It's World Goth Day! The day when you don't need black hair or a melancholy disposition to celebrate your dark side.
What you do need, however, is a soundtrack.
Having literally written an encyclopedia about goth culture I know that goth music has many tentacles, from rock to metal to synth-pop and even folk and cabaret. But whatever the musical sub-genre there are certain elements that make a great goth music video. And you don't even need to be a goth band to have one.
Here then are 15 videos full of skulls and shadow to help you get your goth on.
Bauhaus "Bela Lugosi's Dead" (1979)
Gothic rock's humble beginning. When you've written a nine-minute, minimalist, bass-heavy howl dedicated to cinema's most famous Dracula, anchored by the chorus "undead, undead, undead," you don't need a flashy video. This dramatic live clip uses simple shadows, fog and singer Peter Murphy dancing like a bat to set the stage for everything goth to come.
Siouxsie and the Banshees "Spellbound" (1981)
How goth is Siouxsie Sioux? She can wear a canary yellow polka dot dress and still look like a goddess of night. This seminal U.K. outfit recorded gothier songs (see: "Cities In Dust," "Halloween"), but this video, with the band running through a forest superimposed with modern dance leaps and random black cats captures the anything-goes spirit of early-'80s gothdom before it became cliché.
Sisters Of Mercy "This Corrosion" (1987)
From the most perfect, fully realized gothic rock album ever, 1987's "Floodland," comes this essential epic. What's it about? Who cares? It's got bassist Patricia Morrison at her most Vampirella, all red lips, teased hair and shiny PVC corset. Leader Andrew Eldritch looks like he's doing a stripper routine in the middle of "Blade Runner." And wearing your sunglasses in some kind of mysterious, dystopian slave labour operation — in the rain? Tres goth.
The Cure "Lullaby" (1989)
Robert Smith is a lot sillier than his image would suggest. But this video of him in bed, sick and disheveled and looking like Beetlejuice, romanticizes being eaten alive. In fact, the whole thing, with the band consumed by spiderwebs, is like a mini Tim Burton movie. Only creepier.
Type O Negative "Black No. 1" (1993)
An ode to the Goth Girl and her black hair dye is given a black-and-white-expressionist treatment, with singer Pete Steele ghoulishly lit in stark shadows for maximum horror. The band is playing some kind of house party filled with sexy vamps slithering around while Steele screams, "loving you is like loving the dead!" Good times.
Nine Inch Nails "The Perfect Drug" (1997)
Widows in mourning. Taxidermy and skulls. Absinthe. Velvet drapes. Birds of prey. Drownings. Dead trees. Trent Reznor in a long black cloak running through a maze with a sword. Because, you <em>know</em>, Nine Inch Nails is not goth. At all.
Madonna "Frozen" (1998)
Put down your hate mail pencil/typing finger. I'm not suggesting Madonna is goth. But this video, all blue hues and blackbirds and the chameleon pop star in long-black hair and ballgown by Jean-Paul Gaultier wandering longingly through the Mohave Desert goes to show just how mainstream the goth aesthetic became in the late 1990s. See also…
Smashing Pumpkins "Ava Adore" (1998)
What rock star wouldn't want to look like Count Orlok from Nosferatu? Billy Corgan is full-on vampire here, creeping through a series of decadent scenes from lunatic asylum to roman orgy. D'arcy Wretsky makes a pretty undead fairy princess but James Iha looks like he was forced to dress up for a role playing game and got the last costume. Also, it rains.
My Chemical Romance "Helena" (2004)
Sure, the shiny, happy, big-budgeted MCR ruined goth for some people (emo too) but even the most hardcore darklings should admit that a flash mob dancing at a funeral and a beautiful ballerina rising from her coffin outweighs the pop nature of this single. Which is, after all about a dead lady. (Singer Gerard Way's grandmother.) And if you're keeping track, yes, of course, it rains.
Killers "Bones" (2006)
When you spend so much time thinking about death and skulls, sometimes you need a good laugh. This clip, directed by Tim Burton, is fun, B-movie camp, with stop-motion skeletons frolicking and rocking out.
Cruxshadows "Quicksilver" (2009)
At the turn of the millennium, goth went back to its new wave roots while simultaneously fusing with electronica and rave culture, mutating into "cybergoth." This Florida outfit was a leader of that pack, all synths and synthetic hair extensions, plus violins, melodramatic vocals and silly dance moves. "The Future belongs to the brave," sings leader Rogue. Indeed.
The Birthday Massacre "In The Dark" (2010)
Canada's most popular goth band benefited from the mega success of Evanescence, as they too are pushing heavy rock with a pretty goth girl vocalist. This video is like Snow White meets The Crow, half fantasy and half nightmare.
Interpol "Lights" (2010)
You'd think with all the Joy Division comparisons, Interpol would have more goth cred. Especially after this masterpiece of fetish filmmaking, ominous and erotic and a reminder than at its core goth is about sex and death. And ladies in skin-tight black catsuits.
Sopor Aeturnus And The Ensemble Of Shadows "A Strange Thing To Say" (2010)
Old school goth is alive and well in Germany's Anna-Varney Cantodea. The shadowy transgendered singer doesn't perform live. Instead she makes long-form, creeptacular videos showcasing her experiments in audio terror and unsettling make-up and movement. Ghostly and grotesque to some; to others, the most beautiful.
Kerli "Tea Party" (2010)
What's next? Bubble Goth? Yes, says Estonian pop singer Kerli! For a generation raised on anime and J-pop, Gothic Lolita stylings are more outrageous and fun than ripped fishnets, bats and gloom. Welcome to an Alice In Wonderland tea party where pastel blue, neon pink, cupcakes and electro-pop could actually be considered goth. (Just don't tell the Goths.)