What is Easy listening music? It’s the secret key that unlocks a realm of auditory bliss, where melodies float effortlessly, entwining with your very essence. In this article, we will uncover its enigmatic allure, tracing its roots, and discovering the artists who have woven a tapestry of harmony and tranquility. So, fasten your seatbelt and open your ears wide, as we embark on an exploration of this mesmerizing genre.
Easy listening music, also known as “light music” or “mood music,” is a genre of popular music that is characterized by its soothing, melodic, and unobtrusive nature. It is typically designed to create a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere without demanding too much attention from the listener.
Easy listening music often features lush orchestral arrangements, gentle vocals, and smooth instrumental melodies. The genre emerged in the 1950s and 1960s as a response to the rise of rock and roll and the growing popularity of more energetic and rhythmically-driven music. Easy listening music was intended to provide an alternative for listeners who preferred a more tranquil and mellow sound.
Artists commonly associated with easy listening music include Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Andy Williams, Perry Como, and Dean Martin. The genre encompasses a wide range of musical styles, including traditional pop, vocal jazz, orchestral arrangements, and instrumental music.
Easy Listening Music: An Introduction to a Relaxing Genre
Easy-listening music is a genre that offers a soothing and relaxing musical experience. With its melodic tunes, gentle rhythms, and soft instrumentation, it creates an atmosphere of tranquility and comfort. Easy listening music is designed to be enjoyable and accessible, providing a pleasant backdrop for various activities or moments of relaxation.
Whether you’re winding down after a long day, seeking a peaceful ambiance, or simply looking for music that doesn’t demand too much attention, easy-listening music offers a respite from the noise and hustle of everyday life.
Its gentle melodies and laid-back vibes create a sense of calmness and serenity, allowing you to unwind and find moments of inner peace. So sit back, relax, and let the soothing sounds of easy-listening music wash over you, transporting you to a world of tranquility and well-being.
Characteristics and Mood of Easy Listening Music
Easy listening music is characterized by its soothing, mellow, and relaxing qualities. It is designed to create a calm and pleasant atmosphere for the listener. Here are some key characteristics and the overall mood of easy listening music:
- Melodic and Gentle: Easy listening music is typically built around soft, melodic tunes. The melodies are often smooth and flowing, creating a gentle and soothing effect on the listener.
- Smooth Instrumentation: The instrumentation in easy listening music is usually understated and laid-back. It commonly includes instruments such as piano, strings, acoustic guitar, saxophone, and light percussion. The arrangements are crafted to be smooth and unobtrusive, enhancing the tranquil nature of the genre.
- Relaxed Rhythms: The rhythms in easy listening music tend to be slow and unhurried, contributing to the overall relaxed mood. The tempo is usually moderate, allowing the listener to unwind and enjoy the music at a leisurely pace.
- Soft Vocals or Instrumentals: Easy listening music can feature soft and soothing vocals, often delivered in a calm and understated manner. Alternatively, it can be purely instrumental, relying on the music itself to create a peaceful ambiance.
- Lush and Serene: The overall mood of easy listening music is characterized by a sense of serenity and tranquility. It aims to provide a respite from the hectic pace of daily life, allowing the listener to unwind and find inner calm.
- Background Music: Easy listening music is often used as background music in various settings, such as restaurants, hotels, elevators, or as a backdrop for relaxation activities like meditation or reading. Its unobtrusive nature makes it an ideal choice for creating a pleasant ambiance without distracting the listener.
- Positive and Uplifting: While easy listening music aims to relax, it often carries a positive and uplifting tone. The melodies and harmonies evoke a sense of contentment and peacefulness, promoting a positive emotional state in the listener.
The mood of easy listening music can vary slightly depending on the subgenre or artist, but the overall intention is to provide a soothing and enjoyable listening experience that helps create a tranquil environment and promotes a sense of well-being.
Origins and Evolution of Easy Listening
The origins of easy listening music can be traced back to the early 20th century, with the rise of popular orchestras and dance bands that played melodic, easy-to-listen-to music. The genre gained prominence in the 1950s and 1960s as a response to the growing popularity of rock and roll and the desire for more relaxed and accessible music.
During this period, easy-listening music was often referred to as “middle-of-the-road” (MOR) or “adult contemporary” music. It was characterized by its smooth melodies, lush orchestral arrangements, and soft vocals. The genre appealed to a broader audience, including older listeners who were not as drawn to the energetic and rebellious nature of rock and roll.
Artists such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Perry Como, Andy Williams, and Dean Martin were among the prominent figures in the easy listening genre during its early years. Their songs combined elements of traditional pop, vocal jazz, and orchestral arrangements, creating a distinct sound that was soothing and comforting.
In the 1970s and 1980s, easy listening music expanded its reach and incorporated influences from other genres such as soft rock, soul, and adult contemporary. Artists like Barry Manilow, Carpenters, Kenny Rogers, and Air Supply gained popularity during this period, producing easy listening hits that resonated with a wide audience.
As music styles evolved in the late 20th century and early 21st century, easy listening music adapted to the changing landscape. The genre incorporated elements of smooth jazz, new age, and electronic music, blending traditional instrumentation with modern production techniques. Artists like Enya, Norah Jones, and Diana Krall brought a contemporary twist to the genre while maintaining its soothing and melodic characteristics.
In recent years, easy listening music has continued to evolve, embracing elements of indie pop, folk, and acoustic genres. Artists such as Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, and Ed Sheeran have gained popularity for their laid-back and easy-to-enjoy sound, appealing to a new generation of listeners.
While easy listening music may have shifted and diversified over time, its core essence of providing relaxing and accessible music remains constant. The genre continues to find its place in various settings, including radio stations, streaming platforms, and commercial spaces, where its soothing qualities create a pleasant and calming atmosphere.
Instrumentation and Arrangements in Easy Listening
Instrumentation and arrangements play a crucial role in defining the sound and atmosphere of easy listening music. Here are some common elements of instrumentation and arrangements found in the genre:
- Orchestral Instruments: Easy listening music often incorporates orchestral instruments to create a lush and sophisticated sound. This may include strings (violin, cello, viola), woodwinds (flute, clarinet, saxophone), and brass instruments (trumpet, trombone). The orchestral arrangements contribute to the elegant and luxurious feel of the genre.
- Piano: The piano is a prominent instrument in easy listening music. Its melodic and versatile nature adds a soothing and melodic quality to the arrangements. Piano solos or gentle piano accompaniments are common features in the genre.
- Acoustic Guitar: The warm and gentle tones of the acoustic guitar are often utilized in easy listening music. It can provide rhythmic strumming, melodic arpeggios, or delicate fingerpicking patterns, adding a soft and comforting element to the overall sound.
- Light Percussion: Easy listening music incorporates light percussion instruments such as bongos, shakers, tambourines, or soft brushes on drums. These subtle percussive elements enhance the rhythm and groove of the music without overpowering the melodic and harmonic elements.
- Soft Vocals: While easy listening music can be instrumental, it often includes soft and mellow vocals. The vocals are delivered in a relaxed and smooth manner, emphasizing the soothing and comforting qualities of the genre. The lyrics often focus on themes of love, romance, or sentimental topics.
- Smooth Horns: Easy listening music occasionally features smooth and melodic horn sections, such as saxophones or muted trumpets. These instruments add warmth and richness to the arrangements, creating a sophisticated and nostalgic vibe.
- Light Synthesizers: In more contemporary easy listening music, synthesizers may be used to create atmospheric textures and ambient sounds. These electronic elements blend seamlessly with the traditional instrumentation, adding a modern touch while maintaining the genre’s soothing characteristics.
Arrangements in easy listening music are carefully crafted to create a balanced and pleasant listening experience. They often prioritize a smooth and flowing sound, with gentle transitions between sections. The focus is on creating a relaxing ambiance and allowing the listener to enjoy the music without being overwhelmed.
Overall, the instrumentation and arrangements in easy listening music are designed to evoke a sense of tranquility, elegance, and comfort. They contribute to the genre’s ability to create a serene atmosphere and provide an enjoyable and soothing musical experience.
Notable Artists and Bands in the Easy Listening Genre
The easy listening genre has been enriched by numerous talented artists and bands throughout its history. Here are some notable names that have made significant contributions to the genre:
- Frank Sinatra: Known as the “Chairman of the Board,” Sinatra’s smooth and charismatic vocals made him an iconic figure in easy listening music. Songs like “Fly Me to the Moon,” “My Way,” and “Strangers in the Night” exemplify his enduring appeal.
- Nat King Cole: With his velvety voice and elegant style, Nat King Cole became a beloved figure in the easy listening genre. Classics like “Unforgettable,” “Mona Lisa,” and “The Very Thought of You” remain timeless favorites.
- Andy Williams: Often referred to as the “King of Easy Listening,” Andy Williams captured audiences with his warm and soothing voice. His hits include “Moon River,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” and “The Days of Wine and Roses.”
- Barbra Streisand: Known for her powerful and versatile voice, Streisand has dabbled in various genres, including easy listening. Songs like “The Way We Were,” “Evergreen,” and “People” showcase her ability to convey emotion and captivate listeners.
- Carpenters: The sibling duo of Karen and Richard Carpenter crafted a distinctive sound in the easy listening genre. Their smooth harmonies and melodic arrangements in songs like “Close to You,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” and “Top of the World” garnered widespread acclaim.
- Burt Bacharach: As a composer and pianist, Burt Bacharach played a significant role in shaping the sound of easy listening music. Collaborating with lyricist Hal David, he penned numerous hits, including “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “What the World Needs Now Is Love,” and “Walk On By.”
- Norah Jones: Blending elements of jazz, pop, and easy listening, Norah Jones gained popularity with her soulful voice and intimate songwriting. Her debut album, “Come Away with Me,” featuring songs like “Don’t Know Why” and “Turn Me On,” established her as a leading artist in the genre.
- Michael Bublé: Drawing inspiration from the classic crooners, Bublé revitalized the easy listening genre for a contemporary audience. His charismatic performances and interpretations of standards like “Haven’t Met You Yet” and “Feeling Good” have earned him widespread acclaim.
- Enya: Known for her ethereal and atmospheric sound, Enya has carved a niche for herself within the easy listening genre. Her enchanting compositions, including “Orinoco Flow,” “Only Time,” and “Caribbean Blue,” have a soothing and otherworldly quality.
- Diana Krall: With her sultry vocals and jazz-infused style, Diana Krall has made a name for herself in the realm of easy listening. Her albums like “The Look of Love” and “Turn Up the Quiet” feature enchanting renditions of jazz standards and popular songs.
These artists and bands have left an indelible mark on the easy listening genre, each contributing their unique talents and interpretations to create a rich and diverse body of work.
Easy Listening’s Connection to Lounge and Smooth Jazz
Easy listening music shares a close connection with lounge music and smooth jazz. While these genres are distinct, they often overlap in terms of musical style, atmosphere, and target audience.
- Lounge Music:
Lounge music originated in the 1950s and 1960s, coinciding with the rise of easy listening music. It was commonly associated with upscale cocktail lounges and sophisticated nightlife settings. Lounge music often featured instrumental arrangements with a relaxed and luxurious feel, creating a chic and elegant ambiance.
It incorporated elements of jazz, bossa nova, and exotica, as well as easy listening melodies. Lounge music became popular with its fusion of diverse musical styles and its ability to create a laid-back and classy atmosphere.
Easy listening music shares similarities with lounge music in terms of its soothing melodies, gentle rhythms, and relaxed vibe. The two genres often overlap, with many artists and songs falling into both categories. The lush orchestral arrangements, smooth vocals, and refined sound that characterize easy listening music are also prevalent in lounge music.
- Smooth Jazz:
Smooth jazz emerged in the 1970s as a fusion of jazz, R&B, funk, and pop elements. It aimed to create a more accessible and commercially appealing form of jazz, characterized by a polished and mellow sound. Smooth jazz features catchy melodies, soulful improvisation, and often places an emphasis on instrumental performances. The genre became popular on radio stations and attracted a broad audience, including fans of easy listening music.
Smooth jazz shares similarities with easy listening music in terms of its melodic and laid-back nature. Both genres prioritize creating a relaxed and pleasant listening experience. Smooth jazz often incorporates elements of easy listening, such as smooth vocals, gentle grooves, and melodic hooks, making it a natural progression for those who enjoy the soothing qualities of easy listening music.
While easy listening, lounge, and smooth jazz are distinct genres, they often intertwine and cater to similar preferences. They all strive to create a tranquil and pleasurable musical experience, making them suitable choices for relaxation, background music, or creating a serene atmosphere in various settings.
Melodic and Harmonic Elements in Easy Listening Music
Melodic and harmonic elements play a significant role in shaping the sound and appeal of easy listening music. Here are some characteristics of melodic and harmonic elements commonly found in the genre:
- Memorable Melodies: Easy listening music typically features melodies that are melodic, catchy, and easy to sing along to. The melodies are often soothing and comforting, with a smooth flow and a balanced structure. They aim to create a sense of familiarity and evoke positive emotions in the listener.
- Gentle Phrasing: The phrasing in easy listening music is often gentle and unhurried, allowing the melodies to unfold gracefully. The notes are connected smoothly, with subtle variations in dynamics and articulation, adding nuance and expressiveness to the melodic lines.
- Chromaticism and Grace Notes: Easy listening music occasionally incorporates chromaticism and grace notes, which add subtle embellishments and create melodic interest. These decorative elements can enhance the overall charm and elegance of the melodies, capturing the listener’s attention.
- Harmonic Simplicity: Easy listening music tends to employ harmonies that are straightforward and uncomplicated. The chord progressions are often diatonic, relying on familiar major and minor chords, with occasional variations and gentle modulations. The harmonies provide a stable and comforting foundation for the melodies.
- Chordal Accompaniment: The harmonies in easy listening music are often played by accompanying instruments, such as pianos, guitars, or orchestral ensembles. These instruments provide a supportive and harmonically rich backdrop to the melodies, creating a lush and full sound.
- Subtle Modulations: While easy listening music generally stays within a comfortable harmonic framework, it may incorporate subtle modulations to introduce variety and interest. These modulations can provide gentle shifts in tonality, adding a touch of sophistication to the music without disrupting its soothing qualities.
- Smooth Transitions: Easy listening music emphasizes smooth transitions between chords and sections. The harmonic changes are often seamless and natural, contributing to the overall flow and relaxation of the music. The listener is guided through the song without abrupt shifts or dissonant surprises.
Overall, the melodic and harmonic elements in easy listening music are crafted to create an inviting and comforting musical experience.
The melodies are memorable and pleasant, while the harmonies provide a gentle and harmonically rich backdrop. These elements work together to establish the soothing and relaxing qualities that define the genre, making it an appealing choice for unwinding, creating a peaceful ambiance, or simply enjoying music that is easy on the ears.
Easy Listening’s Role in Background and Ambient Music
Easy listening music has long played a significant role in background and ambient music settings. Its soothing and unobtrusive qualities make it well-suited for creating a pleasant atmosphere without demanding too much attention from the listener. Here are some ways in which easy listening music contributes to background and ambient music:
- Creating a Relaxing Atmosphere: Easy listening music is specifically designed to evoke a sense of calm and relaxation. Its gentle melodies, soft instrumentation, and smooth vocals create a tranquil ambiance that can help set a peaceful tone in various settings, such as restaurants, hotels, spas, or waiting rooms.
- Enhancing Productivity and Focus: Easy listening music can be used as background music to enhance productivity and focus in work or study environments. Its mellow and non-distracting nature provides a soothing backdrop that helps create a conducive atmosphere for concentration and mental clarity.
- Promoting a Positive Mood: The melodic and uplifting qualities of easy listening music can contribute to a positive and pleasant mood. It can help create a welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere in social gatherings, events, or parties, where the aim is to foster a relaxed and comfortable environment for conversation and interaction.
- Providing Comfort and Stress Relief: Easy listening music is often employed in relaxation techniques, meditation practices, and wellness activities. Its gentle and calming nature can help reduce stress, promote relaxation, and provide a sense of comfort and solace.
- Supporting Audiovisual Content: Easy listening music is frequently used as a background soundtrack in film, television, and advertising. Its unobtrusive and versatile nature allows it to complement various visuals, from romantic scenes to scenic montages, infusing the content with a soothing and pleasant atmosphere.
- Fostering Reflection and Contemplation: The serene and introspective qualities of easy listening music make it suitable for creating a reflective and contemplative ambiance. It can be used in spaces such as art galleries, museums, or libraries, where the aim is to encourage a calm and introspective mindset.
Easy listening music’s ability to provide a pleasant sonic backdrop without demanding excessive attention makes it a popular choice for background and ambient music.
Its relaxing qualities, melodic charm, and soothing atmosphere contribute to creating a peaceful and enjoyable environment in various settings, catering to the needs of both individuals seeking solace and social gatherings requiring a serene ambiance.
Easy Listening’s Popularity in Radio and Streaming Platforms
Easy listening music has maintained a significant presence on radio and streaming platforms over the years, appealing to a wide range of listeners seeking soothing and accessible music. Here are some reasons for its popularity in these mediums:
- Broad Appeal: Easy listening music’s melodic and relaxing qualities have a broad appeal across different age groups and demographics. Its accessible and non-confrontational nature makes it suitable for a wide range of listeners, including those who prefer a more laid-back and melodic sound.
- Timeless Classics: Easy listening music is often associated with timeless classics from the mid-20th century, performed by iconic artists such as Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Andy Williams. These songs have endured the test of time and continue to resonate with listeners, contributing to the genre’s popularity on radio stations and streaming platforms that specialize in nostalgic and timeless music.
- Versatile Background Music: Easy listening music’s soothing and unobtrusive qualities make it well-suited for background music in various settings. Radio stations and streaming platforms often curate playlists or channels dedicated to creating a pleasant and relaxing ambiance, whether it’s for work, relaxation, socializing, or unwinding. Easy listening music provides an ideal soundtrack for these purposes.
- Comfort and Nostalgia: Easy listening music often evokes feelings of comfort, nostalgia, and sentimental attachment. Many listeners find solace in familiar melodies and the warm, familiar voices of iconic artists. Radio stations and streaming platforms recognize this appeal and cater to the desire for comforting and nostalgic music by including easy listening selections in their programming.
- Continuous Availability: Easy listening music continues to be readily available on radio stations and streaming platforms. Whether it’s through dedicated easy listening channels or curated playlists, listeners can easily access a wide range of easy listening songs and artists, allowing them to enjoy the genre’s soothing qualities at any time.
- Genre Adaptation: Easy listening music has evolved and adapted over time to incorporate contemporary elements and appeal to a broader audience. Contemporary artists who incorporate easy listening elements into their music, such as Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, and Ed Sheeran, have contributed to the genre’s continued popularity by attracting new listeners who appreciate the easy listening sound within a modern context.
Overall, easy listening music’s broad appeal, timeless classics, suitability for background listening, comfort, and nostalgia factor, as well as its availability on radio and streaming platforms, have contributed to its popularity in these mediums. It continues to be a favored choice for listeners seeking a relaxing and pleasant musical experience.
Easy Listening’s Influence on Film and TV Soundtracks
Easy listening music has had a significant influence on film and TV soundtracks, contributing to the creation of atmospheric, emotional, and memorable moments in visual storytelling. Here are some ways in which easy listening has influenced and been incorporated into film and TV soundtracks:
- Setting the Mood: Easy listening music is often used to establish and enhance the mood of a scene. Its soothing and melodic qualities can create a romantic, nostalgic, or serene atmosphere, setting the tone for the emotional journey of the characters and amplifying the overall impact of the visuals.
- Romantic Moments: Easy listening music, with its romantic and sentimental nature, is commonly utilized in film and TV soundtracks during intimate and romantic scenes. The gentle melodies, smooth vocals, and lush arrangements add a layer of emotional depth, accentuating the chemistry and connection between characters.
- Nostalgic and Period Pieces: Easy listening music, particularly songs from the mid-20th century, often features in period pieces or films set in a specific era. These songs help evoke a sense of nostalgia, transporting viewers back in time and creating an authentic and immersive experience.
- Montages and Sequences: Easy listening music is frequently employed in montages and sequences that depict character development, growth, or important transitions. The melodic and accessible nature of the music helps convey emotions, reinforce the narrative, and create a cohesive visual and auditory experience.
- Background and Ambient Music: Easy listening music’s ability to create a relaxing and unobtrusive ambiance makes it suitable for background and ambient music in film and TV. It can be used to enhance the atmosphere of a particular setting, provide a soothing backdrop to dialogue, or create a sense of tranquility in introspective moments.
- Soundtracks of Romantic Comedies: Easy listening music has often found a place in romantic comedy films, as it complements the lighthearted and feel-good nature of the genre. The catchy melodies, romantic lyrics, and upbeat rhythms contribute to the overall charm and enjoyment of these films.
- Iconic Movie Themes: Some easy listening songs have become iconic movie themes, forever associated with specific films and moments. For example, the song “Moon River” from the film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” has become inseparable from the movie and is instantly recognizable as its theme.
Easy listening music’s melodic charm, emotional resonance, and ability to create a specific mood have made it a popular choice for film and TV soundtracks. Its incorporation into these visual mediums adds depth, emotion, and atmosphere, enhancing the storytelling and creating memorable moments that resonate with audiences long after the credits roll.
Subgenres of Easy Listening: Exotica, Space Age, etc.
Within the realm of easy listening music, several subgenres have emerged, each with its own unique characteristics and appeal. Here are a few notable subgenres of easy listening:
- Exotica: Exotica emerged in the 1950s and 1960s, capturing the fascination with travel, adventure, and exotic locales. It often incorporated elements of world music, incorporating instruments like bongos, congas, and vibraphones to create a tropical or jungle atmosphere. Exotica music aimed to transport listeners to faraway places through its lush and evocative arrangements.
- Space Age Pop: Also known as space age bachelor pad music or lounge exotica, Space Age Pop gained popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. It combined easy listening with futuristic and space-inspired themes, incorporating elements like electronic instruments, theremins, and sci-fi sound effects. Space Age Pop often featured lush orchestral arrangements, and its playful and adventurous sound aimed to evoke the optimism and fascination with space exploration during that era.
- Bossa Nova: Originating in Brazil in the late 1950s, Bossa Nova is a subgenre of easy listening that blends samba rhythms with jazz influences. It features gentle melodies, delicate guitar playing, and smooth vocals sung in Portuguese. Bossa Nova gained international popularity through artists like Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto, and its relaxed and romantic sound became synonymous with sophisticated lounges and laid-back atmospheres.
- Orchestral Pop: Orchestral pop refers to easy listening music that incorporates lush orchestral arrangements. It often features sweeping strings, woodwinds, and brass sections, adding a grand and cinematic quality to the music. Orchestral pop can encompass a wide range of styles, from romantic ballads to upbeat and light-hearted compositions.
- Lounge Music: Lounge music, as mentioned earlier, shares a close connection with easy listening. It is often associated with upscale cocktail lounges and sophisticated nightlife settings. Lounge music incorporates elements from various genres, such as jazz, bossa nova, exotica, and easy listening, to create a smooth and luxurious ambiance. It typically features lush instrumentation, gentle grooves, and smooth vocals.
These subgenres within easy listening demonstrate the genre’s versatility and ability to incorporate different musical influences and themes. Each subgenre offers a distinct experience while maintaining the soothing and accessible qualities that define easy listening music as a whole.
Easy Listening Music’s Impact on Contemporary Artists
Easy listening music has had a significant impact on contemporary artists, inspiring them, influencing their musical styles, and contributing to the development of new genres. Here are some ways in which easy listening music has influenced contemporary artists:
- Revival of Nostalgic Sounds: Easy listening music from the mid-20th century has experienced a revival in recent years, with contemporary artists drawing inspiration from its nostalgic sound. Artists like Michael Bublé, Norah Jones, and Diana Krall have incorporated elements of easy listening, such as lush orchestral arrangements, smooth vocals, and melodic sensibilities, into their music, attracting a new generation of listeners.
- Blending Genres: Contemporary artists often blend easy listening with other genres, creating unique and hybrid styles. For example, artists like John Legend and Adele incorporate easy listening elements into their soulful ballads, while indie pop artists like Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish infuse their music with a dreamy and ethereal quality reminiscent of easy listening’s atmospheric soundscapes.
- Neo-Easy Listening and Indie Pop: A subgenre known as neo-easy listening has emerged, characterized by a modern twist on the easy listening sound. Artists like Ariel Pink, Mac DeMarco, and Connan Mockasin blend easy listening with lo-fi aesthetics, indie pop sensibilities, and quirky production techniques, creating a contemporary take on the genre that appeals to alternative music enthusiasts.
- Smooth Jazz and Contemporary R&B: The influence of easy listening can also be heard in contemporary R&B and smooth jazz. Artists like Sade, Kem, and Gregory Porter incorporate smooth and mellow elements, drawing from the melodic and harmonic qualities of easy listening to create sensual and soulful music.
- Lounge-Inspired Electronica and Chillout: Easy listening’s relaxing and ambient qualities have influenced the development of electronic music genres like lounge and chillout. Artists like Air, Zero 7, and Bonobo infuse electronic beats, lush textures, and atmospheric soundscapes with the soothing and melodic elements of easy listening, creating a downtempo and relaxing musical experience.
Overall, easy listening music has left a lasting impact on contemporary artists by inspiring them to incorporate its melodic charm, soothing qualities, and nostalgic appeal into their own music.
Whether it’s through direct stylistic references or subtle influences, easy listening continues to shape the contemporary music landscape, contributing to the creation of new sounds, genres, and musical experiences.
Recommended Easy Listening Songs and Albums for Newcomers
If you’re new to easy-listening music and looking for some recommendations to start your exploration, here are a few timeless songs and albums that showcase the genre’s soothing and melodic qualities:
- Frank Sinatra – “Fly Me to the Moon”
- Nat King Cole – “Unforgettable”
- The Carpenters – “Close to You”
- Louis Armstrong – “What a Wonderful World”
- Burt Bacharach – “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”
- Andy Williams – “Moon River”
- Karen Carpenter – “Superstar”
- Dean Martin – “That’s Amore”
- Ella Fitzgerald – “Someone to Watch Over Me”
- Simon & Garfunkel – “Bridge Over Troubled Water”
- Frank Sinatra – “Songs for Swingin’ Lovers!”
- Nat King Cole – “Unforgettable”
- The Carpenters – “Close to You”
- Burt Bacharach – “The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection”
- Andy Williams – “Moon River and Other Great Movie Themes”
- Norah Jones – “Come Away with Me”
- Diana Krall – “The Look of Love”
- Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 – “Herb Alpert Presents Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66”
- Ella Fitzgerald – “Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Song Book”
- Tony Bennett – “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”
These songs and albums offer a variety of easy listening classics, spanning different eras and artists. They showcase the genre’s timeless appeal, soothing melodies, and the vocal talents of iconic artists. They serve as an excellent starting point for newcomers to explore the world of easy listening music.
Easy Listening Music for Relaxation and Stress Relief
Easy listening music is well-suited for relaxation and stress relief due to its soothing and calming qualities. Here are some recommended easy listening tracks and albums that can help create a tranquil and peaceful atmosphere:
- Enya – “Only Time”
- Yiruma – “River Flows in You”
- Brian Eno – “Ambient 1: Music for Airports”
- Ludovico Einaudi – “Nuvole Bianche”
- Norah Jones – “Don’t Know Why”
- George Winston – “Autumn”
- Max Richter – “Recomposed by Max Richter: Vivaldi, The Four Seasons”
- Ryuichi Sakamoto – “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence”
- William Ackerman – “The Opening of Doors”
- Harold Budd – “The Pavilion of Dreams”
- Erik Satie – “Gymnopédie No. 1”
- Aqualung – “Strange and Beautiful (I’ll Put a Spell on You)”
- Sade – “Smooth Operator”
- Michael Bublé – “Home”
- Ennio Morricone – “Cinema Paradiso”
- Kenny G – “Songbird”
- Bebel Gilberto – “So Nice (Summer Samba)”
- James Taylor – “Fire and Rain”
- Fleetwood Mac – “Landslide”
These additional tracks and albums encompass a range of artists and styles within the easy-listening genre. From instrumental piano pieces to smooth vocals and mellow pop, these selections aim to create a peaceful and relaxing ambiance, offering an escape from everyday stress and providing a soothing musical backdrop for relaxation.
Easy-listening music is a genre characterized by its soothing melodies, gentle rhythms, and accessible sound. Also known as light music or lounge music, it offers a relaxing and melodic experience for listeners seeking to unwind and find tranquility. Easy listening music emerged in the mid-20th century, gaining popularity through its timeless classics performed by iconic artists like Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and Andy Williams.
Its smooth vocals, lush orchestral arrangements, and romantic sensibilities create a warm and comforting atmosphere. Easy-listening music has influenced various subgenres such as exotica, space-age pop, and bossa nova, and it continues to inspire contemporary artists who blend its nostalgic charm with modern sounds.
Whether enjoyed as background music, a soundtrack for relaxation, or a source of nostalgia, easy-listening music offers a timeless and accessible musical experience. What is Easy listening music, ultimately, is a genre that invites listeners to embrace tranquility and enjoy the simple pleasures of melodic serenity.