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Why does synthwave sound so nostalgic?

What is Synthwave?

Synthwave, also known as retrowave or outrun, is a genre of electronic music that emerged in the 2000s. It draws inspiration from 1980s pop culture, particularly the music, movies, and video games of that era. Synthwave artists use synthesizers and drum machines to create a sound that is reminiscent of the electronic music of the 1980s.

Transporting Back to the 80s

Listening to synthwave is like taking a time machine back to the 1980s. The nostalgic soundscapes and pulsating beats instantly transport you to a world of neon lights, arcade games, and VHS tapes. It's like reliving the golden age of synth-driven music all over again.

The Power of Nostalgia

So, why does synthwave sound so nostalgic? The answer lies in the power of nostalgia itself. Nostalgia is a bittersweet emotion that transports us back to a time when things seemed simpler and more carefree. It evokes memories and emotions associated with our past experiences, making us feel a sense of longing and warmth.

Recreating the Past

Synthwave artists intentionally recreate the sounds and aesthetics of the 1980s to tap into this nostalgic sentiment. They use vintage synthesizers, drum machines, and other retro-inspired production techniques to capture the essence of the era. The result is a sonic experience that feels both familiar and new.

Embracing the Quirkiness

One of the reasons synthwave has gained such a dedicated following is its quirky and playful nature. The genre doesn't take itself too seriously and often incorporates elements of humor and irony. Synthwave artists embrace the cheesiness and over-the-top aesthetics of the 1980s, creating a unique and fun listening experience.

Soundtrack to Imaginary Worlds

Synthwave's nostalgic sound has also made it a popular choice for creating soundtracks to movies, video games, and even everyday activities. Its atmospheric and cinematic qualities make it the perfect companion for driving at night, working out, or simply daydreaming. It adds a touch of retro-futurism to any situation.

The Universal Appeal

While synthwave is deeply rooted in the 1980s, its appeal extends far beyond those who actually lived through that era. Younger generations, who may not have experienced the 80s firsthand, are drawn to the genre's unique blend of nostalgia and modern sensibilities. It offers a glimpse into a bygone era while still feeling fresh and relevant.


Synthwave's nostalgic sound is a testament to the enduring power of the 1980s. By capturing the essence of that era, synthwave artists transport listeners to a time when neon lights and synthesizers ruled the world. So, put on your headphones, close your eyes, and let the retro-futuristic sounds of synthwave take you on a nostalgic journey.