For all the fun and freedom college promises, it often falls short of expectations. Penn is no different. It’s a social quagmire—countless students come here looking for a set of like–minded individuals to befriend, yet find themselves shattered by the hypercompetitive nature of clubs and internships, the debilitating effects of heavy academic workloads, and the exclusiveness of social spheres in Greek life. Sometimes, you find yourself alone on a Friday night, with no one to call upon. You feel lost. We've all been there. And sometimes you just need a good cry to let it all out. Here are the best albums to listen to when you’re sad:
Born to Die by Lana Del Rey
From the moment Lana Del Rey murmurs “I feel so alone on Friday nights” in the first verse of the title track of Born to Die, there’s a feeling of shared understanding between the artist and the listener. Full of angst and melancholy, her vocals act like a needle to your heart, evoking nostalgia, loss, and a desire to discover your missing significant other. Whether it be “Video Games,” “Summertime Sadness,” or “Dark Paradise,” Del Rey laments broken affairs and references her own mortality with mesmerizing ballads. There’s nothing wrong with sniffling to Born to Die—its purpose is to help you accept your gloom.
Freudian by Daniel Caesar
Freudian is different from the other albums on this list in that it isn’t inherently a representation of sorrow, so much as a reflection of the desires one feels for love and companionship and the resulting anguish. As Caesar croons through tracks such as “Neu Roses” and “Loose,” you question your own experience in relationships as you hear lines like “What are you, a coward/Who are you helping?” The concluding song “Freudian” induces a longing for peace and compassion, leaving one feeling adrift in a void without either of those.
Man on the Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager by Kid Cudi
Man on the Moon II doesn’t begin in the depths of Cudi’s broken psyche; rather, it chronicles his drug–filled descent into glum seclusion. You empathize with the self–destructiveness of “Don’t Play This Song” as he mutters “I don’t even like to take the trip unless I’m sloppy drunk.” By the end, both the listener and the rapper have withdrawn into the same shell, as Cudi hums “All along, all along, I know I’m meant to be alone” (“All Along”), questions “When did I become a ghost” (“Ghost!”), and ultimately realizes that “I’m trapped in my mind, and I know it’s crazy/Hey it’s not that bad at all” (“Trapped in My Mind”). You become Cudi, accepting your own solitude.
Blonde by Frank Ocean
If you ask a random person to recommend an artist to cry to, they’ll usually suggest Frank Ocean, and for good reason. While both his debut album Channel Orange and sequel Blonde share similarities in style and production, the latter is undoubtedly superior as a conduit for one’s emotional fragility. Whether it be the regret on “Ivy,” the depression and isolation of “Solo,” or the failure of relationships on “Self Control” and “White Ferrari,” Ocean’s spellbinding stories serve as a purging of all forms of grief. It’s impossible to avoid sobbing by the end of “Futura Free,” as he hums “They tryna find 2Pac/Don’t let ‘em find 2Pac/He evade the press/He escape the stress.”
808s & Heartbreak by Kanye West
808s & Heartbreak is the pinnacle of cathartic sadness. It’s remained a classic for a reason—so many of the tracks drown you in a myriad of torment and agony. You can feel the aching pain in West’s autotuned vocals from the moment the chords of “Say You Will” open the album. There’s directly applicable lyrics everywhere, from the iconic “He lost his soul to a women so heartless” (“Heartless”), to “I know my destination/But I’m just not there” (“Street Lights”), to “On lonely nights I start to fade” (“Coldest Winter”). It’s a therapeutic means of rationalizing one’s own misery, as West weeps that there is nothing “To get my heart, out of this hell/And my mind, out of this jail” but concludes that “The wise man say, you’ll find your way” on “Pinocchio Story.” You’ll cry to 808s, and that’s okay.