We all have bands or genres that we just cannot abide.

For many, it’s the twangy pop of modern country — a genre rife with seeming self-parody that frequently intermingles hip-hop influences with folksy Southern roots amid U2-like pop-rock grandeur with none of the self-aware irony.

Or perhaps it’s electronic music — the unrelenting bombast of computer programmers without instruments digitizing sound effects to ape the dial-up tone we used to hear when logging into the internet for the first time. Maybe it’s trap with its hushed, slurred whispers muffled off-time over an alarm clock. Or the snoozefest that is the classical genre.

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I have thought all these things and more, and yet I have continually found myself, given enough time, returning to these genres that I once abhorred with fresh ears and an open mind as the path that led me through metalcore, screamo, and grindcore eventually wound its way through the foothills of all these other genres.

Where once my dad’s country music made me groan, I suddenly found myself listening to artists like Dave Alvin, Cahalen Morrison, and the incomparable Johnny Cash. Where electronic music once gave me migraines, I found myself jamming out to synthwave acts like Perturbator, Carpenter Brut, and Waveshaper or listening to the epic soundscapes of Lights and Motion. Where classical used to put me to sleep within moments, I found myself voluntarily seeking out composers like Ennio Morricone and arrangements by Yo-Yo Ma.

Knowing your limits can always help you push beyond them and announcing your plans is a good way to make the gods laugh.

Exploring music is like exploring food. Food is a glorious thing as a whole, but that doesn’t preclude you from running up against some tastes that just don’t agree with you, or tastes that take time, care, attention, and cultivation to acquire.

Knowing what those distasteful things are is as important as knowing the things we love and can’t get enough of in identifying our music tastes. They help us curb and curate our collections, identify our favorite bands, our favorite records, our favorite songs. They affect how we discover new things and what we are exposed to.

Music taste, as with food taste, is a malleable, evolving thing that rarely (without pure ignorance or pure stubbornness) remains ultimately rigid.

However, some things never change, and one of those things is my loathing of The Smiths.

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People use the word “hate” (as they use the word “love”) rather loosely. Someone staunchly against country music will find themselves poring over Taylor Swift’s back catalogue, or someone who “hates” dance music will still find their hips swinging to some new Steve Aoki release. But hate is the word I would use to describe how I feel about The Smits.

If there’s a more insipid, flaccid wilt of a band than The Smiths, I, in all my storied knowledge, simply cannot conceive of it.

If I wanted to listen to Kermit the Frog moan, ineffectually, over empty indie rock, I would throw “It’s Not Easy Being Green” through some fuzzy production and sync it to some sad ’80s garage band’s demos. Yeah, I said it. Kermit the Frog is a better singer than Morrissey. And you know what else? He always tries to get the band back together and lacks much of the self-important peacock-ery displayed by the mammalian singer.

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The Smiths can do something no other band or type of music (save one) has ever been able to do: The Smiths can make me angry.

I listen to bands like Coffinworm, Ed Gein, and The Locust with equanimity. Mosh-heavy ridiculousness like The Suicide Silence, tech death metal-ers like Job For a Cowboy, beatdown brawlers like Harm’s Way…

None of it affects me like one lousy bar of “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now,” which will immediately set my blood boiling. I will begin hating everyone and everything around me and start hunting for the next person to piss me off.

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The Smiths are nothing but mopey, boring, beige blandness passing as emotional depth. Self-preoccupation is mistaken for deep introspection and morose wallowing is credited as “addressing mental illness” (keep in mind, dear reader, this is coming from someone who regularly sings the praises of The Promise Ring, American Football, and Mineral, so take all this “emo = bad” talk with a mountain of sodium).

Something has always smacked to me of the inauthentic when it comes to Morrissey’s whingeing. Not to mention he’s pompous, probably racist, and a little sexist.

But why is it I think thus? Some of my favorite people on this entire planet dearly love The Smiths’ music. Surely, I am not the only one, but as much as I hate to admit it, The Smiths are a phenomenally talented, deeply affecting band for the vast majority of the world. The visual style of their records is so absolutely mind-numbingly gorgeous that, perhaps beyond any other influences out there, it is still having a major effect on album art today.

Morrissey’s image, aesthetics, and many of his beliefs all fall in line with my own. He shies away from the rock star image, is deeply passionate about animal rights, and is critical of government, religion, educational systems, and gender norms. He uses self-deprecating pop songs to help people frequently at their saddest, loneliest moments feel like they aren’t alone.

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Why, oh WHY, do I hate him so much?

It does nothing for him, of course. He will never, ever see these words nor have a clue who I am, and even if he did, he wouldn’t care. He’d still have a legion of fans (whom he seems to despise), still have been recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (with a band who seems to despise him), and still be an icon for the LGBTQ community. He can wipe his ass with pound-notes and laugh all the way to the bank.

My unrequited hatred affects him not in the least. It only prevents me from experiencing his music, which, you know, I am sorta thankful for ’cause I wouldn’t want to.

…right?

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