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|Single by Blur starring Phil Daniels|
|from the album Parklife|
|Released||22 August 1994|
|Format||7-inch vinyl (jukebox only), 12-inch vinyl, cassette, 2× CD|
|Recorded||October 1993-January 1994|
|Songwriter(s)||Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James and Dave Rowntree|
|Producer(s)||Stephen Street, John Smith, Blur|
|Blur starring Phil Daniels singles chronology|
|Parklife track listing|
"Parklife" is the title track from Blur's 1994 album Parklife. When released as the album's third single, "Parklife" reached number 10 on the UK Singles Chart and number 30 in Ireland. The song is noted for containing elements of spoken word in the verses, narrated by actor Phil Daniels, who also appears in the song's music video. The choruses are sung by lead singer Damon Albarn.
The song won British Single of the Year and British Video of the Year at the 1995 Brit Awards and was also performed at the 2012 Brit Awards. The Massed Bands of the Household Division performed Parklife at the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony. The song is one of the defining tracks of Britpop, and features on the 2003 compilation album Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop.
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A number of newspaper articles about the young middle classes' adoption of Estuary English appeared during the single's chart run, including one in The Sunday Times on the day the song entered the singles chart (although Daniels' accent is more obviously cockney).
The song played a part in Blur's supposed feud with fellow Britpop band Oasis at the 1996 Brit Awards when the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, taunted Blur by singing a drunk rendition of "Parklife" (with Liam changing the lyrics to "Shite-life" and Noel shouting "Marmite") when the members of Oasis were collecting the "Best British Album" award, which both bands had been nominated for.
Despite what is commonly believed, the song does not refer to Castle Park in Colchester, the town where the band hail from. According to Damon Albarn when introducing the song during their July 2009 Hyde Park performance, "I came up with the idea for this song in this park. I was living on Kensington Church Street, and I used to come into the park at the other end, and I used to, you know, watch people, and pigeons...", at which moment Phil Daniels appears onstage. Daniels also performed a rendition of the song at the band's headline slot at Glastonbury Festival 2009 and at the band's second Hyde Park concert in August 2012, and at the 2012 Brit Awards.
Initially, Daniels had been approached to recite a poem for "The Debt Collector". However, Albarn could not find a poem he liked, and Daniels was asked to sing lead vocals on "Parklife" instead. Daniels reinvigorated the band, who had grown tired of working on the track.
The song's music video (directed by Pedro Romhanyi) filmed next to The Pilot pub on the Greenwich Peninsula features Phil Daniels as a smarmy double glazing salesman (an homage to Tin Men), with Albarn as his assistant. Other band members appear as various characters from the song, including Dave Rowntree and Alex James as a couple, with the latter in drag. At one point, Albarn is impressed to see a man (Graham Coxon) carrying a placard reading "Modern Life Is Rubbish", the title of Blur's previous album; on the reverse is written "End of a Century", the title of their subsequent single from Parklife.
The car used by Daniels and Albarn is a bronze-coloured Ford Granada Coupe Mk1. In one part of the video, the Granada pulls up next to an Audi Cabriolet convertible and Daniels says "It's got nothing to do with your 'Vorsprung durch Technik' yer know". The driver, seemingly played by Alex James, grimaces back at him. Both cars then pull away at speed to reveal 'Parklife' written on the tarmac.
The song started to be played at football matches in the mid-1990s, later becoming a "football anthem" and featuring on albums like The Best Footie Anthems in the World...Ever! and The Beautiful Game, the Official Album of Euro 1996.
Thus, Nike aired a television advertisement in 1997 called Parklife. The advertisement featured the song and many famous Premier League footballers, including Eric Cantona, Ian Wright and Robbie Fowler. The advert received acclaim and later was rated the 14th best advert of all time by ITV in 2005, and as the 15th best by Channel 4 in 2000.
This song is also sung at Carrow Road, the home of Norwich City F.C., with the words "All the Germans, so many Germans, and they all go hand in hand, hand in hand through their Farkelife... FARKELIFE!" This is due to the fact that manager Daniel Farke bought so many German players.
Reception and sales
Billboard wrote: "Blur continues to explore its newfound interest in shameless pop, first exploited on the giddy, 'New- Romantic'-sounding 'Girls & Boys.' This follow-up is pure fun, as the British act pounces through bouncy melodies, woven through playful guitars and spoken-word vocals." In May 2007, NME magazine placed "Parklife" at number 41 in its list of the 50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever.
"Parklife" is the best-selling single from the album, with 190,000 copies sold.
CD1 CD1 / Cassette
2012 Brit Awards
- Note: the 7" vinyl edition was pressed for use on jukeboxes and was not issued commercially.
Blur provided the single with a selection of strikingly contrasting B-sides, all pastiches of other genres of music. One of a number of occasional Blur songs written in waltz time and built on an arrangement of harpsichord, piano and string synths, Theme from an Imaginary Film was planned but rejected for the film Decadence. Supa Shoppa was an instrumental in the style of acid jazz, recorded with percussion, synth flute and Hammond organ parts. Drowned in Sound, reviewing Blur's career, noted that it had been a "perfect live opener for the Parklife tour when cranked up." Beard also parodied jazz music, and was named based on the stereotype of jazz fans wearing them. An additional alternative version of To the End was also added. (At the time, to boost singles' chart placings it was customary for bands to release singles in several formats with exclusive tracks to encourage fans to buy them all.)
- Damon Albarn – lead vocals, piano, Hammond organ
- Phil Daniels – narration
- Graham Coxon – electric guitars, alto saxophone, backing vocals
- Alex James – bass guitar
- Dave Rowntree – drums
- Simon Clarke – baritone saxophone
Charts and certifications
- "History". BRIT Awards.
- , The Hollywood Reporter.
- Sullivan, Caroline (16 July 2012). "How we made: Graham Coxon and Stephen Street on Parklife by Blur". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
- "Blur's Parklife in Greenwich". 853. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- "Nike scores own goal on Hackney Marshes". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2019.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 5 March 2009. Retrieved 17 April 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "UK TV Adverts - Fun Facts". www.uktvadverts.com.
- Smith, Giles (12 February 2015). "Giles Smith: More, more, more". Chelsea Football Club. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
- "Home". Pink Un - Norwich City Football Club News. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
- Flick, Larry (13 August 1994). "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard: 61. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
- Myers, Justin (2 May 2014). "Official Charts Flashback 1994: Blur – Parklife". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 14 November 2018.
- Hammond, Didz. "Blur Parklife". Drowned In Sound. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
- Cavanagh and Maconie (1995). "How did they do that?". Select. July. Retrieved 5 August 2015.
- Hammond, Didz. "Blur Parklife". Drowned in Sound.
- "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Park Life". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
- "Official Scottish Singles Sales Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
- "British single certifications – Blur – Parklife". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2 November 2018. Select singles in the Format field. Select Gold in the Certification field. Type Parklife in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.