Post 1: Aesthetics Exploration Lo-Fi

Chances are high that you’ve already recognized the image featured in this post, the “Lo-Fi Girl,” who can be credited with bringing the Lo-Fi aesthetic to the public eye in recent years.

This aesthetic is mainly known for its music, a genre that consists of low-fidelity sounds to make it sound more aged using background noise, performance mistakes, and poor recording equipment. This musical genre originated from American musician J Dilla and the Japanese musician Nujabes, but it rose to its popularity through Adult Swim’s Bumpers which often featured the music as well as their airing of Shinichiro Watanabe’s Samurai Champloo, whose theme song was written by Nujabes.

lofi beats to relax/study to | Rick and Morty | adult swim - YouTube

[1] Thumbnail from Adult Swim’s Youtube Video: lofi beats to relax/study to | Rick and Morty | adult swim

LoFi Girl joined YouTube on March 18th, 2015, and has since been known to create 24-hour music streams featuring only LoFi music. As of May 2023, the channel has over 1.5 billion views, and as I write this at 11 pm MST, 21 thousand viewers are watching/listening.

Samurai Champloo Music Record: Departure

[2] Thumbnail from battlecry by Nujaves, the theme from Samurai Champloo.

The Lo-Fi visual aesthetic draws on vintage-inspired tones and filters to evoke feelings of nostalgia. Colors are desaturated and toned down for a dated or faded appearance, and cool pastels such as blue and purple are used to create a dreamlike scene. Along with this, we see an intentional degradation of image quality through techniques including visual noise, decreased contrast, static filters, and chromatic aberration. Finally, to add to the themes of longing and nostalgia, images of vintage toys, liminal spaces, VHS tapes, and old photos are commonplace in this aesthetic.

LoFi can be mistaken for Vaporwave, often sharing similar colors and themes, however, Vaporwave features more futuristic and computer-generated or 3D graphics. LoFi often seeks to display beauty in the work life, denoted by many videos/playlists in this genre with titles featuring key phrases such as “study to” or “work to,” and images frequently depict beautiful scenes with an open laptop or a person working at their desk. We will see that this aesthetic mainly takes the form of drawn art in a cartoonish or pixelated style.

The Lofi Aesthetic: Exploring its Meaning and Popularity in Music, Art,  Fashion, and Social Media -

[3] This image depicts a chaotic space filled with old, damaged items and a person at work. Note the pastel colors that make the image feel almost dreamlike. - Craft your focus environment

[4] Images and themes in this genre seek to evoke feelings of nostalgia or longing. This image depicts a liminal space, meant to feel like it could exist anywhere.

ANIMATED Stream Screens Retro Lofi Aesthetic Pastel Overlay Retro Gamer  Room Scene Kawaii Pink - Etsy Sweden

[5] Image by @qwerqcreative – We see here some of the items depicted in this aesthetic, some recent like the Arizona Iced Tea or the Pocky on the desk, and some from another time like the floppy disks, game console, flip phone, and Tomagatchi. These familiar items in this art style bring nostalgia to the viewer.

Lofi Aesthetic - Album by Aesthetic Music | Spotify

[6] This is an actual photo edited to fit the LoFi style, we see the old TV set on a torn-up floor by a poorly painted wall. We can also tell that the image has been edited to add text and filters that further match the aesthetic.

This aesthetic is a kind of post-pop take, teetering into the realms of indie. It is best known for its music, and its visual aspects used as accompaniments to the soft tones and beats that mark the genre. The combination of music and visuals is meant to calm and relax its audience.

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Hello Noah, your post initially caught my attention because of the “Lo-fi Girl” image, like you first stated, but also because I like this aesthetic and I wanted to learn more information about it. After reviewing your exploration and synthesis of the topic, I was able to learn a substantial amount of new information about the aesthetic. Please tell us about what led you to discover
    and maintain this interest in this aesthetic. Was it due to its rise in popularity or something else? I think you did a good job at formatting your entire post as well as the content within; I was able to follow along and connect all of your points to the main idea. I especially enjoyed the wide range of information. Like your background information on the topic and how it rose to popularity from Adult Swim, which I previously did not know. As well as the strategies behind this aesthetic like specific colors, vintage styles and other great points you shared. I too find this style calming and relaxing and use it to study. By reading your post I am able to understand the purpose behind this now popular aesthetic and why thousands of other people listen to it. Overall your post was very informative and engaging, good job!

    • Hi Emilee, thanks for the feedback. I can’t remember the first time I came across Lo-Fi but it was likely from the LoFi Girl video on YouTube. I came to enjoy the music through further exploration, and I found that it kind of resembles jazz, and some artists even pull samples from popular jazz artists, like “I Fall in Love Too Easily” by Caleb Belin, which samples a song by the same name by Chet Barker. It has more of a pop tone that I like, and it makes its own genre using some influences that I have previously enjoyed. The calming and nostalgic images that are associated well encompass the sound I know from the genre, so the aesthetic as a whole really speaks to me.

  • Jace Aschbrenner
    January 25, 2024 6:10 pm

    Hello Noah,
    This is a really cool in-depth exploration of Lofi. I have used these videos multiple times in studying.
    As I read your analysis, I was pretty shocked by how consistent and detailed the facets of these images and sounds are. It was really interesting to see those blend together to evict the exact emotions that I have felt while playing this. It is a really strong point of your analysis to explain all of those styles and methods that create the Lofi aesthetic.
    Something that would interest me as a continuation is why this specific aesthetic has such a strong psychological impact on people that made it go viral. Also, does it have a connection to doctor’s offices and such that employ design and music aesthetics to calm patients? It seems to key on the emotions connected to the days of relaxing and carelessness before the world got so hard, but it would be great to hear what you think about it too!

    • Hi Jace, thanks for your comment. I think that this aesthetic has a strong impact on people because of the specific nostalgia it evokes. The images use old technology and toys as subjects and filters reminiscent of old cameras. The music I think pulls from some jazz with more pop tones to it that speaks to people with the old piano but maintains popularity through the new tones imposed on it. I like your connection to doctor’s offices, I think that it has a similar vibe to background music of scenes that are similar to that, like elevator music, but it has some more interesting characteristics that keep the audience engaged, even when they use it to study to.


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