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The Beginnings of Lounge Music: 1960s & 70s

The label “lounge music” that has been used to describe certain styles of music from the 1960s and 70s, is, in fact, only a retrospective label. The major publications and musical reporting vocabulary during the 60s and 70s did not use this label, instead using the labels exotica, space-age or easy-listening. And funnily enough, the Lounge music genre’s earliest roots date back to the 1920s and 30s, as the vibe-based compositions were similar to those within the ‘light music’ genre during that time. So really, what came first, the chicken or the egg?

Lounge music, to make use of the now universally adopted label, morphed out of the jazz genre, with the multiple varieties within this genre contributing to the desired ‘other-worldly’ vibe. Music critic Richie Unterberger suggests that there is “more a sense of swing, groove” within Lounge music and, when these elements were combined with non-western musical ideas, the unique ‘groove’ was undeniable. The ‘non-western’ musical ideas were often created within the same recording studios and by the same people who created the ‘western’ elements of the track, and despite the fact that it was really an artificial exoticism, the resultant ‘groove’ was appealing to a wide cross-section of music lovers.

This music catered to those who were fans of both traditional pop and the space-age genre. This is probably because lounge music was, according to AllMusic “less adventurous”, which could subsequently be interpreted as ‘more commercial’.

A recent article by Benedikt Feiten suggests that the lounge music genre was intended to “support relaxation” and the word ‘vogue’ was used in a description of places that lounge music might have been played in; however, the word ‘vogue’ is also an accurate summation of the lounge music genre.

The definition of vogue is “the prevailing fashion or style at a particular time” and, the ‘other-worldly’ vibe was so appealing to audiences because at the time, during the 1960s, the space-race was well and truly heating up.

Naturally, as the space-race was won, the fickle music fans moved on; however, lounge music would have a resurgence in the 1980s, and today still remains a highly niche, but well respected, genre of music.  

Author: G. McDonald for Jamhouse Creative
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