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Music / The Cure

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"Disintegration is the best album ever!"
Kyle Broflovski, South Park, "Mecha-Streisand"

An influential English Goth Rock band formed in 1976 and one of the earliest successful Alternative Rock bands (alongside R.E.M. 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worth, Lol Tolhurst was the band's original drummer, until he was sacked in 1989 (he wasn't drumming by then; he had been replaced by Boris Williams for five years) and is known for his now funny nickname note , and bassist Simon Gallup is the second longest serving member.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 Jane's Addiction, My Chemical Romance, and Deftones cite them as an inspiration.


  • Three Imaginary Boys (1979)
    • Boys Don't Cry (1980) (US equivalent of Three Imaginary Boys)
  • 17 Seconds (1980)
  • Faith (1981)
    • Happily Ever After (1981) (The band's second album in the US, which combined Seventeen Seconds 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:

  • 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
  • Break-Up 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.
  • Careful with That Axe: The ending to "Subway Song", rather infamously.
  • Chick Magnet: Robert Smith still has quite the sizable female fan base even in his sixties. Many of said fans are easily young enough to be his daughters or even granddaughters.
  • 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 Rubaiyat, Depeche Mode's "World in My Eyes," and David Bowie's "Young Americans" from Young Americans for B Sides. They've also been covered a few times, 311's "Lovesong" and Dinosaur Jr.'s "Just Like Heaven" covers being the most high profile.
  • Crapsack World: "Jumping Someone Else's Train".
  • Cute Clumsy Girl: The subject of "Catch" would fall down a lot.
  • "Days of the Week" Song: "Friday I'm in Love."
  • Defiled Forever: A possible case: at the end of "The Figurehead" Smith keeps repeating "I will never be clean again", which could be meant from the point of view of someone who just got raped/molested. Alternatively, it could be someone who feels they've crossed a Moral Event Horizon.
  • 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.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Reeves Gabrels appeared on the "Wrong Number" single in 1997 (it was originally recorded for a Robert Smith / Jason Cooper side-project but got re-purposed). He wouldn't actually join the group properly until 2012, fifteen years later.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: "The End of the World", despite its title, is not actually about one. "A Strange Day" from Pornography, however, is.
  • Epic Instrumental Opener: "The Kiss" starts with a 3 minutes guitar solo in a 6 minute song. "Fascination Street" also has 2 minutes of music before the vocals come in, again for a song that's just 5 minutes long.
  • 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."
  • Four More Measures: "In Between Days," "Fascination Street," and "Just Like Heaven" are prime examples.
  • 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.
    • 17 Seconds, Faith, and Pornography are regarded as their goth era, but all of their albums since The Top 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").
  • I Am the Band: Downplayed by Robert Smith. He's the sole constant member, the only one who appears on all their releases and is also the chief songwriter. However, he's stated that without bassist Simon Gallup (who has been a member since 1979, barring two brief hiatuses), the band wouldn't be The Cure.
  • 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' 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.
    • "Killing an Arab", which got the band wrongly accused of racism.
  • Intercourse with You: "The Lovecats:"
    We should have each other for dinner
    We should 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."
  • Lead Bassist: Simon Gallup plays melodic basslines similar to Peter Hook.
  • Lesser Star: 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.
  • 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.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: Lol Tolhurst's contributions slowly diminished after he switched to keyboards, and he was finally fired from the band after spending the entirety of Disintegration drunk and watching MTV. He was credited with "Other Instruments" due to contractual obligations, but Robert and the band confirmed he contributed nothing.
  • 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" a 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," "Cut Here," among many others. "In Between Days" could also count, as the complete title doesn't appear.
  • Not What It Looks Like: The Song "A Man Inside My Mouth". It talks of a wild party, with the protagonist falling asleep and waking up "with a man inside my mouth", despite the meaning seemingly being obvious, Word of God says it's about a time Robert Smith was on drugs at a party and woke up feeling like someone was talking through him like a puppet.
  • Obsession Song: "Why Can't I Be You?" is the most obvious one.
  • 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 exceptions are: "I'm Cold" (B-Side to "Jumping Someone Else's Train"), which has backing vocals by Siouxsie Sioux, "Just Say Yes" with backing vocals from Saffron (lead vocalist of electronic rock band Republica) and "Foxy Lady" sung by Michael Dempsey.
  • Sexy Cat Person: "The Love Cats" consists mostly of a whole string of feline metaphors for sex, including semi-orgasmic cat noises.
  • Shout-Out: Robert Smith's look is inspired by Syd Barrett.
  • 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.
  • Spiders Are Scary: "Lullaby". The spider man is having you for dinner tonight...
  • 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 "The 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, bass melodies, silly voices with either Gratuitous German or 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," "Plainsong," and "The Violin Song."
  • 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 the 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 off stage.
    • From Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me there's a song called "Shiver and Shake," which Smith wrote for Tolhurst, expressing his frustration, at the 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.
    • Rob also took some shots at Morrissey, stating that "Morrissey's so depressing, if he doesn’t kill himself soon, I probably will" and "If Morrissey says not to eat meat, then I’m going to eat meat; that’s how much I hate Morrissey." The Smiths frontman fired back, stating that "The Cure (are) a new dimension to the word 'crap'" and called their frontman "a whinebag".
      • Morrissey initially started the "feud", when an interviewer asked Morrissey whether he'd shoot Smith or Mark E. Smith of The Fall, and Morrissey responded that he'd "line them up so that one bullet penetrated both simultaneously. . . . Robert Smith is a whingebag." Needless to say, Robert wasn't happy.
  • True Companions: They may have had issues in the past, but Robert Smith and Simon Gallup have pretty much had each other's backs for over thirty years at this point. Smith's even gone as far as to say that "it wouldn't be The Cure" without Simon.
  • Unplugged Version: The Cure's Acoustic Hits is an album length version of this trope; it contained newly recorded acoustic versions of all 18 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
  • Vocal Evolution: Compare Smith on Three Imaginary Boys and on everything released after it.
  • Whole Plot Reference:


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