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Aughts Nostalgia Strikes Again

Is it just me or does it seem like almost every new song is a remix, reboot or cover of a song from the early 2000's? We all know that what's old is new again and with Gen Z discovering these renewed trends in fashion, beauty and other cultural arenas for the first time, it's no wonder that tunes from the late 90's and early aughts have resurfaced.

About every twenty years, new generational twists on the past regenerate, making flashy entrances to the cultural zeitgeist. But this time, it feels a little different. It could be that millennials are just not ready to accept that what was cool when they were growing up is now old enough to "renew", or perhaps it's the intense wave of 90s/00s nostalgia that has made its way through almost every sector of consumerism that makes it seem like everything today is all about that time period. Whatever it is, it's working - Gen Z artists and producers know what was successful back then, so reusing and sampling these familiar beats while putting a new spin on it is a way in to the current music scene. And not to mention, the nostalgic tracks are comforting to millennials - win-win.

According to online sampling record store, Tracklib, every week at least 20 songs out of the Billboard Top 100 contain sampled music (taking portions of originally released music for a new production). In fact, in looking at the sampling trends of 2022, nearly 1 out of every 5 hits used samples. It's been a steady rise each year, with 2022 increasing to 31% compared to the last three years. And the most popular decade to sample? No surprise here - the 2000s had an increase of 24% compared to the previous year, turning that era into the "new nostalgia for younger producers". Tracklib explains how this marks a turning point for the music industry, with Gen Z's producers creating music using what they see as nostalgic.

In December, The New York Times ran an article by Jon Caramanica positing this very idea. Caramanica explains how, throughout last year, musical artists from numerous genres deployed the nostalgia strategy, as many of the catchiest songs of 2022 functioned as "both custodians of old memories and triggers of new ones". Artists anticipated this reaction, "relying on pre-loved hits" to leverage the intense emotional evocation of listeners. The two targeted audiences here - millennials enticed by the nostalgic aughts cues and Gen Zers newly exposed to the tried and true beats - make for an easy reception to the latest released music.

How does all this relate to fragrance? It's right in line with the nostalgia era of scent development. Perfumers, fragrance developers and marketers apply the same thinking of leveraging something familiar to grab the consumers' initial interest and twist it in an innovative way to present newness. What does this look like, conceptually? Take, for example, that super sweet vanilla note so loved by millennials in the early 2000s that a single whiff takes one back to the days of low-rise jeans and layered, popped-collared polo shirts (the former also making its 2020s resurgence). "Remix" it with bold, post-pandemic freshness (like zingy ginger or spicy pink pepper) to pique the interest of unabashed, confidence-touting Gen Zers. Now that's the start to a fragrance recipe both key audiences can get behind.

I think we’ll see plenty of this approach in 2023’s fragrance launches. From mass to niche, DTC to brick and mortar, citrus to oud - there’s one thing today’s consumer cannot get enough of - nostalgia. And we have it in spades.

To accompany this post, we’ve created a Spotify playlist of songs released in the last year, all of which sample, remix or cover songs from the past. Almost all of them sample from the early to mid 2000s. Listen, take a stroll down memory lane, and revel in the days of Y2K yore.

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