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Lovecore is the wholesome internet aesthetic celebrating romance all year round

By Malavika Pradeep

Jun 6, 2021

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This morning Aesthetic Wiki’s Discord server was jam-packed with users trying to remember the name of an aesthetic that involves wolves and neon lights. As I played an invisible piano over my keyboard in hopes of flossing the term off from the tip of my tongue, I realised how we often define an aesthetic using multiple adjectivesnot knowing that there is an entire community out there dedicated to channelling it. The latest on this list is ‘lovecore’. What we once used to define as “that lovey-dovey style” is now a full-fledged aesthetic with a cult-like following on TikTok and Tumblr.

What is lovecore?

Think Valentine’s Day, but all the time. Lovecore is an internet aesthetic that blends the hyper-femininity of cottagecore and soft girl with Valentine’s Day motifs like hearts, boxes of chocolate, lipstick, cupids and love letters. Labelled as a “visual culture of manufactured romance and affection,” the aesthetic focuses on a wholesome celebration of love rather than its erotic counterparts. On these terms, the official jam for lovecorists is Crush by Tessa Violet. Remember how Violet overthinks and turns all shades of pink? That’s the foregone wholesomeness lovecore channels.

In terms of visuals, lovecore is synonymous with bouquets, frosted cakes, candies, angel wings, stuffed animals and absolutely anything that is heart-shaped in tints and tones of red, pink and white. Frequent imagery also includes blushing anime girls with hearts for eyes. If this imagery intensifies, the aesthetic then gets looped into a subcategory called Yandere.

Lovecorists can be found donning a mix of lingerie, satin dresses, angel wings and formal date wear. Specific pieces in this regard are heart-printed garments and accessories, satin slip dresses, fitted turtlenecks and crop tops with feminine trims and details. If you are ever bestowed with the honour of dating a lovecorist, remember that they love baking, writing love letters, holding hands, cuddling and going out on fluffy dates.

 

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The lovechild of romance and nostalgia

On TikTok, #lovecore has amassed over 15 million views with content creators on a roll to make it one of the most positive hashtags on the platform. Lovecorists here are often found baking cherry-laden cakes, giving room tours, crocheting heart-shaped mug rugs and suggesting playlists to channel the aesthetic as an entire subculture. Data from Google Trends for the search term ‘lovecore aesthetic’ picture a dynamic graph where lovecore has even witnessed peaks in July 2020—quite far away from the retreating showers of Valentine’s Day if you ask me.

Then there is Etsy and Depop. On the former, lovecore is linked to strawberry earrings, wigs, bubble blowers, Kandi lighter cases and brooches. Curated searches on Depop feature satin dresses, lacy corsets and Crocs charms—all dipped head to toe in a bucketful of hearts. A quick scroll among the 235 thousand posts under #lovecore on Instagram, on the other hand, would tumble you down a rabbit hole full of Sanrio’s famous characters.

From Kuromi to Hello Kitty, these characters are often featured as graphic motifs embodying the nostalgic love for an era rooted in self-love and positivity. This nostalgic obsession of lovecore with Sanrio characters is part of a broader movement towards childhood innocence and connections that is already engulfing aesthetics like kidcore.

Lovecore is all about feeling the love for the pieces you wear. Since hyper-femininity plays a huge role in the aesthetic, Betsey Johnson is essentially looped in as a representative. One of the most iconic looks associated with lovecore is Lirika Matoshi’s strawberry midi-dress, which Tess Holiday wore to the 2020 Grammys. Although it originally retails for $490, knock-offs costing no more than $20 are now available on Amazon for those looking to nail the aesthetic without busting their pastel piggy banks.

 

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One of the most important aspects of lovecore is its versatility. The aesthetic can be both maximalist or minimalist depending on the wearer’s taste. One can either go full-blown Betsey Johnson with chunky charms and Hello Kitty hair clips or choose to keep it subtle with heart-shaped earrings tucked behind soft curls.

The appeal of lovecore is not just limited to fashion, it is also tapped as a medium of self-expression within the LGBTQ+ community. “I spent my entire youth hating myself and the concept of hetero romance didn’t interest me at all,” shared Tumblr user femmesweetheart, who runs a blog dedicated to the aesthetic. In an interview with NYLON, the 24-year-old admitted her obsession with love in all its forms after being a part of the LGBTQ+ community herself. For her, lovecore means baking heart-shaped cookies, listening to La Vie En Rose and wishing only the best for others.

Subgenres of the aesthetic

Lovecore is also known as heartcore, crushcore and cupidcore among its fanbase. However, the aesthetic should not be confused with angelcore or romantic academia even though they are backed with similar principles. In terms of its subgenres, lovecore can be divided into two:

1. Pagano lovecore

Pagano lovecore focuses on the iconography of love in Greco-Roman mythology and the Italian Renaissance, rather than Christian traditions. Common motifs under the subculture include marble statues, doves, old jewellery and ancient love poems. Aphrodite, Eros and Adonis are the major figures present in Pagano lovecore. The subgenre also harbours an overlap with dark academia in terms of its obsession with ancient Greek literature.

 

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2. Shakespearean lovecore

Shakespearean lovecore has a heavy focus on the element of romance as depicted in the works of famed playwright William Shakespeare. Remember how I mentioned that lovecorists enjoy writing love letters? In this regard, the subgenre revolves around Shakespeare due to the common portrayal of romance in his works. Common motifs and values in Shakespearean lovecore include poetry, antique furniture, forbidden/tragic love and architecture depicted in the time period of his plays.

 

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With all that said, lovecore can be concluded as a celebration in itself. A celebration of loveno matter the day, time or occasion. And in an era where even little gestures of love go a long way, the more the frills, the better.

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Lovecore is the wholesome internet aesthetic celebrating romance all year round


By Malavika Pradeep

Jun 6, 2021

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Opinion

How the internet trend bardcore helped us deal with 2020

By Marie Dalle

Sep 17, 2020

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Internet culture

Sep 17, 2020

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If at some point during the recent quarantine you found yourself lost on YouTube searching for some mindless entertainment, you might have come across medieval-style renditions of famous pop songs. Appearing suddenly in YouTube recommendations at the whim of their obscure algorithm, these covers are part of a booming internet musical genre dubbed ‘bardcore’, or sometimes ‘tavernwave’—the origins of these names are obscure but they mirror larger internet trends such as cottagecore or vaporwave. What exactly is the new internet trend bardcore, and why did it gain popularity during the coronavirus pandemic?

Following its very sudden rise in the middle of the pandemic, bardcore music has now built a solid fan base and is sparking creativity across a variety of mediums and platforms. From YouTube to TikTok, the bardcore hashtags are filled with everything from plain old shitposts to carefully created content.

If the exercise of recreating contemporary tracks with medieval instruments isn’t new to the internet, the trend had a boom on Youtube when, in late April 2020, user Cornelius Link posted a medieval-style instrumental cover of Tony Igy’s Astronomia, the track made famous by the then-trending Coffin Dance meme. The video quickly garnered a lot of attention and now boasts over 3 million views.

Another YouTube user going by the nickname Hildegard Von Blingin’ (borrowed from Saint Hildegard Von Bingen, an abbess, philosopher and lyrical composer from 12th Century Germany) then contributed to the spread of the bardcore trend with medieval-style covers of songs such as Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance or Haddaway’s What is Love, recorded with adapted Old English lyrics. Hildegard’s YouTube channel, which started in late May 2020, now counts over 22 million consecutive views, a testament to the fast growth of the bardcore trend.

Bardcore has now taken over YouTube with more and more covers by various contributors being posted every day. You can find a bardcore track for every taste, from Eiffel 65’s eurodance classic I’m Blue to Shakira’s Hips Don’t Lie. The trend is also expanding to other platforms, with a dedicated subreddit. Discord servers for peasant roleplay, Tumblr blogs curating medieval content and TikTok comedy skits about life in the Dark Ages. Even if bardcore started as an online musical genre, it could lead to a larger trend of 21st century medieval revival, a kind of neo-New Age for the digital era.

Where the rise of the cottagecore trend can be explained by young people’s desire to move away from cities and live an idealised simple life in the countryside, it seems at first harder to understand the sudden online fascination for (western) medieval life and culture.

Before the term ‘bardcore’ even appeared on the internet, there were some early signs of a medieval revival trend: the multiplication of Bayeux tapestry-inspired memes, the recent Instagram craze for DIY medieval-style corsets or the eye-catching chainmail dresses designed by Julien Dossena for Paco Rabanne’s Fall 2020 collection. On the surface, the advent of bardcore seems to simply be the product of intense quarantine boredom and a lucky push from the YouTube algorithm which is helping this upcoming trend grow to prominence.

But there’s something about the year 2020 that evokes to us our pop culture view of the medieval times: a global plague, constant social and political instability, tyrannic feudal rulers using armed forces to reinforce their power, people trusting superstitions over science and visible inequalities. These are things we’ve pictured in the past, we seem to be in these Dark Ages that our culture has imagined, although numerous historians agree that the medieval times weren’t as bad as we have a tendency to portray them nowadays.

Many people, especially young people, have been living with the feeling of impending doom for some time now. The climate emergency and the rise of inequalities have exacerbated the idea that our civilisation could very much be on the brink of collapse, if not a full-on apocalypse. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only added to it, showcasing the shortcomings of our current systems and reinforcing the idea that the world as we know it could be about to end.

There’s something quite medieval about fearing the end of the world in the middle of a plague, so why not make memes about it? Consciously or not, the rise of bardcore as both a music genre and an overall aesthetic feels like an ironic, if not nihilistic, take on our current reality. Are we all powerless peasants again, destined to wait for the world to end while serving capitalist lords accumulating wealth while the rest of the people suffer?

Bardcore content is funny in its anachronism and its absurdity, but it is also rooted in interesting parallels between medieval and contemporary times. It shows us that even if times are dark and the end might be nigh, there’s still humour and creativity to be drawn from it. Even during a plague or under the rule of controversial leaders, people still manage to create beautiful things like artists did for centuries during the Middle Ages.

If the world were to slowly descend into a new dark age, it only seems natural to look back at medieval times for inspiration. Bardcore is a way for young generations to confront that impending feeling of doom with absurd humour while also building new communities around shared interests. After all, the world might be ending but the memes were fun.

How the internet trend bardcore helped us deal with 2020


By Marie Dalle

Sep 17, 2020

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