Column: Venturing into new music has benefits

Ryan Meyer

Lately I’ve been getting into a bunch of music genres that basically all end in -wave, like vaporwave, chillwave and synthwave. The best way I can describe this type of music without consulting Wikipedia is that it has a lot of neon and feels as much like nighttime as any other genre. It’s not sad, it’s not happy, but it does make the listener feel like something important is happening. It’s almost grandiose in a way.

I’m guilty of grouping all these subgenres together, as I’m not well-versed enough yet to truly differentiate them. It seems like vaporwave is a little more funky and a little less melodic than its counterparts, which is probably why I find myself leaning towards chillwave, which according to the Wikipedia page, takes influence from genres like bedroom pop, shoegaze and lofi, which are all things I enjoy.

There’s a specific type of beat these songs have to hit for me to really enjoy them. I’m not musically-versed enough to describe it with proper music theory, but it’s just a straightforward beat with minimal percussion. I love the arpeggiated synths that are always showing up, and what sound like more ambient chord progressions in the background that sound almost airy.

And even though I play guitar, I prefer this type of music with no guitar. I’d rather hear a synth play the riff, and I think that’s why I have recently been gravitating towards the -waves. As an escape of sorts from the guitar indie rock I’m so used to. A bunch of synths done right is just total ear candy.

Lofi is another genre that a lot of people are familiar with, and most have probably seen the “lofi hip hop radio – beats to relax/study to” livestream that seems to constantly be streaming on YouTube.

It’s great background noise for any of the aforementioned activities, but it can often get too jazzy for me as someone who isn’t huge on jazz.

The a e s t h e t i c is another important part of these genres. I usually use longer YouTube videos to listen when I’m doing something else, and the thumbnails are almost always visually appealing. Usually a lot of fuzzed-out neon or GIFs of futuristic-looking cars on luminous highways. It’s as much of an appealing-to-the-eyes style of media as it is to the ears.

I’m sure that if I ever go back to casually writing music, the impression that these genres have left on me will have altered the way I approach music. Sometimes it’s OK to sit back and sink into the -waves.


Ryan Meyer  is a sophomore  journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]