It’s finally September, a month that for most of us marks the beginning of our favorite things: pumpkin spice drinks, tailgating, or just a relief from Boston College’s un-air-conditioned August heat. But, if you’re a Spotify user like me, September also marks the start of the dreaded “sad girl autumn.”
For those unfamiliar with the idea: each fall, Spotify starts pushing playlist after playlist of the most melancholy music pop has to offer. Between Phoebe Bridgers’ slowest ballads and the yearly comeback of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You,” the typical fall picks are enough to send anyone into musical hibernation until the snow melts in April.
As an autumn lover, I can’t help but wonder why we force ourselves to wallow in musical depression every fall. This year, I’ve vowed to turn a blind eye to Spotify’s home page and reinvent my fall playlist. If I’m going to be sad, I’m going to do it with a chai latte and a big sweater. I’m going to have a cozy girl autumn with a playlist to match.
Kicking off my fall playlist is Phoebe Bridgers. While she is a staple for sad music lovers, she reinvents the yearning indie song in her collaborations with Conor Oberst (yes, another sad indie artist). Their song “Sleepwalkin’” is a perfect representation of that uneasy feeling you get when the seasons change, but it’s masked in a melody too catchy to be sad.
Up next is “Up Granville” by Peach Pit from an album that’s been on repeat all summer. This song is on the more depressing side, but it’s just dreamy enough to feel like fall.
“Even at the golden light of morning / Leading you away from all this strife / Having ordinary company / That always leaves you dry,” the band sings.
Just don’t think too hard about the lyrics.
My perfect autumn song is one that I feel better after listening to—you’re allowed to wallow in the sadder lyrics on these tracks, but the song itself shouldn’t leave you crying on the way to class. “Think Fast (feat. Weezer)” by Dominic Fike and “Hammer And A Nail” by the Indigo Girls are songs from near opposite genres, but I swear they get me out of bed on cold fall mornings in the same way.
For those who actually crave those heart-wrenching, wallowy songs, I’ve been listening to a lineup that perfectly describes how a lot of us face the emotional turmoil that is the autumn season. “History of Lovers” by Calexico and Iron & Wine is a bittersweet folk song, which I followed with “invisible string” by Taylor Swift—an actual history of her lovers. Wrapping it up is Hozier’s new song “First Time,” the most sob-inducing song of the bunch.
“But you spoke some quick new music / That went so far to soothe this soul / As it was / And ever shall be / Unearth without a name,” he sings.
I identify Hozier with dreary weather, and this track fits those Sundays in Boston when it feels like it’s going to rain forever. A close second for when you want to cry just a little less would be “Surf” by Mac Miller, which is more of a drizzle than a downpour song.
A brief interlude is necessary to pay tribute to Gilmore Girls—a show that most teenage girls would agree induces immediate nostalgia for fall. “My Little Corner of the World” by Yo La Tengo is featured in the first episode, and its soft humming about being in a familiar place brings me back to my childhood.
Finally, I’ll take it back to where all fall playlists seem to end up: a place of hopefulness. Because even when the season feels like it’ll never end (especially here in Boston), it will. “45” by Bleachers and “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens are here to remind me that, as Stevens sings, “all things grow.” Despite what Spotify says, sad girl autumn is not forever.