Morrissey Without Applause

Former “charming man” and lyricist of The Smiths would love to remind you that the days of his influential indie band are forever set in stone. Now, fans are left with the original, aging, and forever raging poet; responsible for the songs Joseph-Gordon Levitt and Zoey Deschanel have loved for years. During a residency at Las Vegas’ famous Caeser’s Palace, the “Pope of Mope” debuted a handful of new songs from a brand new album entitled Bonfire of Teenagers.

“I haven’t been lying,” Moz said on stage in July of 2022, “[…] when I tell you there’s a new album. There really is! […] It will be released in your lifetime. Please don’t go soon.”

It was shortly put up for sale to the highest bidder.

In late November 2020, Morrissey was dropped from BMG Records after a fairly short stint, only releasing three albums. In a statement on his official website, the man himself wrote, “My three albums with BMG have been the best of my career, and I stand by them ‘til death. {…} I wouldn’t want to be on a label that dictates so specifically how their artists should behave – especially when the word ‘talent’ is notably never mentioned.”

BMG did not comment. However, many statements by Morrisey, such as claiming London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is British-Pakistani, “cannot talk properly,” calling assault victims “merely disappointed”, and an outrageous opinion on China’s treatment of animals, all seem to have played a part in the separation.

In early November 2022, Morrissey was under fire yet again for canceling gigs due to a flu diagnosis (and one night of the room being too cold…), but Oasis’ Noel Gallagher accidentally revealed to Radio X, though, that Morrissey was out partying with him one of the nights a gig was canceled. “He’d cancelled a load of gigs […] and I was out in LA with people who knew him and he texted me. He said: ‘Bring your credit card.’ […] He’s sat there and I go, ‘I thought you cancelled all the gigs [because of] pneumonia?’ And he said: ‘And yet here I am’.”

On November 24th, while cancellation conversations were heavy and without any warning or promotion, a song called “Rebels Without Applause” appeared on streaming platforms under Capitol Records. It cleverly references the 1955 James Dean film of similar name and sounds straight out of  The Smiths’ landmark album, The Queen is Dead

Morrissey photographed; courtesy of Donnie Knutson.

Just a few days later, Moz appeared in a rare online interview. “When the industry is bored [of an artist], they just get rid of them,” he tells Fiona Dodwell, “but you can’t with people like me.” Perhaps we let him talk too much; as he quickly follows that thought up with a comment on the “terrible word” diversity, which is apparently, according to the singer, just “another word for conformity”. The main talking point, though, was Bonfire of Teenagers, which he said was to be released “very, very quickly”.

Well, now: the album has now been indefinitely delayed from that “very quickly” date, which we now know was February 2023. Another statement by the powers that be revealed Bonfire of Teenagers was never even scheduled for release in the UK, as still no record label has purchased its distribution rights as of December 2022.

On February 7th, 2023, a new statement appeared on Morrissey’s website. “Morrissey is ‘too diverse’ for Capitol Records (Los Angeles). [They] will not, after all, release [the] 2021 album Bonfire of Teenagers.  At the same time, Capitol Records (Los Angeles) are holding on to the album. Although Morrissey officially signed to Capitol Records (Los Angeles), there has been no mention of [him] on Capitol’s website or on their Artists roster. Morrissey has said that although he does not believe that Capitol Records in Los Angeles signed Bonfire of Teenagers in order to sabotage [the record], he is quickly coming around to that belief.”

Has Morrissey finally talked himself into a hole?