Envy is a natural human emotion, one that Morrissey himself appears to have been on the receiving end of, on more occasions than he cares to remember. Certainly the bile that leeches through "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful" appears to have more than one foot in the truth, as the lyric places itself in the heart and soul of a disgruntled onlooker who believes, no matter how successful the so-called "star" is, he could have been more successful still. "It should have been me... everybody says so." But it wasn't, so he assuages his rage by heaping scorn upon the person who pushed them out of the way. Even more personal is the second verse's observation that, not only do "we" hate it when our friends become successful, "if they're northern that makes it even worse" - Morrissey's own hometown of Manchester is, of course, in the English north.
Hardly surprisingly, attempts by sundry journalists and other observers to winkle out the true target of the song have forever come to naught, but the secrecy has not harmed "We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful" in the slightest. Released as the first single from the then-forthcoming Your Arsenal album in May 1992, it returned Morrissey to the UK Top 20 for the first time in two years, while a rousing live version closes 1993's Beethoven Was Deaf album in suitably rousing style.