Saturday, 23 March 2013

Gothic aesthetics in song lyrics

Now, I do not know a lot about music, but I started to wonder some things when I heard one particular pop-music song. I started to think about lyrics in songs made by artists who are considered goth or bands that make gothic music.

The music in itself can vary from ethereal 80's goth music to 2000's more faster beat. But there has to be something that makes it creepy, a touch of eerie. It is hard to describe, but you know how in a otherwise perfectly normal lullaby there is one note, that strikes wrong, or too late? Then it makes the whole song somehow wrong and agonizing. 

But how about lyrics? There is no strict guidelines of how many times there has to be mentioned for example 'blood' or 'fear' or another keyword that frequently appears in the work of old masters. I do not think you can measure the gothness of some song in the way linguistics try. But if there is some spooky things mentioned, it can hardly be a bad thing. Besides, 'blood' and 'fear' are frequent visitors in rap music and opera music too.

My point is that it all comes to the interpretation the listener does. In the same way with that example of a lullaby, there can be something almost hidden creepiness in the lyrics. Something that makes it break the normality, makes the interpretation twisted. Also, if the title of the song and the lyrics are in a contradiction, it makes the song twisted. For example if the lyrics start to describe a pretty normal afternoon about a couple called Peterson, and the title is 'Slaughter of Mrs. Peterson' it makes the listener expect something horrific is going to happen, right? It makes the whole song more creepy, especially if the end of the song is somehow metaphorical and can be interpreted in many ways, one of them being something violent.

So what have we learned of this babbling of mine? That constructing one's identity too strictly ('I listen only Goth bands!') is not that fruitful. A goth can find gothic aesthetics from places others might not, and therefore enjoy of them too. It doesn't make those things 'Goth', but it doesn't make the person who is enjoying of them a 'non-goth' either.

And last, some lyrics that I think have something in common.

I wanna taste you but your lips are venomous poison
You're poison running through my veins
You're poison I don't wanna break these chains

- Alice Cooper, Poison -

Kiss me, ki-ki-kiss me
Infect me with your love and
Fill me with your poison

Take me, ta-ta-take me
Wanna be a victim
Ready for abduction

- Katy Perry, E.T. -

You are the perfect drug the perfect drug 
The perfect drug
The perfect drug
The perfect drug

Take me with you 
Without you everything just falls apart 
It's not as much fun to pick up the pieces

- NIN, The Perfect Drug -

I don't know about others, but I think the one in the middle is almost as creepy as the others two.


  1. Katy Perry is my secret non-goth favourite! In the beginning of her music video for "wide awake" she even LOOKS goth. :D

    1. So she does! I hadn't seen it but I went to check it. :D

  2. I have to say that I always found Cascada's song pretty damn gothy: "evacuate the dancefloor, i'm infected by the sound, stop this pain is killing me, hey doctor dj make the music take me underground" she singing about fucking death! that's so weird for a completely normal pop song.

    For the matter- I believe a song can be as gothy without any words nor "special" gothic lyrics. You can check my blog for a post about gothic music in particular ;)

    1. Yep, Cascada sounds quite gothy in that song. :) I went and read your post and I think the same. Goth has evolved quite a lot in the past decades, there are many aspects one can like about it and it doesn't make it mandatory to like ALL gothic bands. ^^