Help me Put Together a Dinner Party Soundtrack
July 3, 2010 9:04 PM   Subscribe

What great dinner party music have you found?

I'm having a dinner party for 8 next week and everything is all set, except the music. I'm stumped! Somehow I just don't feel like the contents of my iPod are dinner party worthy. What do you play at your dinner parties? The guests are in their late 30's/40's. Artists and albums would be a big help.
posted by cecic to Society & Culture (29 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Mulatu Astatke - Ethiopian Jazz
posted by umbĂș at 9:08 PM on July 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits and Tony Bennett's Greatest Hits are nice background music for eating.
posted by amyms at 9:08 PM on July 3, 2010

When in doubt, play vintage hawaiian records.
posted by custard heart at 9:22 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Cesaria Evora.
posted by roger ackroyd at 9:22 PM on July 3, 2010 [3 favorites]

Talking Timbuktu (album)
posted by leahwrenn at 9:49 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was at a family get-together recently where they put on James Taylor and Carole King's "Live at the Troubadour" and it was pretty nice.
posted by rachaelfaith at 9:52 PM on July 3, 2010

I'm a big fan of Pink Martini. I have their first three records, and they make a great background for grown-up lounging.
posted by Gilbert at 10:00 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is pretty mellow & laid-back: Kruder & Dorfmeister - K & D Sessions
posted by Flashman at 10:20 PM on July 3, 2010

I like to play Crowded House or Greg Johnson in the background. Unobtrusive and fairly easy to listen to but also interesting enough to get the occasional comment.
posted by shelleycat at 10:41 PM on July 3, 2010

Buena Vista Social Club has worked well for me. Also Miles Davis "Kind of Blue", although it is on the short side, so you'd need to have something else queued up after. Billie Holiday is pretty nice, although I'd recommend against the song "Gloomy Sunday".
posted by guybrush_threepwood at 10:41 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like jazzy background music for dinner parties. Something mellow enough for conversation and sexy enough to keep the party alive.

Diana Krall - Live in Paris
Buena Vista Social Club by Ry Cooder, Juan de Marcos Gonzalez, and various musicians
Verve Jazz Masters 13: Antonio Carlos Jobim
Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto - Getz/Gilberto
The Best of Taj Mahal
The Very Best of Julie London
Cake - Fashion Nugget
Paul Simon - The Rhythm of the Saints

Seconding Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Also Mel Torme and Louis Prima.
posted by Majorita at 10:44 PM on July 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

I tend to go with Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" as the safe option; Kruder & Dorfmeister's "DJ Kicks" is peppier and also works for driving music.

What kind of guests do you anticipate having? Are you trying to impress, to soothe, or to show your own side to them?
posted by Graygorey at 11:11 PM on July 3, 2010

It depends on the mood. In general, I really like Django Reinhardt and Paolo Conte, Robin McKelle, Nellie McKay, Miles Davis (so Jazz, essentially, often with a bit of a twist), and others like them.
posted by mewithoutyou at 11:15 PM on July 3, 2010 [2 favorites]

3rding Buena Vista Social Club.
posted by little light-giver at 11:52 PM on July 3, 2010

I have a friend whose family always plays the soundtrack from Something's Gotta Give at parties.

I think Paris Combo would also be good dinner party music.

I hope your party goes well!
posted by shesbookish at 12:16 AM on July 4, 2010

Seconding Django Reinhardt and other players of gypsy jazz, which sounds so warm and familiar without being either cloying or too sophisticated. Rhythmic and very easy to listen to. Gypsy jazz made up much of the soundtracks to the movies Chocolat and The Triplets of Belleville, for reference.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 12:39 AM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Recently attended a gathering (kind of "dinner party" atmosphere) and the hostess played Van Morrison Astral Weeks Live, the Ennio Morricone soundtrack to The Good, the Bad, And The Ugly, and a Lonnie Donegan compilation album. All on shuffle play, so there wasn't too much of one kind of music for too long, just in case anyone couldn't bear too much Van Morrison, Ennio Morricone, or Lonnie Donegan. Most memorable evening in a long time, at least for me.
posted by motown missile at 12:39 AM on July 4, 2010

Stereolab's Dots and Loops
posted by princelyfox at 4:26 AM on July 4, 2010

Space Age Bachelor Pad Music, Esquivel.
posted by hot soup girl at 5:34 AM on July 4, 2010

i like the Internet radio station KCRW eclectic 24. it is from the radio station in Los Angeles. It's an artsy mix. Sometimes cool and hip (like Nina Simone), sometimes surprising (like Mexican opera). It's like a mix tape from a crazy uncle. (about twice an hour a DJ says the station name but otherwise no commercials).
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 8:53 AM on July 4, 2010

Check out the "back to mine" series. Made just for this occasion.

Groove Armada and Everything But The Girl are both very good. Avoid Carl Cox and Liam Howett. Krafty Kuts is great although might not be the best for a dinner party.
posted by mr_silver at 9:27 AM on July 4, 2010

I really love all the Pottery Barn Supper Club albums for my dinner parties. Really any of the old standards with Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Eartha Kitt, and anyone more modern who emulates them. It's fun and swingy, but doesn't detract from any lively dinner conversations.
posted by chatongriffes at 10:35 AM on July 4, 2010

Pink Martini!!
posted by paperlanterns at 12:42 PM on July 4, 2010

The Amelie soundtrack, mainly by Yann Tiersen.
posted by lizbunny at 12:45 PM on July 4, 2010

A few ideas that I haven't seen mentioned yet:

Sam Prekop: Who's Your New Professor (summery jazz/rock)
The Sea and Cake: Oui (jazz/pop with little electronic tinges) [1]
The Books: The Lemon of Pink (folky sound collage)
Milosh: Meme (downtempo electronic with male vocals)
Mouse on Mars: Autoditacker (tuneful but idiosyncratic electronic music [2])
Boards of Canada: In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ambient/downtempo, some of the best in its class)

[1] (Sam Prekop is the lead singer for The Sea and Cake, just so you're not surprised at hearing his voice twice in this list.)
[2] maybe program out "dark fx"

posted by en forme de poire at 6:13 PM on July 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

(and if you want to have something on the TV in the background, here is a fun music video by TSaC for a cover they did of "Sound and Vision")
posted by en forme de poire at 6:18 PM on July 4, 2010

Django is a good call.

I always suggest Jimmy Smith for this kid of thing. He was the grandaddy of jazz organ, and his stuff just plain makes you feel cool when you listen to it. Any of his Blue Note or Verve albums should do fine.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 7:49 PM on July 4, 2010

Jazz, definitely. Astrud Gilberto for that semi-tongue-in-cheek retro chic.
posted by ifjuly at 10:34 AM on July 5, 2010

All great suggestions; sometimes choosing dinner music can be tough, thankless if successful -- as Brian Eno said
If it's bad, nobody talks
but if it's good, nobody listens.
posted by Rash at 8:09 PM on July 5, 2010

« Older Help me find DBT resources, please!   |   LA-Oakland move, need moving company recs Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.