The Smiths - are they overrated or not?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by antonkk, Mar 4, 2011.

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  1. antonkk

    antonkk Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I once had a Smiths phase and somehow still have all their records as well as several Morrissey solo albums. Not that I listen to them anymore but it's not that I don't like the band. I generally dislike 80's indie but these guys certainly had talent. Plus they really had something special about them. However listening from some distance it strikes me that while some tunes were great but some vocal mannerisms were extremely annoying. You can get really tired of their music after only 2 or 3 songs. Mozza's lyrics were cool but the self-pity thing is not something that you want to relate to all your life if you know what I mean. And while Johnny Marr was a good guitarist who played cool little parts he wasn't nearly as brilliant as british critics wanted you to believe.

    Which brings us to the question of hype - we're talking about the band hyped as the most important since The Beatles and arguably the coolest ever. I think even Smiths fans would agree that they had their share of over-the-top hype, in UK especially. The elitist 80's cult surrounding The Smiths (especially their place in rock history) certainly had all the birthmarks of indie snobbery and somehow bordered on the edge or religious. You know all the talk of Queen is Dead as THE album of the 80's etc.

    So how do your rate em after all these years - a nice 80's british band with few cool songs and a decent guitar player or as saviours of 80's rock'n'roll and gods of british music?
    chodad and Siegmund like this.
  2. Jon Busey-Hunt

    Jon Busey-Hunt Forum Resident

    Minneapolis, MN
    Wait a sec, though -- I think if anything is hyped, it's Morrissey's rep as being a self-pitying sad sack. His lyrics are funny! Yeah, he's self-depricating, at times, but he's also extremely literate and very, very funny.

    I wouldn't say Johnny Marr is the least bit overhyped.

    And finally, I'd say their albums -- especially "The Queen Is Dead" -- hold up enormously well. Best of the 80s? Maybe not, but man, is it good.
  3. kwadguy

    kwadguy Forum Resident

    Cambridge, MA
    I think The Smiths define alternative music for their time and place, and their best stuff is great.

    I would not want to live and breath only Smiths music (not that there's enough to live and breath on). But I think it's still relevant.
    broccolid and margaritatoldtom like this.
  4. HiredGoon

    HiredGoon Forum Resident


    Q: Are The Smiths overrated?
    A: No.

    This has been another edition of "Simple Answers To Simple Questions".

  5. dartira

    dartira Forum Resident

    I agree completely with Jon Busey-Hunt, kwadguy and HiredGoon.
  6. Classicrock

    Classicrock Forum Resident

    South West, UK.
    Yes the most overhyped band of the 80's. Can't understand the reverance for them. Unfortunately spurned a generation of indie bands with a similar sound and even lesser material.
  7. Willowman

    Willowman Forum Resident

    London, UK
    I've never seen them hyped as the best thing since the Beatles, or the coolest ever - where did you see that?

    At the time, they were, if anything, the antithesis to 'cool' - not signing to Factory, monochrome sleeves with old movie stills, rather than flashy colour stuff, singing about the Moor's Murderers. Echo & The Bunnymen were portrayed, and perceived, as infinitely cooler (thanks to the antics of Bill Drummond).

    I saw them live a lot of times. They were very, very good.
  8. darkmatter

    darkmatter Gort Astronomer Staff

  9. zen

    zen Forum Resident

    I've always considered myself a pretty well rounded music listener and yet, I couldn't point out a Smiths song even if it hit me over the head...
    and yet I see them on the cover of magazines like they were a band with a popular catalog (Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, U2, etc.)

    Is that the definition of overrated?
  10. Willowman

    Willowman Forum Resident

    London, UK
    No, that just means you're missing out. To be fair to you, they had little chart success in the US, so I guess their profile will always be lower than the other bands you mention.
    margaritatoldtom likes this.
  11. Mistermono

    Mistermono Forum Resident

    Toronto, Canada
    I think that they were like The Beatles in that they were consistently good, released great singles that did not appear on albums, had great b-sides and broke up before they went into decline. In other words, one of the few "perfect" bands (IMO).

    They never had the mainstream appeal or widespread cultural impact of the Beatles, but they remain influential (an indie template if you will) and the music still holds up 25+ years on.

    So that's a no to the OP!
    Pancat, theMess and margaritatoldtom like this.
  12. utenteanonimo64

    utenteanonimo64 Well-Known Member


    I think this is the funniest post I have ever read in this forum!!
    margaritatoldtom likes this.
  13. George Blair

    George Blair Forum Resident

    Portland, OR
    C'mon, everyone must've heard The Smiths at least once. They are great in my opinion, and for the most part they don't sound dated. They managed to avoid most of the bad 80's production that dates so much 80's music.
    Pancat likes this.
  14. Macman

    Macman Forum Resident

    I recall them being named the greatest band ever in a readers' poll in NME or some other British mag.

    I personally can't understand the reverance. While I like a few songs, it all sounds pretty much the same to me.
    john hopkins and Rufus McDufus like this.
  15. Oliver

    Oliver Forum Resident

    When it comes to guitar playing it's too bad taste is often mistaken for limited ability.

    Admit I didn't like The Smiths that much at first but later I rediscovered them and think they were a great band.
    cracklehead likes this.
  16. ARK

    ARK Forum Resident

    Charlton, MA, USA
    Criminally underrated here in the States. I didn't discover then until around 1992, long after they had dismantled. Terrific band.
  17. zen

    zen Forum Resident

    Thanks for being fair. :) I will have to check 'em out! :righton:

    That's a feather in their cap.
    cracklehead likes this.
  18. utenteanonimo64

    utenteanonimo64 Well-Known Member

    One thing must be said: antonkk has really a flair for opening controversial threads!

    I should give it a try one day... perhaps I should post a message that I have burned all my Beatles records because they are the antichrist and see what happens!

  19. Willowman

    Willowman Forum Resident

    London, UK
    I don't think a reader's poll can be described as hype? Isn't hype a manufactured thing?
  20. Guy E

    Guy E Forum Resident

    Antalya, Turkey
    My daughter's interest in The Smiths rekindled my own a few years ago... I hadn't listened to them in years.

    As a younger adult I thought Morrissey's lyrics and delivery were often a negative - too adolescent and overwrought - but I generally find him witty and observant when I listen now. Musically, they were a great band - no fluff, very concise. I will also admit that I never understood why Johnny Marr was considered a guitar god; he's basically a rhythm player. That issue was addressed in the new MOJO where he and Peter Buck compare styles... I guess I have no problem with non-soloists being guitar gods too. Both guys are very inventive and play in service of the song.

    The Smiths were/are worshipped in the UK to a degree that I could never relate to, but that happens with the UK music press so I don't hold it against them. Also, I was well-into my 20's when they arrived so the angst-ridden world view stuff wasn't going to resonate with me like it did with their core fanbase.

    They were the last of the great singles bands. They only made four studio albums, but they have another three album's-worth in singles and b-sides.
    margaritatoldtom likes this.
  21. Oliver

    Oliver Forum Resident

    Actually I think they do have that 80's sound-but I don't think that hurts them in their case.
  22. zen

    zen Forum Resident

    The "manufactured hype" could effect the reader's poll to some degree.
  23. hutlock

    hutlock Forum Resident

    Cleveland, OH, USA
    broccolid likes this.
  24. Macman

    Macman Forum Resident

    Semantics perhaps, but don't fans hype too?
  25. npc210

    npc210 Forum Resident

    Overrated? No.

    Best band of the 1980s? If not, they're damn close.
    Pancat and tmtomh like this.
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