Alt Rock bands but make them sad and soulful piano ballads
By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
It is well known that the effects of COVID-19 travel farther than the virus itself; the pandemic is affecting otherwise physically healthy people by deteriorating their mental health. No matter the root cause, people seem to be sadder nowadays, and if there’s anything I’ve learned it is this: sad people like sad music. And, if there’s anything else I’ve learned, it’s that I have a disposition to Alt Rock. If you do too, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you don’t generally listen to these bands, you’re in for a treat.
The sadness of radio music may only run so deep, helplessly attempting, and failing to relate to the bitter soul-aching anguish you may be feeling. And further, repeating playlists of the same miserable tunes may make the world feel bleaker and duller than it already does. Of course, if possible, I do not advise you to wallow for too long or you may become stuck in a loop. If you do feel unusually sad or alone, please reach out to your loved ones and call your doctor in case there may be an underlying issue.
Now, as Paramore says, “I’m in the business of misery. Let’s take it from the top.”
Perhaps your sadness stems less from existential dread and more from heartbreak. Or maybe both—in more of a headbanging and carelessly dancing type of way. In any case, I’d recommend Paramore’s “Tell Me How,” “26,” “Last Hope,” and “All I Wanted.”
“Tell Me How” captures what it’s like to no longer being close to someone who was once your best friend. “26” has lyrics that may capture what this entire article means to say: “Reality will break your heart, survival will not be the hardest part. It’s keeping all your hopes alive when all the rest of you has died. So, let it break your heart.”
I recommend the live version of “Last Hope,” which deals with having rough times but pushing on because of “a spark [that’s] enough” to keep you going. “All I Wanted” is the epitome of pining and heartbreak. It will probably have you crying even if you’ve never dated anyone in your life.
Twenty One Pilots
Wait! Hear me out! I know that their 2015 Blurryface album(with chart-topping “Stressed Out”) was incredibly cringey. Sadly, their following album Trench was no longer cringey, but did not gain nearly as much popularity. Though, I’m not here to talk about either of those albums.
Twenty One Pilots’ earliest albums are their dreariest—and worth every second of listening. Their self-titled album Twenty One Pilots (2009), Regional at Best (2011), and their major label debut album Vessel (2013) deserve far more recognition for how well they speak to the depths of depression.
Although there are definitely all-around tragic tunes (“Trapdoor,” “Addict With a Pen,” “Fall Away,” etc.) there are many more hopeful but still dejected songs. I suggest “Friend, Please,” which has vocalist Tyler Joseph singing, “I know you want to leave but friend, please don’t take your life away from me. Would you let me know your plans tonight? ‘Cause I just won’t let go ‘til we both see the light.” There’s also “Semi-Automatic” where Joseph sings, “Night falls, with gravity. The earth turns, from sanity. Taking my only friend I know. He leaves a lot, his name is Hope.”
Nothing But Thieves
I would argue almost all Nothing But Thieves songs are sad in one way or another. To be honest, most of their tracks flow like a story so it’s difficult to pull just a few lyrics out. Vocalist Conor Mason adds soul to the heart-wrenching songs, but the music itself is phenomenal.
Whether it be a hauntingly beautiful ballad on love (“Lover, Please Stay”), the hopelessness of depression (“Soda”), or a song that describes events already lived through that are so bad that Hell itself would feel homey in comparison (“Hell, Yeah”)—this group has done it all.
Lorde’s “Liability,” will always make the listener’s heart ache. It is grief and insecurity put into music. The chorus stings, singing, “I understand, I’m a liability, get you wild, make you leave. I’m a little much for everyone.”
Fall Out Boy’s “Golden” which ends with the lyrics “And all of the mothers raise their babies to stay away from me and pray they don’t grow up to be” implying that not only do young mothers want nothing to do with the lyricist, but that they hope they do not grow up to be like them.
The 1975’s “I Always Wanna Die (Sometimes)” perfectly encapsulates loneliness and isolation. Matty Healy sings, “If you can’t survive, just try.” On Genius, he’s annotated this lyric with “I know how it feels but you just gotta, you just gotta do it. You just gotta grin and bear it you know, unfortunately.”
There are tons of sad songs out there, but personally I feel that too many of them are too on the nose, taking away from metaphors and imagery that allow the listener to be enveloped in the anguish. The tracks I’ve talked about feel especially gut-wrenching to me, so if you’re looking for catharsis in these trying times, I hope this music helps.