The saddest musicians in the world

Swedish pop singer-songwriter Tove Lo has racked up a number of accolades in her young career, but the one that seems to have stuck throughout the media is “saddest girl in Sweden.” That may not seem like much considering that her country gave the world Abba, but she’s earned the title; her smash hit “Habits (Stay High)” starts off lyrically like an off-brand Ke$ha but eventually reveals that her party and drug lifestyle is only to stave off the pain of an ended relationship.

But how does being the saddest singer in Sweden compare to her depressed contemporaries in other countries? With a massive hat-tip to Guy Maddin’s exquisite 2003 film “The Saddest Music in the World,” let’s look at who would be up for the title from other nations. The Saddest Musician In …


Damien Rice

Credentials: “9 Crimes,” “Rootless Tree”

Judge’s Comments: Did you know that the writer of the pinnacle of Irish despair, “Danny Boy,” was actually English? With him disqualified, the title falls to Rice, whose “The Blower’s Daughter” made for the perfect soundtrack to infidelity in the film version of “Closer.”



Credentials: “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me,” “Everyday is Like Sunday”

Judge’s Comments: C’mon. It’s Morrissey.


Leonard Cohen

Credentials: “Hallelujah,” “Dress Rehearsal Rag”

Judge’s Comments: One of the benefits of recording into one’s 80s (and still being relevant — 2014’s “Popular Problems” was an underrated gem — is recording a lot of songs about mortality.


Nick Cave

Credentials: “Where the Wild Roses Go,” “Love Letter”

Judge’s Comments: Known sometimes as the “Prince of Darkness,” Cave’s distinctive baritone can make “Happy Birthday” sound like a dirge. Combine that with themes of loss and death, and you’ve got an artist worth crying over.


The National

Credentials: “BloodBuzz Ohio,” “About Today”

Judge’s Comments: Restricting this to the living makes it tough; Blues and pre-crossover country music were consistently gloomy, but Billie Holiday and Hank Williams are gone. So we’ll put the hipster favorite quintet up against the world’s saddest

If you go: Tove Lo performs at Music Hall of Williamsburg on Monday at 8 p.m., 66 N. Sixth St., Brooklyn, 212-260-4700, sold out.

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