Greed is Good: The Influence of 1980’s Business Culture on Synthwave

At the risk of sounding like a broken record I would like to reiterate that by no means do I consider myself to be an expert in anything nor is it really my place to ever pigeonhole someone into a certain genre or subgenre less they declare themselves as such first and foremost. That said, in the past couple of posts I talked about two such things in regards to subgenres with “spacewave” and “cybersynth” respectfully but now I come to a bit of an impasse due to the fact that, while there is a certain theme of which a few artists have written their music around, there really isn’t a clearly defined name for such a subgenre.

Some call it “officewave,” others “yuppiewave,” whereas I have personally bounced around such terms as “wallstreetwave,” “stockmarketsynth,” or “businesswave.” Again, none of these are wrong per say nor are they entirely right due to there being no real clear consensus just yet or at least one that I can decipher. Then again, as stated before, I’ll always leave it up to the producers themselves to define and label their own music because they know it best.

Nonetheless, much as “spacewave” concerns itself with themes of invoking imagery of space and “cybersynth” is drawn from the cyberpunk genre, this particular subgenre seems to be inspired by a rather specific aspect from the 1980s: namely the crossroads of greed and excess between the rise of wealth and the culture of business. If it’s to be assumed that a lot of synthwave is simply inspired by both media and culture of the 1980s, as well as more modern takes on the decade, then I think that this particular subgenre does as well albeit with a more focused look towards certain examples. To me, at least, said examples of inspiration seem to range from period appropriate film releases such as 1987’s Wall Street to the somewhat modern examples found in 2000’s American Psycho.  Continue reading