In researching what was supposed to be an in-depth piece on why The Cure is the ultimate antithesis to everything San Diego represents (sunshine, happiness, tans, etc.), I found myself perplexed at the utter lack of respect the band gets when compared to its contemporaries.
Even within The Cure's seemingly bread-and-butter demographic (the Goth community), reverence is reserved for bands like Joy Division and Bauhaus while The Cure is often relegated to condescending comments like (to quote a posting I found on gothicbeauty.com), “Fisher Price: My first Goth band.”
But that bitter Goth (is there any other kind?) makes an interesting point. In the three decades-plus that The Cure has been on the scene, their music (like pimples, parties and unprotected sex), has become a part of growing up. In fact, if you've never made out, fucked, done drugs, danced, cried or just enjoyed the shit out of a Cure song, then I don't really want to know you.
But then we grow up, and suddenly the problems of unrequited love and spidermen trying to eat us seem a bit dated.
However, unlike other musical fetishes that you probably don't admit to, The Cure's music is timeless in both subject matter and listenability. Yet, despite the masterful albums, dozens of sublime pop songs and sold-out shows, you'll almost never find The Cure on a music critic's list of the greatest/most influential bands.
Case in point: The pariahs of musical authority at Rolling Stone found it fair to rank The Cure below shit pies like The Carpenters, ABBA, Cat Stevens and even fucking No Doubt when delineating their “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.”
So why the lack of love for a band whose lyrics hint (not so subtly) that they need all the love they can get? After talking to a couple of local Cure fans, I think I have it figured out. 1. They didn't break up. History is littered with mediocre bands that are revered for nothing more than making a few OK albums and then breaking up at precisely the right moment, subsequently securing a legacy they really don't deserve. Take The Smiths. If they hadn't split when they did (taking into account Morrissey's douchebag behavior), then chances are they wouldn't be half as big as they are.
The Cure “don't get the recognition that they deserve because they keep going,” says Marc Subia, a local superfan who's seen the band 33 times and has a room in his house completely devoted to The Cure. “I almost take them for granted. They've always been there, even with the threat of a break-up.”
The sad fact is that if The Cure had broken up after Pornography or Wish, instead of currently being on the verge of releasing their 13th album, their cult status would be on par with, if not bigger than, The Smiths, with millions of angsty, pale-faced followers clamoring for a Coachella reunion show to prove it.2. Robert Smith isn't really that sad. I guess a lot of people have a hard time taking The Cure's forlorn music, and especially the morose lyrics, seriously when they realize that frontman Smith is a churchgoing, happily married man (for almost 20 years!) who actually takes the eyeliner off and leads a normal life.
“And he plays soccer,” adds Zippy Twombly, who channels Smith in The Cured, a local tribute band that happens to be one of the biggest Cure cover bands around.
Smith has already shown he has a happy side (ever listen to “Mint Car”? Hearing Smith belt out, “The sun is up. I'm so happy I could scream!” made a lot of hardcore fans scream in terror). Also, the man is probably one of the most boring rock stars of all time, with no drug busts, public breakdowns, molestation charges or otherwise unruly behavior credited to his name. As such, his legend status sadly (but truly) sinks.
“I've heard he's a polite English gentleman,” Twombly says. “There's nothing sexy about them. There's no [machismo] to any of their music, where in almost all other all-male bands, there's sex appeal or some kind of [machismo] in it. The Cure just really went completely around that.”3. No one really has a problem with them. But not many people want to admit to liking The Cure, either. Ask your average music fan about the band and chances are most of them will say, “They're pretty cool,” or something close to that. You can't really get into a debate about The Cure. Don't get me wrong, they're not beyond critical analysis, but most people know that even if they personally don't care about The Cure, they can at least understand that others do.
“A lot of people are closet Cure fans,” Twombly says. “They've gotta wait for somebody else to bring it up.”
Beyond the fringe element of cult fans like Marc Subia, I say we music fans need to get more passionate about our likes and dislikes. If you don't have enough conviction to get in people's faces and say either “I hate The Cure” or “I love The Cure,” then your opinions on the genius of The Smiths and Talking Heads don't mean shit to me.
Oh, and for the record, I think The Cure's pretty cool. The Cure plays at 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 3, with 65daysofstatic at Cox Arena on the SDSU campus. 619-220-8497.