After the rise of the online term “sad girl” rooted in aesthetic, sound and attitude, an enduring class of new artists has seized the social media scene. With TikTok audios boasting over one million videos, and creators with ascending follower counts, the “sad girl” cast has found its home amid digital landscapes.
Spotlighting music soothing with vocals and poeticism aching with despair, this collection of tunes reminiscent of Phoebe Bridgers and Clairo hones in on it all. Below, find artists who cultivated their fanbases to wistful lovers of saccharine music — reach for those Koss Porta Pros, sweaters and Doc Martens, and embrace the gloom.
“Green” — Sarah Kinsley
Contrasting the numerous ballads and acoustic tunes within this genre, Kinsley bursts through her romantic issues and burdens with an infectious, inflamed cadence. She belts against pulsing electric guitars on the chorus and hums in the outro. Still in line with the woes and desolation of the “sad girl” class, this anthem circuits with an irresistible resentment. Only someone with true envy would “bite their nails” and “grow their hair out” to spite their ex — an experience admittedly too relatable.
“Pulling Teeth” — Alix Page
On the other hand, “Pulling Teeth” establishes an aura of melancholia. Crooning with strings saturated in reverb and verses ringing with desire, Page crafts an emotive tune worth cherishing. Unlike Kinsley, she feels isolation and notes avoidance from her partner — another common fault within romance. She whispers, with haunting pain and in the tone of some close confidante, “Does it hurt that bad to love me?”
“Man” — Quinnie
“Man,” another soaring ballad on this list, calls out the men who harm women with their “soft boy scam.” Quinnie paints an interesting image of the men — both in everyday life and especially within the music industry — that utilize pearl necklaces, lighthearted music and painted nails to incite misogynistic betrayal on their female partners. Much more specific in narrative and experience than Page or Kinsley, Quinnie wields her descriptive lyricism and mournful production to inspire the gloom commonly found within the “sad girl” genre.
“Untitled” — Rachael Jenkins
With this acoustic, guitar-led ballad, Rachael depicts the narrative of LGBTQ+ love within her Mormon upbringing. With restrained vocals intensifying her cadence of fear and distress, she mirrors the pain and frustration of queer adolescence in religious households. The tune ignites with the line many LGBTQ+ youth know all too well: “It’s tradition in my house/ To bring the boy over, unannounced.” Her words serve as an emotional reminder to her queer listeners that they do not fight these battles alone.
“Nine Lives” — Odie Leigh
Amid the same lines of childhood melancholia, “Nine Lives” sees Odie advising her fellow 20something year olds to scream “Screw the timeline” at the fast movement of adulthood. She laments, though with relatable reason, about the changes occurring around her — the sudden injuries in the climb, the cat scratches on her skin. Set to humming violins and an outro echoing with sentimental vocals, these beliefs cut to the core of the intense vulnerabilities about losing childhood.
“Smithereens” — Boyish and Rachel Chinouriri
Mourning the all too common love affair with an unavailable man child who “listens to The Smiths / And never goes out,” this soft, wistful theme wounds with a tender understanding. Who hasn’t fallen for the quiet, indie kid slinking in the back of their introduction to film class? Underneath the humor of this song, however, lies true regret and pain. Together, Chinouriri and Boyish harmonize over the chorus and sing: “I’m too bored to let go / So I sit in my room and I cry over you.”
“Monogamy” — Leith Ross
Ross leaves this list with an almost too honest anthem about the search for love. “I want people to think / That I am the love of their lives / When I know they aren’t the love of mine,” she hums over stilted acoustics. If listeners cut to the heart of what the “sad girl” aesthetic actually entails, what lies at its core if not the shared experience of pining?