Synthwave, Vaporwave, and Futurewave are distinct but related music genres, each with its unique characteristics and aesthetics, yet they share some common elements.
Synthwave: This genre is heavily influenced by 1980s film soundtracks, video games, and pop culture. It's characterized by synthesizer-heavy soundscapes, nostalgic retro vibes, and a focus on melody and atmosphere. Artists often use vintage synthesizers and production techniques to evoke the feel of the 80s.
Vaporwave: Vaporwave is more of an artistic movement than just a music genre. It emerged in the early 2010s as a commentary on consumer culture and modern capitalism, often featuring a heavy use of irony and satire. Musically, it incorporates chopped and screwed samples from 1980s and 1990s elevator music, smooth jazz, R&B, and lounge music. It's known for its surreal, dreamlike sound and its distinctive visual aesthetic that often includes glitch art, classical sculpture, and cyberpunk motifs.
Futurewave: Futurewave is less defined than Synthwave and Vaporwave. It's often seen as a subgenre or evolution of Synthwave, incorporating similar 80s nostalgia and synthesizer sounds but with a more futuristic and sometimes darker tone. It might include elements from other electronic genres and tends to have a more modern production quality.
While these genres share a fascination with past decades, particularly the 1980s and 1990s, and often use similar electronic instruments, they diverge in their thematic focus, musical approach, and cultural commentary. Synthwave is more about the nostalgia of the 80s, Vaporwave critiques consumer culture with a more surreal and satirical edge, and Futurewave is a modern twist on the Synthwave sound, often with a darker or more futuristic feel.