Passion Blog #8: All the Love for Lo-Fi

Recently, my music taste has shifted slightly.  I always used to be the kid that LOVED singing along to songs with powerful lyrics, but now I’ve grown to appreciate instrumental tracks a lot more.  Instead of looking at an album for this blog post, I wanted to highlight one of the new genres that has helped me get through grad school (thus far).  Introducing my new favorite music genre, lo-fi.

Lo-fi cover animation. Image courtesy of ChilledCow on YouTube.

Lo-fi music has become increasingly popular in recent years.  Instead of popular artists and lyrics you can belt in your car, lo-fi surrounds you with soothing beats, giving anyone who listens a calming sensation.  You can often find people listening to lo-fi music during study sessions, relaxing at home after a long day, or even while cooking (yes, there are playlists for that!). 

While the lo-fi I listen to usually consists of unknown tracks, some artists have started creating lo-fi covers of popular songs to appeal to new audiences.  On Spotify, Lofi Fruits has an entire playlist of tracks that cover and sample well-known songs.  These include anything from Owl City’s “Fireflies” to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”.  Another popular lo-fi follow is ChilledCow, who curates playlists on both Spotify and YouTube, allowing you to listen and study along with the moving character “Lofi Girl” on the screen. 

Example of the lo-fi work from Lofi Fruits.
Example of the lo-fi playlists from ChilledCow (aka Lo-Fi Girl).

One of the things I love so much about this genre is how incredibly niche people get with their playlist titles and curations.  ChilledCow is the perfect example of this, as their channel consists of lo-fi beats to play during various hours of a late-night study session.  Another creator, Closed on Sunday, has even created lo-fi versions of Star Wars themes, giving fans the chance to bask in big movie moments while studying for an upcoming exam.  Lo-fi allows for such unique creativity, and anyone who creates these types of beats truly belongs at the table in this industry. 

Star Wars lo-fi from Closed on Sunday.

With lo-fi continuing to rise in popularity, it may inspire a shift in music over the coming years.  Forbes writer Andrea Zarczynski mentions that “the low barrier to entry and high accessibility and replay value of lofi hip-hop makes it a welcoming space for budding artists,” which could allow for new talent to be discovered (2021).  I have always been drawn to lesser-known artists, since I find it much more fun to know and love artists no one has exposed to the world yet.  If some of these artists can create a wave of appreciation for new musicians and lo-fi as a whole, the industry could see a huge shift in its sound and production.

Lo-fi’s presence is also incredibly valued during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  Since the start of quarantine, people have used lo-fi as a way to meet others and create an online community while in isolation.  Most lo-fi streams offer a live chat function, which allows all viewers to share an open dialogue with each other.  Nick Stafford, a lo-fi channel operator, was quoted in The Verge saying that he wanted his channel to be a “safe place for anyone to openly discuss these trials and tribulations life has to offer,” which is a pretty beautiful thing (2020).  Sometimes, all a person needs is to hear that someone else is struggling like them, and from that moment, random strangers can help each other heal.  With lo-fi giving people the comfort to do this, the genre is helping individuals in a much greater fashion. 

As we continue to navigate the pandemic and eventually return to ‘normalcy’, I fully expect that lo-fi will remain a critical part of the music industry.  People have grown so used to its soothing rhythms and easy listening value that it would be hard to just drop the music style altogether.  I mean, I’m sitting in my room writing this with some beats in the background, so clearly my study habits have been forever changed thanks to lo-fi! It will be exciting to see how this style of music continues to shift and change as more people become exposed to it, and I can’t wait to witness it all unfold.

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