I foresee a diversion. The styles of music (although it is truly a subculture) we put under the umbrella label “vaporwave” are inevitably headed towards becoming a thin bubble, waiting to burst at the very moment someone asks for a solidified definition. Well, what really is vaporwave? If you believe the term vaporwave is still constrained to the idea of a genre, then there are now boundaries set. Seeing as a “genre” is a specific type of music, vaporwave seems to be having an identity crisis. With all these “child genres” spawning off continuously, mallsoft, future funk, vapor ambient, etc... the listeners are left to themselves, having to string together semi-formed definitions of a vastly expanding musical culture. A new listener thinks to themselves, “What am I supposed to make of all this? Where do I even start?” While a veteran listener struggles with communication, “How can I explain what I’m experiencing with others?” This conundrum will either lead to the death of vaporwave, or as I see it, the right kindling for something much greater. I truly feel that what the majority of the community and artists are doing goes beyond a dictionary-defined genre. It’s become more of a global art movement that uses musical idioms and art as its means of communication on and offline, more than it has become a musical genre. It’s comprised of mood setting, emotionally arranged, musical storytelling that requires the right kind of mindset to enjoy and fully understand. It’s just like explaining Tim and Eric’s kind of humor to a new viewer. If you understand that kind of humor, you’re part of a small subculture that probably can appreciate the vaporwave movement. It’s taken that flip-turn-upside-down approach from television to the musical landscape. Also adding a dash of personal nostalgia while putting the listener in a specific setting or mood. Rather than focusing on traditional musical standards, understandings and merits, vaporwave have centered on, what is now known as, “the vaporwave” feeling. A lot of the content is sample based, a lot of content is all original. Some of the top artists are prior experienced electronic artists, while others are freshly introduced to a DAW through this movement, but overall releases are accepted and seen on the same plane throughout the community. It’s already becoming a full subculture and that in itself is what makes it hard to pin down, because all of the offshoots are part of a larger movement. Just as the 60’s had their counterculture, vaporwave in a sense, has become the musical art movement counterculture of the established music industry. An industry, which dictates what “is” and “isn’t” popular, including, who and what can and can’t be heard over mainstream media outlets. Generally favoring free, DIY marketing/creation methods with a “punk-mentality”. Sometimes using copyrighted (but legal under fair use and other legal safety nets) track bases and promoting an array of unorthodox and sometimes controversial topics and themes. That being said, this does not mean it’s a direct attack on the industry itself or a jab at consumerism or capitalism specifically, rather, a shining new outlet with a strong voice that resides just outside the industry’s clutches. Every release has its own intentions behind it. I’m not implying that everyone who posts a vaporwave album has this idea fully realized. This is just where I see vaporwave’s future leaning towards. All of this may seem a bit pretentious or unfounded, but, from my particular insider perspective, and from knowing and talking to others “in the scene”, I truly feel this is where vaporwave could be in 2016.