It’s easy to assume that gothic music is sad – it’s the way that the media and public opinion has portrayed gothic artists for years thanks to the often minor tones of the music and its accompanying all black everything fashion.
Despairing parents would bemoan their children taking part in gothic culture for fear of falling in with a ‘bad crowd’, elderly women would be found clutching their pearls at the sight of a goth on the street, and news sources everywhere were intent for many years on creating an association between gothic music and poor mental health in teens.
While much of the gothic genre is based on emotions of sadness and introspective feelings, we wanted to investigate whether there were any glimmers of hope to be found in the midst of the dark landscape. Are gothic lyrics really that sad? Or do they actually point to deeper emotions that help people untangle their minds far beyond their teenage years?
When we think about gothic music, a whole range of names come to mind, but we were curious about whether gothic lyrics were as ‘sad’ as public opinion would make them out to be, so it made sense that we look at some of the most popular, more mainstream gothic artists from recent times; gothic rock symphonists Evanescence, gothic metal pioneers Cradle of Filth, industrial goth legends Nine Inch Nails, gothic emo revolutionaries My Chemical Romance, and the pale emperor himself Marilyn Manson.
In many ways the results weren’t surprising, with many lyrics taking on a darker tone and emotion, but is ‘sad’ really the best way to describe them? We’re not so sure. Let’s take a closer look at what we found about some of the best selling albums by our chosen gothic musicians…
So, can any of the lyrics in these gothic albums really be considered sad? We’d say there’s a decent argument against it. While they nearly all deal with heartbreak or unrequited love, the moods and emotions in response to this vary from feelings of anger, images of both sexual love and romantic love, and most importantly an uplifting and upbeat call for both anarchy and camaraderie.
The themes that this music deals with doesn’t work to depress the listener, but rather offers them a relatable outlet and fantastical escape for processing difficult emotions, making listening to gothic music an almost therapeutic act. This serves to prove once again that media spin and snap judgements about the negative impact and influence that gothic music and culture has over mental wellbeing is nothing more than scaremongering about a subculture they understand very little about.
Ultimately, the media can do nothing to dissuade the gothic and alternative youth from connecting with gothic music and finding strength and solidarity in the lyrics, despite the depressed public image. You can paint a goth as a sad person, but it’s clear to us that they’re one of the most emotionally open and well-adjusted subcultures out there.