A new academic study on Smiths singer Morrissey claims the singer deserves recognition for his "awkwardness".

The Manchester music legend, who celebrates his 50th birthday this week, should be championed for his shunning of normality and literary influences, according to Dr Gavin Hopps of the University of St Andrews.

In Morrissey: The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart, the first academic study of the singer, Dr Hopps claims the How Soon Is Now? star is the greatest lyricist in the history of British popular music.

"Most existing commentaries on Morrissey retell a gossipy story of the circumstances around his songs or else fashion a biographical portrait out of his lyrics," explained Dr Hopps.

"Either way, his artistry tends to disappear in the process."

Last year was the 25th anniversary of the formation of The Smiths and tonight (May 22nd) Morrissey will mark his 50th birthday by playing to a home audience at the Manchester Apollo.

But despite the singer's influence as a singer and songwriter, Dr Hopps argues Morrissey's contention that he is the "greatest living oddity" is central to his appeal.

"Being embarrassing is a positive feature of Morrissey’s art - as it is in the TV series The Office - which alienates us even as it invites identification," he claims.

"This is of course a matter of comedy - like Les Dawson's piano playing or Frank Spenser's mishaps - though it also involves a defamiliarising effect, which in tickling us encourages critical reflection."

Morrissey: The Pageant of His Bleeding Heart by Dr Gavin Hopps is released in June.

22/05/2009 00:01:01