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Synthwave is a form of electronic music that takes most of its inspiration from music and pop culture from the 1980s. Musically, synthwave is often instrumental and has a "futuristic" theme, with large, throbbing, retro synths. House influenced heavy drums (often side-chained) are also very popular. It draws inspiration from a variety of genres that originated and/or was most popular during the 1980s, including, but not limited to, , Progressive Electronic, , Electro-Disco and other derivative styles.

The origins of synthwave can be traced back to French scene in the mid-2000s. Artists such as Kavinsky combined music with elements of 1980s electronic music, complete with 1980s inspired artwork. Soon after, several French producers, such as College, Anoraak and Minitel Rose began producing similar styled music. There has also been some synthwave soundtracks, such as Drive and Hotline Miami.

Synthwave albums are generally arranged in a style that is similar to a film soundtrack, film score, television music or video game music album. The visual element of synthwave is important as well. Album covers are heavily influenced by 1980s films (especially science fiction and action movies, such as Blade Runner, Tron or The Terminator), TV shows (specifically Miami Vice and Knight Rider), video games (notably OutRun and similar titles), and other elements important in 1980s culture.

Many record labels have been set up dedicated to this sound (the most important being the French label Valerie, and the Canadian label Rosso Corsa Records), and a slew of producers have emerged from around the world, as the scene continues to flourish.

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