Music videos have their beginnings as early as the 1920s, gained interest as promotional clips through the 60s and 70s - prominently with the Rolling Stones, The Beatles and David Bowie - then becoming the iteration that we know currently with MTV in the early 1980s.
Originally created to promote the music, a music video is a small clip into a world, a mood and an atmosphere that is interpreted by the artist and the video's director. It reflects the era and fashion of the time, tells us a story and also brings us closer to the artist all in about 4 minutes.
The goth and post-punk scene in the 1980s gave us some of the most dramatic and dark music videos to date. From black cats, to mysterious women lurking in the shadows, to crumbling buildings, the following videos provided not only a visual to the music, but defined the scene's aesthetics. Find out what 1980s goth videos are our favorite and most dramatically dark of them all!
The Cure - "Lullaby"
In 1989 The Cure released the "Lullaby" single from the ultra goth Disintegration was directed by Tim Pope, their long time music video collaborator who helped define the aesthetic of The Cure throughout most of the 1980s. Not only is the song itself got all the ingredients - spiders, "victims shivering" - but the video creates one of the most compelling and creepy stories in goth's history.
Robert Smith is in bed, in some sort of daze as his bandmates are dead soldiers, playing their instruments. Slowly, black eyeshadow and red lipstick appears on Robert's face while spiderwebs engulf him. It only gets worse from there as a huge black creature begins digesting him - we are not sure if it is a nightmare or a hallucination. The video's execution matched the mood of the song with its color scheme and progression, and its an unforgettable one at that.
Sisters of Mercy - "Dominion"
Personally, I believe this is the gothiest video ever made. It starts out with a sax solo (perfection) as the storyline is built. Andrew Eldritch and Patricia Morrison - both dressed in white - begin a clandestine operation in the desert.
The video, made in 1987, captures the best era in Sisters of Mercy's visual history with Patricia at the helm. With her severely beautiful makeup, her long pointed fingernails and her black hair teased to the heavens, she helped sculpt goth's fashion in the latter part of the 1980s and into the 90s. Sure, most of TSOM's music videos were genre defining but "Dominion" does it best by doing the opposite of what you'd expect from a goth video: in the sun, riding on horses, and wearing all white.
Bauhaus - "Mask"
Not far behind TSOM is Bahaus' video "Mask" from 1981. Not released as a true single, "Mask" is a visual interpretation of the song filled with shadows, fog and anticipation. Peter Murphy has eternally captured the vampiric and glamourous aspects of a goth frontman with his chiseled cheekbones and frail, slender frame - captured here as he peeks through the shadows and rises from the dead.
The dark atmosphere of the music is only heightened when paired to this video - bright lights through the darkness, smoke, and pale colored ghostly creatures - creating an indisputable marker in goth's visual history.
Kommunity FK - "Something Inside Me Has Died"
The 1985 single by Kommunity FK is the archetypal goth video. Shot in black and white with severe lighting in a desolate building, singer Patrik Mata stumbles about in shredded clothing, pointed hair and blacked-out eyes. Although there is no storyline with this video, it is a good place for goth inspiration - at one point Patrik even dons black angel wings. And at the video's ending, a single bloody tear falls out of Patrik's eye... does it get more goth than that?
Siouxsie and the Banshees - "Spellbound"
The 1981 single from Juju was a turning point in the formation of goth and is one of the most important songs in goth's timeline. The music video only added to the importance of "Spellbound" with Siouxsie Sioux's colorfully rich outfits and makeup.
The video begins with - what else? - a black cat superimposed over Siouxsie crawling across the floor through the fire. Suddenly, as the song picks up, the video portrays the band running through the forest while Siouxsie, in stunning yellow, dances jarringly to the music. Her makeup is enviable, to say the least.
The Damned - "Shadow of Love"
In 1985, "Shadow of Love" from their uber-goth album Phantasmagoria, has all the elements we love in this list. It's got posterboy Dave Vanian with his pale skin, teased hair and tight black pants singing in the dark as a large clawed hand with green fingernails passes by the window.
This video has a great storyline of the band trapped in a dollhouse as a hooded beautiful goth woman looms over but it still maintains dramatic creepiness with a black cat and gothic candleabras.
Clan of Xymox - "Obsession"
From their 1989 album Twist of Shadows comes Clan of Xymox's melancholic song "Obession" and their video to match. The video, shot in sepia tones at times and cold color palettes at others, depicts the band standing among a crumbling building.
Singer Ronny Moorings is wonderful with his large hair and ponytail - taking cute idiosyncrasies from none other than Robert Smith as he sings - while bassist Anka Wolbert appears sullen as she looks towards the mysterious sky.
Joy Division - "Atmosphere"
Finally, the 1988 re-release of Joy Division's "Atmosphere" directed by Anton Corbijn is pure tragic heartbreak. Created in honor of the death of singer Ian Curtis, this video is a visual eulogy to the indisputable icon of post-punk and goth music.
There's little to say except the mood is captured perfectly by Corbijn's black and white grainy film, featuring pictures of Curtis and a funeral parade of cloaked figures.
What is your favorite 1980s goth music video? Comment below!
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Cover Photo - Puer Kim (Mystic Entertainment)