The 25 Best Goth Covers Ever

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May 312024

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10. Inkubus Sukkubus – Paint It Black (Rolling Stones cover)

Is there a more goth band name on this entire list than Inkubus Sukkubus? If that wasn’t enough, the album this cover comes from is called Vampyre Erotica (sample lyric of the title track: “I’ll beat you…I’ll eat you”). With that sort of pedigree, what other Stones song would you expect them to cover?

“Paint It Black” has become a bit of a gothic-rock standard, with other covers by groups like Mephisto Walz and Screaming Dead (those goths sure know how to pick a band name). But no one does it better than Inkubus Sukkubus. Their version is loud, violent, orchestral, spooky, and…still pretty damn catchy. Their Wikipedia describes them as the “zombie version of Fleetwood Mac,” and you can hear that here. Under all the spooky goth trappings, the pop charm still comes through. – Ray Padgett

9. Faith and the Muse – Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush cover)

This cover can sound very close to the original at first listen. Similar drums, similar vocal delivery. But if you listen a little closer, or one more time, there are subtle elements that mark it as different. The drums have a little more oomph behind them, the main lick is a little more electric-guitar heavy, the vocals have just a little extra snarl. The cover diverges more at the bridge: vocals stack, one singing, one stating. It has the energy of the original, but leaves us a little less mournful overall. – Sara Stoudt

8. Siouxsie and the Banshees – Helter Skelter (The Beatles cover)

Siouxsie and the Banshees have probably had the word “goth” applied to them more than any other band in history, with Siouxsie Sioux, the raven-haired singer in Egyptian eye makeup, forever undisputed as the ultimate goth idol. They’ve also recorded a good few covers since they formed in 1976, leaving many clues as to their dark and theatrical influences. They’ve done the Doors, T. Rex, the Velvet Underground, Iggy Pop and, perhaps most famously, the Beatles. But while their gloriously psychedelic 1983 hit version of “Dear Prudence” wasn’t especially dark (“the sun is up, the sky is blue”?), their earlier rendition of “Helter Skelter” most certainly was.

Siouxsie Sioux actually had a wealth of sinister and twisted songs to choose from on the Fab Four record that clearly inspired her the most: the White Album. She has said that she set out to “really mess up a Beatles song!” in the punk heyday of 1977, egged on by the Sex Pistols’ Sid Vicious. But she created a gargantuan task for herself when she picked the already pretty messed-up McCartney-penned rocker on side 3, with its anarchic sound, its strangely unsettling sexual references on the theme of a fairground ride, and, of course, its macabre association to the Manson Family murders. Unfazed, she brought to it her ferociously spiky vocals and demented “na na na na na na”s, while the Banshees brought distorted and serrated guitars, heavy bass rhythm, drums, drums, drums, and an absolute sense of dread and menace.

The band were rewarded with a live favorite in “Helter Skelter” from mid-1977, recorded it as a Peel Session in 1978, and released it on their stunning debut album The Scream the same year. Yes, it was all before people really talked about them as “goth,” but the track was one heck of a reason to require the description. – Adam Mason

7. Bauhaus – Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie cover)

It’s impossible to write a history of goth music and not reference British rockers Bauhaus, who played an essential role as the founding fathers of the genre. It’s equally impossible to write about the history of Bauhaus without mentioning David Bowie, whose sound and style were a massive influence on the band. So when the group recorded a cover of Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” in 1982, it seemed like a match made in whatever goths consider to be heaven. Bauhaus turned the ultimate ‘70s glam rock song into the ideal goth cover that pays homage to Bowie, but with a unique style of its own. Vocalist Peter Murphy delivers a more flamboyant take on the lyrics, as if auditioning for a West End musical. The guitars have more distortion than the original (almost like a proto-grunge sound). By singing a cover of a song about a prefabricated rockstar, they seem to be poking fun at goth music’s own pretensions. Upon its release the song peaked at number 15 on the UK charts, not bad for a genre that scoffed at anything mainstream. – Curtis Zimmermann

6. Astari Nite – Voices Carry (‘Til Tuesday cover)

When you think of goth music, Miami is not one of the first cities that springs to mind. But sunny Florida is indeed the hometown of Astari Nite, dark as a dungeon and audibly pale. They make you wonder why “Voices Carry” wasn’t goth in the first place. The eerie paranoia of the lyrics is right at home here, and Astari Nite don’t even need to provide further dramatic melancholy. But they do, and the result is a goth cover of a pop song that stands proud alongside the original. – Patrick Robbins

5. London After Midnight – Hot Stuff (Donna Summer cover)

With a haunted mansion organ opening, this cover’s sound is far from the original disco vibe. Instead, it could easily be a funeral dirge, and that becomes especially apt as the music video turns out to be a PSA about climate change. As the song proceeds, now with a rock beat paired with some remaining synthy elements, the music is accompanied by a mix of climate science narrative and newspaper headlines. The pace is slow and steady, unlike the climate change that London After Midnight is raising awareness for; the instrumental break around the 2:30 mark is accompanied on the video by a montage of ice melting and crashing into the water. It’s a situation where form follows function; the activism is supported by the unexpected take on not only a song about “hot stuff” but, one could argue, an extra play on Donna *Summer*. – Sara Stoudt

4. Evanescence – The Chain (Fleetwood Mac cover)

Trust Evanescence to escalate the drama of an already dramatic song. This cover is like an epic movie soundtrack, full of ominous sounds, building up to the action scene of the chorus. Amy Lee starts by herself, almost vulnerable. But then a faint heartbeat comes from both drums and guitar, building along with the strength of Lee’s delivery. In the instrumental build up, drum solo, orchestra and all, near the three-minute mark, I’m almost anticipating a “wake me up” scream but instead “chain, keep us together” emerges. It’s a heartfelt plea repeated while “running in the shadows” is whisper-screamed by the other band members. At the end, Lee stands alone again, bookended with the drum as heartbeat fading first before she trails off too. – Sara Stoudt

3. King Hannah – Like a Prayer (Madonna cover)

The original “Like a Prayer” is a celebratory fusion of funk, pop and gospel about the ecstasy of religion and love. King Hannah slow the song down to a crawl, completely sapping its joy. Lead singer Hannah Merrick is accompanied by very little to start the cover, and her delivery is mournful and haunting. As the track progresses to its climax, the additional instrumentation conjures a sense of anticipation more than tinged with foreboding. The standard rock instrumentation and the effects on Merrick’s voice further keep the song from sounding anything like a gospel track. It’s as if they took the visual aesthetic of Madonna’s “Frozen” video and decided to apply it to the sound of “Like a Prayer.” King Hannah released two versions of this Madonna cover last year, but it’s the full-length version that really stands out. – Riley Haas

2. The Damned – Eloise (Barry Ryan cover)

In “Eloise” the Damned had the perfect title for a goth song, the name alone summoning up the image of a tragic heroine in a Victorian gothic novel. It’s hard to imagine the band’s vampirically made-up and husky-voiced vocalist Dave Vanian singing about a “Tracy,” a “Sharona,” or a “Julie.” Or getting in any way dark and obsessive about her.

That’s what the Damned were all about in 1986, though, incredibly for a group who had made such seminal three-minute punk thrashers as “New Rose” and “Neat Neat Neat” in 1976 and 1977 respectively. They’d grown increasingly goth over the years, particularly after the exit of Captain Sensible in 1984, and went the whole hog on 1985’s Phantasmagoria, with its Doors-y singles “Grimly Fiendish” and “The Shadow of Love.” It was then that they felt ready to record a standalone cover of a melodramatic and strongly orchestrated five-minute epic that had been a massive UK hit for Barry Ryan at the end of 1968. Thankfully, the finished product didn’t sound like Meat Loaf.

The Damned’s success with “Eloise” was mainly due to them dialing down the camp and operatic bluster of the original to make something punchier and pacier. That was with a truly gripping vocal from Vanian as he delivered those Heathcliffian lines of burning passion: “My Eloise is like the stars that please the night / The sun that makes the day / That lights the way.” The band indeed scored the biggest hit of their career with the single, helped by them performing it on nearly every TV show going at the time, with Vanian’s long black hair, billowing white shirt and white-chalk face a standout image on Top of the Pops and Saturday Live alike. Barry Ryan even commented, “I like the Damned’s version best, it’s even better than mine.” How right he was. – Adam Mason

1. Sisters of Mercy – Jolene (Dolly Parton cover)

The “Jolene” story is that of a distraught woman, distressed and nearly abandoned. She does not feel she is conventionally attractive, and a more glamorous, ivory-skinned, auburn-haired beauty is ruining her life. There are mascara tears running down her face, and she believes that she could never be happy again if her man is stolen from her side. Her world is darkening. She fears that his affair will ruin both her life and his, but that they will both be abandoned to their fate by a feckless jezebel.

The question is not “why is there a goth cover of ‘Jolene’?” The question is “why aren’t there more?” The song’s subject and the genre seem like natural bedfellows.

Sisters of Mercy have a disdain for the record industry, music journalists and (sometimes) a section of their fanbase. However their acknowledgement of their influences is not misanthropic, or fake. Singer Andrew Eldritch’s baritone and the dark tones of the band give a wonderfully enthusiastic straight interpretation of the classic, in a major key but at the pace of the original. This formed part of their repertoire for many years, indicating their deep appreciation of the subject matter. – Mike Tobyn

Check out more installments in our monthly “Best Covers Ever” series, including ABBA, Boy Bands, The Beach Boys, and more.

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  4 Responses to “The 25 Best Goth Covers Ever”

Comments (4)
  1. Great post!

  2. Missing – Dear Prudence , Gimme Shelter , Alone Again Or , and Laibach’s Sympathy for the Devil

  3. Ummm… so you don’t include Echo And The Bunnymen’s cover of People Are Strange… but you include Three Days Grace, Orgy, and Evanescence- none of which are even remotely goth. PFFFT!!! Giving me an effing break

  4. And not includes Lords Of The New Church’s cover of “Like A Virgin”?

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