The Prime: Alt Through the Ages

March 18th, 2024 by Liz Kosik

by Liz Kosik ’25

Genre: Alternative

Subgenre: Darkwave

RIYL: The Cure, Dead Can Dance, Depeche Mode, Joy Division 

Darkwave alternative music can trace its origins back to the late 1970s and early 1980s when bands like Siouxsie and the Banshees began incorporating elements of post-punk, gothic rock, and electronic music into their sound. These bands created a moody, atmospheric style of music characterized by haunting melodies, ethereal vocals, and a dark, introspective lyrics. Drawing inspiration from artists like David Bowie, Joy Division, and The Velvet Underground, darkwave quickly gained popularity.

Darkwave continued to evolve throughout the 1980s and 1990s with bands like The Cure and Depeche Mode, adding new electronic elements and influences from genres like synth-pop. The genre also saw the rise of female-fronted bands like Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, who brought a more ethereal, mystical quality to the sound of darkwave. By the turn of the millennium, darkwave had become an established genre within alternative music.

In the 2000s and beyond, darkwave has continued to innovate, with a new generation of artists like Cold Cave and Zola Jesus pushing the boundaries of the genre. Darkwave has also experienced a resurgence in popularity in recent years, with festivals like Wave Gotik Treffen in Germany and Cold Waves in Chicago attracting large audiences and showcasing a diverse range of talent within the genre. As darkwave continues to evolve and adapt to changing music scenes, it remains a vibrant part of the alternative music landscape.

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