Friday, 18 February 2011

Dark and Goth-friendly music, part 4: Pop is for Goths, too!

To be honest, I wasn't really sure where to go with this music guide next - I have a huge list of genres and styles on my GothGuide spreadsheet (yes, there really is a spreadsheet) but I couldn't make up my mind what links with what. So if this seems a little schizoid, that's probably because, well, it is.

Source: We Heart It
'Dark romantic pop'
In the Gothic Charm School book, which I can now actually quote without even bothering to go upstairs and get it off my bookshelf (help, GCS addiction, I'm seeing pink sparkly bats before my eyes), the Lady of the Manners proposes a theory that Gothy ladies of A Certain Age (i.e. more than thirty) came to the Goth scene either via the metal scene, or via the path of dark romantic pop, e.g. "I wanna dress just like Stevie Nicks."

Stevie Nicks aside, alternative femme-pop art rock songstresses (label them any genre you will, friends) such as Kate Bush and Tori Amos have had a long-standing popularity in the Goth scene since Madame Bush shrieked the opening notes of Wuthering Heights (seriously, gotta love that song). And probably before then, too.

Other than the above, these dramatic, wavy-haired, flowing-dress-wearing divas include: Regina Specktor, Christine Zufferey, Alanis Morissette, Bjork, Imogen Heap and Enya.

Synthpop is a genre of music which, obviously, uses the synthesizer as the dominant instrument. It originated as part of the New Wave movement in the 70s (notice how almost all subcultures and music genres are linked up together like some big ol' spiderweb? Cool, huh?) and has seen a recent resurgence in popularity, a bit like post-punk. Synthpop is different than many other electronic musical genres in that the synthesizers deliberately sound artificial; they don't strive to imitate the sounds of acoustic instruments.

Like New Romantic, not all synthpop or synthpop-inspired bands can be considered hugely Goth-friendly. There's almost a scale of Gothiness when it comes to synthpop, going from 0-5 (with 5 being, of course, Depeche Mode meets Bauhaus). Allow me to illustrate:

Synthpop Gothiness scale:
0 - Heaven 17, Erasure, Bananarama.
No Goth rating whatsoever.
1 - Pet Shop Boys.
Not what is usually classed as anything like Goth, but hell, they warranted a mention in Nancy Kilpatrick's The Goth Bible.
2 - Owl City, La Roux, The Killers, Little Boots.
Possibly secretly spinning on Goth-owned CD players around the world, but let's face it, you probably won't hear them at the spooky club.
3 - Lady Gaga, Goldfrapp.
Considering we're talking POP music, surprisingly popular in the Goth scene.
4 - Tears For Fears, Beborn Beton, Gary Numan, Soft Cell.
Getting there - likely to hear them at events or club nights.
5 - Ashbury Heights, Elegant Machinery, Depeche Mode, New Order, Wolfsheim.
Badass electro synth-Goth.

Dream pop
Described by Wikipedia as a subgenre of alternative rock originating in the UK in the mid-80s, combining post-punk and ethereal influences with bittersweet pop melodies, resulting in dreamy soundscapes (hence the name). The music focuses on texture and mood rather than riffs, with vocals usually breathy or even whispered. Lyrics - guess what, they're usually introspective. Anyone surprised?

Dream pop bands include: This Mortal Coil, Cranes, Curve, Strange Boutique, Love Spirals Downwards, The Chameleons, Miranda Sex Garden, Darling Violetta, Claire Voyant, Bel Canto.

Shoegazing, aka shoegaze, is a 'more aggressive' subgenre of dream pop, and gained its name because musicians playing in this style would generally stand still on the stage gazing introspectively in the direction of their toesies. Apparently. Musically the style involves distortion, droning riffs, and an amorphous quality created by playing two distorted rhythm guitars together. Vocals are usually treated as an additional instrument rather than the focus of the music.

Goth-friendly shoegazing bands include: My Bloody Valentine, Autumn's Grey Solace, Weep.

Noise pop
Noise pop also developed in the mid-80s, and mixes atonal noise and feedback with the melodic instrumentation usually found in pop music. Some modern noise pop/lo-fi artists have been hailed by the adoring media as 'the second coming of Goth', these artists being Zola Jesus and Fever Ray.

Goth-friendly noise pop bands include: Zola Jesus, Fever Ray, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Raveonettes.


Emily Lynn G. said...

Regina Spektor and Imogen Heap are goth friendly now? I love this blog. <3 I can now sleep better.^^ I think If your tastes are more towards the same elements in goth, you'll find that in almost any genre of music or in any type of musician you like, ta know?

Angel of Darkness said...

Well I guess it's safe to say that I do rather like some Owl City songs, but I really love Depeche Mode!!!!! But now I have to check lots of new bands out!

Angel of Darkness said...

Random note: I checked out the link "My bookstore" and now want to realy your books, they sound good.

ultimategothguide said...

@ Angel of Darkness - well, just to warn you, I write for fun not profit so it's fair to say they're probably mostly crap... ^^ but thank you very much!

Angel of Darkness said...

Hey, would VIOLETHOUR be listed in one of the genre you meantion?

Anonymous said...

I like Little Boots... O_O;;

Glad to see Enya is on the list, though. :D
What about Crystal Castles? They aren't exactly pop, though I do hear them being played at the mall alot. They're weirdly creepy like you wouldn't believe, and the vocalist Alice looks pretty gothy herself.

Ooo, I love Ashbury Heights!

ultimategothguide said...

@ Angel of Darkness - the only band called VioletHour I could find online was more prog rock, in a genre described as 'dream prog'. They sound interesting, I like the name. Might go check them out =)

@ Anonymous - I like Ashlee Simpson - clearly there's no accounting for taste, right? ;-)

Crystal Castles came up when I was researching synthpop... I would whack them on the scale at about a 3 or a 4 (yes, I really like my scale ^^).

Ditto the Ashbury Heights love!

Angel of Darkness said...

Hmm, on it described them as being darknoise. The link is is you want to check them out.

Anonymous said...

Enya's dark tracks are awesome...especially her ominous latin Pax Deorum (peace of the gods). Romantigoths would love it once they know it :D It's funny remembering how I fell in love with Romantigoth because of Tennyson and Enya.

Ophelia Black said...

Now Wuthering Heights is going to be stuck in my head all day... Should I thank you or curse you?

david smith said...

If you're new to this ctrl,alt then down arrow for video shown upside down.Press ctrl,alt then up arrow for right side up again.example,howard jones-hide and seek.but watch enya-boadicea(uploader newage66).Is there a discography book that contains or is specific to goth+darkwave?I'm still looking in etc too cumbersome,book easier.'big list of goth bands'included in entries.

david smith said...

saw 30 seconds to mars on u.k t.v last night.Singer look same as Peter Murphy in Bauhaus-ziggy stardust(falleninsanity)

david smith said...

y+t-windsofchange(uploader 90metal)works with Enya as well.Studio version of y+t better than live.

Anonymous said...

@davidsmith he looks nothing like him

Anonymous said...

you left out dead can dance

david smith said...

update:...but watch enya-boadicea javier.
Change quality of vid to 240p so less blocky.Won't be updating again.The light universe vid not the dark one by uploader jeanster1966 which suits boadicea itself.

Elise Shepherd said...

The cure!

Elise Shepherd said...

The Cure!!!!!!!!!

Ralph Eisermann said...

Please do reclassify Erasure at least in group 1 :)
I reject Lady Gaga, but not Goldfrapp. Kate Bush is new romantic/dark new wave and was a substantial influence on many female singers. Also her efteling videos used gothic style in 1978.

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