In the past few months, you may have seen the emergence of TikToks, Instagram memes, and Twitter posts about "sad lesbian indie" music. As someone who can be categorized under all three of those labels, the branding made perfect sense to me, as it was referring to almost all of my favorite artists. However, some people I've talked to have no idea what I'm referring to when I reference it!
Sad lesbian indie is, at its core, women musicians expressing the sadness and anger that women so often feel they have to repress. The musicians of the genre often identify as sapphic or queer women, which lends their appeal to others in these underrepresented groups.
Its influences lie in indie rock, much of the songs are guitar-based, and most artists also write their own music. Lyrical content covers everything from love, family, religion, mental illness, and just the existentialism of life.
Leading artists of the sad girls include Phoebe Bridgers (and her collaboration with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, boygenius), Mitski, Soccer Mommy, Snail Mail, Japanese Breakfast, Jay Som, Arlo Parks, and Frankie Cosmos. However, there are so many more artists that fall under the umbrella, and each has its own distinctive sound.
Through all these musicians, I feel like there's something everyone can enjoy. For example, Julian Baker has a very folksy, traditional sound, while Mitski's most recent album leans toward catchy alt-pop.
I think there are a few reasons this label has caught on recently. As mentioned before, queer women have felt unseen in media for a very long time, so hearing the expression of people like us can be very therapeutic. Additionally, the lyrical content captures universal feelings, not only of sadness but all of the feelings we may not know how to say out loud.
I think it's appealing not only to lesbians and sapphics, but people of all walks of life. Through 2020 and all that came with it, maybe we should drink our iced coffee, go thrifting, and embrace the loveliness of sad lesbian indie.
If you'd like to listen, I've linked the playlist of my personal favorites here!