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Robert James Smith (born April 21, 1959 in Blackpool, England) is a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, and has been the lead singer of British rock band The Cure since its founding in 1976. NY Rock calls him "pop culture's unkempt poster child of doom and gloom", and describes his songs as "somber introspection over lush, brooding guitars". Smith is a multi-instrumentalist and can play guitar, bass guitar, flute, double bass; keyboard; and violin.
Smith helped (unwittingly) popularize the "goth" style of dress with his trademark smeared red lipstick and messy black hair, a look that he began sporting in the early 1980s. According to Siouxsie and the Banshees bassist Steven Severin, Smith first used Siouxsie Sioux's lipstick after using opium. However, Smith claims that he has worn make-up since he was young. He was also quoted as saying, "It's so pitiful when 'goth' is still tagged onto the name The Cure."
His songwriting for the band's early albums — particularly Faith, Pornography, and the later album Disintegration — centered around themes of depression, loneliness, and isolation. The somber mood of these early albums, along with Smith's onstage persona, cemented the band's "gothic" image.
The band's aesthetic went from gloomy to psychedelic beginning with the album The Top. In 1986, Smith further altered his image by appearing onstage and in press photos sporting short, spiky hair and polo shirts (this can be seen in In Orange , a concert in the south of France released on video 1987).
Although Smith's public persona suggests a depressed image, he has said that his songs do not convey how he feels all, or even most, of the time."At the time we wrote Disintegration...it's just about what I was doing really, how I felt. But I'm not like that all the time. That's the difficulty of writing songs that are a bit depressing. People think you're like that all the time, but I don't think that. I just usually write when I'm depressed."