International Journal of English Literature and Culture

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International Journal of English Literature and Culture

Vol. 2(3), pp. 18 31, March, 2014

ISSN: 2360-7831

DOI: 10.14662/IJELC2014.010


The Corpse Bride: Ideal Beauty and Domestic Degradation in the Work of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds


Ingrid Fernandez


Stanford University, 1273 Lakeside Drive, 1151, Sunnyvale, CA 94085, United States. E-mail: ingridf@stanford.edu.

Tel.: 408-900-8193, Mobile: 305-877-2353.


Accepted 18 March 2014




Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ 1996 album, Murder Ballads, follows a tradition in which female sexuality is punished and women occupy supporting and often highly restricted or completely silent roles. Cave seems to take pleasure in playing the cunning, desire-driven killer and often utilizes the plot of the seduction of the unsuspecting female character who, after being taken to a secluded spot, offers little resistance to her killer, who then abandons her lifeless body. But Cave also indulges in personifying the doomed poet and lover of the Romantic tradition, one which brings a certain amount of vulnerability at odds with his hyper-masculinity. This is especially the case in the music video of “Where the Wild Roses Grow,” in which he shares the frame of the screen as well as the vocals with Australian pop singer Kylie Minogue. The visual representation of the song provides an alternate reading in which femininity overpowers the misogyny present in the lyrics through the fluid presence of Minogue’s body in contrast to that of Cave, who is awkward and rigid. My inquiry goes beyond the textual evidence of the lyrics to include embodied voices and Cave’s performative persona, both of which prevent a simplistic diagnosis of the Murder Ballads as a primarily misogynist cultural production.

Keywords: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds; murder ballads; women; beauty; domesticity; violence; post-punk

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