When clients are having events that involve mainly modern lounge music - such as cocktail mixers, corporate meet-and-greets, or new product showcases - they often know the music style they want, but can't exactly describe it. They'll say "chillout” or “ambient” or “background.” But they usually add, right after, that they don’t want it to be boring, as if modern lounge music implies boring.
And while that may not be true, clients are right to be concerned. We’ve all been to places - cocktail parties, restaurants, retail stores - where the background music is a monotonous mid-tempo beat with nothing more to it, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to planning an event that includes new electronic lounge music, many think there’s a thin line between captivating and forgettable.
We've found over the years of DJ-ing at events in and around New York City involving mostly lounge music that the songs should elevate the atmosphere, but at the same time, not take it over. The purpose for these cocktail-driven events is firstly be able to converse comfortably and - with the exception of a head bounce here or a hip shake there - have the music make you want to continue that conversation, not get in the way of it. When we tell this to clients, they say that description is exactly what they were trying to say they wanted from the music. For a lot of DJs who aren't experienced with it, though, lounge music like this - that doesn’t overpower but isn’t anonymous, either - is some of the most difficult to find.
Many DJs, when it comes to spinning ambient music at any kind of cocktail party, play a mix of songs that have the lush, sleek afterparty vibe of CD compilations popular over the past decade, such as the Café Del Mar or Buddha Bar series. While these compilations have some great tunes, they are made mostly for afterparties - meaning when the main party is over. When this music is played as a party is just getting revved up, it often feels too chilled-out, or not upbeat enough. This is where the concern that new lounge music is boring comes in - clients often tell us they’ve been in that situation as a guest a lot, and don’t want it replicated at their party.
The great thing is, there are plenty of songs we have found over the years - and we continue to find every year - that satisfy this “sweet spot”, but it takes a lot of searching to locate it. You often won’t find much of it on the popular "chill-out" compilations mentioned above. You have to dig deeper into the genre, and sometimes outside of it entirely, to find that perfect lounge tune that elevates the vibe of these type of cocktail-driven parties to create a festive, or sexy, or whimsical mood for a bit, but that doesn’t ever "overdo it" and become the center of everyone's attention.
Below are three modern lounge songs that are great examples of this feel, and that each work because of different elements - showing that even within the narrower range of upbeat yet unobtrusive lounge music, there is a spectrum of sounds and atmospheres. The first, J. Axel’s “Every Part of the World,” uses a subtle but catchy melody and hint of airy vocals to create a sense of sexy rising energy. The second, Gerardo Frisina’s “Gosto De Que E Bom,” features a sly samba vibe that’s festive but never overwhelming. And the last song, a remix by Fort Knox Five of Torpedo Boyz’ “Are You Talking to Me,” takes a vintage-sounding R &B vocal riff, along with some organ and horn riffs, and deftly uses them to energize the song's beats and give the tune a touch of grittiness and warmth.
J. Axel - Every Part of the World
Gerardo Frisina - Gosto De Que E Bom
Torpedo Boyz - Are You Talking to Me??? (Fort Knox Five Remix)
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