Emotions, emotions, SO MANY EMOTIONS. We’ve reached a new wave of music where club beats and repetitive lyrics have been dethroned. 2009 was a beautiful year during which Britney Spears still ruled supreme, the Black-Eyed Peas released my 5th-grade graduation song, I Gotta Feeling, and we all messed up the words to Replay by Iyaz. Ten years later, Lana del Rey, Billie Eilish, and Halsey are blowing up the charts. Their story-telling lyrics and sad-core beats are turning over a new leaf in music, and we love to hear sad songs. Around the same time, our discussions around mental health have grown productive and prevalent in society. Are we more into distressing songs because we’re more aware of our inner demons? Or do we like to play a part?
When I first heard Billie Eilish, it was a refreshing twist from the Drake, Migos, and Ariana that had filled my Spotify playlists for so long. Finally, a talented musician who can pull at my heartstrings and make me think. As she progressed past Ocean Eyes, I took notice to other break out artists who somehow had the exact same structure. Only releasing singles or EP’s, a mellow lo-fi beat under a croon for a better day, and apathy for fame and publicity. The new age pop kings and queens: Clairo, Omar Apollo, bulow, Gus Dapperton, even BROCKHAMPTON are creating works that focus on deep emotion and utilizing personal experiences as creative material. Before they blew up, Halsey and XXXTENTACION had the same situation but altered to fit record label standards. Although they still keep a similar technique, they are not capitalizing off their demons anymore.
This begs the question: how does this music help or destabilize mental health? There is a great deal of research about how music benefits our psychological state and can even improve PTSD or Alzheimer’s. Taking a look at myself and close friends and family, we cope through times of distress by listening to music that we feel speaks to us. For me, it was a lot of Sleeping with Sirens and All Time Low; for others, Billie Eilish and XXXTENTACION were their saving graces. Although music from these artists has saved lives, including mine, I found that continually listening to them just made me feel even more upset. It began to amplify my feelings, and my mind twisted the messages, thinking that I had more in common with the artist because I suffer from mental illnesses. I’m not one to judge who gets you through the day, but does continuing to listen to this sad music sink you into your sadness? My roommate (and mental health warrior) Sarah Panovka said it best: if you’re in a deep depression, you can “revel in the darkness” and long for your isolationist coping skills to feel at home again. But to truly recover and be well, you need to remind yourself of both the dark and the light. So yes, we love #sadboihours and reveling in the darkness from time to time, but we have to remind ourselves to see the good alongside it.
If you are suffering from mental illnesses and need help, please utilize Tulane CAPS or national hotline 1-800-950-NAMI.
COVER PHOTO: Squarespace