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V A P O R W A V E: What Is It?

Updated on August 5, 2018
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Eva is a Law student, however her interest and love lies in Music, Arts, Anime, K-pop and Asian cultures and can't stop talking about them.

A music genre which tells various stories based on who you are~

Vaporwave or V a p o r w a v e, is a genre of music and an internet sub-culture which had its origins in the early 2010s to 2011. It is closely tied to retro inspired aesthetics and 90s dance music. What you haven’t heard of it? That’s okay, because being extremely underrated is one of its major characteristics.

It is the kind of music you would come across only by spending a sheer amount of your time online, but it’s definitely worth discovering.

So what IS Vaporwave exactly? Well, it’s a kind of a remix style but it is remixed in a way opposite to how most remixed songs are remixed... What. Okay let me explain, when we think about song remixes we think, sped up versions of the original song, with an overlay of heavy beats with flashier visuals right? Vaporwave is exactly the opposite of this, it’s a slowed down version of the original song, recorded deliberately at a lower quality (usually with a static hum in the background), with softer pastel visuals. The beauty of Vaporwave lies in its imperfection, making it surprisingly refreshing and unique.

This genre of music lays its heavy emphasis on 80s and 90s music, mostly smooth Jazz. But wait, Vaporwave isn’t always about sampling and remixing old songs, original instrumentation is also used incorporating elements of other sub-genres like Chillwave, Lofi Hip-hop, SeaPunk etc.

So… how did this all start?


Even though Vaporwave is a genre that has developed into an internet meme (thanks Tumblr kids) it has a surprisingly deep reason as to why it emerged. This genre has been said to have emerged as a satire of corporate and consumerist culture and to mock the “false promises of a capitalistic music industry”. Deep huh? But Wait! that’s not all, it is also said that is basically a critique to mainstream EDM and Dance music.

According to various users on Reddit, this genre came into being sometime in mid 2011 with the release of the album New Dreams Laserdisc Visions, which was later called as “vaporwave” by a Texas producer, Will Burnett.

In 2012 Vaporwave picked up momentum after Vaporwave artist “Macintosh Plus” released her album ‘Floral Shop’ which perfectly combined Vaporwave and Aesthetics into one magical work of art.

However, shortly after reaching its popularity amongst the underdogs of the internet Vaporwave as a genre was declared as “Dead” by the end of 2012.


That’s not the end of it.


This genre of music has recently (sometime around late 2016) spawned into another version of itself on YouTube called the Simpsonwave! Does it sound strange? Cause it is. Simpsonwave is a video remix series of clips from the TV show “The Simpsons” which are edited to Vaporwave music and retro aesthetic visuals. Like original Vaporwave videos these videos are dulled down with creepy static grains and pink filters. These Simpsonwave videos have gained immense popularity on YouTube to become another sub-genre by itself.

With its soft pastel visuals, badly animated 3D elements, pixelated characters inspired by 90s video games and retro visuals Vaporwave creates a vibe of its own. Listening to Vaporwave/ Simpsonwave is an experience in itself, it is something that is completely new but with a weird sense of nostalgia. It is almost like the music wants to absorb you, show you something that you already know but you just can’t seem to figure out what it is. The visuals with all its static grainy glory feels like you are looking into some lost world which is somehow familiar. This creepy feeling that looms is what makes the listener curious about this genre. You either love it or you don’t there is no middle ground… or is there? You will never know, cause the music will keep you guessing if you are curious enough.

Below I've mentioned some of the songs/artists that I listened to and loved, I have also linked them so make sure to check these artists out! Also! I have a poll down below so let me know, have you listened to vapourware before or nah?

Some Artists to check out:


  1. Macintosh Plus.
  2. 2 8 1 4.
  3. Ramune (Skelix).
  4. Hong Kong Express.
  5. Blank Banshee.


  1. Lucien Hughes.
  2. Neowave – 24/7 Simpsonwave live radio.
  3. NEOTIC.

Specific Songs/ Playlists to start with: (I strongly recommend these)

  1. Her – Eery.
  2. N O S T A L G I C – NEOTIC.
  3. Sand – Atlas.
  4. VAPORWAVE – Ramune (Skelix).
  5. S U B W A Y S- The Boin.
  6. Remember Summer Days - Kurdtbada.

Quiz Time

Have you ever listened to Vapourware before?

See results

© 2018 Eva Changu


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