The '90s spawn of gothic rock

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By MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER  |  October 26, 2011

GOTH OFFSPRING My Chemical Romance were straight goth for the emo set.

In recent years, the long arm of goth has rested on many a musical shoulder. And as with most things influential, sometimes this has been a good thing, and other times goth has simply offered another poor excuse for the existence of Hot Topic. Either way, many mainstream rock acts have appropriated the look and themes of the genre and brought along its fans — people who normally wouldn't be caught undead at a party like Ceremony.

Trent Reznor has never been afraid to fly his goth flag, weaving it in and out of his music, most notably on the Nine Inch Nails debut, Pretty Hate Machine. When The Crow came out in 1994, his cover of Joy Division's "Dead Souls" became synonymous with the film. And a joint tour five years ago with Bauhaus was a wet dream for many goth traditionalists.

Reznor's progeny, Marilyn Manson, grew directly out of goth. His was music for the displaced, the loners, kids who understood precisely why Columbine happened. Fans gravitated to his darkness — but it was all a facile contrivance. Manson envisioned himself as more of a David Bowie or Alice Cooper for the new day, frequently changing looks and personae. A few years ago, with mainstream popularity waning, he returned to goth — and its look. But it was one shape-shift too many for the goth faithful — the love was not reciprocated.

Type O Negative didn't set out to become goth and generally aren't considered more than a morbid metal band, but the vast majority of their compositions were about loneliness, loss, and death. With their unwavering despair, tracks like "Die With Me," "Everyone I Love Is Dead," and "All Hallows Eve" epitomize the bleakest aspects of goth — as did the unexpected death last year of its social-outcast singer, Peter Steele.

Their frontman is running around in sleeveless shirts and bright red hair these days, but in the early 2000s My Chemical Romance were straight goth for the emo generation who had taken on their predecessors' mantle of the outcast. MCR eventually turned to cheap theatrics for The Black Parade (2006). And if being known by the company you keep is true, Finnish "love rock" act H.I.M. don't have a chance at keeping up the goth ruse by kicking around with the crew from Jackass. But the broken-soul style of singer Ville Valo is defined by shade, damaged hearts, and that utterly goth-tastic heartagram logo.

  Topics: Music Features , My Chemical Romance
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