So, we’re all hearing about the new trend sweeping the nation (and by the nation I mean certain parts of New York, LA and San Francisco): health goth. Apparently the youngin's nowadays are all super into wearing black and white sportswear (especially Adidas sandals and nylon basketball shorts) and being spooky.
There are varying reports as to the origin of this new trend -- some people say it comes from California, others say Portland, others New York, but my theory is that it was invented by my younger brother who was doing it early last year before anyone was even calling it health goth and calling it “sports-witch” which I think is a much better name. He was also pairing it with pale green lipstick and a bleached white high n’ tight with matching bleached eyebrows.
He’s a RISD student and thus very hip and in the know about what today’s trend-setting youth are into which is apparently Marilyn Manson, support hosiery, the Illuminati, epistemology, gaia-punk (which is about being ecologically conscious in the punkest way possible, so like tanning your own animal hides with your own urine and eating road kill), and collecting empty cereal boxes.
According to the Internet, health goths are really into exercising, living a healthy lifestyle, and also futurist aesthetics. I’ll admit, the healthy lifestyle thing seems questionable to me as everyone I know who does the style lives primarily on coffee and cigarettes, but some of them are apparently interested in creating a fitness culture for arty weirdos who feel uncomfortable in normal gym environments, which sounds like an admirable aim to me.
And really whether it’s a flash in the pan fashion based around monochrome sportswear and robots or the biggest fitness craze since Zumba, or the beginnings of a new subculture, I’m for it, because too many people worry too much about what kids these days are up to, and sensationalist news sources saying that it encourages the use of exercise as self harm sound a whole lot like previous moral panics about paper tigers like jenkum, rainbow parties and sex bracelets.
Anyway, I’m not a health goth. I don’t own flat shoes and am more retro than futurist in terms of my sartorial preferences. But I am a goth and I am doing sets of bicep curls with one hand while I write this, so bust out your black and fishnet workout gear and get ready to feel the burn of a ghostly blue flame. Fight against your body’s inherent frailty and the inevitability of death and gothercise.
Warning: A lot of the lyrics here have extremely dark themes involving acts of violence sexual and otherwise. If this may trigger you, please do be cautious.
Get Your Tell Tale Heart Pumping:
Let’s start with some music for cardio. Pounding beat and aerobic pacing make some tunes just perfect for this.
Clubs In Europe Forever - The Ropes: This tune is perfect for a warm up. Not too fast but with a driving beat to get you pumped up and ready to move. Add catchy yet eerie synth and delicate, melancholic vocals and it’s the perfect tune for for getting yourself into the zone… the twilight zone. (This article is going to contain some really, really bad jokes, so, you know, brace yourself.)
Walk Into The Sun - The March Violets This classic ’80s goth act commands you to walk... into the sun, which actually may not be great workout advice. But its echo-y instrumentals and driving beat make for a great song to sweat to, and if you’re on a treadmill, the repeated commands to walk may inspire you to go farther… I guess.
Cities In Dust - Siouxsie And The Banshees If you listen to the lyrics, this song is about a burning city, that the singer (presumably) just conquered. It's rhythmic and danceable, like Eye Of The Tiger for people who were really into Lost Souls.
Gorgeous - Gene Loves Jezebel Whether you’re dancing, or running or on the stationary velocipede or even using the Stairmaster at a pace to rival Orpheus fleeing Hades with his beloved Eurydice (which is a very sad story) it’s nice to be reminded that you’re gorgeous, especially by the young and pretty 1987 version of the Aston twins.
Stand Up, Stand Out - Specimen If Stand Up Stand Out doesn’t get you moving you’re literally dead (undead, undead, undead… look, you try to come up with more than five jokes relating to both goths as a subculture and exercise, I’m doing my best, damn it). In all seriousness though, I like this song a lot and Specimen has quite a few tracks that are perfect for exercise.
Identity in Vain - Les Fleurs Du Mal I feel like this would be good for interval training with its epically dramatic courses and up tempo verses. They’re a Swedish act and sound like good old fashioned guitar based gothic rock, with a nice post punk bass. And they get bonus points for the Baudelaire reference because I like Baudelaire and I’m assigning points without any oversight so I can be as arbitrary as I like.
Psychoflood - The Beauty Of Gemina Atmospheric with a wonderfully menacing beat this is great for kicking a workout into high gear. Go, run from the psychoflood, run toward the psychoflood, jazzercise away from or towards the psychoflood, it’s a psychoflood and it’s coming.
Rituel - She Past Away With synths and a danceable beat this track is meditative and hypnotic, but will also get you moving.
This Corrosion - Sisters Of Mercy I’ll admit I love this song despite it having won “Most Overplayed At Goth Nights” every year since its release until the release of "Closer" by Nine Inch Nails. It’s got a catchy melody that make it a total ear worm.
Hollow Eyes - Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry Thumping beats, with distorted guitars and enigmatic lyrics, this song somehow manages to be both darkly cynical and weirdly peppy. It’s the most energetic expression of world weary ennui I’ve ever experienced and I thoroughly encourage you to check it out.
Girls, Girls, Girls - Lords Of The New Church Yes, a lot of the music I like was released… awhile ago. But this snarling punk ode to masculine aggression (not to be confused with Motley Crue’s similarly titled ode to strippers) is genuinely one of those songs that makes you work out just a little bit harder with its vicious guitar and deliciously nasty sounding vocals. It really gets you into that animalistic “let’s GO” mode.
In Love We Trust - Clan Of Xymox That one style of vocals that 95% of male goth vocalists use layered over electro beats that are actually good. In Xymox we trust for creating music we can work out to without losing our goth cred.
Figurative Theater - Christian Death Distorted guitars and Rozz’s exquisite, anguished or ecstatic moaning vocals create a blend as hypnotic and dark as the scent of incense and spicy sweet 1920s perfume. But instead of soporific this blend is as energizing as a blast of cold night air.
Strong And Scary
So, we've covered cardio, but what about strength training? Well, here are some tracks I like for weight training and anything else that needs something just a little heavier.
Amphetamine Logic - The Sisters Of Mercy With its thumping bass and vaguely aggressive lyrics, this song begs the question “Do you even lift, bro?" Because I can promise you it doesn’t have to make you bulky and will make it possible for you to wear even more heavy silver bracelets, so you should really try it. Also: "Lucretia, My Reflection" is suited to this purpose. (Actually, a lot of SoM’s stuff is suited to this.)
Sacrificed to The Gods - The Beauty Of Gemina The heavy beat and echoing baritone old-school goth-style vocals make this song perfect for rhythmic strength training exercises. Also I tried to get some kind of sacrifice/exercise joke in here, but it just wasn’t happening.
Loverman - Nick Cave Droning hypnotic beats get you into that state where you can lift things over and over mindlessly. Also it’s just a fucking good song.
Adolescent Sex - Japan Early Japan has some glammy elements, which combined with an almost disco style beat make this peppy inspiring number fucking perfect for everything from aerobics class to the nautilus machine. Even the lyrics are encouraging, reminding you to do “whatever gets you through the night” and that “They’ll not take it much higher” (which makes you contrarily want to go that much harder).
Dead Disco Dancer - O Children They’re from London, the vocalist has a deep, resonant voice that sounds like honey made by ghostly bees and the instrumentals are all spare post-punk perfection. I am in favor of everything about this.
Crawling Mantra - Red Lorry, Yellow Lorry The lyrics go “on and on and on and on” and somehow the admission that you’re dragging yourself through something tough makes getting through the hard bit of your workout just a little bit easier.
The Dope Show - Marilyn Manson When I was younger it was fashionable to dismiss Marilyn Manson as a cheesy pop fad with little depth, and frankly, I dismissed him because I was a smug little music snob, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate his intelligence as a musician, and love him for the huge amount of 1970s glam influence in his early work. And frankly, if you don’t end up singing along to the choruses, you probably kind of hate fun.
Beast Of Blood - Malice Mizer Harpsichord and heavy guitars pretty much sum up what’s awesome about this track by Japanese band Malice Mizer. It’s symphonic, inspiring and fucking awesome and you need it in your life RIGHT NOW. Actually a lot of their stuff is like this. Also Mana, the pretty one…no, the really really pretty one is extremely attractive to me, so that’s a bonus.
Venus Decomposing - Fields Of The Nephilim With death metal vocals and guitars that alternate between howling and growling with vicious drum solos, I guarantee you will feel able to fight a bear after working out to this (but please don’t actually try to fight a bear, it’s not worth it, man).
Fast and Frightening - L7 While not technically goth, this song is goth-friendly and fucking badass. It reminds me of 45 Grave and also makes me want to punch things. Also the title perfectly describes the two things I hope to be when running.
Wolf Moon- Type O Negative When you can lift the equivalent of a fully grown Peter Steele you will know you are ready. Ready for what? I have no idea, but you’re definitely well prepared.
Everyday is Halloween - Ministry I feel like this song could totally back up a training montage in an ’80s movie, which would involve Aquanet and a yelling coach wearing a lot of eye makeup.
And that’s my list of goth workout tunes. I have more recommendations for yoga/pilates type stuff, but that’ll have to wait for another article, because this is getting kind of long already.