You're so deep, really. That post you made in Livejournal where you compared yourself to a vampire and referenced that 19th century writer of questionable sexuality before quoting random song lyrics? We've never heard anything like it before.

Just The Facts

  1. The term "Goth" is basically an excuse for boys to wear eyeliner thinly disguised as a music genre/lifestyle.
  2. We say this because the majority of people that participate in this lifestyle would not be caught dead referring to themselves as "goth".
  3. Some girls just should not be allowed to wear corsets. Seriously, there should be a law.
  4. We here at Cracked prefer Goth to Emo, but mostly because Goth chicks are easy (even if it does turn out to be a dude in a dress).


Yes, this is a thing. You only wish we were joking.
Yes this is a thing. You only wish we were joking.

Most people within this subculture have a musical timeline that predominantly includes their favorite bands that only they get because they're so deep you just couldn't understand, dad and mom! For the most part, however, most can agree that Goth music has it's origins during a blip in England's pop culture history, while "first-wave" punk was on it's way out. It can be traced back to four bands (Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure and Siouxie and the Banshees) that had little in common besides apparently being in a really bad mood in the late-70s/early-80s.

Drawing heavily from the gloomier bands of the glam era, as well as their contemporaries in the emerging post-punk scene, a good candidate for the first-ever Goth song would be Bauhaus' first single, "Bela Lugosi's Dead". It's a sparse, echoey track where guitarist Daniel Ash spends eleventy-five fucking minutes figuring out which chord he feels like clumsily strumming and singer Peter Murphy repeats the title over and over in his best David Bowie impression (an impression he will do for his entire career). According to legend, this track was done live in the studio, in one take. Could have fooled us.

Gothic music emerged in the United States by way of the Southern California's "death rock" scene of the early-80s, pioneered by bands like 45 Grave, TSOL, and Christian Death. These bands were, for the most part, punk-influenced as well, but many began to incorporate synthesizers as the New Romantic scene emerged; effectively blending most Goth bands in with mid-to-late 80s synth-pop to the point where you couldn't tell where the guy with the fluffy bleach-blonde hair and day-glo makeup starts and the guy with the poofy jet-black hair and leather pants ends.

Guess The Goth(s).

Goth effectively became a mainstream phenomenon in the early-90s when American cultural tastemakers, attempting to promote the hyper-bullshit "alternative music" tag, just started flinging every weird, quirky band in their back catalog at us (via MTV, fluff music mags and over-hyped festivals) to see what would stick. Amongst the inescapable images of the early-90s was that of Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails -

The Many (Petulant) Moods Of Trent Reznor.

- who used his particular talent for matching fishnet shirts with black gloves to help sign, record, and promote genderly-ambivalent provacateur Marilyn Manson; who has since inspired a never-ending trail of clumsily face-painted clones and rip-offs too depressing to chronicle. Not that we won't do it. This is Cracked, after all.

With the exception of the scandal following an over-hyped tenuous connection to the perpetrators of the Columbine school shooting, Goth music has again receded for the most part from the mainstream cultural radar, which is probably for the best for everyone involved. Wait, nix that, they were replaced with something even worse... emo.


As stated above, the Gothic scene was heavily influenced by the punk scene from which it spawned, and thus borrowed a lot of the visual elements (outfits inspired by BDSM, combat and military uniforms, totalitarian imagery and body modification) and added a coat of black nail polish. Later on, the style became more Victorian, with lace and velvet dominating the wardrobe. After Marilyn Manson became popular, the look became, let's say, more "relaxed". It probably dismays old-school goths to no end that their lifestyle, originally dominated by pageantry and elaborate costumes, has now been swarmed by dumpy rednecks with stringy hair, baggy pants and clownish makeup.

At least one of these is a Goth, right? Even we can't tell.

As mentioned above, an unforseen consequence of Bauhaus's "Bela Lugosi's Dead" is that, with the first song of the genre ever, it permanently established a connection between Goth culture and vampires. Unforseen sub-consequences of this connection are: 1) some of the most god-fucking awful poetry ever posted on Livejournal and Myspace. 2) One of the most terrifying supernatural creatures (and an obvious pre-cultural statement on human nature) in recorded history has been whittled down through recent novelization to a bunch of vaguely inconvenienced, sullen boys that gaze longingly at each other.

Goths In Movies

A lot of the prescence of Goths in movies predictably involves vampires, so we'll skip those to avoid overlap. The most prominent exception (beating out Fairuza Balk in The Craft, Winona Ryder in BeetleJuice and Jack Sparrow in Edward Scissorhands) would be The Crow.

We're gonna guess this is unlicensed merchandise.

The Crow is a 1994 film; the final of star Brandon Lee. It is based off of a hyper-violent 1989 comic by James O'Barr in which a pretty boy rises from the dead, puts on makeup and spends half the series missing his fiancee, quoting goth lyrics and cutting himself (we're not kidding: read the motherfucker yourself). He spends the other half hunting down his and his fiancees murderers, indiscriminately mowing down crackheads and gang bangers who attempt to justify themselves in absurdly stilted ebonics. For some reason, the story is considered romantic, rather than kinda creepy/borderline racist. That said, the movie treatment did polish off the rough edges of the comic and, yeah, we still have a soft spot for it. We'll still make fun of anyone that shows up at a costume party with the makeup, though.