Shoegaze Music: A Dreamy Journey Through the Top 5 Greatest Hits

Shoegaze a dreamy genre

Shoegaze is a mad underrated music genre, and it’s not the first one that would be suggested in your Spotify feed.

That’s why we’ve put together the top five greatest hits of shoegaze music (with a little bonus at the end) to let you know how much of a vibe it is.

Navigating the ethereal sounds of shoegaze

Shoegaze has its roots in the second half of the 20th century. Influential collectives like The Ronettes, and the Velvet Underground paved the way to this new music genre.

What is a shoegaze song? It’s a dreamy composition, using ethereal lead sounds from guitars and keys within a distorted and reverbed mix of various instruments, including vocals.

The UK was the pioneer of shoegaze, along with many other genres in that period. You can definitely see the common ground that post-punk shares with shoegaze bands. To cite some of post-punk and shoegaze greats, we can see respectively how The Throbbing Gristle and the Cocteau Twins were the ultimate vibe back in the 90s.

The golden age of shoegaze

Since words are never enough to describe music. We present you a selection of five of the best shoegaze songs in its golden age, the 1990s.

Plus, we’ll have a look at one of the viral TikTok songs that made shoegaze music take a refreshing twist.

1.   Lush – ‘Sweetness and Light’ (1990)

This banger from the famous band Lush passed as one of the most famous hits of shoegaze mainly because of the (underrated) talent of the lead singer Miki Berenyi. The multi-instrumentalist, who was behind all the artistic and stylistic choices of the group, gives with her celestial voice a four-minute session of complete levitation.

2.   Swervedriver – ‘Duel’ (1993)

The same thing described above happens in “Duel”, the track which made the band Swervedriver known to a global audience. While the vocals seem to be mixed lower than the other instruments, we can say that the main purpose is to highlight the beautiful mess that makes you feel lost while listening to it.

3.   Ride – ‘Vapour Trail’ (1990)

This is a literal triumph of sounds that transcends into the final progression of chords guitar-to-cello. The whining voice of the guitarist Andy Bell results ultimately in a melancholic, but beautiful rollercoaster of emotions.

4.   Slowdive – ‘Alison’ (1993)

It’s wonderful how the song’s lyrics start off with “listen close and don’t be stoned,” as if the singer is trying to greet us and let us know that we’re going to be embarking on a dreamy and loud adventure. This shoegaze hit is both one of the most appreciated yet most hated songs of the genre, which has made Slowdive’s longevity very short-lived.

5.   My Bloody Valentine – ‘Only Shallow’ (1991)

Probably shoegaze’s most loved band, My Bloody Valentine exploits fully the reverbed and distorted guitar in a way that has made them famous all over the place. The soul of this track is really something you will remember after listening to it.

6.   (Bonus) Beach House – ‘Space Song’ (2015)

Last, but surely not least, here’s the song that we decided to put in as a bonus.

‘Space Song’ really became famous because of the recent social media trends, usually to contour the sad scenario of TikTok and Instagram memes. The veil of sadness that this was associated with, makes you realize that shoegaze is not dead. Instead, we can start to talk about the 2nd generation of shoegaze, being brought back to life by these viral videos and memes posted online.

What will shoegaze have in store for us?

We could’ve talked more about other influences and genres related to it, like post-punk, dream-pop, or grunge. Or we could’ve even dealt with collectives that now are taking over the shoegaze’s 2nd generation, like Cigarettes After Sex, the Beach Fossils and such.

However, this article was meant to inform, educate, and contribute to the discovery of a very underrated genre, that will serve as a steppingstone for you to start listening to shoegaze.

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Written by Gabriele Luchetti

Gabriele Luchetti is a music journalist based out near Rome, Italy. He writes on various scenes including hip-hop, post-punk and different music trends of the day.

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