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Shoegazing is a style of alternative rock that emerged from the United Kingdom in the late 1980s. It lasted until the mid 1990s, peaking circa 1990 to 1993.
The British music press (notably NME and Melody Maker) called this genre “shoegazing” because the musicians in these bands often maintained a motionless performing style, standing on stage and staring down at their effects pedals while playing their instruments (hence, the idea that they were gazing at their shoes). The shoegazing sound featured extensive use of guitar effects, and indistinguishable vocal melodies that blended into the creative noise of the guitars. Few shoegazers were dynamic performers or interesting interviewees, which prevented them from breaking through into markets in the United States. A lump description given to shoegaze bands in London in the early 1990s was “The Scene That Celebrates Itself.” In the 1990s, shoegaze groups were pushed aside by the likes of American grunge and britpop, forcing bands to breakup or evolve into a different style. Recent times have seen a renewed interest in the genre, among so-called “nu-gaze/newgaze” bands.
See also: the Shoegaze discussion group on Last.fm.