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Mallsoft (also known as mallwave) is a vaporwave subgenre themed after retro shopping malls.[1]


Album cover of Palm Mall by Cat System Corp. Photos such as these are often used as artwork for mallsoft music.

Often based on corporate lounge music, it is meant to conjure images of shopping malls, grocery stores, lobbies, and other places of public commerce.[2] Mallsoft artists typically elicit nostalgic memories of these retail establishments, even to those who did not experience them firsthand,[3] through easy listening, bossa nova, and smooth jazz music while providing commentary on consumerism and corporate capitalism.[4] Much of the enjoyment from listeners is derived from nostalgia and the "pleasure of remembering for the sake of the act of remembering itself".[5]


Some artists simply take existing 1980s' pop songs, slow them down, and add reverb as if to make it sound like it's coming from the overhead speakers in an empty or abandoned mall.[6] Reverb and distortion is often overlaid on top of a track to give it an isolating and disorienting feeling.[6] YouTube videos are also made to pair mallsoft tracks with images of malls with an emphasis on selected images that appear to have been taken from the 1980s and 1990s.[6][7] The visuals can often be meant to invoke a sense of loneliness along with the cold nature of meandering through overly-corporate mercantile environments.[8]


Music journalist Simon Chandler described Cat System Corp.'s 2014 album Palm Mall as being "perhaps the definitive mallsoft album".[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Vaporwave, the Millennial legacy of Daniel Lopatin". Revista cultural el Hype. 2020-02-21. Archived from the original on 2021-11-09. Retrieved 2021-11-09.
  2. ^ "Mallsoft is the New Elevator Music | Indie88". 23 September 2015. Archived from the original on 2021-05-04. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  3. ^ "The Teens Who Listen to 'Mallwave' Are Nostalgic for an Experience They've Never Had". MEL Magazine. 2019-01-30. Archived from the original on 2021-04-23. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  4. ^ "Micro Genre Within a Micro Genre That Uses Ambience as an Instrument: Learn About Mallsoft". Archived from the original on 2021-07-09. Retrieved 2021-07-04.
  5. ^ Glitsos, Laura (January 2018). "Vaporwave, or music optimised for abandoned malls". Popular Music. 37 (1): 100–118. doi:10.1017/S0261143017000599. ISSN 0261-1430. S2CID 165274914. Archived from the original on 2021-05-04. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  6. ^ a b c Ballam-Cross, Paul (2021-03-01). "Reconstructed Nostalgia: Aesthetic Commonalities and Self-Soothing in Chillwave, Synthwave, and Vaporwave". Journal of Popular Music Studies. 33 (1): 70–93. doi:10.1525/jpms.2021.33.1.70. ISSN 1533-1598.
  7. ^ "Macross 82-99's 'Sailorwave' Should Be Every Retro Anime Fan's Soundtrack on CBR". 5 October 2020. Archived from the original on 2022-05-14. Retrieved 2022-06-05.
  8. ^ "Genre As Method: The Vaporwave Family Tree, From Eccojams to Hardvapour". Bandcamp Daily. 2016-11-21. Archived from the original on 2021-05-07. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  9. ^ "The Mall, Nostalgia, and the Loss of Innocence: An Interview With 猫 シ Corp". Bandcamp Daily. 2017-03-08. Archived from the original on 2021-05-16. Retrieved 2021-07-05.