If you're under 25, new to goth or just trying to get an idea of what goth was like back "in the olden times," I'd love to show you some videos today. While not every video here is my absolute favorite, they really speak to the time and show what goth was as it evolved and changed. They're all videos I think it's important for you to have experienced if only once, and videos I think you might enjoy if you haven't seen them yet.
Some of them are just plain fun to watch for the fashions; others you may find yourself singing or humming later tonight.
I hesitate to make these "list" posts because so many people comment whining "You forgot to mention X video from Y band" or "Waah, X band isn't goth enough!" or whatnot. This isn't meant to be a thorough coverage of goth music video history. This is a list of some of my favorite videos, and you'll most likely see things here you don't enjoy and wish I'd listed some of your own favorites too. This list is totally different than a list might look from say, esteemed goth music expert Mick Mercer would be.
Anyway, this list was so difficult to make as I kept finding more wonderful things and wishing I had time to do a 25 or 50 song list!
1. Peter Murphy - "Cuts You Up," circa 1990
This song was commercial enough to be shown on VH1, but it still treats you to lots of gorgeous visuals of Peter Fucking Murphy and plenty of his luscious low vocals. He's definitely an excellent showman and performer as well as vocalist. I chose this video instead of a Bauhaus one because I wanted you to see how the video was shot and styled.
2. Sisters of Mercy - "Lucretia, My Reflection"
At the time, this was one of the most gothy videos on the air, and I remember swooning with my friends over how beautiful and pale Patricia Morrison looked. In retrospect Andrew Eldritch's sunglasses might have been a bit pretentious, but at the time they looked so cool! (One of my favorite songs by the Sisters, by the way; my exhusband and I were actually in agreement that we were going to name a baby girl Lucretia if we'd had one!)
3. Virgin Prunes - "Walls of Jericho"
Not one of my favorite goth songs, but I wanted you to see the gutsy, unusual-for-the-time performance by this post-punk band. The singer is actually wearing a petticoat! "Their appearances were regularly banned" says their fan site.
4. Joy Division - "Love Will Tear Us Apart"
One of the most beautiful songs ever written, in my humble opinion. This is the song that launched a thousand covers. Very few videos of Joy Division songs exist, given that it was the late 1970s and especially since Ian Curtis died in 1980.
5. Joy Division - "She's Lost Control"
Now I'd like you to give a look at another Joy Division video if you have the time. A sad-eyed, baby faced Ian Curtis and amazing guitar work. Not sure what's going on with his unusual, yet highly energetic, spastic arm flapping dance. Of course I never got the opportunity to see them play live (I was eleven and living in San Diego in 1980) so videos like these are the only way I can experience Joy Division performing.
If you like this so far, also check out Dead Souls.
6. The Damned - "Grimly Fiendish"
Don't forget that goth is often playful, and goths often display tongue-in-cheek humor poking fun at themselves. While many of The Damned's videos displayed some amount of silliness, this one is the goofiest, and makes me chuckle.
7. The Cure - "Friday I'm in Love"
Some people turn their noses up at this particular Cure song because it was so commercially popular and got so much radio time and air play. I wanted you to see this because of how playful Robert and the rest of the band are in this video, which shows them racing late onto the set and playing with silly headpieces. A lot of outsiders to the scene think of The Cure as gloomy and depressing, but so many of their songs are actually happy and upbeat, fun and dancy.
8. The Cure - "A Night Like This
A beautiful slow song and restrained performance. The official videos on YouTube have bad audio and mismatched lipsynching, so instead I've been enjoying this live performance from 1986's Nurburging Festival. Amazingly it was well filmed, with steady cameras, and the audio is decent for what it is.
9. The Cure - "A Forest"
Here's a makeup-less, short-haired Robert Smith singing my personal favorite song by the Cure. Interesting to compare this with videos that came later, and watch the evolution of the band's signature look and style. After you watch this one, then compare it to the newer "A Forest - Perfect Version," which just blew me away.
10. The Smiths - Ask
It would be way too easy to just link to their most commercial hit, Girlfriend in a Coma and be done with it. (You should have seen that video before now, anyway). "Ask" was my favorite Smiths song when I was in college - SDSU had an awesome alternative radio station that played this often but not so much you got sick of it. I'd also like to share this quirky, unassuming video: Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before. Is this a goth video? There aren't any crucifixes, cemeteries or velvet capes. But a hell of a lot of goths worship The Smiths and watched this video every chance they got, back in the day.
11. Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Happy House"
Not my favorite Siouxsie and the Banshees song or video by far, but an important, influential song and video at that time. You have to hand it to them - Siouxsie and the Banshees videos always told interesting stories with intriguing, eye catching visuals. And her costumes, hair and fabulous makeup never disappointed!
12. Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Spellbound"
It's so difficult to only select two Siouxsie videos for this post. She's such a consummate performer, so ballsy and gutsy too. Nobody, and I mean nobody, was doing anything remotely like she and the band were doing at that time. Truly unique.
Now peek at the extremely commercially produced Kiss them For Me video. Looks like they suddenly got a big budget!
Bonus: Check out Siouxsie and Robert Smith from the Cure performing "Dear Prudence" on Top of the Pops in 1983.
Hope you enjoyed the videos as much as I did tonight!