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Lounge music history

Related: ambient - Balearic - exotica - music - space age pop - trip hop

Exotica (1956) - Martin Denny

The Exciting Sounds of Martin Denny: Exotica/Exotica, Vol. I & II - Martin Denny [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


"Lounge music" refers to music played in the lounges and bars of hotels and casinos. Generally, the performers include a singer and one or two other musicians. The performers play or "cover" songs composed by others.

"Lounge music" is also often used to describe laid-back electronic music, also named Downtempo.

Patrons of the lounge often request the performers to play music which the performers are ill-equipped musically to play. For example, a duo of a singer and a piano player could be requested to perform "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin. The resultant performance could be considered as bad music, a parody or both.

An example of the stereotypical interaction between the lounge musician and the audience is found in this following exchange:

Audience member: Do you know Rhapsody In Blue?
Lounge musician: No, but hum a few bars and I'll fake it.

While the performers are often minimally paid, many people attempting a musical career start as lounge musicians. For example, the Beatles performed first as a lounge act at a bar in Hamburg, Germany. Billy Joel worked as a lounge musician and penned the song "Piano Man" about his experience.

Comedians have long lampooned lounge singers. The "Vegas Lounge Singer" was lampooned famously by Andy Kaufman as Tony Clifton.

However, lounge music has enjoyed brief resurgences in popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, led by deliberately ironic figures such as Buster Poindexter and Jaymz Bee. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lounge_music [Jun 2005]

Lounge (easy listening) refers to a strain of easy listening music from the '50s and '60s that was based on the lush styles of latter-day swing and big band music. Lounge scaled these back, borrowing ideas from the worldbeat exploration of exotica, as well as the futuristic aspirations of space age pop. Lounge wasn't as adventurous as either form, yet it wasn't as watered down as Muzak — instead, it occupied the middle ground, appealing to fans of traditional pop as well as space-age pop. [It rose again to tremendous popularity during the nineties] -- allmusic.com


Downtempo (or Down Tempo, or DownTempo) is a laid-back electronic music style often intended more for listening and socializing than dancing, though some releases are unmistakably produced for the dance floor. Often the names lounge music or chill out are used to refer to songs demonstrative of the genre, but those names also refer to other styles of music, and downtempo encompasses a wider variety of styles than those terms alone would indicate.

The downtempo genre draws heavily on dub, hip hop, jazz, funk, soul, drum 'n' bass, ambient, and pop and is often confused and/or mated with closely-related styles like IDM, trip hop, and acid jazz.

Kruder & Dorfmeister from Austria and Thievery Corporation from the United States are amongst the most well-known bands of the genre. Both founded their own influential labels: G-stone and Eighteenth Street Lounge. Other important labels promoting downtempo music are Stereo Deluxe (Germany), Grand Central (UK), and Tru Thoughts (UK). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downtempo [Jun 2005]

Chill out music

Chill out (sometimes chillout), a term derived from a slang injunction to relax, emerged in the early and mid-1990s as a catch-all term for various styles of relatively mellow, slow-tempo music made by contemporary producers in the electronic music scene. A number of compilations with "Chill Out" in their titles were released in the mid-1990s and beyond, helping to establish the genre as being very closely related to downtempo and trip hop but also incorporating, especially in the early 2000s, slower varieties of house music, nu-jazz, and lounge music. The genre also includes some forms of trance music, ambient music, and IDM, and it has entirely subsumed the older genre Balearic Beat, although that term is still used interchangeably with chill out. Chill out is generally tonal, relaxing (or at least not as "intense" as other music from the styles it draws from), and generally does not incorporate music that emphasizes "hard," "deep," or particularly hypnotic rhythms.

An entire culture surrounding chill out music has evolved, with many fashionable bars and clubs, designed with a retro or futuristic ambience, devoted to the genre. Ministry of Sound in London has hosted many chill out events in places such as Ibiza and there are hundreds of mix compilation titles including the words "chill out" or just "chill" that cater for the chill out audience. As of 2005 "chill out" is recognized by all major UK dance magazines and their charts.

The chill out styles are similar to the Leftfield scene inspired by the band of that name. There are many bands that make chill out music, such as Lemon Jelly and the aptly named Chillage People; DJs that specialise in chill out like Youth, Alex Patterson, Dr. Chill, Unity Dub, The Only Michael, Chris Coco, Pete Lawrence and Mixmaster Morris, the latter known for having released Global Chillage; organisations that focus on this style like Portugal's Chillout Zone and Liquid; record labels like Liquid Sound Design, Vagalume, Ultimae and Interchill; and events such as The Big Chill and Sundaze. Often music is mixed with video art mixed by VJs with gentle, relaxing images of nature or electronic graphics.

The Big Chill festival is a large annual event catering for chilled out clubbers and families in Eastnor Castle, Worcestershire with resident acts including Gilles Peterson and Norman Jay. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chill_out_%28music%29 [Mar 2006]

Easy listening music

Easy listening music is a style of popular music which emerged in the mid-20th century and which is smooth, pleasant and undemanding on the ear. It features simple, catchy melodies, cool, laid-back harmonics and rhythms suitable for dancing. While it is mostly instrumental music, Burt Bacharach in particular became famous for his songs.

The term has usually been applied negatively in the years since this style went out of fashion. More neutral terms used by adherents of this style today include lounge and lounge core, connecting it to the cocktail lounge culture of the 1960s and 1970s. Since this style of music is rather unknown to the younger generations, the term easy listening is often incorrectly applied to soft pop or new age music. However, it can be applied to the Beautiful Music FM radio format of the 1960s through the 1980s. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easy_listening [Jun 2005]


Artists to do:


  1. Buddha Bar Vol.1 (2000) - Compiled by Claude Challe [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK] Disque : 1 1. Weather Storm(Craig Armstrong) 2. Straight To The Heart(Sina Vodjani) 3. Kitu(Deepak Ram) 4. Anni Rose(Tulku) 5. What Will Be?(Zeava Ben) 6. The Merciful One(Zohar) 7. La Soledad(Pink Martini) 8. Un Bel Di(Aria) 9. Une Table à Trois(Zen Men) 10. El Fuego(Zen Men) 11. Shalom(Anima Sound System) 12. Guru Brambha(Jai Uttal) 13. Meena Devi(Tulku) 14. Gypsy Rain(Armen Chakmakian) Disque : 2 1. 68 (Original Mix)(Anima Sound System) 2. Touareg(Le Duc) 3. Skin (Original Abstract Mix)(Mkl;Soy Sos) 4. Drifting Away(Faithless) 5. Psique(Intro) 6. Two Wrongs Making It Right(Kevin Yost) 7. Feeling Good(Huff & Herb) 8. All By Myself(So Emotional) 9. Flying High(Byron Stingily) 10. Piya Re Piya Re (Remix)(Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan) 11. Eshebo(Etti Ankry) 12. Shaft(Malik Adouane) 13. Elveda(Metin Arolat) 14. Demasiado Corazon(Willy De Ville)

  2. Cafe Del Mar, volumen 1 [Amazon US]
    1. Agua - Padilla, Jose 2. The Story of Light - Orbit, William 3. Smokebelch II [Beatless Mix] - Sabres Of Paradise 4. Music for a Found Harmonium - Penquin Cafe Orches 5. Sundance - Sun Electric 6. Fanfare of Life - Leftfield 7. The Hypnotist - Sisterlove 8. Second Hand - Underworld 9. Crazy Iven - Ver Vlads 10. Estelle - A Man Called Adam 11. On the Rocks - Obiman 12. Sunset at the Cafe del Mar - Rasa, Tabula

    Once upon a time, Ibiza was a spiritual and magical place. Every sunset, people gathered at Jose Padilla's ornately-decorated little beach-side bar to be hypnotised by his unique sunset DJ mix, staring dreamily out to sea. The first Café Del Mar album encapsulates this mystical experience, beginning light and airy with Jose's own dolphin-esque "Agua", progressing to darker, bassier sounds like Underworld and Ver Vlads to represent the sun falling behind the horizon. Jose creates a spellbinding atmosphere by placing oddities such as Penguin Cafe Orchestra, alongside dance tracks that take inspiration from world music and New Age (ethereal female vocals; bongo-lead percussion; samples of self-hypnosis tapes, flutes; wave-sounds). Higlights include the resonant piano and strings of Sabres Of Paradise's "Smokebelch" beatless mix. The sky fades to black with the gentle ambience of "Sunset At The Café Del Mar". Café Del Mar was "compiled with love" and thus truly stands the test of time. A great beginning to a classic compilation series. --Sarah Champion

  3. Mezzanine De L'Alcazar [1 CD, Amazon US]
    Another ace double cd collection out of France. Released on the Wagram label, home of the immensely popular 'Buddha Bar' series. CD 1 is subtitled 'Dinner Time' and includes, Modjo'Lady (Hear Me Tonight / Acoustic)', Thievery Corporation 'Lebanese Blonde', Tosca 'Orozco', Count Basic 'Speechless (Kruder & Dorfmeister Mix)' and many more. CD 2 is subtitled 'Seduction Time' and includes, Blue Six 'Pure', Lovetronic 'You Are Love', Sun Trust 'Dream Of You', Sunday Brunch 'Things You Said' amongst many others. Double digipak.

    As Sir Terece Conran's only restaurant in France & his first lounge bar, the Mezzanine de L'Alcazar has forged a reputation based on a careful selection of music, starting off cozy & warm & finishing off in more deep house. This compilation encapsulates these two styles, with the first disc chosen by Lamy & subtitled 'Dinner Time' & the second called 'Seduction Time' & mixed by Shade. Includes cuts from Modjo, Zuco 103, Sun Trust, 8FATFAT8, J-Walk & many more.

  4. Strictly for Music Lovers - Spike Jones [Amazon US] The genius of Spike Jones--as a songwriter, bandleader, and musician--is often overshadowed by his comedic schtick. But make no mistake, Jones was a musician and a damn fine one at that, whether on a set of drums, singing into a mic, or with a car horn. This bargain-priced, four-CD set from the U.K. label Proper, goes a long way toward setting Jones's record straight. In the 1930s and '40s, while American dance and jazz orchestras were just finding their mature footing and popularity, Jones was there to sabotage their efforts with great playing, parody tunes ("I Dream of Brownie with the Light Blue Jeans," "I'm Forever Blowing Bubble Gum"), and, oh yes, gunfire. As novelty artists go, Jones was one of the best. He hired great musicians for his Cityslickers, he wrote memorable songs, and he was a snappy dresser, too. This set features more of the musician than you'll ever need, but its supercheap price, nice liner notes, and great music (that still sounds hilarious after all these years) make it a steal. --Jason Verlinde for Amazon.com

  5. Serge Gainsbourg - Couleur Café [Amazon US] Contains most of the material of "Percussions", with liner notes in French
    Serge Gainsbourg put his extraordinary talent to merging Euro-Pop music with Latin and African rhythms on this album, and comes up with the most hip & happening lounge music you'll find. I gave my Esquivel away because after getting hooked on this, it just fell short. Couleur Cafe never fails to make everyone feel like having a party and transports one to an easy state of mind. At first listen, I smiled and laughed. At the second listen, I was chilling out in my own space and at the third, I realized Serge is an extremely sensitive, deeply philosophical man who can extract the very elements of an eclectic range of styles that, when combined, lightly uplift the soul. -- Jumpy1 for Amazon

  6. Glenn Underground - Lounge Excursions [1CD, Amazon US] [more on Glenn Underground]

  7. Zero 7 - Simple Things[1CD, Amazon US] Longtime North Londoner friends Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns on their debut LP. Zero 7 has been dubbed the British 'Air'.

  8. Kruder and Dorfmeister - K&D Sessions [Amazon US]
    Heroes (Kruders Long Loose Bossa)- Roni Size Listen Listen 2. Jazz Master (K And D Session) - Alex Reece 3. Speechless (Drum N Bass) - Count Basic 4. Going Under (K And D Sessoin) - Rockers Hi Fi 5. Bug Powder Dust (K And D Session) - Bomb The Bass 6. Rollin Da Chrome (Wild Motherfucker Dub) - Aphrodelics 7. Useless (Ka Nd D Session) - Depeche Mode 8. Gotta Jazz - Count Basic 9. Donaueschingen - Ranier Truby Trio 10. Trans Fatty Acid (K And D Session) - Lamb 11. Gone (K And D Session) - David Holmes 12. Sofa Rockers (Richard Dorfmeister Remix) - Sofa Surfers 13. Eastwest (Stoned Together) - Mama Oliver 14. Bug Powder Dust (Dub) - Bomb The Bass 15. Boogie Woogie - Kruder And Dorfmeister 16. Where Shall I Turn (K And D Session) - Sin 17. 1st Of The Month (K And D Session) - Bone Thugs N Harmony 18. Lexicon - Kruder And Dorfmeister 19. Bombercladd Joint (K And D Session) - Knowtoryous 20. Going Under (Love And Insnity Dub) - Rockers Hifi 21. Million Town (K And D Session) - Strange Cargo
    Viennese trippers Peter Kruder and Richard Dorfmeister fry up beats like a fine Wiener schnitzel. With crisp percussion, tender melodies, and subtle bass flavor, they more than know their way around the production kitchen. Take the remix skills of these two chefs de musique; add a dash of fresh electronic ingredients, including Roni Size, Rockers Hi-Fi, David Holmes, Alex Reece, and others; run it through a beats processor; and you have one sumptuous and definitely not calorie-free meal. Tastier sound bites can be sampled during the Roni Size "Heroes" course, as K&D strip down and reconstruct a new and improved recipe for downtempo soul. Lip-smacking good. --Daniel Shumate [ Personally, I believe their music is derivative.] [...]

  9. Gotan Project ~ Revancha del Tango [1 CD, Amazon US]
    Phillipe Cohen Salal and Christophe Mueller First Projects were the Boys from Brazil and Stereo Action Unlimited. This disc is a beautiful marriage between tango (replace the syllables TAN-GO, hence the name GO-TAN project)and electronic music, this CD represents the finest example of chillout/lounge music stream. Both Piazzolla and Buddha-Bar/Hotel Costes fans will not be disappointed. Highly recommended. Amazon.com Sales Rank: 1,629

  10. Hotel Costes - Various Artists[1 CD, Amazon US]
    I have all of the costes cds, and I think this one edges out La Suite by a narrow margin as the best cd in the series. He once again chooses an eclectic mix of songs, and the mixing between tracks is superb. M. Pompougnac is definitely the most talented DJ of this genre right now, if not the most talented period. In moments of coital euphoria my girlfriend has been known to scream "Stephane!" by mistake, but I don't mind one bit. I'm thinking the same thing. -- A music fan for amazon.com

  11. Ultra Lounge, Vol. 1: Mondo Exotica - Various Artists[1 CD, Amazon US]
    1. Swamp Fire - Denny, Martin 2. Moon Mist - Out-Islanders 3. Caravan - 80 Drums Around The 4. Hypnotique - Denny, Martin 5. Atlantis - Baxter, Les 6. Alika - Edwards, Webley 7. Miserlou - Denny, Martin 8. Lust - Sheva, Bas 9. Hana Maui - Floyd, Chick & His 10. Voodoo Dreams/Voodoo - Baxter, Les 11. Jungle Madness - Denny, Martin 12. Babalu - Sumac, Yma 13. Simba - Baxter, Les 14. The Girl Friend of the Whirling Dervish - Denny, Martin 15. Bali Ha'i - Shindo, Tak 16. Pyramid of the Sun - Baxter, Les 17. Quiet Village - Denny, Martin 18. Wimoweh - Sumac, Yma
    Vintage lounge, first installment of a 24-part series. Fits the original fifties and sixties definition of lounge music.

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