“Song 2” stands out for British band Blur in a few ways. The blaring anthem, released 20 years ago today, easily marks one of the band’s biggest worldwide hits to date, but it also stands out as the song that sounds least like the rest of its Brit-pop catalogue.
A one-off idea, written one murky, hungover day in the studio, “Song 2” was a sonic burst of energy that was tossed out and thrown together. But the result found a place in the '90s zeitgeist, in a time when bands like Nirvana were carving out a space for aggressive, fuzzed-out rock music in the mainstream.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of this song, here are 20 things you might not know about Blur's hit.
1. “Song 2” was meant to be a parody of grunge, a popular genre at the time thanks to the likes of Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.
2. There wasn’t much thought put into this song. According to bassist Alex James, “We didn’t think about it all.” He added that he had a “really bad, sweaty” hangover the day they wrote the song.
3. Producer Stephen Street revealed in an interview with Q Magazine that “Damon [Albarn]’s guide vocal was pure babbling but it worked so well I suggested we went with it.”
4. The song’s title was a placeholder from its demo tapes, which never got replaced.
5. The numerology worked out in its favour though, as it’s the second song on Blur’s self-titled album, it’s two minutes and two seconds long and there are two verses and two choruses. It’s also coincidentally peaked on U.K. charts at No. 2.
6. That track almost didn’t make Blur’s album because the band thought it was too short.
7. The song was recorded using two drum kits, with drummer Dave Rowntree and guitarist Graham Coxon banging on the drums simultaneously.
8. Rowntree said, in a 2015 interview with XFM, that Blur would “never get invited to a festival again” if they don’t play “Song 2.”
9. During the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2009 Stanley Cup run, the team used “Song 2” as a celebratory jam whenever it scored a goal.
10. The song has also been used in fictional sports, making an appearance in video games such as FIFA: Road to World Cup 98 and Madden NFL 11.
11. A man in England thought that a squeaky ticket barrier in the London Underground sounded like Albarn’s signature “Woo-hoo!” so he edited together a video fusing the two together. The results have earned almost one million views on YouTube.
12. In 2014, Albarn performed “Song 2” without the rest of Blur for the first time at a solo show in Boston.
14. Avril Lavigne also played the song live, during one of her tours, but only on the drums. In an interview, Lavigne said she originally planned to cover Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” but changed her mind to “Song 2” when she heard it on the radio. “It’s a song that gets everybody jumping and it’s got a cool drum beat to it,” she explained.
15. Lavigne wasn’t the only one who learned how to play the drum part in “Song 2” — this four-year-old learned to play the song.
16. Wanna see one man cover the entire song? Well there’s a video for that, too.
17. Big Time Rush samples “Song 2” in its 2012 song “Windows Down,” which was co-written by Kesha.
18. "Song 2" was originally supposed to be one-third slower, but Coxon sped things up. Albarn admits that the final version sounds much better.
19. To get a sense of what the slowed-down version might’ve sounded like, Blur performed an alternative version of “Blur 2” on a Spanish TV show in 1997. This relatively stripped-down take features an acoustic guitar instead, and a laidback Albarn sitting and singing on a stool.
20. Some may correlate the song’s main refrain, “Woo-hoo!,” with a certain cartoon character: Homer Simpson. Well, “Song 2” was actually used on an episode of The Simpsons.
More to explore: