Dream pop

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 atmosphere and texture as much as melody.[7]

Etymology and usage

See also: Shoegazing

"Dream pop", which is thought to relate to the "immersion" in the music experienced by the listener,[8] was coined in the late 1980s by Alex Ayuli to describe the music of his band A.R. Kane.[9] It was later 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 known in America.[10] Shoegazing is sometimes seen as a part of dream pop.[8][11]


See also: Gothic rock

The AllMusic Guide to Electronica defines dream pop as "an atmospheric subgenre of alternative rock that relies on sonic textures as much as melody".[7] Common characteristics are breathy vocals and use of guitar effects, often producing a "wall of noise".[7][3] In the view of Reynolds, dream pop "celebrates rapturous and transcendent experiences, often using druggy and mystical imagery".[3] Dream pop tends to focus on textures and moods rather than propulsive rock riffs.[12] Vocals are generally breathy or sung in a near-whisper, and lyrics are often introspective or existential in nature.[12] Reynolds, using the term synonymously with "shoe gazers", described dream pop bands as "a wave of hazy neo-psychedelic groups", noting the influence of the "ethereal soundscapes" bands such as Cocteau Twins.[3] PopMatters also noted an evolutionary line from gothic rock to dream pop,[2] while AllMusic stated that the ambient pop genre was "essentially an extension of the dream pop that emerged in the wake of the shoegazer movement".[5] George Harrison's 1970 album All Things Must Pass, with its Wall of Sound and fluid arrangements, led music journalist John Bergstrom to credit it as an influence on dream pop.[13]

List of artists


  1. 1 2 3 Anon (n.d.). "Dream Pop". AllMusic.
  2. 1 2 PopMatters
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 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. Nathaniel Wice / Steven Daly: "The dream pop bands were lionized by the capricious British music press, which later took to dismissing them as "shoegazers" for their affectless stage presence.", Alt. Culture: An A-To-Z Guide to the '90s-Underground, Online, and Over-The-Counter, p.73, HarperCollins Publishers 1995, ISBN 0-0627-3383-4
  5. 1 2 "Ambient Pop". AllMusic.
  6. Abebe, Nitsuh (July 22, 2011). "Chillin' in Plain Sight". Pitchfork.
  7. 1 2 3 Bogdanov, Vladimir (2001). The AllMusic Guide to Electronica, Backbeat UK, ISBN 978-0-87930-628-1, p. ix.
  8. 1 2 Goddard, Michael et al (2013) Resonances: Noise and Contemporary Music, Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN 978-1-4411-5937-3
  9. 4AD: "The studio-based outfit comprised East London duo Alex Ayuli and Rudi Tambala, who described their music as "dreampop"." A.R. Kane short info
  10. Tyler, Kieron (17 January 2016). "Reissue CDs Weekly: Still in a Dream - A Story of Shoegaze". The Arts Desk.
  11. Mendoza, Manuel (1992) "Dream pop takes to the road: Swervedriver puts a modern twist on a classic rock image", The Dallas Morning News, 23 April 1992
  12. 1 2 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.
  13. John Bergstrom, "George Harrison: All Things Must Pass", PopMatters, 14 January 2011, (Retrieved 1 April 2012)
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