Back in 2011 I looked at some of the Christmas tunes from various goth and goth-adjacent artists in order to darken up the holiday a little. It’s been a while since then and I thought it was time for an update. Here are ten more songs to keep things spooky this Yule when you just can’t hear “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” one more time without taking a shot of absinthe.
10. The Cure, “Let’s Go to Bed”
With The Cure making it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year I thought we’d open with them. Robert Smith mentions Christmas is a surprising number of lyrics, and this single from 1982’s Japanese Whispers is one of them. Plus, I’m kind of hoping one day someone will do a lounge piano duet version for a male and female voice so that we can finally put away “Baby It’s Cold Outside” for something better.
9. Erasure, “Gaudete”
Not only to Vince Clarke and Andy Bell absolutely kill this old Latin carol, it comes with an incredible stop motion music video from Martin Meunier and Tonya Hurley. The whole Snow Globe album is a winner, but this is by far my favorite cut.
8. Yazoo, “Winter Kills”
I know I’m dancing on the edge of goth with Yazoo, but check out this performance of “Winter Kills” by Alison Moyet from 2015 in Berlin. It takes a bleak seasonal tune and gives it a whole new depth that chills a listener to the bone. For when you absolutely need to watch a Christmas Tree burn, except no substitutes.
7. Nick Cave, “Fifteen Feet of Pure White Snow”
But even Moyet must make way for Nick Cave. Coming off 2001’s No More Shall We Part, it’s the highlight of the album. Cave has always loved winter imagery in his work, but few songs evoke the season in his trademark macabre style like this one does. Plus, there’s all kinds of deep religiosity lying about for those that like to keep Jesus as the reason for the season.
6. Valentine Wolfe, “Candlemas Eve Carol”
Here’s an obscure one for you. Valentine Wolfe’s The Ghosts of Christmas Past is a haunting collection of dark holiday settings. Like Erasure they tackle “Gaudete,” but the style here is much more classic. I prefer this track, which reaches down through history like a restless spirit.
5. Siouxsie and the Banshees, “Il est né, le divin Enfant”
This is another classic carol, this time done by one of the biggest names in goth. It was a B-Side to “Melt” off of 1982’s A Kiss in the Dreamhouse, but as you can see it did warrant a simple official video with the band appearing. It’s a pretty piece that is halfway between a pop and classical setting, and Siouxsie does the French carol justice.
4. Apocalyptica, “O Holy Night”
I don’t have anything new to say about Apocalyptica. If you like spooky strings you’ll love this.
3. Toms Mucenieks, “Jingle Bells”
Most songs get pretty goth when you put them in a minor key, and “Jingle Bells” is no exception. You’ll ever hear the song quite them same ways after Mucenieks gets done with it.
2. Christopher Lee, “Little Drummer Boy”
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Everyone should know that Christopher Lee spent the last years of his life recording metal music largely inspired by his ancestor Charlamagne. He took a detour into Christmas music, too. Frankly, Lee can say this is no gift fit for a king all he wants, but as far as I’m concerned no one is awesome enough to deserve something so amazing.
1. The Sisters of Mercy, “Driven Like the Snow”
I can’t believe I forgot this tune back in 2011. One of the minor but excellent cuts from Floodland, “Driven Like the Snow” is one of the ethereal Andrew Eldritch songs that sets a stage like no other. It always makes me think of being on the empty Houston highways after a family gathering as I head back to my own little bat cave. It’s lonely and wonderful, as Christmas so often is. Happy holiday, darklings.