To get in the mood for writing my retro-futuristic romance fiction, I listen to a lot of synthwave. It’s kind of hard to explain if you’re not familiar with the genre, but you’ll know it once you hear it.
Think 80s synth music, but fuller, cleaner, polished and modern, yet with that distinct longing for a distant halcyon era. It’s sometimes described as “nostalgia for a future that never happened”—that’s the kind of future I like to write about.
So grab a cup of tea, a cherry cola, a FIJI artesian water or malted milkshake, and enjoy a little retrofuture love.
10. Let’s Talk — FM-84
One of my all-time favourites, this song captures the sweet sad moods I wanted for Sofia and Alexei in The Only Question That Matters. It’s a story of heartbreak and hope, of flowers that bloom after the rain, a love that perhaps, one day, could be.
9. Time After Time — Gunship
An absolutely sublime cover of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time by British synthwave band, Gunship. It’s a dreamy take on an already gorgeous track that any 80s nostalgic will fall in love with.
8. Sunset — The Midnight
A touch more upbeat is this great track by my favourite band, The Midnight. It’s fresh, it’s synth-y, and it’s the perfect soundtrack for a rebellious new adult romance vibe.
7. Do It Again — Trevor Something
I had this one on repeat when I wrote It Starts With A Kiss. With such a great balance of optimism, carefree and oh, this moment means everything, it’s the perfect song to steal a kiss to.
6. Crystal Ships — Michael Oakley
Some definite retro throwbacks with this one. I don’t know about you, but I’m picturing an angsty but wholesome 80s teen drama. Teal, pink and mullets everywhere, and a heartbroken guy in a white suit and wayfarers, crooning to a star-studded sky above a Miami shoreline.
5. Nightcall — Kavinsky
Ryan Gosling fans should recognise this Kavinsky track from Drive (2011). It’s been a staple on my playlists for a while. A dumpy-beat sound as sultry as this creates just the right mood for a dark romance or erotica with a touch of danger.
4. Tangled — Le Flex
More synthpop than synthwave, I’ve been told, but it’s all the same to me when we’re talking sweet, crushy romantic feels. This is a pretty song for hopeful heroines/heroes and their cinnamon roll love interests. In space, of course.
3. Girl — Timecop1983
I wasn’t sure whether to include this one, as the lyrics make me kind of sad. But then again, isn’t that what celebrating nostalgia is all about? I think the best description I’ve ever read of this track went something like this: “a dreamy pop song that dials up the celestial and serves up heaping spoonfuls of uplift.” (source)
2. Your Love (September 87 remix) — Droid Bishop
Beautiful and dreamy. This is the song you’d make out to with your special person as your survival pod enters the gravity well of the nearest habitable planet, the two of you making the most of this quiet time before you’re rockside and searching for your shipmates.
1. Run Away With Me — Moonrunner83
Finally, let’s leave off with this beauty of a track. Now pop your varsity jacket on, hop in my spaceship, and we’ll fly towards the neon sunset. Our HEA awaits us at the edge of the galaxy 😘