The past decade and a half have altered the course for an entire generation of people due to the memetic nature of a worldwide sensation known as the Internet. The Internet has brought upon the best and worst changes in humanities due to the nature of its anonymity. Music, in particular, has forgone an incredible change of influences due to the fulcrum shift of this culture. This change is due in part to the pervasive nature of memes, the widespread influence of mass communications, and an inherent desire for online fame.
Memetics, Memes, and Music
It is important to define what exactly a “meme” is. It is a little-known fact that the colloquial term meme is shorthand for the Darwinian analogy of memetics. A memetic is the theoretical science that studies how ideas and information can be spread throughout various societies (Blute 1). That said, what many people cite today as a meme is a node of knowledge that can be easily transferred from person to person due to a characteristic inherent within the knowledge itself (Heylighen 1). In online culture, this “knowledge” tends to be an easily transformable joke. Interestingly enough, Internet memes have been almost integral towards the transformation of one the world’s most influential genres of media; music. One of the very first instances of the memetic influence on music online is the genre known as nightcore. Nightcore, a genre named after the band who invented it, is not actually an original genre of music; according to Joseph of Nest HQ, it is actually a genre of pre-existing songs remixed to be sped up twenty-five percent towards a BPM of around one-hundred and sixty. Nightcore as a genre was created by the DJ duo known as DJ SOS & DJ TNT, otherwise known as Thomas Nilsen and Steffen Søderholm.
“Our name, ‘Nightcore’, means that we are the core of the night, so you’ll dance all night long.” (Nilsen and Søderholm 1).
Nightcore went on to be inspired by a sort of bastardization of Japanese culture through the proliferation of anime – also known as Japanese animation – throughout various image boards such as 4Chan and 2Chan. As for one of the most recent examples of memetic influences, look no further than vaporwave; another brilliant example of the bastardization of Japanese culture intertwined with the retro-feel of an erstwhile 80’s American-Pop era. Vaporwave surrounds itself with the fascination of the 1980s and 1990s muzak-style of relaxing lounge music, remixed to be much slower and chilled down then it’s sample (Ward 1). An interesting thing to note is that it appears that the influences of vaporwave are derived more from the aesthetic sensibilities of artwork over the actual music, which in itself is an example of the perpetration of memetic influences over modern music (Han 1). Vaporwave was first introduced to the online culture by Ramona Xavier with his release of the album Floral Shoppe in 2011.
Blute, Marion. “Memetics and evolutionary social science.” Journal of Memetics – Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission, Department of Sociology University of Toronto at Mississauga, June 2005, cfpm.org/jom-emit/2005/vol9/blute_m.html.
Han, Sean Francis. “Vaporwave: subversive dream music for the post-Internet age.” Vaporwave: subversive dream music for the post-Internet age | Editorial | Bandwagon – Live music, bands and concert guide for Singapore, Manila and Jakarta, Bandwagon, 7 Sept. 2016, http://www.bandwagon.asia/articles/vaporwave-subversive-dream-music-for-the-post-internet-age.
Heylighen, Francis. “Memetics.” Memetics, Principia Cybernetica Web, Aug. 1993, pespmc1.vub.ac.be/MEMES.html.
Joseph. “Nest HQ’s Guide to Nightcore.” NEST HQ’S GUIDE TO NIGHTCORE, Nest HQ, 22 Sept. 2015, nesthq.com/nightcore.
Nilsen, Thomas S, and Steffan O Søderholm. “Nightcore.” Nightcore Biography, Hemsida, 23 Aug. 2003, web.archive.org/web/20030827070658/http://www2.hemsida.net/steffie/nightcore/biography.html.
“Vaporwave.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Nov. 2017, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaporwave.
Ward, Christian. “Vaporwave: Soundtrack to Austerity.” Stylus | Innovation Research & Advisory, 29 Jan. 2014, http://www.stylus.com/hzwtls.