We can easily find works that are regarded as classics in popular music, but albums that are highly regarded by both media practitioners and critics with different tastes and tendencies are relatively rare. The Queen is Dead by The Smiths, a British band that had a huge impact on Britpop and indie rock in the 1980s, is one of the most highly regarded records in all media. So why is The Queen is Dead rated highly by everyone?
The Smiths’ early record is about the modern rock of the Folk Rock bass, which is the beginning of the subsequent Britpop. However, The Queen is Dead, a representative of The Smiths, is a very pop album that deviates from the traditional pattern. Nevertheless, The Queen is Dead ranked second on the British album charts in 1986. Why is it called an indispensable masterpiece in the indie rock family? Is it simply because the record well incorporated the sarcastic and hopeless realities of British society? Of course, it is important to note that it is projected well against the background of the British era. However, we must never miss the paradoxical charm of The Smiths, such as the feelings of ‘anxiety’ and ‘dissatisfaction’ in a beautiful and emotional melody.
First, The Queen is Dead is a song that openly criticizes the Queen, just like the title The Queen is Dead. You can see very luxurious metaphors and satire, such as describing the mark as a ‘dark and dreary country like a boar stuck between arches’ or changing ‘Highness,’ which means ‘Your Majesty,’ to ‘Lowness.’ The Queen is Dead consists of a total of 10 tracks, each of which humorously satirizes or harmonizes the inequalities in a capitalist society on top of romantic and emotional melodies. In particular, ‘Big Mouth Strikes Again’ attracts even a historical figure named Joan of Arc to give out cruel expressions, and ‘The Boy with the Thorn in His Side’ appeals to isolation and uncomfortable psychology in an elegant and sweet voice, which is very impressive. ‘There is A Light That Never Goes Out,’ the highlight of the album, beautifully decorates the second half of the album with a perfect blend of Johnny Marr’s guitar performance and Morrissey’s exaggerated vocals. Specifically, Morrissey’s nasal sound, which sounds lethargic, highlights fear and despair about the future. The combination of Morrissey’s nasal tone and Johnny Marr’s emotional guitar performance, which seems to contain such anxiety, is so excellent that the expression ‘depressive but beautiful’ alone cannot convey its charm. I hope you can listen to the album yourself, and feel the paradoxical attraction of The Smiths.
*Indie Rock: Alternative rock music found in independent underground music.
Oh Ji-hye [Division of Business Administration,18, Kwangwoon University]