Screenshot via Mark Davis on YouTube
Attention vaporwave producers: It's here. The definitive collection. The motherlode. The collection that proves the K in K-Mart is for King of All Music Troves.
What is it? Hours upon hours of tapes played as in-store music in K-Marts between the years 1989 and 1992. Brought to you by K-Mart and the many products advertised as being on its salesfloor in the late 80s and early 90s. Yup, this is all the muzak interspersed with cheery, cheesy corporate sloganeering and cassette hiss you could ever want.
The collection, appropriately called Attention K-Mart Shoppers, was uploaded to Archive.org ten days ago by a user and former K-Mart employee named Mark Davis. It's since gone somewhat viral as various news sites have latched onto what a fascinating resource it is. On the Archive.org page, Davis explains:
In the late 1980's and early 1990's, I worked for Kmart behind the service desk and the store played specific pre-recorded cassettes issued by corporate. This was background music, or perhaps you could call it elevator music. Anyways, I saved these tapes from the trash during this period and this video shows you my extensive, odd collection. Until around 1992, the cassettes were rotated monthly. Then, they were replaced weekly. Finally sometime around 1993, satellite programming was intoduced which eliminated the need for these tapes altogether.
Davis also notes a switch from muzak renditions of songs to popular music around 1991 and adds some commentary about the audio setup in K-Marts (surprisingly sophisticated!). In total, he shared 56 recordings, including a special one that played for one day only on the 30th anniversary of K-Mart. It helpfully offers some historical perspective on what past K-Mart shoppers might have enjoyed.
Anyway, the music is a fascinating look back at the recent past, a time before stores all just threw on satellite radio or Pandora and called it a day. There are doubtless more than a few hidden gems in here, and, more importantly, plenty of shit that will sound so sick when you drop it into your next DJ set in front of a video projector. There are enough in-store announcments in here to power an entire music collective! This is pure flames. Need more proof? Here's a video of Davis explaining the tapes, as well as some choice recordings from the collection. They're all available to stream and download here.
K-Mart 30th Anniversary Program:
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