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13 Goth-friendly musicals

No, really. You may have thought that the bright, glitzy, happy-go-lucky world of musicals and the gloomy, macabre world of Goth would never go together. But in fact, this list was surprisingly easy to make - there are quite a few musicals out there that blend the two together, and not unsuccessfully too. Below, I've listed my top 13 musicals that Goths may enjoy (I've been pretty broad in my definition of musicals here, including examples from theatre, film and TV)

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13. “Repo! The Genetic Opera”

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This is one of those movies that divide people. There are those who think it’s a cult classic and a stunningly original take on the musical genre; and there are those who think it’s just BAD. I have to admit, I tend towards the latter category. But there’s no doubting that it’s a hugely important subcultural movie with a tone of Gothic trappings , and I *did* love the costumes and sets. I just didn’t like anything else about it, really.

12. “Moulin Rouge”

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While it’s not really a Gothic movie, there is plenty in Moulin Rouge that Goths into cabaret (and there’s quite a few out there) are going to love – the costume, the dark theatre setting, and even the pop song covers. There’s definitely something dark and wicked about this movie’s take on “Roxanne.”

11. Disney's “Beauty and the Beast”

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While there are plenty of sweet, cutesy moments in this Disney classic, it is at heart a very Gothic fairy tale – most of it takes place in a huge gargoyle-filled castle in the middle of a dark forest! As much as I love this movie, it doesn’t rank so highly on this list because there’s comparatively few songs in it, and the ones it has aren’t really the “gothic” bits. Even though there’s no song, you have to check out the intro here – it’s just wonderful, with a beautiful instrumental piece.

10. “Once More, with Feeling” (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

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Cheating a little bit as this is neither a feature length movie or theatre production – but this Buffy the Vampire Slayer is such a classic and took so many fans by storm at the time, it just had to be included. When the creators decided to blend amusing musical numbers with gothic-inspired vampire-slaying action, they knew exactly what they were doing. Still a fan favourite even today.

9. “Wicked”

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The story of an intelligent, sensitive yet misunderstood outcast (who likes to dress in black and dabble in magic) is definitely one that will speak to many goths out there. The idea of a darker, (even) more sinister world of Oz in which all our expectations of the characters are completely inverted is really clever, and the fantastic sets and costumes have a lot of goth appeal.

8. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show”

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The cult classic beloved of goths of all generations, no doubt thanks to Tim Curry’s performance as a mad scientist who’s also a sweet transvestite. From Transsexual Transylvania. These days people love this film for its wackiness and darkly subversive humour, but it was pretty much panned by critics for precisely the same reason when it first came out. Who knows, maybe Repo! The Genetic Opera will be regarded in the same way 15 years from now…

7. Pink Floyd's “The Wall”

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Pink Floyd are absolutely my favourite band of all time, so I’ve seen “The Wall” a number of times (usually very late at night, after a few drinks). And I can tell you, it never ceases to be disturbing, creepy and yes, downright depressing. But it is an absolute work of art with incredible animation that anyone with an appreciation of the weird and macabre will love.

6. Tim Burton's “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

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Like “Repo! The Genetic Opera,” this musical take on Sweeney Todd combines the whimsical fun of musicals with gory horror, but in my opinion, it’s a lot more successful. While I found “Repo” to be pretty relentless watching with pretty bad musical numbers, “Sweeney Todd” keeps itself fun and enjoyable (although, be warned, it is gruesome). It’s also full of enough typically dark, Burton-esque costume to make Goths drool. And the musical numbers are really, very good. Who can’t love this scene with Johnny Depp AND Alan Rickman singing during that *very* close shave (and blimey, this scene is blinking TENSE!)

5. “Labyrinth”

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“Labyrinth” is an odd one. It’s a pure fantasy story, very light hearted and sweet, and yet…there is something vaguely goth about it. Perhaps it’s David Bowie’s presence in all his darkly androgynous glory, perhaps it’s Brian Froud’s dark goblin designs….whatever it is, there’s no doubt that tonnes of goths *LOVE* this movie. And I’m certainly one of them. And as a musical movie goes, it’s sheer quality – all the songs are memorable, quirky, and a heck of a lot of fun to sing along to!

4. “Fantasia”

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There may not be any singing (apart from the choral rendition of “Ave Maria” at the end), but this IS a musical movie, goddamit! And it’s AWESOME! Goths will love plenty of the sequences in this, such as the abstract interpretation of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue and the very dark prehistoric story to the equally dark music of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. But the *really* goth bit is Mussorgsky’s “Night on Bald Mountain,” with its amazing gargoyle-like devil and the genuinely eerie spirits of the undead rising from the grave. If you’re dark at heart, you have got to see it. (By the way, this clip seems to use a different orchestration of Night on Bald Mountain to the one actually used in the film, for some reason...)

3. “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

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You KNEW this would be in here somewhere. How couldn’t it be? Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” is THE definitive Goth musical, hands-down. With incredible animation, brilliant character design, a highly original plot and extremely memorable songs, it is highly deserving of its top-ranking reputation in the Goth community. Great for any time of year!

2. Disney's “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”

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I know that Disney features heavily on this list, but really, I think this is perhaps the most underrated Disney film of all. And it’s incredibly Gothic – it’s based on Victor Hugo’s classic, after all! Yes, Disney did soften it and cutesy it up a bit to make it more family friendly, but it’s still an incredibly dark movie. Filled with beautiful sequences taking place in Notre Dame cathedral and featuring (in my opinion anyway) the scariest villain in all Disney history, Goths should ignore the bright marketing and packaging this movie has acquired and see it for the gothic feature it is. And did I mention that not only are there even more musical numbers in “Hunchback” than there are in your average Disney, but they are absolutely incredible? The most notable ones for me are the opening sequence with its amazing choir (featured), the intense “Hell Fire” and the extremely moving “God Help the Outcasts.”

1. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “The Phantom of the Opera”

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I don’t care how cheesy, bombastic and melodramatic it is…whether it’s the original stage show, or the Joel Schumacher movie, I LOVE this musical. Through its spellbinding sets, incredible costumes and absolutely beautiful songs, this musical transports you into a magical, Gothic world where the darkest romances are possible. Just check out the main theme sequence, it has everything – Christine dressed in white being led on horseback by the black-cloaked Phantom through an underground layer of candelabras, to a black gondola where the Phantom ferries her like Charon through a subterranean river as more candles rise from the water…. I don’t know about you, but that’s definitely the stuff of MY fantasies! And elsewhere in the movie we get crypts, cemeteries, masked balls, travelling circuses and even a bed shaped like a freakin’ giant black swan. And let’s not forget (but how could we forget?) the music itself – opera, booming church organs, eerie violin solos and lyrics about surrendering to the music of the night…it’s an absolute chocolate box of all that is uber-Goth.

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