The Story of Pop: 2002 (Chapter 16)

Revisiting the biggest UK chart hits of exactly 20 years ago, every Thursday at 9am, this is The Story of Pop: 2002. This week: one of Britain’s original Britpop kings score their sixth chart topper…

  • Artist: Oasis
  • Song: The Hindu Times
  • Released: 15/04/2002
  • Writers / Producers: Noel Gallagher / Oasis
  • Highest UK Chart Position: #1
  • Weeks on Chart: 11

Let’s be honest here. Come the start of the 00s, Oasis‘ crown as the kings of British rock ‘n roll had slipped somewhat. Yes, “Go Let It Out” had given them a fifth number one in February 2000, but whilst the parent album, Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants was also a chart topper, it sold more in its first week of release (310,000 is the generally agreed number) then it did over the rest of its chart career put together.

By the end of 2000, it didn’t even factor into the top 10 bestselling albums of the year. Even the two follow-up singles – “Who Feels Love?” and “Sunday Morning Call” were perhaps two of the least remembered top 5 hits of the 21st century.

Suddenly the mega-stardom, huge selling peak Britpop days of What’s The Story … Morning Glory? and even the much maligned Be Here Now seemed like a lifetime ago. Speaking in 2011, Noel Gallagher was inclined to agree and dismissed the album, stating that in hindsight, he “had no reason or desire to make music … I just wrote songs for the sake of making an album.”

Clearly, they needed to get things back on track and find their swagger again. And with the recording and release of their fifth studio album Heathen Chemistry, it duly returned – and how. It was their first album with new guitarist Gem Archer and bassist Andy Bell, who had joined following completion of recording of Standing On The Shoulder Of Giants.

Admittedly, critical divide was still mixed; either there was several publications stating that the album was the sound of “a band back on track” (Blender) or, more scathingly, “a hollow shell of their best work” (Stylus Magazine). With such history attached to them, there was a sense that Oasis were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t.

But as far as the record buying public was concerned, they had produced some of the best work of their career. “The Hindu Times” was released as the first single in April, and went straight to number one, landing them their sixth chart topper in all. But even that wasn’t the biggest single of the album.

In June, the genuinely moving “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” was released as the second single ahead of the album, and was never off the radio all summer, just failing by the narrowest of whiskers to top the chart after a surge in demand following its use in the BBC’s coverage of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan (more on that later in the series about a month hence).

After Heathen Chemistry stormed to number one in the album chart in July, accompanied by a series of sell out concerts at Finsbury Park in London, another #2 hit with “Little By Little / She Is Love” followed in September, followed by the entirely Liam Gallagher penned/sung “Songbird” making the top 3 in February 2003. With eventual sales of over 1m copies, for the first time in over five years, Oasis mattered to British rock’n’roll again.

Don’t forget to follow our brand new playlist on Spotify – updated weekly so you never miss a song from the story of pop in 2002. And you can leave your memories of the songs below in the comments, Tweet us or message us on Instagram, using the hashtag #StoryofPop2002.

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