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Lounge music

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Lounge music

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Lounge music refers to music played in the lounges and bars of hotels and casinos, or at standalone piano bars. Generally, the performers include a singer and one or two other musicians. The performers play or cover songs composed by others, especially pop standards, many deriving from the days of Tin Pan Alley. Notionally, much lounge music consists of sentimental favorites enjoyed by a lone drinker over a martini, though in practice there is much more variety.

The term can also refer to laid-back electronic music, also named downtempo, because of the reputation of lounge music as low-key background music.



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.

Patrons of the lounge have been known to 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 (a travesty).

An example of stereotypical interaction between a lounge musician and audience might be:

Audience member: Do you know "Rhapsody In Blue"?
Lounge musician: No, but if you hum a few bars I can fake it.

Reputedly, the most-requested lounge song is either "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", or "Misty".

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. Richard Cheese's Lounge Against The Machine have added to this resurgence by covering metal music, punk rock, and other alternative rock hits in the style of lounge music. Other artists have taken lounge music to new heights by recombining rock with pop, such as Jon Brion and the surrounding regulars of Café Largo.

Popular culture

Comedians have long lampooned lounge singers. The "Vegas Lounge Singer" was lampooned famously by Andy Kaufman as Tony Clifton. Bill Murray portrayed a particularly bad 1970s lounge singer on Saturday Night Live, best known for providing his own lyrics to the John Williams theme from Star Wars, and an over-the-top version of the Morris Albert hit "Feelings". Later, Will Ferrell and Ana Gasteyer portrayed a goofy married duo of lounge-style musicians, but in incongruous venues such as high school dances.

In the early 1990's a lounge revival lead by groups like Love Jones, The Coctails and Combustible Edison was a direct contradiction to the Grunge music that dominated the period. These groups wore suits and played music inspired by earlier works by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Louis Prima and many others.

The film Swingers was set in the "Lounge Nation" scene in Los Angeles and the Soundtrack to Swingers featured some newer acts like Love Jones, Joey Altruda and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy as well as legendary performers like Dean Martin, Louis Jordan and Tony Bennett.

The film The Fabulous Baker Boys portrayed a lounge act.

Golden Age of Lounge Music

Lounge music can also specifically refer to a form of "hip" (not "hip-hop") generally easy listening music that was popular during the 50's and 60's, yet distinct from what was "pop rock" of that era. This is considered to be the golden age of lounge music. At this time, while pop rock music was more popular with younger folks, lounge music was more popular with older folks. Typically, teenagers of the time would listen to pop rock, while their older siblings or parents would listen to lounge.

While some of the lounge music during this period was truly slow, easy listening, a lot of the music was uptempo, with the distinction being sometimes being blurred. While pop music was a generally country, blues, or rock and roll, lounge music was generally anything that wasn't strictly of those genre (or a mix of them), but that still was meant for popular consumption (and indeed, was popular with most folks who weren't interested in that pop music.)

A good deal of lounge music was pure instrumental (i.e., no main vocal part, although there could be minor vocal parts.) Sometimes, this music would be theme music from movies or TV shows, although such music could be produced independently from other entertainment productions. These instrumentals could be produced with an orchestral arrangement, or from an arrangement of instruments very similar to that found in jazz, or even rock and roll.

Often, a general theme of lounge music was exoticness, showcasing music that was popular outside the USA, such as various Latin genres (e.g., Bossa Nova, Cha-Cha-Cha, Mambo), Polynesian, French, etc. Such music could have some intruments exaggerated (e.g., a Polynesian song might have various an exotic percussion arrangement using bongos, and vocalists imitating wild animals.) One of the exotic subgenres could be called space music, which attempted to give the feeling of zooming into outer space, which is an activity that had high public interest at the time.

One interesting subgenre of lounge music was swinging music, which was nothing more than a schmaltzy continuation of the swing jazz era of the 1930's and 40's, but with more of an emphasis on the vocalist. The lengendary Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr., along with similar artists such as Wayne Newton, Louis Prima and Sam Butera, are a prime example of this subgenre. Such artists performed mainly at featured lounges at Las Vegas casinos.

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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