One of my favorite lesser-known tunes by the iconic 1980s indie rock band The Smiths is the B-side “Oscillate Wildly,” one of the two studio instrumentals the band ever produced. Stare at the title for a second — it’s named for Oscar Wilde, and it is as charismatic, playful, and full of flair as that turn-of-the-century personality was supposed to be.
Morrissey idolized Wilde, who was convicted of homosexuality after a famous trial in 1895, and by naming this otherwise wordless song for his idol, he gave it speech. Listen to “Oscillate Wildly” and think about everything British, everything that doesn’t fit into binary ideas of sexuality, and everything that The Smiths could have been if only Morrissey and Johnny Marr had been able to get along.
Stream: The Smiths – “Oscillate Wildly”