Lyrics? We don't need no stinkin' lyrics!
May 2, 2010 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Looking for upbeat, uptempo acoustical pieces without lyrics.. any suggestions?

When I'm on the go (or if I'm doing something tedious like cleaning around the house), I love to have some simple background music keeping me going. I like pieces that don't have lyrics so that I'm not concentrating on the words, but on the task at hand. Should be upbeat, with a relatively quick tempo (or at least, not slow).

The beginnings of my playlist so far includes:

"Green Hornet" from the Kill Bill Soundtrack
"March of the Swivelheads" by English Beat
"Linus and Lucy" Peanuts
"Boom-shak-a-lak" from the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack
"Amas Veritas" from the Practical Magic soundtrack
"Two Hornpipes" from the Pirates of the Carribbean soundtrack

I hadn't realized till typing it out that the majority comes from soundtracks.. non-soundtrack suggestions are just as welcome. Thanks, mefites!
posted by Kattiara17 to Grab Bag (34 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Django's Tiger as played by Joscho Stephan
posted by IndigoJones at 3:08 PM on May 2, 2010

Embryonic Journey
The Orange County Lumber Truck This one is a bad recording but the song is amazing.
Peaches en Regalia
posted by Dick Laurent is Dead at 3:09 PM on May 2, 2010

La Femme d'Argent - Air

Chill compilations are a great source of up (or down) tempo music without lyrics, or with minimal, trancy lyrics - the kind of stuff you can even play while you're doing math.
posted by toodleydoodley at 3:12 PM on May 2, 2010

Yo Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, et al - BT and 1B (from Heartland: An Appalachian Anthology)
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 3:14 PM on May 2, 2010

Have you heard of John Fahey? He's an acoustic guitar player who can do some really amazing things with a guitar. His later stuff gets progressively stranger and spottier, so I'd recommend looking at the compilation album The Return of the Repressed first.
posted by colfax at 3:16 PM on May 2, 2010

Part III (Allegro Solemne) of "The Cathedral" by Augustin Barrios-Mangore (guitar). If you do a search for it on iTunes there are lots of versions.

I also really like Penguin Cafe Orchestra's Music for a Found Harmonium and Perpetuum Mobile as background music for brisk activity.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:17 PM on May 2, 2010

posted by caddis at 3:19 PM on May 2, 2010

I like Juli by Bjorn Olsson--very pretty song.
posted by leesh at 3:19 PM on May 2, 2010

Tamacun by Rodrigo y Gabriela
posted by Miss Otis' Egrets at 3:19 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

La Valse d'Amelie by Yann Tiersen (from the Amelie soundtrack)

The Heart Asks Pleasure First from the Piano soundtrack

and ANYTHING by Clint Mansell (especially this)
posted by TheOtherGuy at 3:21 PM on May 2, 2010

Flight of the Bumblebee
posted by caddis at 3:22 PM on May 2, 2010

Pixies: Cecilia Ann
posted by something something at 3:25 PM on May 2, 2010

Classical Gas?

A Taste of Honey or other Herb Alpert?
posted by fantastico at 3:27 PM on May 2, 2010

Telstar by the Ventures

Actually, pretty much all of the Ventures and other surf-rock outfits.
posted by The Whelk at 3:27 PM on May 2, 2010

Check out Carly Comando's Everyday... Also, I always thought Everything is Alright by 4 Tet was a pretty cool song.
posted by Jinkeez at 3:32 PM on May 2, 2010

(here's a better Everything is Alright link, sorry about that other one with all the noise in it)
posted by Jinkeez at 3:33 PM on May 2, 2010

Great answers so far.. keep them coming! Marking some of the ones that best fit the 'mood' I'm going for best. Herb Alpert's "A Taste of Honey" is great, thanks fantastico!

A few of the suggestions have been a bit more classical -- which I also love, don't get me wrong -- but those are a bit more more sedate than I'm looking for, for this purpose. Ideally the music will keep me focused and pumped up about whatever I'm doing. Thanks again. :D
posted by Kattiara17 at 4:13 PM on May 2, 2010

Mark Knopfler's soundtrack from "Wag The Dog" is great. Here's one track, "Working On It".
posted by wabbittwax at 4:40 PM on May 2, 2010

Merengue de Alegrias and Reaching Out 2 U by Ottmar Liebert. Both happy, acoustic, instrumental, mid-tempo.

I know, I know, but the Riverdance and Lord of the Dance soundtracks have several tracks each that I bet you'd like if you like that Two Hornpipes one. The main title song for each one starts off sort of slower, but then both crank up into upbeat stompy celtic. On LotD, there's another called Siamsa that is very happy and upbeat, sans stomps. On Riverdance there's one called American Wake that starts pretty upbeat and then flips out. It's short and exciting, so it's fun to race to finish things before it's over - great for making chores less boring.

Carnival de Paris
by Dario G. It was one of the songs made for the 1998 World Cup. Goes nuts.

Speaking of Dario G, another good upbeat instrumental of his is Sunchyme. There's a sample of a Dream Academy song in there, but it's not quite lyrics.

Djembe from the African Suite by Los Angeles Guitar Quartet. Happy and peppy.

The banjo/whistling tune, Way Out There, from Raising Arizona is fun. Makes you think of pajamas with Yodas on them.

Colossus by Afro Celt Sound System is a very upbeat semi-Celtic instrumental that gets a little modern in terms of mixing in mild DJ noises.

The Intro and the Outro by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Just because it's fun. It's supposed to be an instrumental, but they never get to the purely instrumental part because they spend the whole time introducing the musicians. So, sort of lyrics, sort of not.

Not sure if this one quite fits, but Flight Over the North Rim by Nicholas Gunn is sort of a mix between triumphant and sentimental. Very pretty. Mid tempo. Maybe in the John Tesh zone.

The theme songs to Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Superman are awesome. You will be the champion of dusting and vacuuming.

If you want to be the champion of everything, slowness be damned, you want the theme to Chariots of Fire by Vangelis. YOU WIN.
posted by Askr at 5:00 PM on May 2, 2010

Forgot Jessica by the Allman Brothers. Very happy. I'm linking you to my favorite section of the song, which actually reminds me a bit of that Charlie Brown theme song. The whole thing's great though. It might be too awesome for you because it may cause you to stop your tedious task and get down every time.
posted by Askr at 5:13 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ratatat, a bit more electrical than acoustical though:
posted by bobobox at 5:40 PM on May 2, 2010

Here's some stuff I like.

Some jazzy numbers:
Young-Holt Unlimited - Wack Wack
Ramsey Lewis Trio - Hang On Sloopy
Ramsey Lewis - Do What You Wanna
Mulatu Astatke - Yegelle Tezeta

Classic R&B and Soul:
Booker T and the MGs - Hip Hug Her
Booker T and the MGs - Mrs. Robinson
Booker T and the MGs - Can't Be Still
Bar-Kays - A Hard Day's Night
Mar-Keys - Banana Juice
Hugh Masekela - Grazing in the Grass
Ike Turner and the King of Rhythm - Getting Nasty
Gap Mangione - Boys with Toys

Funky stuff:
Scorpio - Kashmere Stage Band
The Mighty Imperials - Thunder Chicken
Budos Band - Up From the South
Mark Ronson - God Put a Smile Upon Your Face
OFS Unlimited - Mystic
Quincy Jones - Ironside
Ray Camacho - Movin' On (some lyrics)
Whitefield Brothers - Rampage

The Retail Sectors - The First Step to End the Life
Rae & Christian - Bacalau
Justice - New Jack
Röyksopp - Happy Up Here
The Octopus Project - Truck
posted by Foam Pants at 5:44 PM on May 2, 2010

Fuse by Hudson Mohawke.
Mantik by Eero Johannes (We Could Be Skweeeros is also pretty good).
What Cheer? Brigade are good fun happy times, Saiyan Re Saiyan is a good place to start.
posted by Kattullus at 6:44 PM on May 2, 2010

Clownmaster by Sugar
Bareback by The Darkness
posted by nicwolff at 7:47 PM on May 2, 2010

I'm a big fan of jazz with a groove to it for similar situations.

In general, I might recommend something with Karl Denson's involvement - his album "Dance Lesson #2" has a bit too much turntable work for my taste, but YMMV, and there are a couple of excellent instrumentals on the latest Greyboy Allstars album, "What Happened to Television?" including the title track.

Along the same lines:
Maceo Parker (Disc 2 of "Roots & Grooves," such as the track "Advanced Funk"), Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and Soulive. Maybe John Scofield or the Jaco Pastorius Big Band.

Also, if you're okay with instrumental versions of songs which originally had lyrics, check out the Funk Brothers or Herbie Hancock's "The New Standard."

There's also a 2-disc James Brown album of nothing but instrumentals called Soul Pride that's a lot of fun - the book I found out about it from points out that James Brown's skills as a bandleader generally get overshadowed by his singing career.
posted by rhymeswithaj at 8:37 PM on May 2, 2010

Sir Richard Bishop and Jack Rose do wonderful all-acoustic guitar stuff that is frequently very upbeat. The following are all self links (I blogged music for a long time) to music I think you might enjoy:

Sir Richard Bishop (and my favorite song of his)
Jack Rose
Tarantula (upbeat chamber music-ish)
Glissandro 70 (more poppy)
Tulsa Drone (hammered dulcimer-centric but fun)
Early Broken Social Scene
Four Tet (more electronic)
Manitoba (also somewhat electronic)
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:35 PM on May 2, 2010

Don Ross - Afraid to Dance
posted by CoinOp at 9:39 PM on May 2, 2010

"The ala Menthe" by La Caution from the Oceans 12 soundtrack (the laser field song)
posted by evilmomlady at 5:21 AM on May 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Rodrigo y Gabriela
posted by lpsguy at 8:25 AM on May 3, 2010

Eye level (and Brits of a certain age may find this video unbearably nostalgic)
posted by iffley at 9:40 AM on May 3, 2010

Spacesuit by They Might be Giants. Happiest tune I've ever heard.
posted by tomble at 10:51 PM on May 3, 2010

One of my favorites: Shine by Bond.

(I'm assuming this is the normal music video, and the song can be heard clearly. I'm not in a situation where I can use speakers/headphones right now so I can't confirm).
posted by Vorteks at 7:08 AM on May 5, 2010

My favorite recent (mostly) lyricless album: Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus.
posted by Kattullus at 6:51 AM on May 6, 2010

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