Before Bauhaus: How Goth Became Goth

Goth is many things. It’s a Germanic tribe, a style of architecture, a type of literature, of film. It’s a youth movement. What ties most of these together is a sense of dark romanticism. But despite Marilyn Manson and My Chemical Romance being infamous for their adoption of gothic fashion, their music isn’t what would traditionally be classified as goth. To quote Sasha Geffen of Pitchfork: “[Goth] songs were marked by echoes, distortion, minimal guitar lines, and an arch taste for the macabre; their electroshocked hair, smears of black eyeliner, and dark clothes only reinforced the vibe.”

So while any youth dressed in black with a fondness for obvious make-up can be dubbed “goth”, it doesn’t mean they listen to goth music. That is a separate thing with its own sonic template. So as the nights grow increasingly cold and dark, join me in discovering how we got to the point where goth became a defined genre with a look, sound and lyrical preferences, from the early delves into darkness of “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin Jay Hawkins, “The End” by The Doors and “All Tomorrow’s Parties” by Velvet Underground, through “Dead Babies” by Alice Cooper, “In Every Dreamhome, a Heartache” by Roxy Music, “Third Uncle” by Brian Eno, “Human Fly” by the Cramps, Unknown Pleasures by Joy Division, ending with “A Forest” by The Cure and “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus This is “How Goth Became Goth”.

#Goth #MusicDocumentary #VideoEssay

yutaka hirasaka – lost melody (
Pracs – Kilt and Cutter (
Stars As Lights – Days, Weeks, Years Gone By (
Stars As Lights – The Sound of Our Hearts (
Patricia Taxxon – Bellstep (
Patricia Taxxon – Pieces of Me (
Stars As Lights – Hand On Heart (
Luar – Anchor (

00:00 Introduction
01:10 Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
03:47 The End
06:25 The Velvet Underground
08:49 Nico
11:33 Alice Cooper
13:46 Glam Rock
16:26 Frankie Teardrop
18:39 The Cramps
20:56 Post-Punk
23:24 Bauhaus

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45 thoughts on “Before Bauhaus: How Goth Became Goth”

  1. Quite an interesting approach to the genre. Some junk like My Chemical Romance, Creeper and whichever wannabe fakes taint the video a bit but oh well. Apart from that, good work, I started out thinking "They're not even going to mention The Doors". However, seminal bands like The Virgin Prunes are missing from the lot, amongst many others. Nice video anyway.

  2. i can see just how much research and effort goes to one video and i am forever grateful for it but i would appreciate it if you at least briefly touched upon the fact that nico is [along with being half icicle and half goddess] a white supremacist for example.
    i would love it if you didnt seperate the art from the artist completely or at least present such information in your videos perhaps so people could decide for themselves how they feel about the music after assessing most likely, newfound information

  3. I love the take on Screaming Jay and the Gothic genre. Blues and RnB were seen as ''the devil's music'' back in the early days of blues. Makes sens that someone would embrace the given title by dressing and sounding accordingly.

  4. I think the Doors are the seminal band in the evolution of punk and goth.. I think a lot of garage bands also contributed like the Music Machines, Talk talk.

  5. This came before Sisters of Mercy:

    2:55 That is ridiculous
    3:35 because you want? Tell another joke.
    5:23 alusive lyrics of the explicit meaning are what you listen in Peter Murphy's "the sweetest drop", what you may call dark and subtle, not that Morrison's shit – in comparison. The sound of whatever people call gothic today, from 80s, was based on punk but immersed in subjctive atmosphere. Not at all entirely clear and straight, direct and raw and bare as punk. There is no fog in punk but maybe the 'fog' of sweat and blood. Peter Murphy won't call what he did and does as goth. Fans are just spinning trying to get a meaning about that all.
    I hear about Bela Lugosi being DEAD but not any FUCK. Those are not Red Hot Chilli Peppers and even they won't get that explicit, generally.
    5:26 you may see more people liking Morrison because of his face and his voice than whatever he wanted to say with his lyrics. Light my fire has dumb rhymes (higher, fire, fire..).

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