MAY MIX — Illuminati Girl Gang
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
Sad Girls Mix: Even Moguls Get #Emotional
I always have trouble — or at least a moment of hesitance — when I try to describe what my magazine, Illuminati Girl Gang, is all about. Officially it’s “a publication dedicated to showcasing female perspectives in literature and art” but that’s pretty vague. The best way I can describe IGG is that it’s a great trick. I wanted to make a space for all the teen and not-so-teen feels that usually find their home in the form of unfiltered tumblr text posts. I wanted those blog posts to claim the status of literature and art because, why not. I wanted feelings to be valid.
Hyperallergic critic Alicia Eler wrote, “It offers up a space for girls to share their overflowing emotions, astute visual imagery, and not-so-covert sexual desires… Like a teenage girl who is discovering her emotions, body, and place in the world, the writing in this compilation can seem redundant, even frustrating at times — especially for any woman-identified person, either cisbodied or female gendered, who remembers those feelings and moments,” in her review of Illuminati Girl Gang Vol. 3. Since the last issue, not much has changed. The newest installment of the mag remains an overbearing assault of minor complaints, girlishness, emotions, and a catalog of life online.
This playlist, and the new issue of Illuminati Girl Gang, goes out to all the sad honeys of the internet. Sad songs and slow jams first, club bangers a little later.
(*) denotes song isn’t available on Spotify
Personally, if a playlist doesn’t start off with Drake, I’M OUT. Although almost every Drake song is about how sad/sensitive he is, I’ve been feeling this one more than most lately.
2. Black Coffee — Ella Fitzgerald
“Now a man is born to go a lovin’ / A woman’s born to weep and fret / To stay at home and tend her oven / And drown her past regrets / In coffee and cigarettes”
3. Hey Boy — The Blow
The quintessential #sadgirl song. Basically the only lyrics are “Why didn’t you call me???”
4. Treat Her Better — Mac Demarco
For the chill, woman scorned.
5. Incompatible — Baths
“First boyfriend / You live in my house and we share a toilet seat / And I am not the least bit drawn / The covers in divisive heaps / Scared of how little I care”
6. Tibetan Pop Stars — Hop Along
The opening line of this song is my favorite. “How content are with ones with simple demands? They meet their fiancés cherry picking out in Canada.” A song for when what you want is wholly too much — something unnamable and impossible.
7. If I Could Change Your Mind — Haim
I’m still scarily obsessed with Haim. My biggest ambition is to quit the lit-game and start a three-piece all girl band with matching middle-parts, leather jackets, and daddy issues.
8. 22 — Taylor Swift
I guess this is me formally coming out as liking Taylor Swift’s music…
9. Everything is Embarrassing — Sky Ferreira
Everything IS pretty embarrassing. Breathing, walking, my blogspot from 2010… *deletes browsing history*
10. Blame Game — Kanye West
Kanye West has a really special brand of aggressive sadness that I admire. Ego tempered with vulnerability. Pro tip: Every sad girl should also be a boss bitch. This song has classic lines such as, “You ain’t finna see a mogul get emotional” and “How did your pussy game come up?”
11. If You Had My Love — Jennifer Lopez
To get the full effect of this song, you need to watch the video, if only for the 1999 cyber-futurism vibes.
12. Lookin’ Ass — Nicki Minaj
For when you’re done being sad and you’re just pissed. You’re over listening to The Blow on repeat for over 48 hours and you don’t even want that guy to call anymore (unless he’s paying for your time).
13. Yankin’ — Lady
You’d never thought you’d hear yourself say this but Nicki Minaj was just a warm up. Now you’re fully on your independent woman shit. You haven’t cried yourself to sleep in weeks. You’ve got men on chain-leashes. You’ve got plates with stacks of money on them and a bomb-ass pussy.
Each day we have to grapple with the confusing realities of the Sad Girl/Grown Woman paradox. Are we sad girls? Are we empowered women? I’m learning to deal with the fact that I’m both. Sometimes I’m more sad than empowered but most days I try to stay on my Beyoncé grind.
15. Diamonds (Remix) — Rihanna feat. Kanye West
It’s kind of impossible to feel sad when listening to this song.
16. Britney Spears — Circus
Britney Spears: The ultimate sad girl. When Britney Spears had her infamous breakdown in 2007, it was only to be expected. Women like Britney, like Ana Nicole Smith, like Zelda Fitzgerald are cast as the tragic woman figure and are portrayed unkindly. But Britney came back a year later with Circus — in which she sings, “There’s only two types of people in the world / The ones that entertain, and the ones that observe” — an anthem and ode to the spotlight that she couldn’t stay away from.
17. Dirt Off Your Shoulders — Jay Z
TL;DR: ladies is pimps too.