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Dream pop (or dreampop)[6] is a subgenre of alternative rock[1] and neo-psychedelia[3] that developed in the 1980s.[1] The style is typified by a preoccupation with sonic texture and atmosphere as much as melody.[7] It often overlaps with the related genre of shoegazing, and the two genre terms have at times been used interchangeably.


Dream pop is thought to relate to the "immersion" in the music experienced by the listener.[8] The term "dream pop" is credited to Alex Ayuli of A.R. Kane, who used the phrase to describe the band's sound.[9] It was subsequently adopted by music critic Simon Reynolds to describe the nascent shoegazing scene in the UK.[3] In the 1990s, "dream pop" and "shoegazing" were interchangeable and regionally dependent terms, with "dream pop" being the name by which "shoegazing" was typically known in America.[10]

The AllMusic Guide to Electronica (2003) defined dream pop as "an atmospheric subgenre of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody".[7] Common characteristics are breathy vocals, the use of guitar effects, and a densely produced sound.[7][3] The music tends to focus on textures and moods rather than propulsive rock riffs.[11] Lyrics are often introspective or existential in nature.[11] In the view of Simon Reynolds, dream pop "celebrates rapturous and transcendent experiences, often using druggy and mystical imagery".[3] According to Rachel Felder, dream pop artists often resist representations of social reality in favour of ambiguous or hallucinogenic experiences.[12]


Author Nathan Wiseman-Trowse explained that the "approach to the sheer physicality of sound" integral to dream pop was "arguably pioneered in popular music by figures such as Phil Spector and Brian Wilson". The music of the Velvet Underground in the 1960s and 1970s, which experimented with repetition, tone, and texture over conventional song structure, was also an important touchstone in the genre's development [12] George Harrison's 1970 album All Things Must Pass, with its Spector-produced Wall of Sound and fluid arrangements, led music journalist John Bergstrom to credit it as a progenitor of the genre.[13]

Reynolds described dream pop bands as "a wave of hazy neo-psychedelic groups", noting the influence of the "ethereal soundscapes" of bands such as Cocteau Twins.[3] Rolling Stone's Kory Grow described "modern dream pop" as originating with the early 1980s work of Cocteau Twins and their contemporaries,[14] while PopMatters' AJ Ramirez noted an evolutionary line from gothic rock to dream pop.[2] Grow considered Julee Cruise's 1989 album Floating into the Night, written and produced by David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, as a significant development of the dream pop sound which "gave the genre its synthy sheen."[14]

In the early 1990s, some dream pop acts influenced by My Bloody Valentine, such as Seefeel, were drawn to techno and began utilizing elements such as samples and sequenced rhythms.[15] Ambient pop music was described by AllMusic as "essentially an extension of the dream pop that emerged in the wake of the shoegazer movement", distinct for its incorporation of electronic textures.[5]

Much of the music associated with the 2009-coined term "chillwave" could be considered dream pop.[6] In the opinion of Grantland's David Schilling, when "chillwave" was popularized, the discussion that followed among music journalists and bloggers revealed that labels such as "shoegaze" and "dream pop" were ultimately "arbitrary and meaningless".[16]

List of artistsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Anon (n.d.). "Dream Pop". AllMusic.
  2. ^ a b Ramirez, AJ (31 October 2009). ""Bela Lugosi's Dead": 30 Years of Goth, Gloom, and Post-Post-Punk". PopMatters. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Reynolds, Simon (1 December 1991), "Pop View; 'Dream-Pop' Bands Define the Times in Britain", The New York Times, The New York Times Company, retrieved 7 March 2010
  4. ^ Weiss, Dan (6 July 2012). "Slutwave, Tumblr Rap, Rape Gaze: Obscure Musical Genres Explained". LA Weekly.
  5. ^ a b "Ambient Pop". AllMusic.
  6. ^ a b Abebe, Nitsuh (22 July 2011). "Chillin' in Plain Sight". Pitchfork.
  7. ^ a b c Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). The AllMusic Guide to Electronica, Backbeat UK, ISBN 978-0-87930-628-1, p. ix.
  8. ^ Goddard, Michael et al (2013) Resonances: Noise and Contemporary Music, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-1-4411-5937-3
  9. ^ King, Richard (2012). How Soon is Now?: The Madmen and Mavericks who made Independent Music 1975-2005. Faber & Faber. p. 206. ISBN 978-0-571-27832-9.
  10. ^ Tyler, Kieron (17 January 2016). "Reissue CDs Weekly: Still in a Dream - A Story of Shoegaze". The Arts Desk.
  11. ^ a b Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). All Music Guide to Electronica: The Definitive Guide to Electronic Music (4th ed.). Backbeat Books. pp. ix. ISBN 978-0-87930-628-1.
  12. ^ a b Wiseman-Trowse, Nathan (30 September 2008). Performing Class in British Popular Music. Springer. pp. 148–154.
  13. ^ Bergstrom, John (14 January 2011). "George Harrison: All Things Must Pass". PopMatters. Retrieved 1 April 2012.
  14. ^ a b Grow, Kory (25 July 2014). "Dream Team: The Semi-Mysterious Story Behind the Music of 'Twin Peaks'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  15. ^ Reynolds, Simon (1994). "Quique - Seefeel review". Spin. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  16. ^ Schilling, Dave (8 April 2015). "That Was a Thing: The Brief History of the Totally Made-Up Chillwave Music Genre".