Viva Hate: 15 anti-Morrissey songs
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1. Ween, “I Hate The Smiths”
Even if you’re among Morrissey’s multitude of fanatic followers, you have to admit: The warbling, self-absorbed, occasionally arrogant former Smiths singer can be kind of ridiculous. And his inflammatory statements over the years—including recent remarks about the Chinese being a subspecies of humanity—often try the patience of his most ardent fans. So it’s no wonder that the moody crooner is the subject of more than a few hate-songs. Ween’s “I Hate The Smiths” is a classic of that tiny sub-subgenre: Recorded during a live radio broadcast and appearing on the bootleg album Kerry’s Picks, Dean and Gene Ween’s goofy rant starts out good-naturedly enough with the line “All you do is hate life and tell me about it.” But then it degenerates—as far too many anti-Morrissey songs do—into middle-school homophobia: “You’re a homosexual / Just keep me out of it.” Morrissey, of course, has sung about his sexuality extensively throughout the years, but the nature of that sexuality remains ambiguous—which renders “I Hate The Smiths” not only technically inaccurate, but more damning of Ween than of Morrissey. That said, it is kind of catchy.
2. Warlock Pinchers, “Morrissey Rides A Cockhorse”
Although they were on Boner Records alongside the Melvins in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the Warlock Pinchers never had much widespread impact before disbanding in 1992. But the Denver band did have a fluke hit in, of all places, England, with “Morrissey Rides A Cockhorse.” The bratty, punk-rap anthem briefly hit the indie charts in Morrissey’s homeland in 1991. The opening cry is still hilarious; “That crybaby son of a bitch / No-talent motherfucker,” screams MCs King Scratchy and KC Kasum before—surprise, surprise—the dick-sucking allegations start. And yet the song cites the Morrissey song “Suedehead” by name and even cracks a joke about how “his guitarist left him” (a reference to Johnny Marr’s defection from The Smiths in 1987), which means there’s probably at least one closeted Moz fan in the group. The Pinchers recently reformed—with Dale Crover of the Melvins on drums—and it’s a testament to the band’s pop-culture prescience that Morrissey is still as loved and hated today as he was when the song was made.
3. The Mountain Goats, “Anti-Music Song”
For John Darnielle, the man behind the indie-folk institution The Mountain Goats, making fun of Morrissey is slightly hypocritical. After all, Darnielle has written his share of literate, depressing songs. Then again, Morrissey isn’t the main target of Darnielle’s “Anti-Music Song,” in which he rips on derivative artists who try to emulate the likes of Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, and Brian Jones. Still, he manages to fit in a juicy slam against the Moz: “I saw you on TV / Doing a bad imitation of a second-rate songwriter from the ’80s named Morrissey / I never liked Morrissey / And I don’t like you.” In doing so, Darnielle deliberately mispronounces the word “Morrissey”—so that it rhymes with, um, “prissy.”
4. Meatmen, “Morrissey Must Die”
The shock-punk band the Meatmen is the last group of people anyone should look to for political correctness (although members of straight-edge pioneer Minor Threat were once part of the Meatmen’s revolving lineup). Still, the band’s gleefully crass frontman Tesco Vee elevates his hate to an uncomfortable extreme in “Morrissey Must Die.” “Slap that fag with a toe tag / If you won’t do it then I will,” Vee yells amid the usual barrage of Morrissey complaints. (He’s whiny, talentless, English, etc.) Meatmen took the antipathy one step further when they murdered The Smiths’ gloomy anthem “How Soon Is Now?” for a Smiths tribute album, replacing the line “I am human and I need to be loved” with “I’m inhuman and I need to be killed.” Then again, Morrissey shouldn’t take it too personally; an equal-opportunity hater, Vee also wrote the anti-Beatles song “1 Down, 3 To Go” following John Lennon’s assassination.
5. Turbonegro, “Deathtime”
Norwegian trash-punk group Turbonegro never made it clear whether its homoerotic lyrics were an indication that the band’s members are actually gay, or if it’s all just some hate-fuck shtick that went along with their leather gear and sailor hats. Regardless, the band felt comfortable equating “shaking hands with Morrissey” with “sucking cock in East Africa” and “[taking] a shower in Auschwitz” in the song “Deathtime.” The assumption here is that Turbonegro thinks sucking cock and showering in Auschwitz can be bad things—which, of course, isn’t a given.
6. Pansy Division, “Homo Christmas”
Where Turbonegro’s gay credentials are a little fuzzy, Pansy Division’s are bona fide. The San Francisco queercore band has been making catchy, racy, pro-gay punk anthems for two decades, and leader Jon Ginoli never met a stereotype or taboo he didn’t tackle. With that in mind, it’s interesting to see Morrissey’s supposed status as am untouchable gay icon challenged in Pansy Division’s “Homo Christmas,” in which Ginoli takes a swing at the Moz in the lines “Don’t be miserable like Morrissey / Let me do you underneath the Christmas tree.”
7. Mr. Floppy, “100,000 Morrisseys”
Starting with a sample of a guitar riff from The Smiths’ “This Charming Man,” the anti-Moz song “100,000 Morrisseys” is one of the few surviving artifacts from Australian band Mr. Floppy. As an indication of the group’s overarching aesthetic, the 1993 album the song appears on is titled The Unbearable Lightness Of Being A Dickhead; accordingly, the lyrics imagine a nightmarish apocalypse where the fearful question on humanity’s lips is “What shall we do? / What shall we do? / When 100,000 Morrisseys come marching over the hill?” As with the Warlock Pinchers, though, there must have been a secret Moz admirer embedded in the Mr. Floppy’s ranks; in addition to its opening Smiths sample, “100,000 Morrisseys” sports snippets of Morrissey’s yodel from the end of “William It Was Really Nothing” and his “I am sick and I am dull and I am plain” line from “Accept Yourself.”
8. Nerf Herder, “For You”
Nerd-punk outfit Nerf Herder makes plenty of references to other musicians on How To Meet Girls—including the tracks “Courtney” (about Courtney Love) and “Jonathan” (about Jonathan Richman). But on the song “For You,” frontman Parry Gripp drops a less celebratory mention of Morrissey: “I’d be depressed like Morrissey / And slayed by Buffy every week / I would do anything for you.” Granted, the bouncy, über-peppy sing-along is far from the most blistering attack Morrissey has ever faced; still, Gripp rates moping like the Moz just a couple steps above “getting a Michael Bolton tattoo” on his list of hypothetical obstacles between him and his true love.
9. The Sextants, “Morrissey”
Brennan Hester of the ’90s alt-rock band The Sextants sounds more like Morrissey’s contemporary (and pal) Michael Stipe, but that didn’t stop him from writing these lines in the throwaway ditty “Morrissey”: “I can sing like that guy from The Smiths / Morrissey, yeah, that’s his name / I do it so people will like me / And I think it’s kind of neat / But he kind of sounds like a Muppet.” To Hester’s credit, though, he does eventually get around to cartoonishly mimicking the Moz. Toward the end of the song, he sings, aptly enough, “So this is the end of my song,” before adding, “See, I’ve already waited too long”—parroting Morrissey’s voice and famous lyric from The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now?”
10. The Dead Milkmen, “Instant Club Hit (You’ll Dance To Anything)”
The Dead Milkmen took a break from nerdy, twangy, hyperactive punk in 1987 to make “Instant Club Hit,” a snotty, stiffly electronic parody of dance-floor-filling bands of the time such Depeche Mode, The Communards, and Book Of Love. More than that, though, it’s a rejection of goth and so-called “art fag” acts, as The Milkmen define them—and that includes not only Public Image Ltd. and Siouxsie And The Banshees, but also The Smiths, whose lead singer is surely one of the primary targets of the song’s final rant: “You’ll dance to anything by any bunch of stupid Europeans who come over here with their big hairdos intent on taking our money instead of giving your cash where it belongs, to a decent American artist like myself!”
11. A Wilhelm Scream, “Me Vs. Morrissey In The Pretentiousness Contest (The Ladder Match)”
Neither Morrissey nor The Smiths are mentioned directly—or even referenced—in A Wilhelm Scream’s “Me Vs. Morrissey In The Pretentiousness Contest.” But it’s clear that the band’s singer, Nuno Pereira, is using the Moz as a benchmark against which to judge his song’s over-the-top, lovelorn lyrics. But the melodic-hardcore number ends with a few lines that Pereira probably intended to ring with misanthropic, Morrissey-like melodrama: “Our vanity’s a sickness / There’s a world outside prescribed / And I won’t live in it.”
12. O Pioneers!!!, “My Life As A Morrissey Song”
In “My Life As A Morrissey Song,” the rugged punkers of O Pioneers!!! don’t pull any punches over their feelings about Morrissey and his (admittedly exaggerated and misinterpreted) moroseness. “What are you doing? / I’m just sitting around, wasting, wasting myself,” frontman Eric Solomon growls before adding “Do you feel empty, do you feel vacant? / Do you feel worthless? ’Cause I do / No wonder, you’re just moping around.” As with A Wilhelm Scream’s song, Morrissey isn’t mentioned by name in O Pioneers!!!’s, but the title says it all.
13-14. Electronic, “Getting Away With It” and Pet Shop Boys, “Miserablism”
Success on the level of Morrissey’s is bound to breed some professional jealousy. Fellow Mancunian Mark E. Smith of The Fall allegedly hid his hatred of The Smiths’ frontman between the lines of the songs “C.R.E.E.P.” and “Oh! Brother.” But Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys took a more direct swing at Morrissey—without mentioning him by name—in “Getting Away With It,” the debut single by his supergroup Electronic. Co-written and sung by New Order’s Bernard Sumner, the song paints a particularly Morrissey-tinted picture: “I’ve been walking in the rain / Just to get wet on purpose / I’ve been forcing myself / Not to forget, just to feel worse.” Adding insult to injury, Morrissey’s former Smiths bandmate Johnny Marr was also in Electronic. But it didn’t end there. On Pet Shop Boys’ 1994 song “Miserablism,” Tennant takes another jab at Morrissey’s infamous M.O.: “Just for the sake of it / Make sure you’re always frowning / It shows the world that you’ve got substance and depth.” Of course, Moz apologists are quick to point out that his lyrics aren’t all doom and gloom—and that, in fact, he’s one of the funniest wordsmiths in pop history. But Tennant isn’t laughing.
15. Sparks, “Lighten Up, Morrissey”
Before Morrissey became a rock star and then a full-on icon in the ’80s, he was an aspiring music journalist. To this day, he never hesitates to champion his favorite bands. For instance, he chose “Arts & Crafts Spectacular,” by the quirky art-pop outfit Sparks, for his Under The Influence album, a 2003 collection of songs that inspired him as a singer and lyricist. So why would Sparks return the favor in 2008 by writing a song called “Lighten Up, Morrissey?” with lines like, “I got comparisons coming out my ears / And she never can hit the pause / If only Morrissey weren’t so Morrissey-esque / She might overlook all my flaws”? As it turned out, Morrissey is a friend of Sparks’ Ron and Russell Mael, and the brothers quickly admitted the song was written as a satirical tribute. And, according to them, Morrissey got a good chuckle out of “Lighten Up.” Mission accomplished.