What: The Cure’s 1987 masterwork, the candygoth ballad “Just Like Heaven”:
Why: The Cure are as close to a definition of goth music’s apex as you can get. Robert Smith and his shock hair—still rather impressive decades later—was the attention grabber, but the star was the intricate byplay of Simon Gallup’s jangly bass and Porl Thompson’s high-strung guitar. While other goths struggled through minor chords and quicksand dirges, The Cure blew darkly fun kisses to their fans, with confections like “In-Between Days” and “Close to Me”. Of these, none was more affecting than “Just Like Heaven,” with its opening come-on of “Show me, show me, show me how you do that trick/The one that makes me scream, she said.” That might not be what you want your daughter to say about the guy with the creepy makeup, but at least she’s happy, y’know? The ode to hyperventilation showed scary and romantic weren’t contradictions. It was a love song for those who hated love songs.
Impact: “Just Like Heaven” broke The Cure in the United States. An instant classic, the song now sits on many lists of greatest-evers. The Cure used this popularity as a platform for even gothier, hookier meanderings like “Lullaby” and “Fascination Street” from their best album, Disintegration, and later their catchiest song, “Friday, I’m In Love”. But “Just Like Heaven” remains their clarion call, the song you can never turn off, especially on Halloween.
Personal Connection: Evon’s returned to her (metaphorically black-dyed) goth roots in recent years, introducing me to the Cruxshadowy artists they play at the angster’s paradise of White Wolf parties. Sure, it’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it. But most of it’s missing something. What made me play The Cure over and over again was their playfulness. And so I formed a long-standing musical bond over The Cure and similar bands with one of the best-dressed people I’ve met, the lovely Jilli Venters of Gothic Charm School. If cupcake_goth likes it, there’s a good chance I do.
Other Contenders: “Kiss Them For Me”, an homage to Jayne Mansfield from goth titans Siouxsie & The Banshees; “Video Kid” by The Birthday Massacre, which I’m angling to install as the theme song of PAX; The Sisters of Mercy’s hot-metal-and-methedrine roar “Lucretia, My Reflection”; Orgy’s fuzzbox wrangling of New Order’s “Blue Monday”; Shriekback’s “Nemesis”, which MIT folks might forgive me for cluing with 1.3 seconds of the word “Parthenogenesis.”