Vaporwave: The Music Genre of the Internet

Do you like 80’s and 90’s elevator and jazz music? Probably not because that’s a ridiculous question but you will have an appreciation for it after reading this.

Vaporwave is the most recent genre of music created, having been born in 2010. This strange, futuristic sounding style of music was inspired by the “retro 80’s and 90’s aesthetic” of computers, video games, glitch art, and bright pinks and teals. This aesthetic was so popular among internet communities that it inspired music with that same sort of retro tone. This music features very distant and distorted samples of 80’s and 90’s lounge, jazz and elevator music. These samples, on top of being distant and distorted, are very chopped up and layered as well.

An example of the “retro 80’s and 90’s” aesthetic

The concept was simple, fresh, and creative when it first came out. But by 2012, the very new genre became a mess of, for lack of a better term, shit. It was clustered with artists sampling “retro” advertisements in order to make a statement about modern day capitalism. Instead of successfully conveying this message, they just made vaporwave look like a silly fad that was going to die down soon.

Vaporwave eventually left this trend by evolving into a new type of concept. This concept being that this is a genre for taking samples of retro things and repurposing them with distortion, layering, and sampling. This concept came from the creation of sub genres within vaporwave such as future funk (sampled funk music mixed with vaporwave that has a futuristic vibe) and mallsoft (repurposing distant and empty mall music).

Throughout Vaporwave’s 6 year evolution as an up and coming genre, there are some distinct elements that are unique to the genre. For example, all vaporwave music has come from anonymous artists on the internet. This combined with the fact that it’s popularity came from internet communities made this the first internet based genre. Also, newer vaporwave albums are concept albums. These sounds try to tell a story or a certain mood throughout the piece and it is reminiscent of the many psychedelic and progressive concept albums of the 70’s.

“Floral Shoppe” by Macintosh Plus was considered one of the first vaporwave albums

This is the genre of the future. And even if you don’t like the actual music, at least appreciate the fact that anything is possible, even creation of a new style of music, through an internet revolution.


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