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Dream Pop, its history and inventors



Dream pop emerged in the 1980s and gained prominence in the early 1990s. It is characterised by its ethereal, atmospheric sound and introspective lyrics. The style grew out of alternative rock and is known for its use of reverb-heavy guitar effects, and layered vocals. It often incorporates elements of shoegaze, new wave and electronic music.


The early days of Dream Pop


The origins of dream pop can be traced back to the 1980s when a group of indie rock and post-punk rock bands began experimenting with more atmospheric and introspective sounds.


The genre evolved over time with influences from a number of different artists and bands. Some of the earliest bands that incorporated elements of dream pop into their music include Cocteau Twins, The Cure, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, who were active in the 1980s.


Cocteau Twins in particular were often credited with helping to pioneer the dream pop sound with their use of ethereal vocals, reverb-heavy guitar effects, and reflective lyrics. Their most successful album was “Heaven and Las Vegas” in 1990. Their music had a heavy influence on many dream pop bands that emerged in the 1990s and beyond.


The 1990s and 2000s


Post-1980s, dream pop became an increasingly popular genre, with many bands and artists emerging within the scene. Some of the most popular dream pop singers and bands include My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Lush, and Mazzy Star. These artists are known for their unique otherworldly wound, which combines ethereal vocals, swirling guitar effects, and electronic beats. You can hear an example of dream pop with “Fade Into You”, Mazzy Star’s most successful mainstream hits.


The music style of dream pop


One of the most defining features of dream pop is its brooding and self-reflective lyrics, often exploring themes of love, loss, and the human experience. Many dream pop songs are characterised by their slow, moody tempos and a sense of wistfulness or nostalgia.


In recent years, dream pop has experienced a resurgence with many newer bands drawing inspiration from the genre’s ethereal sound and inward-looking lyrics. Dream pop artists still active in the present day include:


  • Beach House: An American band that has been active since 2004. They have released seven studio albums, including “7”, which was released in 2018.

  • Chromatics: They have been active since 2001 and is known doe their dark, atmospheric sound and retro-influenced aesthetic. They have released several albums including “Kill for Love” in 2012 and “Closer to Grey” in 2019.

  • The Radio Company: Active since 2016, the American band is known for their upbeat, and melodic sound. They have released two studio albums, including their most recent, “The Radio Company” in 2019.


Interested in learning dream pop? You can find the music of the artists mentioned above and ask your music teachers to teach you how to create atmospheric and melodic music by playing some songs by the Cocteau Twins or Beach House.


Check out our electric guitar or digital keyboard programs to help you play dream pop music!


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