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Fight Sadness with Sadness: My Sad Girl Autumn Anthems

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northwestern chapter.

From freezing walks across campus to 4:30 p.m. sunsets, sad-girl autumn is in full swing. A criminally underrated time of the year, sad girl autumn takes effect in late fall as the air turns colder and trees turn barren. For college students, it’s the post-Halloween slump where motivation dwindles and homesickness kicks in. Most people hate sad-girl autumn; after all, who enjoys sadness?

While it’s never fun feeling sad, I find it healthy to lean into sadness when it hits you. For me, few things feel better than hitting pause and blasting a sad playlist when I feel a wave of sadness approaching. If sad girl autumn had a soundtrack, it’d look a lot like my Spotify account. And with the recent release of “Red (Taylor’s Version)” by Taylor Swift and “30” by Adele, there’s no better time to celebrate sad-girl autumn with music.

Trying to get into your feels? These songs should do the trick.

“Champagne Problems” by Taylor Swift

Starting off strong with one of my favorites from Taylor Swift’s “evermore” Album, few things scream early winter angst better than “Champagne Problems.” Beautifully sad, this song is perfect for dimly lit nights in a dorm room. I’m not sure whether it’s the elegant piano backing or the references to colder weather, but this song perfectly captures November sadness. Listening is a cathartic experience, to say the least

“Moon Song” by Phoebe Bridgers

No sad playlist would be complete without Phoebe Bridgers, the queen of soul-crushing music. A self-proclaimed “Pharb,” I found myself blasting her newest album “Punisher” the moment the air turned cold. In a competition for the most emotionally devastating Phoebe Bridgers song, “Moon Song” blows all others out of the water. Perfect for sad long drives or those nights where you just need to cry in the shower, “Moon Song” hits the spot when you’re feeling down.

“Easy On Me” by Adele

The inspiration for this article, “Easy On Me” took the world by storm. Adele released the song as the lead-single on her fourth album “30,” her first album released since 2015. In middle school, I worshipped her second album “21.” Nothing put me in my feels quite like “Someone Like You” or “Turning Tables.” Now in college, I can say the same of songs from her newest album, a product of her recent divorce.

“Stoned At The Nail Salon” by Lorde

Though released as part of her summer album “Solar Power,” I think “Stoned At The Nail Salon” is a great sad-girl autumn anthem. Sad yet sentimental, the song perfectly encompasses the feeling of growing old that so often accompanies college students as they adjust to life away from home in the fall.

“Nothing New” by Taylor Swift feat. Phoebe Bridgers

When I heard Taylor Swift and Phoebe Bridgers were collaborating on a song for her re-release of “Red,” I nearly collapsed. Two of my favorite artists, Phoebe and Taylor know how to make a soul-crushing song and they delivered with “Nothing New.” Just like “Stoned At The Nail Salon,” this song beautifully captures growing pains, something I relate to as a college sophomore.

I hope these songs help you feel all the sad-girl autumn feels. While it’s important to lean into sadness when you feel it, it’s also important to keep sad-girl autumn in check. Prolonged sadness can be unhealthy; if you’re experiencing this, please reach out, find a support system, and take the measure you need to help yourself feel at peace.

Happy listening!

Preeta Kamat

Northwestern '24

Preeta is a sophomore from Rochester, Michigan studying Neuroscience and Global Health Studies in the seven year med program. When she's not working on school, you can find her on coffee runs, exploring campus with friends, baking, or watching reality TV.