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Adele, Mitski and Taylor Swift usher in 'Sad Girl Autumn' with new music

Swift acknowledged the season characterized by melodrama and melancholic tunes after she released a "Sad Girl Autumn Version" of her song, "All Too Well."
Image: Adele, Mitski
Adele and Mitski.SNL/Getty Images

Summer is over. Temperatures have dropped. The leaves have changed colors. And as the pumpkin spice lattes have returned, so, too, has the concept of “Sad Girl Autumn.”

At least, that’s according to those on social media who went into an internet frenzy ahead of Adele release of her fourth studio album, "30," on Friday. The album drops about a week after indie rock artist Mitski released the music video for “The Only Heartbreaker” and hit artist Taylor Swift released the re-recorded version of “Red (Taylor's Version)."

The slew of female artists releasing music with themes related to nostalgia, sadness and introspection has inspired many people to get in their feels for “Sad Girl Autumn” — a time period Swift herself officially acknowledged on Wednesday after she released a "Sad Girl Autumn Version" of her song, "All Too Well."

The season of sorrow, characterized by melodrama and melancholic tunes, is not novel, but it comes on the heels of what people called "Hot Vax Summer," a spoof of the title of rapper Megan Thee Stallion’s song “Hot Girl Summer.”

“Both Taylor Swift and Adele coming to serve sad girl autumn just one week apart! Our hearts are not ready,” a Twitter user wrote.

“mitski dropping a new song and adele dropping a new teaser,” another person tweeted. “SAD GIRL AUTUMN NATION WE RISE!”

But some music experts said it wasn't necessarily “Sad Girl Autumn” because of the new releases — nor is the music necessarily supposed to be tied to a specific season.

“There’s not a seasonal strategy timed to a release of a song or album,” said Nate Sloan, an assistant professor of musicology at the University of Southern California. “These artists aren’t trying to capture the zeitgeist or general social and economic anxiety of the world, but they are tapping into their emotions and broadcasting it to a larger audience.

“Artists reach into their own life experiences and translate that into songs that everyone can enjoy,” he added.

Still, pop music experts said, there is no denying these artists’ ability to capture their vulnerability behind the mic, which clearly resonates with fans.

“All of these artists bring an extraordinary intimacy to their voices close to the microphone, so you can catch every nuance of their emotion in their voices,” said Joe Bennett, a professor of forensic musicology at Berklee College of Music in Boston.

Sloan agreed.

“It’s no coincidence that some of the most talented, innovative women artists — like Mitski, Adele and Taylor Swift — are tapping into these emotional and musical gray areas, and that’s why people are responding to them,” he said.

Swift herself addressed the phenomenon in 2019, when she appeared on NPR's "Tiny Desk Concert" series, talking about the fan response to the original release of "Red."

"People on the and amongst people who care about my music, have been kind enough to associate autumn with one of my albums called 'Red,'" Swift said. "You know, I guess it’s just a very like, autumn-y album."

Regardless of whether Adele, Mitski or Swift timed their music to seasonal changes, fans say they are still prepared to brood and sulk. Adele’s full album, “30,” will be released Friday. “Red (Taylor’s Version)” debuted last week. And tickets for Mitski’s upcoming tour in North America have already sold out, she tweeted last month.

And autumn, fans say, is the perfect backdrop for the wistful tunes.

Adam Patla, 27, a self-described Swiftie and Adele fan, said their music “taps into that aesthetic of fall, and people are excited to have a soundtrack to that.”

“Even if they’re not sad, it’s fun to be dramatic, blast the music and act like you’re the main character,” he said.

Sivi Satchithanandan, 24, said she welcomed all of the gloomy music.

“I plan to cozy up in my blanket and blast all of these women at ear-splitting volumes,” she said. “I’m ready to be destroyed.”