Why Oasis were sued over the song Whatever

18 December 2023, 17:30

Oasis brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher and in the bands 1994
Oasis brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher and in the bands 1994. Picture: 1. Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images 2. YouTube/Oasis

Get the full story behind the 1994 single and its famous lawsuit.

Whatever was released by Oasis on 18 December 1994.

Written by Noel Gallagher, the Britpop band's guitarist and chief songwriter, the six minute and 21 second-long track preached the importance of freedom and self-determination, no matter the outcome.

However, the classic song, which marked the first non-album single from the band, came alongside some well-documented controversy.

Watch its Mark Szaszy-directed video here and find out more about the track below.

Oasis - Whatever

I'm free to be whatever I
Whatever I choose
And I'll sing the blues if I want

- Oasis

The standalone Christmas single - which was released to fill the gap between Oasis' debut album Definitely Maybe and its follow-up (What's the Story) Morning Glory? - debuted at No.3 on the UK Chart, becoming their first Top 5 single ever.

Oasis - Whatever single
Oasis - Whatever single. Picture: Artwork

If the song wasn't impressive enough, its b-side was just as strong, featuring both Slide Away and Half The World Away.

The iconic track also had some famous connections.

Its strings were arranged by Nick Ingham and Noel Gallagher and they were performed by the London Session Orchestra, which featured former ELO violinist Wilfred Gibson.

Neil Innes performs on stage in Victoria Palace, London in 1975
Neil Innes performs on stage in Victoria Palace, London in 1975. Picture: Dick Barnatt/Redferns/Getty

Despite its success, not everything about the single was smooth sailing as it became embroiled in a plagiarism row.

The opening lines and main refrain of the Whatever bore a striking similarity to the melody of How Sweet To Be An Idiot, which was performed at some of Monty Python's live shows.

The track was written in 1973 by comedian and musician Neil Innes, who sadly since passed away on 29 December 2019.

Innes' publishers EMI soon hit the Manchester band with a plagiarism lawsuit, claiming it borrowed heavily from his song.

Listen to it here and decide for yourself:

Neil Innes - How Sweet To Be An Idiot (VOSTFR)

Oasis settled the suit and Innes received a songwriting credit on their successful single.

Ironically, Innes went on to create Beatles parody group The Rutles, who ended up becoming a real touring band, while Oasis continued to be compared to The Fab Four throughout their career.

Innes later made a nod to Whatever at the very beginning of The Rutles' Shangri-La track, which was taken from their 1996 Archaeology album.

Listen to it below:

The Rutles: Shangri-La

We believe that's what's deemed in the biz as a full-circle moment.

Well played, Innes.


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