To celebrate 30 years since This Charming Man first charted, we count down the Top 10 most downloaded tracks by The Smiths and controversial frontman Morrissey.
He’s the ‘enfant terrible’ of British pop and some might joke he has an ego almost as impressive as his chart record, and he’s been in our lives for 30 years.
This week in 1983, Morrissey made his chart debut as lead singer of The Smiths with This Charming Man. The controversial star recently published his first-ever autobiography, an insight into his career with and without the Smiths and all the dramas he’s encountered in thirty years in the music industry.
To celebrate three decades of one of pop’s most outspoken artists, we count down his official Top 10 most downloaded tracks – both solo and as part of The Smiths.
10: Suedehead (1988)
Mozza’s first solo single had the honour of giving him his highest chart position to date, beating any of his previous hits with his former Smiths bandmates. The sombre video for Suedehead was filmed in iconic movie star James Dean’s childhood home in the USA. In Autobiography, Morrissey talks about his fears of going it alone: “Recording Viva Hate (the first solo album) was very difficult owing to the enslaved echo, coming from virtually everywhere, that told me I could never possibly be as good as The Smiths”. 25 years on, we rather think he did pretty OK.
9: What Difference Does It Make? (1984)
The Smiths’ third single to be released was one of Morrissey’s least favourite tracks from the band’s self-titled debut album. Morrissey has said that he wanted to release Pretty Girls Make Graves instead, but the title was thought too controversial and he was overruled. The song has no accompanying video as Morrissey claimed in an interview on legendary music show The Tube that the trend for music videos was going to “die very quickly”.
8. Panic (1986)
Next up is one of The Smiths’ most famous songs, with its memorable plea to “burn down the disco” and do something unspeakable to your friendly neighbourhood DJ. Morrissey has said that he fully expected Panic to be the band’s first Number 1, but alas it was not to be – it nudged at the Top 10 but didn’t progress any further.
7. Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now (1984)
Following from the unloved (by Morrissey at least) What Difference Does It Make, the band’s next single gave The Smiths something to celebrate. It was their first ever Top 10 on the Official Singles Chart. The song’s title has haunted Morrissey ever since. In his autobiography he tells of his annoyance at headlines in newspapers like “Heaven Knows He’s Miserable Now”. Well, you did write it, Moz.
6. Everyday Is Like Sunday (1988)
Morrissey’s second solo single gave him another Top 10 and was the first track he performed without his Smiths bandmates on BBC’s music show Top Of The Pops. This being Morrissey, he wore a T-shirt featuring – what else? – the cover of a Smiths album. Which one did he choose? Why, The Queen Is Dead, of course.
5. First Of The Gang To Die (2004)
Morrissey was enjoying big chart success with his comeback album You Are The Quarry, his first release in seven years. First Of The Gang To Die was the second single, following up Morrissey’s first ever Top 3 hit Irish Blood, English Heart. Moz was back! Back! BACK!
4. Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want (1984)
While this track features high on the most downloaded tracks countdown, it was never actually a single! Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want was the B-side to Number 17 hit William, It Was Really Nothing, so why so popular, you may ask. The song has featured in major Hollywood movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty In Pink and has been covered by a wide range of artists. A cover of the song also happened to feature in a major Christmas ad campaign by a big department store.
3. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out (1986)
This track from The Smiths’ third album The Queen Is Dead was never a single while the group were together. It was released five years after they split, to promote the band’s greatest hits collection Best, which hit Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart. Morrissey reveals in his autobiography that he never wanted There Is A Light That Never Goes Out included on The Queen Is Dead. “It is often a relief to be wrong,” he says.
2. How Soon Is Now (1985)
Like Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, How Soon Is Now was originally a B-side to William, It Was Really Nothing in 1984. When it was officially released the following year, it gave the band their fifth Top 40 hit. How Soon Is Now was covered by controversial Russian duo tATu for their debut album and was sampled by Soho on their only chart hit Hippychick, which reached Number 8 in 1991. The song would live again in 1992 when it was rereleased to promote The Smiths’ greatest hits collection Best.
1. This Charming Man (1983)
At the top of Morrissey’s and The Smiths’ most downloaded track countdown is the song that started it all: This Charming Man.
Speaking to Official Charts, Greg Cochrane of NME.com says: "This Charming Man remains an absolute classic. Even now step into an indie clubnight and you're guaranteed to hear it – a testament to its enduring popularity. A truly iconic track."
This Charming Man would best its original chart placing on rerelease in 1992, giving The Smiths their third and final Top 10 hit on the Official Singles Chart.
And just in case you’re interested – and you probably are, let’s face it – here’s 11-20:
|11||STOP ME IF YOU THINK YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE BEFORE||SMITHS|
|12||BIGMOUTH STRIKES AGAIN||SMITHS|
|13||THE BOY WITH THE THORN IN HIS SIDE||SMITHS|
|14||THE LAST OF THE FAMOUS INTERNATIONAL PLAYBOYS||MORRISSEY|
|15||I'M THROWING MY ARMS AROUND PARIS||MORRISSEY|
|16||GIRLFRIEND IN A COMA||SMITHS|
|17||IRISH BLOOD ENGLISH HEART||MORRISSEY|
|18||YOU HAVE KILLED ME||MORRISSEY|
|20||THAT'S HOW PEOPLE GROW UP||MORRISSEY|
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