Music: The Cure

"Disintegration is the best album ever!"

An influential English Goth Rock band formed in 1976 and one of the earliest successful Alternative Rock bands (alongside REM and The Smiths), The Cure was formed as a response to Post-Punk and New Wave music coming on the scene. They've had a ton of members over the years, but the one you most likely know is the Face of the Band, mastermind, guitarist and nasal singer Robert Smith. For what it's worth, Lol Tolhurst was the band's original drummer until he was sacked in 1989 (he wasn't drumming by then; he had been replaced by Boris Williams for five years) and is known for his now-funny nickname note , and bassist Simon Gallup is the second longest serving member.

They started out a punk (or post-punk, depending on who you ask) band, quickly moved into a goth phase, with a purposeful anti-image and a generally somber outlook. After Pornography came out, Smith felt pigeonholed by their miserabilist image and wanted to escape from it. This caused them to go Lighter and Softer, arguably, which was much more commercially successful. Once they'd reached real success they returned to that image with Disintegration, which won over the UK and gained them fans internationally. Their music ever since is just different degrees of accessibility vs. angst.

Despite their Goth Rock tag, they've also written pop songs and dabbled in so many genres they're arguably close to Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly territory.

Many bands like Janes Addiction, My Chemical Romance, and Deftones cite them as an inspiration.

"Just Like Heaven" and "Friday I'm In Love" are their most recognizable songs to the average viewer.


  • Three Imaginary Boys (1979)
    • Boys Don't Cry (1980) (the US equivalent of Three)
  • Seventeen Seconds (1980)
  • Faith (1981)
    • Happily Ever After (1981) (the band's second album in the US, which combined Seventeen and Faith onto one 2-LP set. Now long out of print.)
  • Pornography (1982)
  • The Top (1984)
  • The Head on the Door (1985)
  • Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (1987)
  • Disintegration (1989)
  • Wish (1992)
  • Wild Mood Swings (1996)
  • Bloodflowers (2000)
  • The Cure (2004)
  • 4:13 Dream (2008)

Tropes related to the band:

  • Absentee Actor:
    • There's a question on how much and whether or not Lol Tolhurst actually performed on the band's post-Pornography recordings, as he wasn't exactly the most skilled keyboardist (even while he was sober and had to put colored stickers on his keys for live performances, during which he was assisted by Porl Thompson and later Roger O'Donnell anyway) and the instrument is always credited to other members as well. He effectively ceased to be the band's drummer during the recording of "Let's Go to Bed", as he was unable to get the drum beat for that song correctly. Even though he kept assuring Robert Smith, that he would get it right next time, Smith reminded him, that he would have to play it correctly for live performances as well, which is when Tolhurst gave up. After briefly considering to record the drums himself, Smith called Steve Goulding to play them, while Smith performed everything else, thus Tolhurst did not play on the record.
    • The Top credits Smith for vocals and multiple instruments, Andy Anderson for drums and Tolhurst for other instruments. The liner notes for deluxe version mention, that due to Tolhurst increasing substantial abuse (describing him as "no longer a reliably functioning band member") and then-bassist Phil Thornalley's physical absence (he went to Australia to produce a Duran Duran album), Smith played everything except drums (and in case of one song, saxophone).
    • Then there was also his non-contribution Disintegration, but the band also claimed, that he played nothing on the previous album, Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me.
  • Album Title Drop: "Close to Me" for The Head on the Door.
    • Also, "Hey You!" for Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.
  • The Alcoholic: The reason Lol Tolhurst was fired.
  • Alternative Rock
  • Breakup Song: "Boys Don't Cry" and "The End of the World."
  • Canon Discontinuity: In 1986, to promote Standing on a Beach: The Singles, the band released a new remix for "Boys Don't Cry" subtitled "New Voice New Mix" as a stand-alone single. Upon its release, the band almost immediately decided it was a bad idea. Aside from its original single release, it has never appeared on another Cure release, not even on the band's career spanning (and otherwise complete) rarities box set Join the Dots, which ironically enough uses the iconic cover of the "New Voice New Mix" single as its cover image. The only way to hear it outside of owning the single is on the 1986 music video for "Boys Don't Cry" that appears on a few of the band's video collections.
    • "Killing An Arab," the band's first single, is absent from the re-issue of Three Imaginary Boys due to the controversy over its misinterpretation. It remains available on Boys Don't Cry and Standing on a Beach: The Singles, both of which remain in print.
  • Cover Version: A weird version of "Foxy Lady" by Jimi Hendrix shows up on their debut, and they covered "Purple Haze" on the Hendrix Tribute album Stone Free, The Doors' "Hello, I Love You" for the Elektra compilation Rubáiyát, and Depeche Mode's "World in My Eyes" and David Bowie's "Young Americans" from Young Americans for BSides. They've also been covered a few times, 311's "Love Song" and Dinosaur Jr.'s "Just Like Heaven" covers being the most high-profile.
  • "Days of the Week" Song : "Friday I'm in Love."
  • Dreadful Musician: Tolhurst's keyboard skills (or rather lack thereof) were the reason why his contribution to The Cure albums after Pornography was minimal, if any. And he wasn't the greatest drummer either - for example Pornography uses one single repeated beat per song, some of them sounding even very similar ("A Short Term Effect" and "A Strange Day"). Although Smith claimed that at that time he liked being restrained by Tolhurst inability to do any better.
  • Epic Rocking: "Faith," the soundtrack to "Carnage Visors," note  "One Hundred Years," "The Figurehead," "Pornography," "The Top," "The Kiss," "The Snakepit," "Pictures of You," "Prayers for Rain," "The Same Deep Water as You," "Disintegration," "Homesick," "Untitled," "Open," "Apart," "From the Edge of the Deep Green Sea," "End," "Out of This World," "Watching Me Fall," "Bloodflowers," "Fear of Ghosts," "Burn," "Young Americans," "It Used to Be Me," and "Coming Up."
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Four More Measures: "In Between Days," "Fascination Street," and "Just Like Heaven" are prime examples.
  • Garfunkel: Literally. Lol Tolhurst's alcohol abuse reached a peak during the Disintegration sessions, and despite being credited for "other instruments," the band said he played absolutely nothing on the album, preferring to sit around, get drunk and watch MTV while the rest of the band bullied him (except Smith, who said his behaviour was like "some kind of handicapped child being constantly poked with a stick"). He was fired after a shouting match over arriving excessively drunk to the album's mixing.
  • Goth Rock: Probably the band that comes to mind when the general public thinks of "goth rock," even though the band has many popular songs that are decidedly non-goth and indeed only a handful of their albums actually fit in the genre.
    • Seventeen Seconds, Faith, and Pornography are regarded as their goth era, but all of their albums from The Top on have at least a few straight-up Goth Rock songs and some more that have many of the musical characteristics of the genre but are somewhat more upbeat melodically (i.e. "In Between Days," "Just Like Heaven," and "Friday I'm In Love").
  • Greatest Hits Album: Three — 1986's Standing on a Beach: The Singles (expanded on compact disc as Staring at the Sea, which features a couple album tracks), 1998's Galore (containing the singles released after Staring at the Sea, plus a newly recorded single, "Wrong Number"), and 2001's career-spanning Greatest Hits (which also featured two new songs, "Cut Here" and "Just Say Yes").
  • Inspired By: "Charlotte Sometimes" and "The Empty World" are both inspired by Penelope Farmer's book Charlotte Sometimes; "Killing An Arab" derives from Albert Camus's The Stranger and "A Letter to Elise" is about Jean Cocteau's Les Enfants Terribles. "All Cats Are Grey" and "The Drowning Man" are both based on Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast novels, the latter even addressing Fuchsia directly.
  • Intentionally Awkward Title: Pornography.
  • Intercourse with You: "The Lovecats." "Let's have each other for dinner / Let's have each other with cream."
    • "Siamese Twins" is a Darker and Edgier take on an Intercourse with You song, which is a song about wretched loathing while detailing a loss of virginity in the most poetically horrific terms. "The Real Snow White" and "Doing The Unstuck" are less explicit, but also much darker than the average poppy sex songs.
    • Also, on a happier note, "This. Here And Now. With You.," "The Only One," and "Mint Car." Oh, and "Let's Go to Bed," of course.
  • The Invisible Band: Played with in the "Boys Don't Cry" video. A bunch of young boys are playing the song, while the real band is behind the curtain, visible only in silhouette.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The ear piercing scream on "Subway Song."
    • Also, to a lesser extent, "Pornography," ends with dissonant feedback increasing in pitch until the track abruptly ends. Same thing with "End."
  • Literary Allusion Title: "Killing an Arab" is named for part of the existentialist novel The Stranger by Albert Camus. Charlotte Sometimes refers to a book by Penelope Farmer.
  • Looks Like Cesare: Robert Smith.
  • Lyrical Cold Open: "Lost," which kicks off their 2004 Self-Titled Album.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Most of their songs.
  • Messy Hair: Smith, of course. After 1981 his hairstyle pretty much stayed in its unkempt state.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Robert Smith in pretty much any of their music videos. Dude loves waving his arms around.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Most songs are 3-5, with some below and a few ("Doubt," "One Hundred Years," "Shake Dog Shake," and "Give Me It") arguably reaching 6.
  • Mood Dissonance: Most of their more pop oriented albums, such as The Head on the Door or Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.
  • Mood Whiplash: "The Kiss" and dark and angsty tune, to "Catch," with a poppy, upbeat tune to it on Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me.
    • Wild Mood Swings even lampshades this. "Want" is dark and depressing, while "Club America," the next track, is set to the tune of a typical drinking song. Pretty much the whole album falls under this trope.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: While generally rooted in Post-Punk and Goth Rock, they did delve into this territory quite a bit in their later years, though mostly without abandoning said genres completely.
  • New Sound Album: Their albums after Pornography either lower or increase the angst level.
  • New Wave Music: Especially in latter two-thirds of the '80s.
  • Non-Appearing Title: "Lullaby" and "Lovesong" (although you can consider the titles of both describe the content of the song), "Mint Car" and "Cut Here," among many others. "In Between Days" could also count, as the complete title doesn't appear.
  • Post-Punk
  • Revolving Door Band: 13 members were in the band with Smith being the only constant member. And that doesn't include those, who were in the band before they took the name The Cure.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Robert Smith sings pretty much all vocals on the band's songs. The exception is "I'm Cold" (B-Side to "Jumping Someone Else's Train") which has backing vocals by Siouxsie Sioux and "Foxy Lady," sung by Dempsey.
  • Significant Anagram: "Cut Here" = "The Cure."
  • Something Completely Different: Due to Smith being fed up with their image, the band followed the dark, depressing masterpiece Pornography with a string of three poppy non-album singles: The Synth Poppy "Let's Go to Bed," "The Walk," and the jazz-influenced "The Lovecats." At the time of their release, these songs were also the band's biggest chart hits, with "The Lovecats" making the top 10 in the United Kingdom.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: The Three Imaginary Boys cover of "Foxy Lady" was sung by bassist Michael Dempsey, because Robert Smith hated it. Thus, Dempsey's the only person not named Robert Smith to sing lead vocals on a Cure album. Unless you technically count Simon Gallup, who sang on the unreleased demo for "Violin Song."
  • Studio Chatter: At the start of "Foxy Lady:"
    Robert Smith: "This is a good intro."
  • Stylistic Suck: The B-Side "Do the Hansa" is a pisstake at the expense of The Cure's first record label, Hansa Records, and their Executive Meddling. It features Disco-styled guitar and bass melodies, and silly voices with either Gratuitous German, German-sounding gibberish, regular gibberish, and the few comprehensible lines are snarky Take Thats like "platinum all the way!" and "do the Hansa!"
  • The Something Song: "Lovesong" and "Plainsong."
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion; "Doing the Unstuck:"
    It's a perfect day for doing the unstuck
    For dancing like you can't hear the beat
    And you don't give a f-f-further thought
    To things like feet.
  • Surreal Music Video: Just about all they ever made.
  • Take That: The (in)famous "Robert Palmer" version of "A Forest" from Werchter festival, Belgium, in 1981. A five minute song extended to nine minutes (after they've been told they can only have one more song) finished with Simon's "Fuck Robert Palmer and fuck rock 'n' roll!" as they walked offstage.
    • From Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me there's a song called "Shiver and Shake" which Smith wrote for Tolhurst, expressing his frustration at latter's utter uselessness. When recording the song, Smith allegedly sang it right into Tolhurst's face. After Tolhurst was fired, Smith was often dissing him, such as calling his band Presence, a joke.
  • Unplugged Version: The Cure's Acoustic Hits is an album-length version of this trope; it contained newly recorded acoustic versions of all eighteen songs on the North American version of Greatest Hits.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Arguably in "Primary."
    The very first time I touched your skin, I thought of a story, and rushed to reach the end too soon.
  • Vocal Evolution: Compare Smith on Three Imaginary Boys and on everything released after it.