The race for No.1: Blur v Oasis


Members: Liam Gallagher (vocals), Noel Gallagher (lead guitar & vocals), Paul McGuigan (bass), Paul "Bonehead" Arthurs (rhythm guitar), Alan White (drums)

Raised: Burnage, Manchester. Most of band spent long periods on dole. Main songwriter Noel Gallagher was teenage shoplifter, specialising in car radios.

Residence: All the band still live in Manchester apart from Alan White and Noel, who lives in Camden, north London after his last girlfriend kicked him out .

Hits include: Supersonic, Live Forever, Cigarettes & Alcohol, Some Might Say (a No. 1) Leisure: The Gallagher brothers are keen Manchester City fans. They have boasted of prodigious drug-taking and indulge in the old rock'n'roll exploit of trashing hotels. Have been banned from several hotels in the UK. What they'd be doing if hadn't happened: Noel Gallagher reckons he would "probably have robbed a bank." What others say about them: "The singing electricians" (Suede) ,"The Sex Beatles" (The Face) What they say about themselves: "If we stick together and nobody dies, then we can be as good as The Beatles." What Blur say about them: " Quo"


Members: Damon Albarn (vocals), Graham Coxon (lead guitar), Alex James (bass), Dave Rowntree (drums)

Raised: Colchester, Essex. Singer Damon Albarn's mother was a stage designer for Joan Littlewood.

Residence: Albarn lives in Notting Hill, west London with girlfriend Justine Frischmann, singer with Elastica. Frischmann's father helped design the Canary Wharf tower. Albarn says Notting Hill had a great influence on him after he read Martin Amis' London Fields.

Hits include: For Tomorrow, Girls and Boys, To The End, Parklife

Outside interests: Albarn has appeared on Radio 4's Loose Ends with Ned Sherrin, and has written for the Modern Review and GQ magazine.

What they'd been doing if Blur hadn't happened: Albarn says he would be "writing for theatre". What others say about them: "A joke band" ( producer Owen Morris), "the best British band since the Smiths" (Select magazine). What they say about themselves: "Prior to Parklife, we lived in our own little world. Now the world lives in our own little world." What say about them: "The Chas 'n' Dave of pop."