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Artist Deep-Dive: "The Cure" for Teenage Angst

Big hair, dark eyeshadow, and smeared lipstick; welcome to the 1980's. The Cure, an English rock band, changed the game for people all over the nation. They, among a few other bands such as the Smiths, Dramarama, Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, were the foundation of a pivotal shift in society from the 1970s punk era to the new wave craze of the 1980s.


Photo Courtesy of Ross Marino

Formed in Southern England in 1976, the Cure found major influences in the punk scene, which began in the UK in the mid-seventies before traveling to the states. The movement provided a space for people to openly speak out against political oppression and social injustice. This was every suburban parent's worst nightmare: non-conforming teenage rebellion with a matching soundtrack. The goal was loud opposition of authority, frustration, hostility, and overall angst, all while maintaining stylistic preferences unique to the punk demographic. In an interview with Irish Independent Magazine, the Cure's drummer, Lol Tolhurst stated, "Goth made it acceptable for teenage boys to be vulnerable". The Cure was borne of punk concepts, and let's admit... it made for some really good music.


The Cure, as we now know it, was originally called Easy Cure and was formed by lead vocalist and guitarist Robert Smith. The band originally also consisted of three other musicians: Michael Dempsey, Lol Tolhurst, and Porl Thompson. Thompson was dropped from the band, resulting in the remaining childhood friends eventual record deal with Chris Parry's Fiction Records. The trio then released their debut album, Three Imaginary Boys, in 1979.


Though Thompson left the band in 1978, he returned on and off from 1983-1993, and later from 2005-2010. This was not uncommon for The Cure. The band experienced plenty of members taking hiatuses, coming, going, and joining. See the full member history below:

Photo Courtesy of Bixentro, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Andy Anderson (1983 – 1984)

  • Boris Williams (1985 – 1993)

  • Jason Cooper (1995 – present)

  • Laurence Tolhurst (1977 – 1989)

  • Matthieu Hartley (1979 – 1980)

  • Michael Dempsey (1977 – 1979)

  • Perry Bamonte (1990 – 2004)

  • Phil Thornalley (1983 – 1984)

  • Porl Thompson (1976 – 2009)

  • Robert Smith (1976 – present)

  • Roger O'Donnell (1987 – present)

  • Simon Gallup (1979 – present)

Amidst all the band shifts, frontman Robert Smith stayed constant throughout the band's history.



Three Imaginary Boys kicked off a new subgenre while debuting the band. The album features the stepping stones of new wave with songs like "Boys Don't Cry" and "Fire in Cairo". The Cure produced three more albums within the following three years. In 1980, Seventeen Seconds was created, in 1981, we got Faith, and in 1982, Pornography dropped. Two years later, The Cure released The Top (1984) and The Head on the Door (1985). The last of the aforementioned LPs featured standout single "Close to Me", which signalled a major shift in the group's sound dynamics in the coming years. In 1986, a new version of "Boys Don't Cry" was re-released and gained even more admiration from fans than the original release. The track ranked #22 in the UK charts upon its second release. Today, "Boys Don't Cry" and "Close to Me" are ranked as two of the top five most listened to songs on the Cure's Spotify, with 564,538,728 listens monthly. Robert Smith reflected on the tune in a 2019 interview with NME: "When I was growing up, there was peer pressure on you to conform to be a certain way. And as an English boy at the time, you’re encouraged not to show your emotion to any degree. And I couldn’t help but show my emotions when I was younger. I never found it awkward showing my emotions. I couldn’t really continue without showing my emotions; you’d have to be a pretty boring singer to do that". Smith expresses the effect "Boys Don't Cry" had on his childhood and identity, creating a personal connection with fans through the lyrics.


"I would do most anything to get you back by my side, but I just keep on laughing hiding the tears in my eyes."

Outstanding single "A Forest" appears on Seventeen Seconds. The hypnotizing intro riffs of the tune fully immerse the listener in the Cure's sonic world. All of the group's albums had their own experimental quirks, a niche which became a popular and heavily demanded experience for their fans.



The Cure adopted a more pop-centric approach for Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me (1987) and Disintegration (1989). Audiences were introduced to "Just Like Heaven" on the former project. By '87, the band's fanbase had grown with their sound. Disintegration saw the most charting hits in the entirety of their discography. Among the 12 songs of the album, fans obsessed over "Pictures of You", "Lovesong", "Lullaby", and "Fascination Street". Disintegration made history for the Cure and is, by far, their most idolized piece. These songs became household favorites and have had enormous impact on new wave sounds today.


The 1980s were the Cure's most successful year, although the band produced five more albums in the 90s. Wish, released in 1992, was easily their most popular of the decade and was succeeded by three more LPs in the early 2000s. Wish introduced fans to "Friday I'm in Love", "Halo", and "A Letter to Elise". The Cure was infamous for their plethora of compilation albums, which featured many of their hits spanning across their career.



Even now, Robert Smith keeps the show on the road. This year, The Cure played a summer tour with 35 shows across North America. During the tour, Smith learned that Ticketmaster was charging ticket holders with unusually high fees, and although extra fees can be a normal occurence when purchasing from second-hand ticket sellers, the artist demanded a change to be made. Ticket holders received partial refunds as a result of Smith's disgust towards the company's business model.


The Cure's everlasting impact on cultural norms has remained strong for almost 50 years and counting. Whether you've heard them in your parent's car or at an 80s themed bar somewhere, they have impacted the masses with their nostalgic sound. The band developed a judgement-free space for followers to express individuality through both aesthetics and music taste. The Cure normalized modern ideologies, causing a seismic shift in what was considered socially acceptable in the 1980s and onward, essentially curing teenage angst with their personalized take on the new wave and pop genres.


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