Poppy Reed-Pit rounds up her top ten sad girl anthems for Impact‘s Music Essentials.
Fade into you – Mazzy Star
There’s no better way to start off a list on sad, female centric music than with Mazzy Star’s most famous song, Fade Into You. Within the song, lead singer Hope Sandoval mourns an unrequited love with her slow and wistful vocals. Although Mazzy Star never achieved much notable fame when they were performing back in the 90’s, Fade Into You has been used in a number of film and TV soundtracks and also on TikTok which has ensured that this iconic sad girl song would worm its way into the consciousness of today’s youth.
Linger – The Cranberries
Similarly, no list on this subject would be complete without mentioning Irish rock band The Cranberries. Lead singer Dolores O’Riordan’s lilting and ethereal vocals are what makes this song about unrequited love (I’m sensing a theme here) so impactful. Linger was the first song O’Riordan wrote for The Cranberries at just 18 years old and upon its release catapulted them to international stardom.
Norman Fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Ray
As the ultimate sad girl, it was hard to pick which Lana song to include on this list, but NFR eventually won me over for its cynicism. In it, Lana sings about staying with a childish man and overlooking his obvious faults because “[He’s] just a man / That’s just what [they] do”. The bleakness of this track is its defining feature, and this coupled with Lana’s iconic melancholy yet glamorous vocals solidifies it as a sad girl anthem worthy of the list.
I Bet On Loosing Dogs – Mitski
Like Lana, Mitski is another sad girl staple. I Bet On Loosing Dogs is undisputedly one of her saddest songs. Like the other tracks on this list, it’s woeful and slow but there are points in the track where Mitski’s raw emotion blazes through her lyricism as she describes being unable (or perhaps unwilling) to dissuade herself from making self-destructive decisions.
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division
Ian Curtis is by no means a girl, but by god was he sad. Easily one of the most devastating songs written in the 20th century, with his iconic baritone Curtis sings of emptiness, desolation and a dying relationship. Love Will Tear Us Apart is a faster paced song than the previous ones on this list, but that doesn’t detract from the depressing nature of the tune – especially when you put it in the context of Ian Curtis’s tragic life.
Asleep – The Smiths
I hate Morrisey as much as the next person, but you must admit the man knows how to sing a sad song. OG sad girls will know this Smiths track from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but for those who don’t it’s a song about wanting to die and to slip away gently in your sleep. An impressively accurate allegory for depression, Asleep is a bonified sad girl anthem.
Waiting Room – Phoebe Bridgers
Yet another iconic sad girl for the list, where would we be without Phoebe Bridgers? Waiting Room is, like most songs on this list, about unrequited love, but Bridgers’ track sets itself apart with its almost feral description of teenage love. Bridgers writes viscerally about how badly she yearns for the song’s subject and her vocals portray that same longing.
Don’t Delete The Kisses – Wolf Alice
A rarity on this list, a song with a happy ending! In Don’t Delete The Kisses, Wolf Alice’s Ellie Roswell sings about a person falling in love and manages to articulate that feeling better than any other. This song describes the feelings of fear and self-doubt that come with letting your guard down around someone. Don’t Delete The Kisses is a bittersweet tune, as even though the song ends happily, the refrain of “What if it’s not meant for me? / Love” is one many a sad girl can resonate with.
Anything – Adrianne Lenker
Lenker’s delicate and craggy voice may not suit everyone’s ears, but her poetic lyricism must secure them a spot on this list. In Anything, Lenker is excruciatingly tender as she narrates fragmented memories of a past relationship, some good, some bad. Either way, the gentle guitar that underpins lyrics like “I don’t want to be the owner of your fantasy / I just want to be a part of your family”, enshrines Anything as a solid sad girl tune.
Cut Your Bangs – Girlpool
Not unlike our previous track, the harsh vocals of Girlpool may not be to everyone’s taste, but for those who enjoy that style Cut Your Bangs will hit the spot. Originally sung in a much more upbeat way by Radiator Hospital, Girlpool’s version of this song lends it a more depressive tone that matches the song’s lyrics about violence and decomposition – a metaphor for the breakdown of a relationship.
In-article videos courtesy of (in order of appearance) Mazzy Star, TheCranberriesTV, Lana Del Ray, AEA Ribbon Mics & Preamps, Joy Division, The Smiths, KEXP, Wolf Alice, Adrianne Lenker, and Girlpool via @Youtube.com. No changes were made to these videos.
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