In recent years, technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, especially in the field of music. There are even AIs that are creating modern covers of famous songs with the voices of deceased artists. That’s how crazy the world we live in is.

But there is one thing that these amazing new tools will never be able to give the user, and that is nostalgia. That longing for the past even for people who never lived in that era

That is the charm of retro style, characterized by bringing to the present the trends, attitudes, and popular culture of the past, especially of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. 

Retro style is everywhere, from clothing to the interior design of a house, but one of the elements where it has made its biggest impact is the music scene.

What is Retro Music?

Retro music is a contemporary genre whose melodies are inspired by the music of the 80s and 90s mainly, although they do not leave out the 60s and 70s.

Its style is influenced by Pop and Rock, and to a lesser extent by other genres such as Soul, Jazz, and Disco music, all characteristic types of the 70s.

Although for others, retro music is directly the original songs they listened to in their youth and decided to catalog them with the word retro because of the nostalgia and emotions they evoke within them. 

Beyond the current advances, the music of yesteryear is still played a lot today, especially in series and movies, because they transmit such unique vibes that no other contemporary genre can match.

A Retro Audio Cassette from the 80s

Origin Of Retro Music

Although the term “Retro” started to be used in the ’60s, it is actually more linked to the ’80s, a decade that marked a before and after in history… and hairstyles.

This decade was the birthplace of a new generation, the Millennials (1981-1996), who witnessed a huge acceleration in technological discoveries and inventions.

From the 1980s onwards, progress was so massive that it had already surpassed the advances of the previous two decades in a single year.

All this was accompanied by a new wave of music that many consider the best in history. In addition, the creation of the MTV television network took music to another level, as it was no longer consumed with the ears, but with the eyes.

This encouraged the creation of music videos, which in turn became worldwide hits that reached every corner of the planet. While music was not as readily available as it is today on the Internet, MTV was the YouTube of the time, broadcasting 24 hours a day. Gone were the days when music relied 100% on the radio to become popular.

It was only a matter of time before Hollywood realized the potential of the new genres, capturing them in the soundtracks of great films and helping a lot to keep those music hits alive today.

Synthwave, The Contemporary Genre Most Inspired By Retro Music

Nowadays, it is very common for some songs to borrow elements from the past, but in general terms, it is still listened to as contemporary music.

However, the retro style has caused new waves, the most popular of which is Synthwave, a genre of Electronica influenced by the music of 80’s movies, music, and video games.

Although we are almost 20 years after his death, inventor Robert Moog is a key player in the creation of Synthwave, as he is considered the father of the synthesizer, a musical instrument capable of creating an infinite range of sounds or replicating those already known.

Although synthesizers had already been making noise since the ’70s, it was not until the early 80’s that the “Prophet-5” synthesizer shook the music industry. 

From that moment on, music, along with electronic drums started to be completely synthesized, so the proliferation of synthesizers was inevitable. That’s why the electronic music of the 80s and part of the 90s sounds so different from the other eras because it was the time of greatest experimentation with the synthesizer.

Returning to Synthwave, the genre was born on the social network Myspace in 2000, in an environment far removed from record labels and the conventional market.

Since 2005, Synthwave began to spread on YouTube, showing the new generations how synthesized music from video games, movies, and everything related to the 80s sounded.

Musically, this genre is usually purely instrumental and its theme revolves around a retro-futuristic style. It draws inspiration from a variety of musical styles that originated or were popular in the 80s, such as Synthpop, Italo Disco, Electro, and a few more.

The origin of Synthwave is also due to the “French House” music genre of the mid-2000s, in which artists such as Air, Daft Punk, and Justice stood out with their new “retro-proposals”.

Retro Music Today

As I mentioned, retro music is still widely consumed today, but thanks to Synthwave, new trends have been created that perfectly blend the past with the present.

For example, we have the case of “Hotline Miami”, a video game set in the 80s, or “Drive”, an excellent thriller starring Ryan Gosling and one of the most successful cases of a Synthwave soundtrack.

This gave it enough momentum for larger production companies to dabble in the genre, such as Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things.

For their part, video game movies are the ones that most take advantage of this new retro boom, with more recent works such as “Tetris” and “The Super Marios Bros. Movie” whose soundtracks have a lot of nostalgic charge.

Retro Music Albums From the 90s

What Makes Retro Music So Special?

It could be said that many factors make it special, such as innovative synthesizer melodies or the popularization of new genres, and while these are compelling reasons, in reality, retro music is so special because of its nostalgia.

For those who grew up in past decades, it is more than obvious that old songs take them back to their youth. A time when their hearts were a whirlwind of emotions and doubts, but there were also happy moments characterized by the presence of music whose lyrics and melodies are loaded with meaning.

You only need to ask these people what it was like to grow up in the 70s and 80s for their eyes to sparkle with joyful nostalgia.

But retro music also affects the youngest, those born in the new millennium. As unbelievable as it may sound, they too are transported to a bygone era when they listen to retro tunes. And of course, there is no shortage of young people who in their daily lives prefer to listen to the hits of the past rather than the current ones.

Retro music is so powerful that it has managed to unite generations and even very different societies with its melodies alone. Whether it is the old songs and artists or contemporary proposals such as Synthwave, retro music is one of the most emblematic genres of today, which despite being linked to a past time, remains timeless in people’s hearts.