Maybe this isn’t really a debate, though my bet is the scale would tip against the Phish bowl. I realized whenever I slammed the Smiths in order to defend Phish, I was using essentially using the same rationale that people use against to slam Phish.
Phish hatred is not new. It’s been around since the “I hate hippies” idealism started when the first white guy decided to grow dreadlocks and live on a couch. Hippies are an easy target. I get it. In a general sense they hide behind social awareness principles even though they really don’t have anything besides guitar riffs to offer back. I can completely understand why someone would use this hatred as a basis to thinking Phish is the worst band on the face of the planet. Hopefully you can understand why I would use similar hatred to carry a burning hatred for Morrissey’s stupid face.
Since moving to Portland, I’ve built an overwhelming amount of sentiment against passive aggressive and emotionally sensitive hipsters. These are basic characteristics the audience that Morrissey’s whiney voice caters to and it’s an audience that this town has a vast abundance of. The amount of times I’ve been dealt terrible service or given a smug look when I order a coffee has made me want to punch anyone with an asymmetrical haircut in the face. Before I go a little deeper into my anti-Smiths stance, it should be noted that I’ve only listened to the band a handful of times and can’t really name a single song. It wasn’t until I relocated to the Pacific NW that I found out they are fucking popular. I now realize that I did an immaculate job staying away from anyone that would listen to a band that sounded like the flavor vanilla (albeit Phish isn’t the spiciest of flavors but they’re at least rocky road). I can also say that I don’t really like Phish. I like them, and will happily play them when the time calls for it, but I could name 100 other bands I would rather listen to with not much effort.
Clearly, these bands are on damn near opposite ends of the musical spectrum. It’s an apples to oranges comparison that I’m going to debate because I just kind of feel like it, and there is no possible way for you to call me out on my bullshit as I’m writing this.
The best anti-Smiths point I can make is that they do, in fact, suck. They are terrible at music. They may not be the worst band, but they did spawn the birth of a lot more crap that followed in their footsteps. It could be said, The Smiths are the cream of the crap, and I would not dispute that statement. They figured out with the right amount of marketing and product placement they could become a popular band, and they did. Any beginner, high school garage band can master just about anything The Smith’s ever put together. Keep in mind that I have only heard about ten of their songs (because I really did not want to do research for this), but from what I remember, the progressions are extremely simplistic, the instruments arrangements are basic as fuck, and Morrissey’s voice is bland at best.
Phish have amazing instrumental talent and musicianship that is hard to beat. I grew up living for gut crunching guitar solos, bluesy piano riffs, and thundering rhythm sections, specifically, the way Led Zeppelin did it. Phish gives you a little of that with the pure, raw talent it takes remain interesting enough to pull so many die hard followers. Trey Anastasio is constantly regarded as a top-100 guitar player which is completely justified. He plays a sexy hallowed body guitar, has a degree in musical composition, and met all his group members while attending music school. Phish at least got their popularity by massive and relentless touring schedules for three decades now. They started around the same time as the Smiths but didn’t reach their popular state until the late 90s. They had to build their name on their live show and have never excessively cancelled concerts moments before they begin a tour.
What it really comes down to is a classic hippie vs. hipster argument (again) because Phish is hands down the almighty granddaddy band for any hippie under the age of 45 and Morrissey is clearly the original hipster. No matter how much praise he receives he will look down on everyone with entitlement instead of saying thank you. When it comes to fan depreciation, Kanye West isn’t even in the same league as Morrissey.
Worst of all, they made a living capitalizing on the vulnerability of depression prone late teenagers as let they led their hand through a world of never ending sadness. Come to think of it, I guess the Smiths would sound interesting if I was constantly looking at the glass as half empty. This is why it’s hard for me to look at Morrissey’s face or read any article about him being a vegan and then take his music seriously. With his attention seeking antics and boring music, he has somehow managed to be the prima donna and the basic bitch of the music scene.
In the end though, bands that have no interest to me like The Smiths make debating music great. You don’t need to use facts. Because no matter how many you use it’s still completely subjective in nature to have your stance on music. And if it weren’t for self-loathing hipsters that liked shit quality music, I wouldn’t have anyone to make fun of.