songs of all time, according to NME.[27]
  • In March 2016, "Wonderwall" was voted the greatest British song of all time by Radio X listeners.[28]

Track listings[edit]

All tracks written by Noel Gallagher, except where noted.

UK single
No.TitleLength
1."Wonderwall"4:18
2."Round Are Way"5:42
3."The Swamp Song"4:19
4."The Masterplan"5:23
Total length:19:52
US single
No.TitleLength
1."Wonderwall"4:14
2."Round Are Way"5:41
3."Talk Tonight"4:11
4."Rockin' Chair"4:33
5."I Am the Walrus (Live Glasgow Cathouse June 1994)" (Written by Lennon–McCartney)8:14
Total length:26:53

Charts[edit]

The Mike Flowers Pops version[edit]

"Wonderwall"
MikeFlowersPopsWonderwallcover.jpg
Single by The Mike Flowers Pops
from the album A Groovy Place
B-side
  • "Son of God"
  • "Theme from Memory Man"
Released18 December 1995 (1995-12-18)
Format7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, CD single, cassette single
GenreEasy listening
Length2:40
LabelLondon
Songwriter(s)Noel Gallagher
Producer(s)Adrian Johnston
Mike Roberts
The Mike Flowers Pops singles chronology
"Wonderwall"
(1995)
"Light My Fire" / "Please Release Me"
(1996)

British band The Mike Flowers Pops released an easy listening version that reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart—just as the Oasis original had done two months earlier—during Christmas 1995. On New Year's Day 1996, it earned a Silver certification from the British Phonographic Industry for sales greater than 200,000 copies. This cover also became Scotland's Christmas number one for 1995 and reached the top 10 in Ireland and Sweden. Noel Gallagher mentioned that when BBC Radio 1 premiered the song, they jokingly claimed that they had found "the original version of Wonderwall". Gallagher, who had been in America at the time, was surprised to be asked by one of his record company's executives if he had actually written the song.[70]

The Mike Flowers Pops cover was used in the 1997 film The Jackal, and also in the 1999 film Superstar.

Charts[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (1995–1996) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[71] 48
Ireland (IRMA)[72] 10
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[73] 40
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[74] 29
Norway (VG-lista)[75] 13
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[76] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[77] 5
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[78] 2

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (1995) Position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[79] 47

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[80] Silver 200,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Other notable cover versions[edit]

Ryan Adams' version, first performed in 2001, and later released in 2003 on Love Is Hell pt. 1 EP, was well received by Noel Gallagher.[81] It was featured in The O.C. episode "The Heartbreak". It was featured in the final scenes of the Smallville Season 3 episode "Velocity" and the first season of the Israeli documentary series Couchsurfers. In an interview with Spin, Gallagher said "I think Ryan Adams is the only person who ever got that song right."[81]

"Wonderwall" was featured in the popular mashup "Boulevard of Broken Songs" mixed by Party Ben in late 2004, which also contained parts of both Travis's "Writing to Reach You" and Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". In late 2006, Gallagher accused Green Day of 'ripping off' "Wonderwall", saying "If you listen, you'll find it is exactly the same arrangement as "Wonderwall". They should have the decency to wait until I am dead [before stealing my songs]. I, at least, pay the people I steal from that courtesy".[82]

Paul Anka also covered the song on his swing album Rock Swings, released in 2005.

American rapper Jay Z often has his crowds sing "Wonderwall" after his song "Jockin' Jay-Z",[83] which includes a reference to Noel Gallagher's criticism of the rapper's involvement in the typically rock-centric Glastonbury Festival in 2008. It launched a war of words between Jay Z and Oasis, with an Oasis band member describing Jay Z's actions as akin to an "eight-year-old girl."[84] After Oasis broke up, Jay Z later claimed he would like to work with Liam Gallagher.[85]

Country group Little Big Town covered the song on an episode of Greatest Hits and later included it as part of the set list during the UK leg of their Breakers Tour.

Renard Queenston Made a Song named "Sinisterrrrrrrr"[86] Using Some Lyrics of Wonderwall with Sound effects from the Game "Sinistar"

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  70. ^ From the promotional documentary for Stop the Clocks, entitled Lock the Box.
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  81. ^ a b "The SPIN Interview: Noel Gallagher | Spin Magazine Online". Spin.com. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 2010-05-31.
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  84. ^ Hot right now:    . "Gem Archer interview". Gigwise.com. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  85. ^ "Clash Music". Clash Music. 6 October 2009. Retrieved 10 June 2015.
  86. ^ LAPFOX TRAX (2009-08-18), Renard - Sinisterrrrrrrr, retrieved 2018-09-09

External links[edit]