If you participate at all in what many call “weird facebook”—groups like ‘post aesthetics’, ‘Corporate Aesthetics: Environment and Object’, and ‘Vaporwave dreams in your brain’—you might have heard of a little thing called v a p o r w a v e. Anything can fall within the vaporwave genre, but the main two components are music and visual images/art. The images are most often comprised of pastel colors, marble statues, various 90s technology relics, palm trees, and pretty much everything in between. vaporwave

These images are sometimes created on their own, but they are also used as album art for vaporwave music. The spotify playlist “Vaporwave” describes its contents as “a deadpan recontextualisation of glossy corporate music from a small number of artists on the internet reconstructing sound from heavy sampling of popular music & 80s/90s TV ads, looping, slowed down, pitch…”

Most of it has no lyrics, and I find that it works well as studying and homework music. I could be missing the point, though. What is the point, you ask? It really varies, but much of vaporwave is meant as a revolt against and identification of the perceived flaws in our capitalist society.

Here’s the thing about vaporwave: some people, particularly those creating it, take it quite seriously. It’s ironic to some degree even for them, but it’s also a completely legitimate art and music movement. Others, though, appreciate vaporwave only ironically, and jokes about it are easy to find once you start digging through the many “weird facebook” groups previously mentioned. Often, it feels like an exclusive club with a division between those who are in on it, who get the joke, and those who don’t. Arrogant and condescending facebook arguments are certainly no rarity.

Ultimately, though, vaporwave is a genre that exists in the same way that any genre does; there is no one way to appreciate it. If you like listening to the music (which I discovered, to my surprise, that I do), then you should listen to the music. You don’t have to worry about what kind of statement each song is making. You don’t have to get it. However, if the meaning is where your interest lies, there seems to be a lot of meaning to be appreciated. And if you love vaporwave memes ironically but from the bottom of your heart, then make those memes and post away!

I set out with the mission to figure out what exactly vaporwave is, but that’s an inquiry that kind of misses the point. At this point, the genre’s following is growing, and it’s a diverse and varied following. One that I think I just kinda sorta joined. It’s that easy!


A&EKatja Vujic