On… Morrissey’s oxymoronic voice

“It is possible to discern an ‘oxymoronic’ conjunction of anithesis in the singer’s vocal habits: in his tendency towards a dandyish refinement as well as the carnivalesque; in the conflicting claims of the mind and the body that are figured in his falsetto; in the opening up of a ‘third’ space that conjoins both masculine and feminine codes; and in the often inseperable fusion of seriousness and play that is apparent in his more ‘eccentric’ gestures (on the one hand, his straining and ‘breaking’ voice has a serious ideological dimension, whose advertisement of ineptitude and vulnerability is implicitly but crucially a flag of the human, whilst on the other hand the ‘doodling’ of his melisma and yodelling is an example of the singer’s wonderful light-heartedness, which springs up all over the place like flowers through marble).

And finally, a ‘deconstructive’ tendency has come into view, both in Morrissey’s adoption of a ‘borrowed voice’, which in its performative constitution of identity within ‘a stolen space’ points towards ‘the imitative structure of gender itself’, and also in his travestying of his own lyrics, which opens up a space between the speaking subject and what is said, and in doing so fundamentally destabilises its meaning.”

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