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what is vaporwave aesthetic

Vaporwave -

What is Vaporwave Aesthetic ?

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The cyberworld is not something that any single mind can ever comprehend. Ever since its public inception on April 30th, 1993, the internet has been thrown into countless directions, from just being used to access public information to being used to connect and power the entire world. 

One of the rather mysterious & intriguing children of the internet is ‘vaporwave’. Here is everything you need to know about vaporwave aesthetic.

What is exactly vaporwave ?

vaporwave art

In order to indulge further into the mysterious entity that is vaporwave, we must first acknowledge the fact that it is not just music. Vaporwave aesthetic is more than music: it is art. It is not only limited to audio but has also expanded into imagery and become an ever-so-lasting meme on the internet. 

Origins of vaporwave

The origins of vaporwave are pretty simple. It has been directly stemmed from a different genre of music such as electronic, art pop, chillwave, city pop, EDM, hypnagogic pop, new-age, smooth jazz, muzak, elevator music, and so much more. The prominent origins of vaporwave date as back as 2010, where it was derived from the works of Ariel Pink and James Ferraro. 

  • The most prominent artist of the vaporwave genre is Ramona Xavier, while the first publicly acknowledged vaporwave album is considered to be OPN’s Chuck Person's Eccojams Vol. 1.
  • This album was made available on both Reddit and Tumblr in 2010 and quickly became an internet sensation.
  • The album contained artwork from the 1993’s retro game “Ecco the Dolphin” and the album quickly garnered attention from thousands of suburban teens and young adults. 

Because of similar music genres like seapunk and shitgaze that were also given birth alongside vaporwave, vaporwave quickly gained traction. In 2011, Ramona Xavier took the world by a storm when she released her album “Floral Shoppe” under the name Macintosh Plus. The artist is still being listened to by millions. 

How to easily explain vaporwave ?


Imagine a colorless ball being thrown into a pool of random colors all at once. The then-colorless ball now has gained a little of each color it came in contact with. It has become inspired by all its colors. This is vaporwave. It is nothing but a blend of numerous music, that have been blended and toned down to be listened to in the background. 

In simpler words, it is an ironic throwback to the early 80s or the 90s, right before the internet. The irony is that most of the people who were young adults or teenagers back then do not listen to vaporwave. Most of the generation that listens to vaporwave was not even alive during the ’80s. It is this twisted sense of irony that makes vaporwave an extremely intriguing child of the internet. 

Features of vaporwave

Here is a list of some features of vaporwave that we have compiled :

  • Cover art
  • Imitation of music genres
  • Ironical themes
  • Intended viewers
  • The memes

Cover art

vaporwave cover

Vaporwave cover art is not very limited. It covers a wide span of culture and tastes such as retro versions of the 80’s or 90’s games, songs, clips, videos, anime, 90’s web designs, IKEA interiors, airport bars, shopping malls and cassettes to name a few. 

To sum it all up, vaporwave cover art is all about writing a special love letter to the child that lived – or was supposed to live – in the early ’80s, and thank them for giving you this wild sense of nostalgia that you are thoroughly enjoying right now. 

Imitation of music genres

Like we mentioned earlier, vaporwave covers a wide array of music genres. From electronic music to pop culture music, it has thoroughly traversed through all music genres into creating something that can hit almost anyone living in any generation. Most of the vaporwave music is a slightly cleaned out, or toned-down version of any normal song: one that usually does not contain any major lyrics.  

One could also say that vaporwave aesthetic is all about blurring the line between reality and fantasy: one that has happened in the distant past. 

Ironical & satirical themes

vaporwave ironical

The most prominent part of vaporwave aesthetic is the fact that most of the music that it has given birth to is ironical. Most of the viewers and supporters of vaporwave listen to it mainly because they want to enjoy the post-ironical type of music and it is this reaction against the irony and nihilism that gives birth to such a complex genre. There is no one way or feeling to describe vaporwave aesthetic

Music is meant to be listened loud and clear. The irony of the listeners and makers of the music is that vaporwave music is deliberately distorted to make it sound like the retro-80’s or 90’s all over again. The most prominent features being distortion in the audio, using 8-bit or 16-bit audio clips or beeps at random intervals and so on. 

Intended viewers

vaporwave fan

The most confusing thing about vaporwave aesthetic is the fact that there is no one common generation or group of people that listen to or watch this genre. The most common group of people, however, are those who have had an interest in EDM, IDM, rap, cyberpunk or anime.

This is why most of the modern vaporwave music contains themes from japanese anime or cyberpunk themes. Because of its very diverse origins, there is no one way to categorize the vaporwave viewers or listeners. 

The memes

vaporwave starter pack

Vaporwave really gained traction through the memes. Some of the most popular vaporwave-based memes include Macintosh Plus’s 420, Home – Resonance, and Saint Pepsi – Cherry Pepsi. Because of so many songs becoming a meme, many people often portray vaporwave music as meme music. And for good cause. Most of its viewers listen to vaporwave for the irony, and it is the irony that makes it a perfect breeding ground for memes. 

Final Thoughts

We hope that we were somehow able to make any sense when trying to explain the vaporwave aesthetic. Of course, there is no real way to explain this genre of music and art without seeing it for yourself. We would recommend that you check out Macintosh Plus and Home as both of these artists are the face of the genre. 

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