Conversational Songwriting Changing the Game of “Sad Girl Music”
A new wave of songwriting has reared its emo head, and we are here for it. Artists like Billie Eilish and Phoebe Bridgers have graced us with their eloquent yet angsty lyrics that are magnetic enough to both confuse and entrance us. Although Eilish falls in more of the mainstream circuit, both her and Bridgers dominate the alternative genre with their lyricism and timelessness.
Bridger’s who gave us her debut album Stranger In The Alps back in 2017 has now partnered up with Conor Oberst under the alias Better Oblivion Community Center to create an indie rock album with the same cues of alienation, loneliness, and empowerment that we expect from Bridgers. She employs a familiar voice in her songwriting, one that tells an intimate story like she's talking to you like an old friend. “Funeral,” one of the most notable songs on the Stranger In The Alps album is haunting with its talk about the death of a friend who is only a ‘year older.’ Lyrics like ‘we talk until we think we might just kill ourselves, but then we laugh until it disappears,’ cut right to the bone with their honesty and ambiguous specificity. Her style is conversational in the sense that she walks you through the exploration of her thoughts and feelings, ones that although are unique to her experiences also encompass adolescence in its entirety.
Eilish a now 17-year-old who dropped her breakout label debut EP back in 2017, has an infectious and sinister sound that is as edgy as it is melancholy. Her lyrics are strange, specific, and every word is a creative take on situations we can all relate to. The third song off of Don’t Smile At Me called “My Boy,” on the surface is about your average girl upset about her “boy’s” dishonest actions, but Eilish uses her unique lyricism to stand out. One of my favorite lines is ‘my boy loves his friends like I love my split ends, and by that I mean he cuts them off.’ This cheeky writing style not only gives an inside look into the way Eilish thinks but also has a way of making the song more surreal and relatable.
Both Bridgers and Eilish are setting the tone for a new wave of sad songwriting, by pouring their souls into their writing and giving us an inside look into their “sad girl” brains. Their work is not only personal, but it is also empowering which is a unique touch to melancholy music. While Bridger’s music leans towards the alternative folk genre, and Eilish has some definite pop inspiration, both artists entrance you with their soul and through their words.