If you love goth music, the 1980s, and female singers, then you’ve come to the right place. Because in this article, I’m going to provide you with my personal list of the ten best 80s female goth singers—ones who made immeasurable contributions to the genre while always managing to keep things mysterious and dark!
Best 80s Female Goth Singers You’ll Love
Let’s begin with the well known English singer Siouxsie Sioux!
Siouxsie and the Banshees and Creatures were two pillars of the Goth music scene. And both bands were represented and vocalized by the aptly named “Godmother of Goth,” Siouxsie Sioux. Being brought up in an environment of alcoholism (her father), neglect and abuse, Susan Bellion (real name) grew her hatred for authority from an early age.
Yet, Sioux has said that there were moments in which her father would be sober enough to bond with her over books. But her father’s addiction ultimately led to his death when Siouxsie was just 14. At the age of 17, she dropped out of school, had visited gay clubs and then became part of the “Bromley Contigent”, a group of super fans that followed the punk band, The Sex Pistols. But Sioux stood out from the rest with her unique fashion choices.
DIY outfits (ripped and torn clothes, repurposed items, brightly dyed hair and makeup) were popular with punks, and she was no exception. But she put her own twist on the disobedient fashion. Often including shocking things such as fetish and BDSM items in her style, she was soon copied by others and thus made her impact on the punk aesthetic.
Realizing her outfits were starting to become part of the new norm for punky scenes, Sioux took it even further. Ever refusing to be apart of the majority, Siouxsie then added ultra-dark lipstick, jet black dyed hair, black clothes and her famous cat eye makeup.
Apart from being a part of the foundation the new design, Sioux also laid groundwork for punk music to expand. Her own music had that profane punk soul and her loud and dynamic voice, but her experimentation with more macabre lyrics and distortions in sound were something different.
She even rebelled against being labeled a Goth artist and dared to mix in other genres into her music (flamenco, electronica, jazz, just to name a few). She rebelled from the rebellious in all aspects and hasn’t stopped.
From following the Sex Pistols around as a dedicated fan, to becoming a dark fashion trend setter, to creating two iconic groups, to reinventing her music multiple times and succeeding in each reinvention, Sioux was and still is like a musical (and successful) Frankenstein.
And if you think we’re referring to a monster, you should really read your Mary Shelley.
- What you should listen to: “Spellbound” by Siouxsie and the Banshees
Mary Anne Sims, better known as the band 45 Grave’s lead singer Dinah Cancer, has really had a rollercoaster of a life. She’s been the lead or at least the backup singer in multiple bands such as Castration Squad, Vox Pop, Nervous Gender, Penis Flytrap and Dinah Cancer and the Grave Robbers as well as the previously mentioned 45 Grave (which is the band she was with from 1979 to 1989 before reformation).
It’s not hard to see why she has been chosen to front so many bands! The woman is a force of nature! And that’s why she gets to be on the list.
Truth be told, DInah’s voice isn’t extraordinary. She won’t be confused for Celine Dion or Whitney Houston. But there’s something to be said for stage presence and charisma—you either have it or you don’t.
- What you should listen to: “Party Time” by 45 Grave (please know that this song includes lyrics about rape).
If you’re taking a dive into Goth, you’ll probably come across Evo O’s name quite a few times, especially in the 80’s. Seeing as she’s been in the Super Heroines and also played a major part in the goth/death rock giant that is Christian Death (and in the 90’s, Shadow Project), it would be hard to miss “The Queen of Darkness”.
And the goth veteran has earned the title. She looks like a more terrifying version of Morticia Addams. Her voice is dramatic and deep. She may have had a fling with the infamous murderer, Richard Ramirez. She helped write and played in Christian Death’s biggest album, which many deemed “satanic”.
It’d be easy to say that Eva O is the embodiment of Goth, right? Nope! She then converted to Christianity and made music that documented her path to faith. Then she renounced her faith. And then she found it again. We honestly don’t know where she is with her faith as of now.
Either way, the woman is still goth and still performing. And just like the Queen herself, Eva’s music is complex. But probably don’t play ANY of it at Sunday School.
- What you should listen to: “Night Stalker” by Super Heroines
If you were to ask goth fans about what early bands are absolutely necessary for a Goth playlist, most would mention X Mal Deutschland. Although some listeners categorized them as New Wave or Punk, they were still very much Goth, even if only alt-Goth due to their lyrics that spoke of life, death and even powers.
The originally all-female band that was born in 1980 Germany was headed by lead singer, Anja Huwe. Though she once wanted to be a model, her introduction to punk music changed everything. Anja’s blonde hair sticking out in every direction paired with her tendency to grimace and bare her teeth added more danger to her look but didn’t take away from her naturally pretty face.
Those who underestimated her legitimacy and talent due to her beauty and lack of traditionally goth makeup were thoroughly surprised when her powerful alto voice filled any venue. At one time refusing to ever sing in English, the German band still garnered a decently sized fanbase in America. Releasing their album, “Viva”, saw the band referencing Emily Dickinson poems and singing in English.
- What you should listen to: “Incubus Succubus” by X Mal Deutschland
Parálisis Permanente were a “dark counterculture” band from Spain in the 80’s that, well, sang in Spanish. But that didn’t stop them from leaning into the darkness and distortion and obtaining a cult like following internationally.
Although Ana did not sing in the Goth band, she did help write many of their songs and played keyboard. She even found just as much popularity as the lead vocalist, the late Eduardo Benavente. After the tragic death of Eduardo, Paralisis Permanente officially ended, and Ana pursued a solo career (but it was considered more rock).
She makes the list due to her being a talented 80’s singer that contributed to one of the most well-known goth bands and goth albums (“El Acto”) at that time. She’s still performing Paralisis Permanente songs to this day.
- What you should listen to: “Quiero Ser Santa” by Ana Curra (cover)
Caterwaul means “a shrill or wailing noise like that of a cat”. Betsy must have really taken that definition to heart, as she was able to somehow sound coarse and shrill while also being incredibly hypnotic and impressive.
But as a child, she resented her unique voice until she heard Liz Frazer. Thank goodness for that moment. Martin’s vocal abilities and style were not commonly seen amongst most goth bands at that time and because of that, Martin will always be a standout. Apparently fond of the feline theme, Betsy joined the electro-industrial band (that still includes goth elements), Purr Machine.
- What you should listen to: “Flower and Stone” by Caterwaul
The sound in “(Some) Like It Hot” is goth if we’ve ever heard it! Lisa’s layered voice doesn’t sound as deep as many of our other picks, but she’s still able to get under your skin in the best way.
That alone proves that she deserves to be on this list. The woman was talented, and even did the album work for many of the Blood and Roses albums. Sadly, she passed away in 2013.
- What you should listen to: “(Some) Like it Hot” by Blood and Roses
The band, Bone Orchard, was only active for about 3 years (1983-1986) and considered “Batcave,” but they made an impact before leaving the goth scene. Chrissie’s ability to go from screeching high notes to extremely low notes took the band to another level. She was even compared to other greats such as Siouxsie Sioux.
And incorporating rockabilly into their goth style didn’t lighten up the band from Brighton, England. In fact, it actually made them a unique presence in goth music. Their dark rockabilly sound perfectly worked with McGee’s voice. Her pronunciation and low singing voice actually sounded somewhat Elvis like! Well, if Elvis were a female…and singing about suffocating.
- What you should listen to: “Fats Terminal” by Bone Orchard
“Anarcho goth” was embodied in the woman that is Zillah Minx. Her protest laden anthems and heavy voice made people take her seriously and realize she was a force to be reckoned with. And she needed to be taken seriously, because looking at Rubella Ballet, you wouldn’t instinctually think “goth”.
Rubella Ballet, her band during this time, was covered in DayGLo outfits designed by Minx’s own hands. Zillah herself was a bright and loud energy on stage. Visually, she was like a neon, more macabre Madonna, surrounded by blacklights.
Suffice it to say that she would be easy to pick out of a traditional gothic crowd. But it worked for her as many current designers have said that they were inspired by Zillah’s style. Pushing the limits, Minx made a name for herself not only in music and fashion, she has also ventured into film and documented the roles of numerous influential female punk musicians (below).
- What you should listen to: “False Promises” by Zillah Minx
Being a part of The March Violets should automatically put you into the goth music hall of fame. Because being able to get a goth rock song to be a club hit takes some talent! But that’s exactly what The March Violets did with Rosie’s strong vocals taking the female vocal part.
If you don’t believe that goth music could ever be a dance favorite, then we invite you to listen to their last hit before Garland left the band. Further proving that labels are stupid, our dark goddess became inspired to be a source of light in the world and left to pursue work in helping the less fortunate–and then becoming a poet. Still goth, she currently works under the name Rosie Lugosi, the Lesbian Vampire Queen.
- What to listen to: “Snake Dance” by The March Violets
Alas, we have to part ways! We have come to our end. But we hope we have given you some new favorite 80’s female goth singers to add to your music playlist!
This article was written by Bianca and edited by Michael.
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