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Photos of dated shopping mall interiors are often paired with mallsoft music

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


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,[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]

The 2020 documentary Jasper Mall profiles a dying mall by the same name in Jasper, Alabama. It's soundtrack from Earth Libraries is heavily inspired by mallsoft, proclaiming itself as "the perfect mixtape for your next power-walk around the food court".[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Vaporwave, the Millennial legacy of Daniel Lopatin". Revista cultural el Hype. 2020-02-21. Retrieved 2021-11-09.
  2. ^ "Mallsoft is the New Elevator Music | Indie88". 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. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  4. ^ "Micro Genre Within a Micro Genre That Uses Ambience as an Instrument: Learn About Mallsoft". 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.
  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
  8. ^ "Genre As Method: The Vaporwave Family Tree, From Eccojams to Hardvapour". Bandcamp Daily. 2016-11-21. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  9. ^ "The Mall, Nostalgia, and the Loss of Innocence: An Interview With 猫 シ Corp". Bandcamp Daily. 2017-03-08. Retrieved 2021-07-05.
  10. ^ "Earth Libraries — JASPER MALL SOUNDTRACK (12" Vinyl LP)". Earth Libraries. Retrieved 2022-01-06.