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Vaporwave is a musical genre inspired by electronic dance music (EDM), New Age music and the indie dance genres chillwave and seapunk. Vaporwave is known for its use of Japanese characters in song titles, 80’s smooth jazz and Muzak samples that have been pitch shifted and time stretched with music editing software. The genre has often been described as a satire of corporate and consumerist culture, specifically as a critique of mainstream EDM.
According to an article in the Chicago Reader, the vaporwave genre emerged on July 1st, 2011 with the release of the album New Dreams LTD. by Laserdisc Visions, which was later dubbed “vaporwave” by Texas producer Will Burnett.
The earliest known use of the term was printed in a review for the album Surfs Pure Hearts by Girlhood in the music blog Weed Temple on October 13th. 2011.
In December 2012, the music blog /mu/essentials, run by members of 4chan’s music board, posted a graphic for “Essential Vaporwave” (shown below).
On December 7th, the music blog Dummy published an article about vaporwave, which described it as a satire of capitalism. On January 24th, 2013, the Tumblr blog “Vaporwave Album Covers” was launched, which highlights album art from notable vaporwave artists (shown below).
On March 4th, a vaporwave thread was submitted to the /mu/ (music) board on 4chan, where many users recommended their favorite vaporwave albums. On March 19th, the music blog Another County Heard published an article titled “The Verdict on Vaporwave,” which noted how many Internet commenters had declared vaporwave to be “over.” On December 27th, Vice published an article comparing vaporwave to seapunk, quoting several forum commenter descriptions of the genre as “chillwave for Marxists,” “post-elevator music” and “corporate smooth jazz Windows 95 pop.”