The Cure saved my life. When I was a strange, bullied, sensitive and deeply depressed teenager in the late 1980s, lead singer Robert Smith’s weird, smeared beauty and bloody-voiced yowls were among the few glimmers of a world outside the one where my existence seemed less than entirely welcomed.
Though the band’s 35-year catalogue is often ghettoized as Goth (which they wholeheartedly dispute) and characterized as gloomy and morbid, a glimpse past the cursory reveals a sunny, romantic, terminally goofball side. Wild mood swings from staccato, near expressionless punk to happy, trippy, manic bliss to raging, gut-cutting nihilism are The Cure’s stock in trade, and with each new offering, fans’ appetites are whet.
Back in my basement-dwelling days, I had no inkling that I’d someday be listening to The Cure in the company of another living soul – let alone my future husband, certainly not the tens of thousands of fans singing along with every word at a sold-out Madison Square Garden show several years back, or the smaller, arguably more ardent crowd who fought tooth and nail to score seats at the six U.S. shows where The Cure played their first three (definitely not chart-topping) albums in order last month.
That’d be why so many of us were heard collectively howling into the wind on Wednesday when it was announced that The Cure was passed over for induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in favor of the likes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It is not up to me to denigrate anyone else’s fandom. We all like what we like, and over at my other gig as editor of CNN’s food blog Eatocracy, we’re fond of saying “If it tastes good, it IS good.”
Plenty of people have had excellent experiences with the Chili Peppers; I’m not one of them. They were never mine in any meaningful way.
In the same way that a Cure song played at a party in college bat-signaled to me that I was in a place among my people, drunk dudes air-jamming to “Knock Me Down” or making white boy bass face to “Give It Away” tended to send me looking for my coat. I indeed was not on their uplift mofo party plan, though it seemed like the rest of the world was down for a funky, funky time.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers have received seven Grammy awards and sold around 70 million records. The Cure have had one Grammy nomination and sold roughly a third of that. That’s certainly millions more than most, but still, though I am a well-adjusted adult with plenty of friends and a distinctly nonsubterranean existence, there’s something about the Hall of Fame snub that sort of wounds me. The cool kids win again, and the weirdos are left skulking in the dark.
It’s OK, I tell myself. From angst comes really freaking gorgeous art, and there’s always next year, or even several from now. It’s not like they’re gonna stop making depressed teenagers any time soon, and on the day they finally do get inducted, it’ll be extra icing sugar sweet. Probably something just like heaven.