I’ve been playing the Smiths on repeat. As soon as the leaves drop, my main man, miserable Moz, joins me for a yearly ritual dating back to my sulking goth school days. How harshly the academic new year robs one of summer romance, replacing it with humdrum responsibility. My summer’s single status was placated via pools of booze and a rolodex of fuckbois, but the approaching sweater/soup season finds me yearning to cozy up to more than a pumpkin spice latte. I face the music of where my heart really lies (or more appropriately dies, courtesy a specific Softboy who butchered my heart into mere mincemeat during the spring, still wielding the floral knife).
Sadness can be cinematic and no heartbreak is without proper soundtrack. Conjure James Dean–esque Chet Baker, pensive playboy Bryan Ferry, dowdy downer Robert Smith, melancholy Jeff Buckley. All longing for their song subjects in ways we wish we didn’t relate. My most preferred sad boy is of new wave decent. An androgynous chanteuse wearing their lament on a button-up black shirt sleeve, synth throwing shadows around him, became updated decades later, the perma-sad boy prototype crossing over a variety of genres and delving out a beat that, like songs of Motown before, make for dancing like the doom will be exhausted out of you.
My personal plight is tricky, shifting between soft fondness to blind rage and all the range of emotions in between. If my springtime break-up were a film, the main character would be a stoic hunk waxing his mustache into curly tips, Dallas worthy jewelry in his ears. Sometimes he’d punch holes in the wall, knowing there is neither revenge nor hope, just him alone, no longer loved. Remaining pained, he breaks bottles, polishes bad bitch boots, forever make cups of tea, the weight of a thousand drowned Ophelias on his underfed bones. Black magick, demonic, occult. My Morrissey is far more tragic than the Moz referenced in 500 Days of Summer.
The fairy tale isn’t finding true love, it is being freed of it. A bondage not nearly as kinky as the one worn before, I’m bound with regret, cruxed with chaos, dying but trying. Until the curse is broken, hand me my leather! Give me pianos, dance beats, fog machines, cemeteries! We bring you wronged wussies with voices sad as the sonnets of suicides, ghouls with guitars, pop star paupers ditched by their perfect princes, the “sad boys” Wussy mix tape.
1. Huggy Bear - “This Concrete Life”: an intro, the fucking-and-fucking-shit-up partner-in-crime fantasy betrayed, replaced by a manifesto of jealousy.
2. Grizzly Bear (Diplo mix) - “Will Calls”: They “will call”. Will will call. Wait, who is Will?
3. Perfume Genius - “Fool”: One must have their dignity, and who better than the perfect Perfume Genius to accompany the scene where our actor gracefully steps out, dissed and dismissed, a heartbroken hunk pretending to be nonchalant?
4. Ssion - “Earthquake”: Cool as fuck Cody Critcheloe croons on the reality of a ruined relationship too late to be saved.
5. Antony and the Johnsons - “Crazy In Love”: Glimmers of Nina Simone and Boy George boost this Beyoncé cover that will make a grown man weep.
7. The Smiths - “Still Ill”: Extremely underrated song showcasing Morrissey’s misanthropic loathing.
8. This Mortal Coil - "Kangaroo": Cool, tousled goth–haired Gordon Sharp, covering the Big Star original amongst gauze and flowers in 1980s 4AD fashion, interludes on falling for the queen in blue jeans. Bittersweet to remember how simple it is when we first meet.
9. TR/ST - “Slug”: In the words of Alfon’s himself, “It’s about control and all the gazing afterwards. . . all the little blooms that creep within.”
10. Twin Shadow - “Slow”: George Lewis, Jr., cries, “I don’t want to believe or be in love” over a Joy Division sample. A perfect sad boy new wave throwback.
12. Skrillex & Diplo w/ Justin Bieber - “Where Are You Now?”: I’ve somehow fallen ill with Bieber fever this year. This is break-up pop to bathe in.
13. Patrick Wolf - “Demolition”: Peter Pan prince Patrick Wolf wrecks the world with his wallows.
14. Salem - “Better Off Alone (Atari Teenage Riot Remix)”: Our lonely hunter sighs under invisible wifi signals praying for a sign in the night. Witchhouse woes via a “heroin-slamming gay prostitute,” remixed by German electropunk Alec Empire.
15. The Aikiu - “Win”: This French group is joined by JD Samson on the chorus for a last shred of hope in our story, claiming, “If you come my way / I’ll be around”, a last look over the shoulder. (Their “Pieces of Gold” video is full of gay porn VHS goodness, worth a gander.)
Sunni Johnson is an Atlanta musician, artist, and zinester.