You may not know this, but The Smiths frontman, Morrissey, has a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Even before the world's most maudlin popstar made us all cry, regret eating meat and truly fear for this alleged girlfriend, he was making a name for himself, and his Manchester-born band, for being deep, different, and a little difficult to deal with.
In response to what he viewed as a rash of pompous and frivolously named, and composed, synth-pop bands, Morrissey adopted an ordinary name, for the ordinary folk, and The Smiths was born. The irony, surely not lost on the Eighties most ironic and unaccommodating pop idol, this mundanely named British band cast their contemporaries in a drab light by comparison. Yes, The Human League, A Flock of Seagulls, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark and their like, enjoyed significant success, though not to the level of The Smiths chart-shredding triumph.
Further irony, and again, this was surely intended and enjoyed privately by Morrissey, The Smiths albums, song titles and lyrics are as unordinary as their staggering popularity. Meat is Murder (1985) and The Queen is Dead (1986) debuted at #1 and #2, on the U.K. chart, respectively. All the while, Morrissey loosed venom upon presumed giants of the industry, including the charity supergroup Band-Aid, whom he described as "tuneless."
The Smiths began as a project between Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, who became acquainted at a Patti Smith concert in 1979. The duo solidified into a band in 1982, eventually adding bassist Andy Rourke, and drummer, Mike Joyce. In generally this form, The Smiths produced six LPs, all ripe with emotion, romance, of a sort, and social scorn and commentary. In a final act of irony, Marr, who is dubiously credited with instigating The Smiths ultimate breakup, went on to play with eventual synth-pop legends Pet Shop Boys and Modest Mouse. Whether Morrissey's solo project, Viva Hate, is a reaction to that is open for speculation.