By Anjali Nayak
As of the past fifteen years, mainstream media has had an unquenchable thirst for melancholy. With the rise of care and concern for mental health, a singer or artist performing about depression no longer remains uncommon.. Most importantly, humanity is able to hear the voices of women in the industry. Throughout the revolution, songs and albums have been released having to do with abuse, assault, and what it means to be a woman in the modern day. Gone are the days of large anthems, hurrahing the pleasure that is being alive, all of which remains a tactic to display the luxurious life lived by artists. The pop stars of today are melodramatic, often singing from the back of the room, living in a haze of sorrow and self deprecation. Music has always been sad, but now it is almost a celebrated trend.
During the dance pop craze of the 2010s, Lana Del Ray was an obvious outlier to the set music of the time. Lana Del Ray created the sad girl revolution, and listeners met Lana through her song Video Games. The artist presents a view of beautiful sadness, and being trapped in a world of abuse, addiction, and mental illness (Lana Del Ray would later be criticized for “romanticizing” such topics). Finding her fanbase on Tumblr, came the “sad girl” aesthetic, complete with cigarettes, daddy issues, and honestly, terrible poetry. As the emo wave of the 2000s was still in full swing, bands such as Twenty One Pilots and Panic! At the Disco were at the peak of their popularity. Lana was an outlier even in her own genre. Being a woman in the alternative music industry, she was often seen as “whiny” and “overdramatic.” However, her influence would later lead to a decade of whiny and over dramatic artists, all achieving mass commercial success.
Now, the music industry waits in anticipation for the future of sad girl music. Notably, previous sad girl diva Lorde has been trying to scrape off the label, releasing the bright and sunny Solar Power, an ode to all things nature and beauty. Even the previous “weirdo” of the music industry Billie Eillish has started to shift gears. Although “Happier than Ever” has its fair share of sad songs, it is a definite turn from the ominous and eerie “WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP WHERE DO WE GO?” On the other hand, the most recent sad girl Olivia Rodrigo has been able to find tremendous success in her album Sour, one of the defining albums of 2021. I predict that the sad girls aren’t going anywhere, but the genre is definitely going to take a turn to pop music, instead of the previous history of indie.