Day 1: Goth and Where to Start

Day 1 of revisiting my love affair with goth and I’m trying to choose a starting point.

How would most newcomers get into goth?

Instagram seems the most likely option, as it offers both video and photos and is expected to reach an audience in the United States alone of 111 million. (I’m weird, just let me be weird and care about numbers.) So, if we look under #goth, in the top section (versus the recent)…

We get a lot of pictures of full body outfits which are primarily black, about 2/3 people featured are wearing at least some makeup, and a couple scrolls down decor, cartoons, and Marilyn Manson. 

Personal takeaway: It’s not that the images aren’t aesthetically appealing, I just wouldn’t call it engaging. It seems fashion centered (if this were to be my actual entry point) with zero reference to music of any kind. Breaking down the pieces of clothing through this precursory scroll, you’d find a lot of: jersey knit material, followed by cotton / cotton polyester blends, collars, at least 1 inch in width with, at minimum, an O ring in the center, platform shoes, most shoes were at least 2 inches thick, midriff exposed or, if covered, clothing was fitted to the waist, so cropped shirts but also noted, rarely any loose clothing. Less prominent features were: heavy makeup and then it was special effects makeup, harnesses on various parts of the body, Sinner or occult images or messages, and a few pictures of Robert Smith. 

I can see why the whole aesthetic argument is even a thing. But I don’t know if people are doing that because that’s the game of social media or if that’s really what they think goth is about.  I am a little put off by the lack of music (no pictures of records, playlists, podcasts/radio shows, song lyrics, album covers, event promotion of any kind, bands, artists, etc.[unless we count the one Hollywood Undead bandanna]) Most of the backgrounds were solid color walls, or blurred out forest backgrounds, so little focus on decor or…really anything not fashion focused.

I mean, obviously we’ll get to fashion eventually, but let’s say someone did want to start with music….

Using IFPI Music Consumer Report for 2018 for how 19,000 people globally (across 18 countries*) discovered new music:

-86% listening through on demand streaming (16,340/19,000)
-47% of time spent listening to on-demand music is on YouTube
-17.8 hours was the time the average global consumer spent listening to music a week (2.5 hours per day)

*The 18 countries were: Poland, South Africa, Germany, France, United States, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, Netherlands, Russia, Argentina, Spain, United Kingdom, Australia, Sweden, South Korea, and Japan)

Because geographic location is taken into account for how search results appear on YouTube (in addition to a ton of other factors like past search history), signing out of my account on YouTube and searching for “goth music” brought up:

  1. 1 Hour of Gothic Music Instrumental (1:08:21 video) [elements primarily from classical and chamber music]
  2. Top 200 Greatest Gothic Rock Songs (playlist)
  3. 80s Gothic Rock/ Darkwave Mix (1:09:13 video)
  4. 1 Hour of Dark Winter Music & Gothic Music (1:01:22 video) [elements primarily from classical and chamber music higher tone than (1.)]
  5. Baby Goth by Mary (2:50 video) [the trap version of Melanie Martinez]
  6. 1 Hour of Dark Vampiric Music [Dark, Seductive, Emotional, Gothic] (1:01:35 video) [classical and composed entirely by Peter Gundry]
  7. Dark Cybergoth Mix by The Enigma TNG (43:16 video) [leaning closer to industrial, created by The Enigma]
  8. Batcave Tracks: Goth Rock & Darkwave Mix 6 (32:29 video)
  9. My Favorite Goth Bands (31:26 video) [blogger video]
  10. Gothic Music Medley [Instrumental] (43:42 video) [elements from classical and chamber music]

I included the time stamps because of how YouTube recommends videos to users based on how much of that video has been “watched” and how many people have watched it (Game Theory sums this up pretty well.)So I’m guessing the longer mixes (seriously guessing) were just put on in the background, which is cool (provided they aren’t monetized which is a story for another day.)

I also clicked through the mixes to find the general sound if it wasn’t obvious from the title or accurate.  This made me so sleepy and I definitely didn’t want to watch more after this. Again, these things aren’t bad, just getting a lay of the land for general searches.

Although I don’t know how to translate this feeling into words (yet) I can see why if you like the fashion you would be drawn to a different kind of music than gothic rock (not because my top 10 results were mostly classical based). I think the general summary of today is goth is way more approachable as solely a look than music or a culture. From just using the images (and a really user friendly interface) it’s easier to piece together some idea of goth fashion than actively listen to hours worth music and cognitively process which sounds are the most applicable to goth as a genre. 

Overall feeling: Man oh man, this was not a fun day for me.
Total time spent: 2.5 hours

Day One Prompt: Short version: What do you expect goth to be?  Legwork: Using Instagram and YouTube what are the most common themes for goth fashion and goth music today.

Zakkarrii Edison Daniels




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