The term “rude boy” originated decades ago in Jamaica, and the powerful “sad girl” routinely graces Latin music, but I only recently learned the cultural backgrounds of these phrases. I now realize that I’ve probably been mis-using them, too.
Rihanna’s 2010 single may have mainstreamed the phrase, but Wikipedia has interesting background on the ska and street roots of “rude boy.” As a teenager, I inferred from the Rihanna single that rude boys have swagger, but the Wikipedia entry clarifies that the rude boy trend involved a particular jazzy, “American gangster” fashion and evolved with the Jamaican diaspora from economically depressed areas of Kingston to the United Kingdom in the 1970s.
The image of a classical sculpture on the article acknowledges historical roots, but Gore defines “sad girl” in modern terms.
Sad girls are assertive women who respect themselves. Sad girls are in touch with their emotions, and they express them creatively through the written word and a variety of other art forms. Sad girls embrace their feelings and reflect on their experiences because to ignore them would be a disservice to the self.
I’ve personally seen sad girl and her less-popular sibling “sad boy” most frequently mentioned around Latin music – particularly reggaeton – when a typically solo artist sings about her intimate feels with the confidence to put the personal on record. I’ve listened to Carla Morrison since NPR praised her 2010 release and have come to realize she is a fierce sad girl.
Sad girls also appear all over the culture map. @SadGirlsGuide broadcasts feminist encouragement to a borderless audience numbering in the thousands. Lana Del Rey identifies as both sad and bad in a slow track from her 2014 album. I saw a band named Sad Girl open for Chicano Batman. I struggle to describe their sound, but the Sad Girl band vibe felt like a mix of Ritchie Valens rock and roll, raw emotions and punk irreverence. Which brings us back to rude boys?