Vaporwave is a genre born from the internet, and the queen of the vaporwave movement is Macintosh Plus, whose song “リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー” has over 23 million views.
How did this song become the quintessential vaporwave anthem?
1. It uses a familiar and catchy tune.
Vaporwave is a genre built on loops of old songs accompanied by simple, non-abrasive beats. This song uses a slowed down clip from Diana Ross’s “It’s Your Move,” a song which had moderate popularity in the 80s but has since been surpassed by this rework.
“リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー” is an adaptation for this era of just chilling in your room, taking some of the excessive energy out of the song.
2. It’s music by the internet generation, for the internet generation.
Vaporwave was developed entirely on the internet. There are no live tours, no big launches of records, no billboard advertisements, or paid radio time. The song is only available for purchase through Bandcamp.
It gained popularity through YouTube and being shared online. It’s a prime example of how far an independent musician can make it in the internet era.
3. The title creates an exclusivity.
Without a Japanese keyboard, searching for this song by the title is nearly impossible. The link can be shared, and with its current popularity, one could Google “Macintosh Plus 420” and find it immediately, but when it came out in 2011, one would have to get a direct link to find the song.
The song title translates to “Computing Lisa Frank 420/ Modern,” which is in no way easier to remember than just “Macintosh Plus 420.” Knowing this song was like the internet equivalent to getting into a secret nightclub with a password.
4. It has a sweet taste of nostalgia.
As a genre, vaporwave is all about reminding its listeners of a time that they may want to forget. The 80s and 90s were a weird, high energy, pop art-heavy time with lots of practical effect commercials and music videos with seedy, unsettling undertones.
Vaporwave, and indeed this song, give people the opportunity to look back from the safety of their homes through the dulling scope of slow jam music.
Macintosh Plus filled a void with her music, and with the song “リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー,” she found success by catering to the online audience. Pay attention to the community you are a part of already and cater to their needs to find similar success, and don’t get bogged down by record labels. In this day and age, all you need to get started is internet access.
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Gabriel Dufurrena is a mathematician, writer, and educator living in Oakland, CA. When he’s not watching YouTube videos or teaching math, he’s drinking tea on his balcony.