From Ariana To SZA, Why Everyone's Singing About Saturn Returns Right Now

And what you should listen to if you’re going through your own.

You don’t have to be an astrology head to notice that Saturn Returns have become a trending topic. In the past month alone, Kacey Musgraves, SZA, and Ariana Grande have all released songs grappling with the astrological phenomenon. Saturn Returns have long been one of astrology’s most fascinating concepts, but it’s now clearly returned to the cultural consciousness in a major way. What gives?

Even non-believers will feel the impact of the Saturn Return, the name given to the approximately 29-year orbit the planet makes to get back to the position it was in when you were born. In astrology, it’s a time marked by upheaval and change, an often turbulent reckoning of who you thought you were and who you really are, or want to be. But the concept also fits in neatly with the regular ebbs and flows of life. You’re turning 30, and the glow of young adulthood is starting to wear off. Now, you’ve got to decide what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.

It’s obviously a creatively ripe time to mine, and musicians have been singing about their Saturn Returns for, well, ever: One such project is No Doubt’s pivotal Return of Saturn from 2000. And while most don’t so transparently name their music as such, there is a pattern of musicians making big creative pivots when they turn 30, like Lady Gaga creating the stripped-down Joanne. (Consider it an artistic tierce-life crisis.) But what about the current moment has fomented such an atmosphere that not one, but three major artists are singing about their Saturn Returns at the same time? You might be able to look at the position of the planet itself, which is currently rotating through the airspace of Pisces, the emotional last sign of the Zodiac. This is meaningful, says NYLON’s resident astrologer David Odyssey, who’s currently penning a book about the phenom. He considers this moment to be a major culmination point of sorts as Saturn wraps up its own 30-year cycle: “[We’re] looking back on the last 30 years and saying, ‘All right, here’s what we got. Enough is enough. It is time to move on.’”

Astrologically, the world is at a cusp, so it’s not surprising three of pop music’s most spiritually in-tune artists are feeling its choppy waters. It’s also to their benefit that, as of late, ideas of astrology and spirituality are more welcome topics in the cultural discourse, allowing them to bring these themes into their music, another side effect of a Piscean Saturn, Odyssey says. (He notes that Neptune, the planet of spirituality, is also in Pisces.)

But even if you don’t buy into all the planetary mumbo jumbo, there’s still significance to pull from Saturn’s cycle, generationally. The youngest millennials are breaching 30, and so are many of the artists they’ve grown up with. It only makes sense for this milestone to be something they weather together.

If we look at it this way — No Doubt’s Return of Saturn hitting the 2000s, Lady Gaga’s Joanne crashing in the 2010s, and Musgraves, Grande, and SZA’s songs colliding in the 2020s — then approximately 10 years from now we may see yet another volley of Saturn Return music, from Olivia Rodrigo’s generation. It’s a human cycle of learning, unlearning, and bracing for the unknown. The good part is knowing all the people — and music — that have already experienced it before you.