Goth. It's so easy to make fun of — even if you consider yourself one among the subculture. Black-clad sad sacks with their makeup, lace, archaic names and weepy love songs. No wonder SNL had such a field day. But then there's the music, and so much of it is incontestably great. We asked you to pick the single finest goth-rock band of them all, and you came back with excellent picks. Among the runner-ups: Depeche Mode, Fields of the Nephilim, Siouxie and the Banshees, Lacuna Coil, Christian Death. All worthy inclusions. But when it came to the final five, the top choices rose out of the shadows, loud and clear. See the highest vote-getters below.
You see the fake Unknown Pleasures tees literally everywhere, and that's because, while short-lived, Joy Division are beyond iconic. Formed in 1976, the U.K. quartet spearheaded a particularly dreary brand of post-punk that would become known as goth rock and, despite only releasing two albums, they left us with such immortal cuts as "Love Will Tear Us Apart," "She's Lost Control," "Isolation" and "Dead Souls." At the center of it all was frontman Ian Curtis, whose lyrics were inspired by a failing marriage, serious depression and a severe form of epilepsy. Sadly, the vocalist took his own life at the young age of 23 on the eve of the band's first North American tour in 1980. While the remaining members regrouped as the more upbeat New Order, Joy Division still loom large.
Type O Negative's biggest song, "Black No. 1 (Little Miss Scare-All)," pokes fun at goths, and yet it's so damn catchy and cool, the goths love it. Were Peter Steele and the rest of the Drab Four actually goth themselves? Or were they doom? Or they were just four self-proclaimed "dicks from Brooklyn" with a penchant for sultry, morbid odes, vampire fangs, Transylvanian accents, graveyards and girlfriends who have girlfriends? In the end, it doesn't really matter because you guys voted them here, and any list that includes Type O is a good list by us.
Swiping their name from the German art school, Bauhaus were known for their dark image and gloomy sound. Embracing the goth label, these English gents released five albums spotted with catchy anthems like "Bela Lugosi's Dead," "Dark Entries" and "The Passion of Lovers," which would be covered time and time again. They may have broken up, reunited (including last year for a string of shows in L.A.) and broken up again many times, but their influence remains undead, undead, undead.
Bandleader Andrew Eldritch may absolutely reject the goth label ("We are a rock'n'roll band. And a pop band. And an industrial groove machine. We are intellectual love gods," the group's official website proclaims), but let's be honest — it's kinda hard to think about goth rock and not think about Sisters of Mercy. Formed in Leeds, England, in 1980, the band and their dark dominion over goth club dance floors have lasted the test of time. Despite routine record label feuds and so many lineup changes it hurts to wrap your head around them all, Eldritch and the drum machine known as "Doktor Avalanche" are still active to this day — and their sound echoes loudly in the output of acolytes like Cold Cave.
C'mon, who else would be No. 1? It's got to be Robert Smith and Co., from the raccoon eyes and shock of hair to the captivating bipolar music. Finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year by the goth adjacent Trent Reznor, this is the band that truly defines the subculture — even if Smith has insisted that the Cure "just aren't a goth band." Any self-respecting music fan knows the words to their yearning, romantic anthems — "Just Like Heaven," "Lovesong," "Friday I'm in Love" and, of course, "Pictures of You." "I've been looking so long at these pictures of you," go that last song's lyrics. "That I almost believe that they're real." In the Cure's hands, goth isn't a phase — it's real.