From the underground in the ’80s to fashion runways in the 2000s to malls in 2010s to TikTok in 2020, goth aesthetic has been expanding and changing with the times. Due to its versatility and room for creative expression, the dark look and gloomy vibe have been a long-standing influence in many visual art forms, music videos included. Speaking of, check out these! Just don’t forget to click mute for a full-on goth experience.
Lil Peep – “Girls” (feat. Horse Head)
When it comes to labels, be it emo or goth, they can’t be 100% applied to anything by Lil Peep. His music has little to do with the OG emo sound yet carries the feel of it. GothBoiClique videos don’t really feature goth references except for “Girls,” directed by Ramez Silyan, the co-director of Everybody’s Everything. Set in what looks like a hotel room, the video is centered around Lil Peep and Horse Head surrounded by a group of goth girls. Lil Peep’s earflap hat and striped yellow turtleneck, just like pink flamingos, manifest a childlike vulnerability in this dark world.
Poppy – “I Disagree”
No, even blending experimental pop with an alt-metal sound and embarking on a mission to “let it all burn down,” Poppy doesn’t let go of her polished perfectionist look. But we must agree that Poppy never looked more goth than she was in the “I Disagree” video. The silver-collared look with kimono sleeves she’s wearing during the shockingly bright bridge is framed by two high-fashion dominatrix-futuristic-warrior outfits. This is the dark side of Poppy that was way more implicit in her “Computer Boy” era.
Ashnikko – “STUPID” (feat. Yung Baby Tate)
In both her music and videos, Ashnikko plays with many styles and makes contradictions work with her unique, weird twist. Starring Ashnikko and BFF-in-crime Yung Baby Tate, the TikTok sensation’s video takes you on a killing spree, bubble goth style. With some glittery gore, of course. By the end of the “STUPID” video, the only part untouched by splashes of blood on Ashnikko’s look is her signature blue hair tied in two playful ponytails and secured with baby blue-and-pink clips. Cute! And goth.
Taylor Swift – “Look What You Made Me Do”
If you forget all about how this track from Taylor Swift’s Reputation era was supposed to be shade thrown at some people in the entertainment industry, stop looking for Easter eggs and turn the sound off, you may see the video in a whole different light. Cemetery? Check. Leather, latex, chokers, spikes, fishnets, all-black outfits, dark eye makeup, dark lip, platform boots, all-around spooky vibe? Check. An honorable mention: security guards in the golden birdcage scene who look like a post-punk band from the future transported by a glitch in the matrix.
Post Malone – “Goodbyes” (feat. Young Thug)
We’re more than aware of Post Malone’s affinity toward metal (the subgenre of goblin metal included) and how well he channeled Kurt Cobain in his Nirvana tribute with Travis Barker. But goth? Well, if you’re familiar with gothabilly, the fashion in this video with Young Thug most definitely hits the spot. Recommended song to play while watching “Goodbyes” this time: “I Was A Teenage Werewolf” by the Cramps. Now, you see?
Billie Eilish – “all the good girls go to hell”
Yes, it would be amateur and reductive to define Billie Eilish’s style as goth (although some see it this way, but whatever). But hey, we’re not talking about her personal style here, only this particular video where she’s starring as a literal fallen angel soaked in a pitch-black sticky substance. Walking out of the black puddle dragging her heavy wings, she looks like a bird affected by an oil spill. But then her wings catch fire and turn into bat wings, and we witness a nocturnal triumph of the she-devil. Or a baby bat? Maybe. But still pretty cool. And totally goth.
yeule – “Pretty Bones”
Pastel. Pastel. More pastel. Instagram-worthy picture-perfect still lifes of pretty things, pearl-embellished fruits, flowers and artificial-looking foods. Is this your room, gothic Lolita? Nope. Pink ice cream melts as a tattooed hand puts out a cigarette into it, and it turns out that all the sweet stuff was there just to be smashed, crushed, stabbed, cut up and torn apart by yeule, a post-modern head-to-toe embodiment of all things J-goth. All the rest is left to rot, decompose and die. But it’s OK because it seems that death is something that makes her feel alive—a paradox a real goth understands.
Raja – “Moodbored”
Category is…goth eleganza extravaganza! Allow your wig to be snatched by at least 10 different glamorous, dramatic and over-the-top gothic looks. Oh, and here, you don’t really have to turn the sound off to keep things goth. Just like the makeup, fashion and visuals, this EDM-y track is generously coated with multiple layers of darkness, be it the gloomy beat or spooky vocals by Raja, the ultimate fashion queen and the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race season 3.
scarlxrd – “HEART ATTACK”
Cargo pants, face masks, goggles, chunky boots and tactical vests. These items, frequently sported by our favorite trap-metal lxrd, may sound familiar if you’ve ever been into the cybergoth thing. However, the word you’re looking for now is actually techwear—a distant anime-ninja cousin of cybergoth from a dark and rainy yet functional future. Watching “HEART ATTACK,” you may start wondering: If scarlxrd’s music is what the future of metal sounds like, maybe this is what the future of goth looks like.
Zheani – “DIRTBIKE”
Australian rapper Zheani knows how to create a spooky video, whether it’s the vaporwave fairy-tale fantasy “LIE AND LOOK” or the demonic “Meaning ᐳ Happiness.” In the video for her trap-metal track “DIRTBIKE,” she references casual goth, cybergoth, glam goth and the darkness in her looks, while the DIY green screen backgrounds go from white to blood red to grim shots of a burned-down forest.