100 Greatest Singers
May 22nd, 1959
Key Tracks "How Soon Is Now?" "William, It Was Really Nothing," "What Difference Does It Make?" (the Smiths), "Irish Blood, English Heart" (solo)
Influenced Thom Yorke, Brandon Flowers, Colin Meloy (the Decemberists)
Bono said that when he first heard Morrissey singing the Smiths' acid-tongued "Girlfriend in a Coma," "I nearly crashed my car and ended up in a coma. He has that gift." An icon of New Wave from his days in the Smiths and in his solo career, Morrissey owns a voice that's mannered, ironic, even consciously feminine — his phrasing owes more to tuxedoed crooners than to any rock singers before him. But his rejection of convention is also why he redefined the sound of British rock for the past quarter-century. With his falsetto cries, rolled r's and warbling yodels, he pulled off lyrics few other singers could possibly have gotten away with, and he opened up possibilities for rockers who've followed him, from Oasis to Interpol.