Synthwave vs. Synthwave existed contentedly for over a decade with little or no confusion about the fact that it was a separate genre from synthpop. Yet in the final months of , synthwave fans abruptly and somewhat inexplicably began using the two terms interchangeably, and even prominent artists have begun unnecessarily conflating the two names for their music. Along with the increasing misuse of the terms has come an increasing amount of confusion and questions about how synthwave is different, if at all, from synthpop. Synthpop, like synthwave, is a specific genre of music, and the term is not a catch-all for music made with synthesizers or synth-based music with vocals. It is not a blend word for pop synthwave popwave , and synthwave is not a revival of synthpop. With few real exceptions, synthwave and synthpop are separate genres of music with strikingly different backgrounds. This makes it more difficult for fans to locate music that appeals to their specific tastes, causes confusion in conversations, and glosses over important creative differences between artists in both genres, disregarding decades worth of beloved synthpop and synthwave creations in the process.
Why Does it Matter?
Synth-pop short for synthesizer pop ;  also called techno-pop   is a subgenre of new wave music   that first became prominent in the late s and features the synthesizer as the dominant musical instrument. It was prefigured in the s and early s by the use of synthesizers in progressive rock , electronic , art rock , disco , and particularly the " Krautrock " of bands like Kraftwerk. It arose as a distinct genre in Japan and the United Kingdom in the post-punk era as part of the new wave movement of the late s to the mids. Electronic musical synthesizers that could be used practically in a recording studio became available in the mids, while the mids saw the rise of electronic art musicians. After the breakthrough of Gary Numan in the UK Singles Chart in , large numbers of artists began to enjoy success with a synthesizer-based sound in the early s. In Japan, Yellow Magic Orchestra introduced the TR rhythm machine to popular music, and the band would be a major influence on early British synth-pop acts. The development of inexpensive polyphonic synthesizers, the definition of MIDI and the use of dance beats, led to a more commercial and accessible sound for synth-pop. This, its adoption by the style-conscious acts from the New Romantic movement, together with the rise of MTV , led to success for large numbers of British synth-pop acts in the US during the Second British Invasion.
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New wave is a broad music genre that encompasses numerous pop -oriented styles from the late s and the s. Common characteristics of new wave music include a humorous or quirky pop approach, the use of electronic sounds, and a distinctive visual style featured in music videos and fashion. New wave peaked commercially in the late s and the early s with numerous major artists and an abundance of one-hit wonders. After MTV was launched in , the network promoted new wave acts heavily on the channel, which gave the genre a boost in popularity. New wave encompasses numerous pop -oriented styles from the late s and the s.
It heralded a new era of synthpop and New Romantic artists that ruled the music landscape on both sides of the Atlantic for the next decade. Before Spandau Ballet went down the ballad route with 'True', they were one of the leading moody New Romantic bands around. The lyrics are told from the man's point of view as a boy being drafted, and how he gets no answers as to why he must join the war. This was Duran Duran at their most almighty pomp, showing just how popular synthpop had become by One of the greatest one-hit-wonders of all time, you might not know the song by name, but you'll definitely have it in your head all day.