The Origins and Rise of Dream Pop

By Allison Belcher
Music Reviewer

Photo by Brenda Walker via Flickr.
Photo by Brenda Walker via Flickr.

As a lover of all different genres of music, I mean it when I boldly say that there is no type of musical style as dazey and ethereal as dream pop. I have several different playlists on Spotify dedicated to artists in the dream pop world, and am constantly on the lookout for new and upcoming dream pop bands. I’ve always labeled myself as a hardcore lover of all dream pop music but it struck me recently that I have absolutely no idea about the startup and origins of the genre I love so much. That is how my exploration of the upbringing of dream pop music came about.

The 80’s was a huge decade for different kinds of music. New wave, college rock, early metal and synth-pop are closely tied to the era, giving music lovers a whole new world of style to explore. Dream pop eventually developed into one of the 80’s several different types of genres, branching off from alternative rock. Atmospheric sounds and texture is the key to what makes dream pop so stellar. Dreamy sounding synthesizers, breathy vocals and introspective lyrics are the key ingredients to what makes dream pop so unique. The term was coined in the late 1980s by Alex Ayuli to describe his band’s. A.R.Kane, style. It was later adopted by music critic Simon Reynolds to describe the shoegazing scene in the United Kingdom. George Harrison of The Beatles was a big influence on the development of dream pop. The release of All Things Must Pass in the 1970s led music journalist John Bergstrom to credit it as an influence on dream pop.

Today, dream pop has grown tremendously, acting as a mother for the sound of bands such as Beach House, Washed Out, Toro y Moi and Grimes. It is music that you can listen to in any mood, acting as either atmospheric background music or ambient deep listening. While dream pop is still a fairly new style of music, its universe is ever expanding, attempting to suck you into a black hole full of hazy instrumentals and existential lyrical storytelling.

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