It’s not exactly a secret that the goth scene and Halloween go hand in hand, but one may be surprised to find that some of us on the darker side of life equally appreciate tinsel and stockings, even those of us who light the menorah (more on that later.)
After all, what’s more goth than encroaching darkness and the bitter cold? From the Pagan origins of the holiday to the Victorian tradition of telling ghost stories around a winter fire, to Jack and Sally, we can find enough inherent darkness in Christmas to keep us satisfied as we ride out the rest of the year, dreaming of the next Halloween. Heck, even Freddy rocks a Christmas sweater. Ok, that last part might be a bit of a stretch.
To celebrate the second spookiest holiday of the year, in no particular order, here’s a starter playlist to inject a little horror into your holiday, courtesy of DJ D, host of one of WUSC’s longest running shows, Dark Entries: Goth Radio.
HAPPY FANGS – “ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS HALLOWEEN”
What better way to kick it off than the song that perfectly bridges our two favorite festive days, as we yearn for just one more day of Halloween? While Happy Fangs aren’t a Goth band by any stretch, they sum it perfectly here: “I’d give up all my presents for that candy coated dream…” This is literally my favorite Christmas song and I have it on repeat every year starting November 1st.
KÆLAN MIKLA – “SÓLSTÖÐUR” (TRANSLATION: “AT SUNSET”)
Continuing the list with another favorite, this is literally my favorite track from my favorite album of 2021, from my current favorite band in the world. I can’t sing the praises enough of this beautiful, ridiculously talented trio of Icelandic witches. Meeting them at a small club in Atlanta a couple of years ago was honestly one of the best things to happen to me in the last decade. This song, an ode to dancing under the cold northern lights on a snowy winter night, literally gives me chills every time I listen to it. If you take nothing else from this list, put some Kælan Mikla into your life now, before they become household names.
LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT – “THE CHRISTMAS SONG”
London After Midnight are the very definition of ‘90’s era Gothic Rock. While tonally, this track fits in perfectly with any of their other dark classics like “Kiss” or “Carry On…Screaming”, lyrically, it’s not too far from any other gloomy pop standard around the holidays and is a must for any Goth Christmas playlist. And it’s not the only time they’ve tackled the topic. They also did a great cover of “Sally’s Song” from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
TYPE O NEGATIVE – “RED WATER (CHRISTMAS MOURNING)”
Speaking of musts, this one also ranks high up there. Type O Negative are synonymous with gloom metal, just pushing the envelope of melodrama into almost being cheesy, while still clearly being in on the joke. This is a prime example of them firing on all cylinders, with great lines like “God damn ye…merry gentlemen”.
COCTEAU TWINS – “FROSTY THE SNOWMAN”
This may be one of the cheeriest entries on the list. Cocteau Twins have solidified their reputations as pioneers in the ethereal, with Elizabeth Fraser’s instantly recognizable voice inspiring many an ethereal and shoegaze band for decades. Robert Smith of The Cure has gone on record as being a huge fan of theirs. Here, they put their own layered sound to an old classic.
ALIEN SEX FIEND – “STUFF THE TURKEY”
No, it’s not a Thanksgiving song in disguise, although it could easily act as that too. Alien Sex Fiend are Batcave icons and it’s hard to compare them with well, anyone. They’re legends in the scene and have given us one of my favorite entries on this list.
BLACK TAPE FOR A BLUE GIRL – “CHANUKKAH, OH CHANUKKAH”
I’d be remiss if I didn’t represent those of us of the Jewish persuasion. While I do love all the secular parts of Christmas, and it’s fun to celebrate with all the tracks I’ve listed here, religiously, I’m more in line with that other holiday in December. Unfortunately, the pickings are kind of slim when it comes to gothy Chanukkah songs. Fortunately, we have Black Tape for a Blue Girl, fronted by Sam Rosenthal, the founder of Projekt Records, which is nearly single-handedly responsible for the entire Darkwave subgenre.
SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES – “ISREAL”
I’m going to wrap things up here with my favorite Siouxsie and the Banshees song ever. It’s unintentionally a Christmas song the same way that Siouxsie herself unintentionally became the Godmother of Goth. It’s the last label she ever wanted, but all the ingredients are there. Much like, after years of loving the song, until recently, I never considered it a Christmas one, despite lyrics like, “Red and green reflect the scene, of a long-forgotten dream” and “In Israel, will they sing Happy Noel” staring me right in the face.
This list is just a sampling of what’s out there if you’re looking to make your December a little darker. There are loads of compilations to check out, most published by Projekt Records. Or better, yet, if you’re looking for a GREAT sampling, complete with commentary, segues, movie samples, commercials, and even a cameo by Bea Arthur, check out the 2021 DARK ENTRIES: GOTH RADIO CHRISTMAS SHOW, where you’ll hear most of what’s on this list, and more. Hosted by yours truly, DJ D. 'Tis the season to be scary!
2022 will see Dark Entries: Goth Radio celebrate its 25th year on the airwaves. It can be heard on WUSC every Saturday night 8-10 PM. If you miss it live, you can always catch the recorded episodes later on the podcast.
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An exploration into Goth, Darkwave, Deathrock, Post-Punk, Industrial, Horror, and everything else that goes bump in the night. It’s like if Halloween became a radio show. It's also one of the longest running shows on WUSC. Still undead and shuffling around after 25 years!