Oasis: Which Gallagher Brother is the best Gallagher Brother?
It’s a story literally as old as Shakespeare:
Two brothers, both alike in dignity,
In fair Manchester, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
Okay, I changed some stuff. You caught me. Who knew you could improve The Bard? Let’s continue.
We’re here to talk about the longstanding duel for supremacy between Oasis brothers Noel Gallagher and Liam Gallagher.
Context: these are the brothers responsible for arguably three of the biggest songs of the 90s (‘Wonderwall’, ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’, ‘Champagne Supernova’).
They are also responsible for the longest-standing familial beef in the UK this side of Prince Charles and Prince William. And, like Charlie and Big Will, they’ve both been vying for King status for what basically amounts to the past 30 years.
Because it is a necessary and important thing to do, in this article we will determine which Gallagher Brother is the best Gallagher Brother according to Science, and by how much.
Points will be awarded to each Gallagher brother for their performance in various categories. At the end of the article, we will arrive at an irrefutably scientific outcome.
We’ll start with Noel, because he’s the obvious one to start with.
Noel wrote all of Oasis’ songs in the ‘90s, if you don’t count that one song where Gary Glitter gets credit as a co-writer. This means that he wrote all of Oasis’ good songs at a time when they were essentially the biggest band in the world.
Are they all good songs? No. I’m not about to stand here and vouch for a song that’s mostly about lasagne.
But are most of them good songs? Yes. There are plenty of deeper cuts, like ‘She’s Electric’ for example, that hold up to criticism. Noel’s is a remarkable legacy of strong songwriting that includes triple j’s hottest song of all time in ‘Wonderwall’.
These are generally unimpeachably smart pop songs that are almost ostentatious in their execution of the format. Noel scores a 9 in this category.
Liam wrote exactly none of Oasis’ songs in the ‘90s, which means that he wrote none of Oasis’ good songs at a time when they were one of the biggest bands in the world. This is science in action.
It’s not as if Liam hasn’t written anything for Oasis or since Oasis: he is definitely capable of songwriting. His most noted contribution to the scientific field of songwriting is probably 2003’s ‘Songbird’, which comes from the Heathen Chemistry album.
It’s perfectly pleasant, but it’s not resonant. The coolest parts of this song are the bluesy piano flourishes, and we can’t say for certain who is responsible for doing the arrangement here. Liam scores a 3.
Liam has one of the most iconic rock voices around. His nasal, distinctly British delivery is immediately identifiable, and prescient and integral to an era in music that his band was at the forefront of.
If you want to get technical, we can also talk about his range and timbre. You don’t hear him hit a lot of ‘impressive high notes’, but you do hear him hit a lot of notes with control and power.
You could argue that the songwriting plays to his strengths as a vocalist, and that’s precisely what makes Noel a scientific 9 on the Songwriting Scale.
As for the timbre, it can be super grating. But that’s kind of the same thing that makes Liam one of the best and most recognisable to do it. He scores an 8 here.
Noel is not as recognisable a vocalist as Liam is, and I think that’s evident in the way that Oasis is a band that features Noel as the main songwriter but Liam as the main singer. The one caveat? ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’. Noel sings lead vocals on that song and it is probably #2 on the list of Big Songs By Oasis.
It’s also maybe their best song, and a strong example of Noel’s capabilities as a singer: not as identifiably tied-to-an-era as Liam’s, but not less capable.
The other example from the ‘90s is that infamous MTV Unplugged set where Liam pretended to be sick and refused to sing so Noel did it all instead while Liam watched from the rafters. It’s surreal to hear The Classics in a voice other than Liam’s, but it’s also kind of beautiful to hear them as Noel wrote them.
‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ earns him a base score of 4 straight away, and the rest of his work bumps him up to a 5.
Which Gallagher Brother is scientifically more rock’n’roll?
It’s Liam, but not by that much.
He’s a larger-than-life hooligan frontman borne of the decade that embraced larger-than-life hooligan frontmen more than any other.
A high score for rock’n’roll is obviously also about living a rock’n’roll lifestyle, and Liam has lived it hard.
He’s been arrested two times – once each for drugs and fighting – lost his teeth once in a brawl, and one time he was also cautioned for grabbing a dude on a bicycle by the collar and dragging him along in his car. He also allegedly headbutted a fan in 1998, and ‘scandalously’ has fathered two children outside of the sanctity of marriage.
Liam seems like a riotous dude, in both senses of the word, and scores an 8 for his behaviour inside and outside of his rock and roll band.
Let it not go unnoticed that Noel is also a certified rock’n’roll Star. You might recall he wrote a song about it. According to this definitely scientific Tripod fan page from the ‘90s, Noel has only been arrested one time, for “being too good looking”, which I didn’t even know was a crime but it makes sense.
He’s also responsible for saying such experiential things as: “until you’ve actually thrown a television out the window, you don’t even know the sense of joy that it brings,” and also “stagecraft is beneath me”.
When I took his picture after an interview last year he gave me a rock’n’roll death stare from which I doubt I will ever truly recover. Look at the boredom and unfuckwithable menace in this man’s eyes. Noel scores a 6.
Neither Gallagher brother is afraid to mince words, and they are both excellent at the art of the insult. Their approaches are decidedly different, but equally effective, like two wrestlers with different combinations of punch moves, loud noises and weapons.
Noel is sophisticated and unyielding. He’s an insulter’s insulter. He combines cunning, attitudinal directness and a firm grasp of the many requisite complexities of executing a good insult to shape up to anyone and anything – including, obviously, his brother.
His best one is probably calling Liam “a man with a fork in a world of soup” in Q Magazine in 2009. We’ll award him a perfect 10 for being one of the best to ever do it.
Liam’s approach to insulting is a lot like former Brisbane Broncos front-rower Gordon Tallis’ approach to being a National Rugby League football player: he severely lacks in the grace and eloquence of his combatant, but the sheer volition of the impact he creates is an unquestionably devastating one.
Case in point: the ongoing series of tweets in which Liam has posted a picture of Noel’s face with a caption that simply reads: “POTATO”.
It is not a clever insult by anyone’s standards, but goodness gracious it is effective. Liam also scores a 10 here for his ability to absolutely savage his opponent with maximum word economy.
Noel Gallagher: 9 + 5 + 6 + 10 = 30 points
Liam Gallagher: 3 + 8 + 8 + 10 = 29 Points
Noel Gallagher is the better Gallagher, according to Science, by about 2.5%.
Thank you for your participation in this study.