The Atlantic Daily: The Rise of ‘Sad Bois’

Musical male angst finds a new formula. Plus: a look at three ongoing protests around the world

It’s Thursday, October 24. In today’s issue: Musical male angst finds a new formula—“sad bois.” Plus: a look at three ongoing protests around the world

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Today’s Big Idea


The rise of the “sad bois”

Their lyrics are steeped in moodiness. They take an almost clinical approach to talking about depression and mental health. This new wave of male artists, called the “sad bois” (or “sad boys”), is downright morose.

It’s not that men are just now being given permission to talk about their feelings. White male rage, our music critic Spencer Kornhaber points out, is perhaps “one of the most celebrated of all emotions in popular music.”

What’s changed is its expression. Today’s artists “ramble out their emotions matter-of-factly, with hope for recovery and admiration (sometimes worship) for those who’ve supported them.”

Read Spencer’s story on the new term here.

Previous Ages of Angst

(Chloe Scheffe)

Today it’s “sad bois,” but here are some other musicians and eras you might recognize, brilliantly summarized by Spencer:


Era: 1970s
Associated artists: Sex Pistols, Black Flag

“Punk balked at prescribed roles and reveled in sexual transgression ... Rock misogyny remained alive and well, but these maneuvers encouraged men to communicate in ways that would previously have gotten them labeled wimps.”


Era: 1990s
Associated artists: Nirvana, Soundgarden

“Its practitioners’ moans conveyed a sense of chafing against bodily constraints and cultural expectations … A song like Soundgarden’s ‘Big Dumb Sex’ brutishly satirized the previous decades’ hair-metal machismo.”

Nu metal

Era: Turn of the century
Associated artist: Linkin Park

“If the results were ugly, so was the subject matter: pain and trauma, expressed in even more personal terms than before.”

Emo rap

Era: Today
Associated artists: Lil Peep, Juice Wrld

“The anti-anxiety medication Xanax is to many of today’s rappers what Patrón was to rappers a decade ago, and self-harm is referenced routinely.”

Read more about these genres, and how they evolved in relation to one another, in Spencer’s thoughtful essay from last summer.

Get Caught Up, Protests Edition

As Brexit and impeachment continue to unfold (read this to catch up on Brexit; this to catch up on impeachment), we’re taking a look at some movements taking hold outside of Washington and London.


It’s day eight of negotiations in the Chicago teacher strike. Some teachers are using it as an opportunity to teach students the history of organized labor.


Protests in Chile take aim at economic inequality. The demonstrations, sparked by a subway-fare hike, have claimed more than a dozen lives. The photo editor Alan Taylor assembled photos of the movement here.


Hundreds of thousands are protesting government corruption and economic mismanagement in Lebanon. This movement was sparked by a proposed tax on messaging apps like WhatsApp. View photos, curated by Taylor, here.

Before You Go


Married bliss can be costly.

Thankfully, some communities developed a sort of crowdfunding strategy: At “stag and doe” parties, they celebrate the betrothed—and raise money for the lucky couple’s nuptials. Julie Bogen explains:

A couple gets engaged and then settles on an event space—church halls and community centers are popular because they can fit large groups of people at non-exorbitant rates. Then hundreds of people are invited to buy tickets that cover food and entertainment for the night, and donations are collected from local businesses, sometimes in the form of raffle items or catering. ...

“I’ve heard of people making 15, 16, 20 thousand dollars,” [Kyle Reid, of Binbrook, Ontario] told me while planning his own event.

Read the rest.

The Atlantic Crossword

1-Across, five letters: Reed section?

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