My Top 5 Sad Music Artists

1: Elliott Smith 

Elliott Smith is a singer-songwriter who is widely recognized for his emotionally charged music, which speaks of the pain and struggles of living life. His music is characterized by his introspective and deeply personal lyrics, which explore themes such as addiction, loneliness and depression. Elliott Smith’s vocal style is often hushed and almost whispered, giving his songs a sense of intimacy and vulnerability that resonates with listeners. 


One of my favorite albums, and probably his most famous album, “Either/Or,” is a prime example of his ability to capture sadness in his music. A few of th best songs in this album would either be “Alameda” or “Say Yes,” which explores the vulnerability and uncertainty that comes with falling in love. Elliot Smith’s unique use of sparse instrumentation creates a stripped-down sound that perfectly complements the emotional depth of his lyrics. He often accompanies his vocals with just guitar or piano, creating an intimate and confessional quality in his songs. Sadly, he passed away in 2003 at the young age of 34, leaving behind a legacy of music that continues to inspire and connect with fans around the world. Despite his struggles, his music remains a testament to the experience of life, and his ability to capture the complexities of sadness in his music has made him one of the most beloved and influential sad artists of our time. 


Elijah Garcia, a junior here at North, said that Elliott Smith is one of his favorite artists to listen to. He said, “…

2: Duster

Duster is undoubtedly one of the best sad music artists of our time. Duster is a group of three guys from San Jose, California who make really sad music that can hit you right in your feels. They play lo-fi indie rock that’s slow, minimalistic, and introspective. Their use of soft, hazy guitars, whispered vocals, and dreamy atmospheres make you feel like you’re floating in a melancholic haze. Despite their sparse and slow sounds, Duster is able to convey a deep sense of emotional resonance in their music. They share their experiences of loss, loneliness, and emotional distance in their music, which can really strike a chord with listeners who are going through tough times. Duster has had a significant impact on the development of alternative music. Their unique sound, which blends elements of indie rock, shoegaze, and post-rock has influenced many other artists in the genre. 


Their album “Stratosphere” is a fan favorite and definitely one of their most iconic albums. Released in 1998, it’s a masterpiece of atmospheric rock about loneliness and heartbreak. The album’s standout tracks, such as “Gold Dust” and “Heading or the Door,” are hauntingly beautiful and capture the essence of what makes Duster such a powerful and resonant artist. The album’s lasting impact on alternative music is a testament to Duster’s influence and staying power. Duster’s music is highly evocative and deeply moving, making them a top choice for anyone in the mood for introspective and melancholic music that speaks to the life experience. 

3: Mazzy Star

Mazzy Star is a band that has captured the hearts of many with their dreamy, melancholic sound. They first got together in the late 1980s and became quite popular in the early 1990s, thanks to their hit single “Fade Into You.” Their music has a slow, haunting quality that really touches the hearts of listeners. When you hear lead singer Hope Sandoval’s soft, ethereal voice, you can’t help but feel like you’re in a dream. Their lyrics are a big part of what makes Mazzy Star so great. They often sing about love, loss, and heartbreak – things that pretty much anyone can relate to. Songs like “Into Dust,” “Flowers in December,” and “Wasted” are perfect examples of the band’s poetic and melancholic songwriting. Mazzy Star’s dreamy, melancholic sound, poignant lyrics, and haunting instrumentation have made them one of the best bands for sad music. Their music is so powerful because it truly speaks to the complexity of emotions and really can make you feel the emotions they portray in their music.  

4: The Microphones

The Microphones is the brainchild of lead singer Phil Elverum, a talented musician who founded the band during the mid 90s. Starting as a solo project, the band gradually evolved into a full band that experimented with a variety of instruments and recording techniques. Elverum’s music is deeply personal and emotive, delving into love, loss, and the passage of time. His voice is distinct and haunting, and the sparse instrumentation creates an intimate atmosphere that draws the listener in, almost as if he’s telling you a story or sharing his deepest thoughts and feelings with you. “The Glow Pt. 2,” which was released in 2001, is considered The Microphones’ magnum opus. This album features 20 tracks that explore Elverum’s personal struggles with love and loss. It’s a raw and emotional album that resonates with listeners on a deep level. Even though this band is very successful, Elverum has always remained true to his DIY roots. He records and releases his music independently, which has earned him a devoted following of fans who appreciate his authenticity and creativity. Elverum has continued to push the boundaries of his art with Mount Eerie, his latest project. His music continues to be deeply introspective and experimental, exploring themes of existentialism and life. Through his music, Elverum has created a connection with his fans that is truly special and personal. 

5: Dave Bixby 

Dave Bixby is one of those artists who just hits you right in the heart with his music. It’s raw, emotional, and just like all these other artists, downright haunting. People who listen to him often describe it as a transformative experience. Bixby’s career started in the late 1960s when he released his first album, “Ode to Quetzalcoatl,” which is his most famous album by him. Unfortunately, the album didn’t do well commercially. But over time, it gained a cult following and became a classic in the psychedelic folk genre. The lyrics of the album are all about personal struggles, spiritual longings, and feeling lost. Bixby’s voice, which sounds a lot like Nick Drake’s, is delicate and fragile, and it adds to the emotional depth of the music. After his first album, Bixby disappeared from the music scene for years. He dealt with some tough stuff, including mental health problems and addiction. But in the early 2000s, he made a comeback with a new album, “Whispers from the Surface of a Lake.” This stunning album cements Bixby’s place as one of the best sad artists. The songs are incredibly personal, and Bixby lays it all out there for the world to see. The music is stripped-down, with just an acoustic guitar or a piano and it’s absolutely breathtaking. His music has a timeless quality to it, and it speaks to people in a way that’s hard to put into words. He’s influenced countless artists over the years, from Sufjan Stevens to Bon Iver. Dave Bixby is a true artist who’s not afraid to be vulnerable and honest with his audience. His music is a reminder that we’re all human and that it’s okay to feel gone sometimes. If you haven’t heard his music before, do yourself a favor and give it a listen. It could be influential to your own life.