Chillwave (originally considered synonymous with glo-fi and hypnagogic pop) is a music microgenre that emerged in the late 2000s. It loosely emulates 1980s electropop while engaging with notions of memory and nostalgia. Common features include a faded or dreamy retro pop sound, escapist lyrics (frequent topics include the beach or summer), psychedelic or lo-fi aesthetics, mellow vocals, slow-to-moderate tempos, effects processing (especially reverb), and vintage synthesizers.
|Cultural origins||Late 2000s, United States|
Chillwave was one of the first music genres to develop primarily through the Internet. The term was coined in 2009 by the satirical blog Hipster Runoff to lampoon microgenres and indie acts whose sounds resembled incidental music from 1980s VHS tapes. Prior to this, the music would have been labelled as shoegaze, dream pop, ambient, or indietronica. Leading acts included Neon Indian, Washed Out, and Toro y Moi, who gained attention during 2009's "Summer of Chillwave". Washed Out's 2009 track "Feel It All Around" remains the best-known chillwave song.
Many artists exploited the style's low-budget simplicity, which led to an oversaturation of acts that contributed to the original scene's demise. The phrase "chillwave" came to be used as a pejorative due to the music's perceived shallowness and reliance on nostalgia. Detractors also criticized the term for having been contrived by media publications. It heralded the early 2010s proliferation of Internet music microgenres, including vaporwave, which originated as an ironic variant of chillwave. By the mid-2010s, chillwave had faded in popularity, with most of the original artists and listeners of the genre shifting focus to other music styles.