Goodbye Hot Girl Summer, Hello Sad Girl Autumn


By Dionna Santucci, Staff Writer

Are you facing an unshakeable urge to don chunky knit sweaters? What about a sudden affinity for listening to Bon Iver on repeat? Maybe it’s just a newfound taste for hot chocolate at all times of the day. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, you may already be infected with early-onset Sad Girl Autumn. 

Sad Girl Autumn is the follow-up to (yet another) failed Hot Girl Summer. With no discernible origin, the seasonal moniker first emerged in the fall of 2019 with a purpose to take in the gloominess of fall as a community rather than going through the seasonal change alone.

During the fall and winter months, some individuals may experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD)—a type of depression that occurs from lack of sunlight. Fall drives us farther into our homes and away from social interaction, and The American Psychiatric Association says that this time of year can make those with SAD feel isolated. 

When the cold weather and rainy days keep us tidied away in our beds, fall forces us to think and reflect on the past year and the year to come. This time of year is, at its core, one big therapy session with yourself. The catharsis of Sad Girl Autumn heavily influences what aspects of pop culture people associate with the season—and particularly, what music people listen to. 

As the gloomy weather moves in, the arrival of Sad Girl Autumn brings 5:00 p.m. sunsets, and the chilled wind blows in new music from tried-and-true sad girl classics. 

While upbeat summer bops climbed up the charts in previous months, musicians like Adele and Mitski kicked off the fall season by dropping essential new singles alongside the falling leaves.

Indie rock artist Mitski released her new song “Working for the Knife,” on Oct. 5, sending shockwaves through the indie-music scene. With sweeping instrumentals and haunting vocals, the tune not only marked the end of Mitski’s two-year hiatus but also sent fans full-steam ahead into Sad Girl Autumn. 

Just a week later, Adele released “Easy On Me,” taking a piano-based route on the same continuum as “Working for the Knife.” 

Both singles come from a place of internal reflection—a theme found at the heart of every Sad Girl Autumn. 

Taylor Swift’s re-recording of her fourth studio album, Red, is another highly anticipated fall release. Available for streaming on Nov. 12, Red (Taylor’s Version) will include the ten-minute long rerecording of Swift’s “All Too Well”—a staple for every fall, sad or not. The song’s moody, overlapping guitars along with Swift’s autumn-esque songwriting immediately transports the listener to a winding country road, belting along to the lyrics as leaves fall around them.

Despite differing in aesthetics, Sad Girl Autumn is not the inverse or antithesis of Hot Girl Summer. The fun, carefree elements of summer can live in synchronicity with the fall season. Music releases from autumnal favorites along with opportunities to binge-watch favorite fall films just might make this year’s Sad Girl Autumn the happiest one yet.