Mallwave: nostalgic synth music for imaginary and abandoned shopping centers

Originally published at:


Some of my youngest memories were formed in malls like this - the Bakery Center in Miami chief among them.

I’m now old enough to where I’m watching others have nostalgia for a time I experienced but they didn’t? It started with the Nirvana t-shirts and now this.

I knew this day would come but it’s still stranger than I expected.


2 minutes in, and I felt the life being sucked from my soul.


Careful with that Axe, Eugene.


It’s weird to me how vaporwave

a e s t h e t i c

Is so nostalgic for a style that never exactly existed.

It’s imitating a 1980s and 1990s that didn’t happen the way these artists remember and doesn’t actually portray the sounds of the time.

Which I suppose is the heart of the 19A0s

Like the 1980s and 90s, but much more finely textured. Benefitting from the creative technology of many decades in the future.

I wonder what the future will make of the 2000s?


Agreed. But not exactly new. Back then there were bands like the B-52s and the Stray Cats that were inspired by previous eras of music but would never be confused with anything other than being a contemporary 80’s band. I tend to like the errors introduced in this sort of cultural sampling.


The mall shown from 40:00 on is the Gallery mall in downtown Philadelphia.

Shows how even with all kinds of people around, malls still kinda suck and fail…

A story of the mall:

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This is a service about the opening by Silvio Berlusconi (before entering politics, when was only a real estae and television businessman) of the Gru mall in Grugliasco (turin), if you like the Real McCoy (pun intended).

a “nostalgia for a past you’ve never known” — is called anemoia

I thought it was called “The Republican Party.”


This is the real mallwave.


vaporwave thread?!?!


This is fantastic. If you turn off the sound.

It’s like being fucked up on cider and LSD on a nothing to do Saturday in 1990*. The quality of the video only enhances the experience.

(* May have been '89 or '91).

No love for Debbie Gibson?

Her bubble gum pop while not my thing she at least has my respect for writing her own songs, doing the choreography for her videos. She is still working at it too I see from my web search.


You’ll get the joke if you watch (checks notes) the first two seconds of the Tiffany video.

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Oh yes. I had forgot part of here gaining fame was all the mall concerts.

I had always heard this VW sub-genre referred to as Mall_soft_, but Mallwave works too. “Palm Mall” and " 슈퍼마켓Yes! We’re Open" get talked up a lot, but Hologram Plaza by Disconscious is the best IMO:


I remember when I was in school being kind of bothered by how important the concept of the Garden of Eden was and is in the way people think. Imagining a perfect past that now can never be: what a great way to make everyone miserable! But it plays so effectively on the nature of memory and the way life feels as you go through it in time. Exploiting psychological weaknesses in humans… I guess that’s one route to power we know works.


In GTA: Vice City there is a mall that has a woozy synth sound piped in all the time. I always heard it as a commentary on the atmosphere of the malls themselves, kind of lost and fuzzy-headed.

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How is this any different than vaporwave?