Cabaret Macabre: song suggestions?
May 30, 2019 8:30 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine is DJing at a goth event where the theme is “Cabaret Macabre.” Friends, tell me your finest off-the-beaten-track songs that would fit this theme? (He already knows and loves the Tiger Lillies).

My friend has been a goth DJ for a number of years now, so his catalogue is already fairly extensive. What he’s looking for is stuff he doesn’t already know. New songs; old songs; songs from unexpected places or artists.


— Goth-acceptable AND fitting the cabaret theme.

— It’s an opening set, so the songs don’t have to be danceable, though they can be.

— Language doesn’t have to be English. Would be cool to discover more non-English songs. Instrumentals also cool.

—LGBTQ content encouraged; goths are merrily non-heteronormative.

— if you or your band or your friend’s band have something that you genuinely think would suit, link away.

(Tiger Lillies are already on the list; Voltaire is off the list, though I'm sure other DJs at the event will play him.)
posted by Pallas Athena to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Here's a thread from last year that has lotsa stuff in the veins.

Off the beaten track, and sometimes chanson, sometimes proto-goth, and sung in French: Catherine Ribeiro + ALPES
posted by bendybendy at 8:55 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Blue Turk, by Alice Cooper.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:01 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Dusty Limits! He's a cabaret artist active in the UK, with fantastic lyrics and the voice of an angel. His first album is on Spotify and the second is available (and streamable) from Bandcamp. Less Goth music-wise but wow the words can get dark. Start with Drink from the first album.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 9:09 AM on May 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Girl Anachronism by the Dresden Dolls
posted by unstrungharp at 9:12 AM on May 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

I feel like some Marc Almond, like The Tyburn Tree, would fill some of the bill. Marc Almond is very cabaret-ish in general.
posted by Frowner at 9:14 AM on May 30, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hailey Tuck's cover of the Ray Davies' "Alcohol" is perfect for this, in my estimation.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 9:17 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

You'd certainly want some Kurt Weill songs in the mix.
posted by Miko at 9:24 AM on May 30, 2019 [3 favorites]

Here are a few of my favorite tracks for cabaret themed events, from a couple decades as a goth dj.

Roisin Murphy - Ramalama (Bang Bang)
If you only listen to one track in this post, listen to this one. It was made for cabaret nights, and you can't not dance to it. It's just not possible.

Collide - Razor Sharp
Chill loungey cabaret vibe trip hop with some slow, smooth vocals. Danceable if you like that swoopy slow kind of dancing.

12 Rounds - Where Fools Go
I'm tempted to call this trip-hop, but it's so bouncy and lively! Anyway, it heavily samples "Red Right Hand" and it is so good. Very danceable. You could also go with "Come On In Out Of The Rain" by the same artist for something a little slower and darker.

Kid Beyond - Wandering Star
A mostly-beatboxed cover of the Portishead song. I know how that sounds, but I love this track, and it's worked well for me in the clubs. Very chill but still OMG so danceable.

I definitely second "Girl Anachronism" by the Dresden Dolls, mentioned above, and if you can find the demo version they posted on their website a while back, I think that one's even better than the album version. Low danceability.

Arc Gotic - The Madman's Tale
Violin-and-accordion goth rock. If you don't want to hear it after that, it's probably not for you. You could dance to it if you really tried, probably, but that is not the primary use case.

Switchblade Symphony - Gutter Glitter
If your friend is a goth dj, they're probably already familiar with Switchblade Symphony, but this song in particular works great for cabaret themed events. It runs with a dark nursery rhyme theme, and is suitable for swoopy dancing if that's your thing.

ThouShaltNot - True Love
Acoustic piano song about poisoning an old lover. Bitter and dark like a fine espresso. Nooooot danceable at all.

Trentemoller - Deceive
A bit of a cross-over, Trentemoller doesn't show up on a lot of goth playlists, but this track fits the brief. It features a deep dirty bass line, breathy vocals, and a very dark overall tone. It has a surprisingly organic feel for a mostly electronic song.

Diary of Dreams - Butterfly: dance!
Dramatic synthy goth. Very danceable! (Especially if you're a butterfly, I guess?)

Anyway, those are some of my favorites. I'd be happy to offer more suggestions, especially if you can tell me which of these tracks best fit what they're looking for.
posted by djspinmonkey at 10:25 AM on May 30, 2019 [4 favorites]

Nora Keyes! I actually haven't heard this entire Miscellanea album before, but if she's not cabaret goth I don't know what is.

You may also want to check out her old band The Centimeters. They veered into goth parody at times, but David J was a fan so that's not nothing.
posted by queensissy at 10:45 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Alex Harvey singing Jacques Brel's Next in 1973. Here's the original.
The Judderman, short advert for schapps sometime in the 90s. Music only.
posted by glasseyes at 10:48 AM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

Voltaire! (Well, Aurelio Voltaire now, but same guy.) Possible track suggestions: The Man Upstairs, When You're Evil, The Night, Brains!, Happy Birthday My Olde Friend, Graveyard Picnic, Cannibal Buffet, Day of the Dead, The Beast of Pirates Bay, and possibly some tracks on his later albums that I am not as familiar with but that may also fit the cabaret bill.

The band Creature Feature might also fit the cabaret bill; specifically, the song The Greatest Show Unearthed. The song's a bit campy, but hey, so is cabaret.
posted by helloimjennsco at 12:02 PM on May 30, 2019

Perhaps something from The Deadly Elegant Dark Cabaret/Folk Song Collection. A long YouTube playlist.
posted by svenvog at 1:24 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

oooh, Emilie Autumn (though he probably knows her already)
so many great songs! I particularly love her cover of Alice Cooper's is it my body
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:29 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I always feel Siouxsie & The Banshee's Peek-a-Boo is quite cabaret in feel.
posted by tardigrade at 2:38 PM on May 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm not 100% certain I know what is meant by "cabaret" (my best frame of reference is Moulin Rouge and similar musicals), but there was a goth/punk band called The Deadlines that sang songs with horror themes in the early 2000's. "Vampires In Love" is a good example, as is "Go Go to the Graveyard."
posted by tacodave at 5:17 PM on May 30, 2019

Probably way too mainstream, but I liked the theme song to the Netflix series Babylon Berlin; bonus points for being in German?

Somebody mentioned Kurt Weill above; there's an interesting collection from 1985 featuring artists like Marianne Faithful, Lou Reed, Tom Waits, etc. (Youtube link)
posted by Bron at 9:03 AM on May 31, 2019

Would Scott Walker be considered too mainstream/outre (depending on the release)?
posted by gtrwolf at 7:44 PM on May 31, 2019

The most recent songs I've listened to that might work:
This Immortal Coil - The Dark Age of Love (youtube), and The Tattooed Man (youtube). (It's a one-off Coil tribute album; these particular songs definitely seem like they'd hit the goth-acceptable, cabaret, and LGBTQ+ criteria, though danceability is a stretch.)
posted by ubersturm at 7:54 PM on May 31, 2019

Speaking of Marc Almond, maybe Soft Cell's "L'Esqualita" would work?
posted by gtrwolf at 7:55 PM on May 31, 2019

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