In October of 2015, a man by the name of Mark Davis uploaded 59 audio tracks onto archive.org, a digital media storage site for all of your nostalgic needs. The files? A collection of KMart cassette tapes that played throughout their stores in the late 1980s and 1990s. Davis used to work at the service desk a KMart where he played these tapes as background music. From announcements to monthly music tracks to even a 30 year special tape from 1992, Davis has made these nostalgia filled and aesthetically charged tapes free for anyone to download and use to their liking. Some have commented on the archives pages, reminiscing on their remembrance of the livelier days of the department store while others have included turned these tracks into... an interesting music genre.
The tracks haven't formed a new genre, per say, but an entertaining add-on to a increasingly popular music genre on the internet based entirely on nostalgia. This music is vaporwave.
Simply put, vaporwave is a subgenre of electronic music heavily focused with aesthetically pleasing 80s and 90s-esque visuals. From chilled out elevator ambient music to funky disco, vaporwave artists sample sounds and audio such as 80s workout music tracks, to video games, to old anime shows and yes, even to KMart audio tracks.
Have I listened to these KMart tapes? Not all of them, but enough to know this was definitely a sign of the times. Do I listen to vaporwave? Yes, and I love it and the community that surrounds those talented artists who bless us with a soundtrack that contains samples of KMart audio on every song. I love the sub-genres that have sprung up from vaporwave as well. Who knows? Maybe one day when another department store begins to slip away from its age of grace, someone else will upload the background music to that place, and a new music genre will emerge.