The Rise of Synthwave


By Viral Awesome Staff


Fascinating alternative genres of electronic music have seen quite the emergence lately, specifically synthwave and retrowave. These genres are often characterized by their 80’s cliche sound elements like electronic drums, reverbs, and synthesizers, mixed with the movie and video game influence of the same era.


In the mid 2000’s, artists like Anoraak, Kavinsky, and Lifelike pioneered the genre when there became a desire to revive the sound from the 1980s and early 90s. Clearly the genre has it’s own history starting long before the Com Truise’s of today, and it has even seen moderate rises in popularity on multiple occasions over the past 10 years resulting in it being where it is today.


One could argue that synthwave-like genres are accessible enough to a mainstream audience that it could be widely accepted in the near future. The popular show ‘Stranger Things’ was even scored by a synthwave act by the name of S U R V I V E, and has served to help synthwave gap the bridge from an internet niche genre to a widespread adaption into our modern pop culture.


‘Stranger Things’ was not the first time synthwave was showcased in front of a massive audience. In 2011, the movie ‘Drive’ featured several synthwave songs as the genre was able to uniquely satisfy the aesthetic goal of the movie. When people began to realize just how great this genre was, mainly thanks to these mainstream adaptations, new artists step up and push the genre forward. Soundcloud is especially important for giving artists like Compilerbau, Damokles, and Stereospread a platform to share their art.


Synthwave and retrowave truly present a unique side to the art of music, and its borrowing from pop culture makes it feel like a necessary evolution in the genre of electronic music.


There may be a confusing cloud around the related genres of synthwave, retrowave, and others like vaporwave or wavecore. Synthwave and retrowave are typically considered the same genre, while vaporwave and others usually take other influences, often from the internet, to create their own meshing of sounds usually created in a digital audio program or DAW.  What is amazing about these subgenres is their tendency to be birthed, expanded, and killed all within the realms of the internet.


What does the future really hold for these quirky, innovative genres? It’s possible the sky’s the limit. Synthwave could see adaptations in pop music and blockbuster movies alike! Imagine it now, Katy Perry, influenced by the nostalgic waves of a modern day Kavinski, creating pop music for hundreds of millions of people… It’s possible! More likely, however, is this genre sees its fair share of rises, falls, and innovations, just like the many subgenres of the electronic music category.


If you are completely new to Synthwave yourself and are looking to get into it, try searching it on Spotify, Soundcloud, Youtube, any streaming service, or even just Google! Like mentioned before, Synthwave is a pretty accessible genre and typically isn’t a sound to turn too many people away.