“We’re supposed to go along with the idea that they’re good”: Johnny Marr takes aim at We Will Rock You and other jukebox musicals

“There are a lot of things culturally that we’ve just gone along with and they really must stop.”

[L-R] Johnny Marr and We Will Rock You the musical

Credit: Getty Images

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Generally speaking, musicals are like Marmite; you either love ‘em or hate ‘em. And Johnny Marr makes no secret of the fact he’s not too fond of them.

In a new interview with The Sunday Times, the Smiths guitarist answers a few quick-fire questions about his likes and dislikes, and when asked about what he believes is “overrated”, he replies: “I don’t tend to like shitting on people, but Mamma Mia!, for God’s sake, or We Will Rock You, or any of those sorts of musicals.”

“How did it get to that?” he continues. “We’re supposed to go along with the idea that they’re good. What was Meryl Streep thinking she was doing starring in that film, and Julie Walters? What were they thinking?

“There are a lot of things culturally that we’ve just gone along with and they really must stop.”

Now, it’s important to note that Marr could be talking specifically about jukebox musicals; that is, musicals which predominantly feature well-known songs, as opposed to those with mostly original music. Both Mamma Mia! And We Will Rock You fit into that category, with ABBA- and Queen-based soundtracks, respectively.

Unfortunately, the guitarist doesn’t go into much further detail about his disdain for these types of musicals. He does, however, answer several other questions which give us insight into his taste palette.

The instrument he wishes he’d learnt properly? Piano. “I can play it,” he says, “but only in amateurish fashion. I should say though there are guitar players who play the piano nicely like Neil Young, Paul McCartney and David Bowie. They play it as a means to an end and do wonderful things with it. But I would like to be a few levels up from there.”

He also touches on the music he listens to when he needs cheering up: “Any good pop music, which by definition usually means contemporary. There are things from my past that of course make me feel good. But there’s something about hearing music that’s fresh, upbeat and represents the modern world – it makes you feel that everything is okay.”

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