Music for fake grown ups drinking cheap bubbly?
September 25, 2010 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I need music for a cocktail party this is not obscenely grown-up, quiet or boring.

I am planning a cocktail party where my mid-twenties friends and I get dressed up in our formal wear, eat appetizers from Trader Joe's, drink cheap champagne, and congratulate ourselves on our finery. I'm figuring out the playlist and am sort of blanking. I mainly listen to banjo-heavy indie-folk and Lady Gaga on repeat, so I'm out of my safe zone here. Fun, catchy and lively music, kind of like "Odessa" by Caribou and any single by David Bowie. What else should I check out?
posted by zoomorphic to Media & Arts (43 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
Just to get it right out of the gate the Ultra Lounge Series was pretty much made for this situation.
posted by The Whelk at 10:41 AM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Maybe some stuff from Blondie?
posted by MaryDellamorte at 10:41 AM on September 25, 2010

Oh also, I'm famous (and not in a good way) for just slapping Passion Pit, Phoenix, Sleigh Bells, Yelle and Michael Jackson on a playlist, so new bands are great! While I love dance-y stuff, I'm not sure it's quite the theme this time. Correct if I'm wrong, though.

Right now I have Bowie, Asobi Seksu, Caribou, Au Revoir Simone...and that's about as far down my iTunes as I've gotten.

And please, no deep house or lounge music.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:44 AM on September 25, 2010

Seconding Ultra Lounge!
posted by bolognius maximus at 10:48 AM on September 25, 2010

Jim Thirlwell of Foetus has a side project called Steroid Maximus that is sort of lounge crossed with the epic sound he uses for the Venture Brothers soundtrack stuff he does. I say lounge, but that is just sort of a pallette being referenced. Sort of modern take on Spy Movie music. Tracks go over well where adults are drinking together.

Example 1

Example 2

Some may not fit a party, but the latest "Ectopia" would when scattered in a mix.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 10:53 AM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actually, I recently had people over and used string quartet tributes of various artists as background noise. Vitamin Records has a lot of stuff.
posted by theichibun at 10:57 AM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about Pink Martini
posted by superduperfly at 11:06 AM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

8 1/2 Souvenirs is a funny jazzy/loungey band ("Shut The Door" is a cute song that's a pun on misunderstanding "Je T'Adore"). And Kirsty Maccoll's In These Shoes is sort of perfect too.

In more rock/pop strain, a lot of stuff on Rilo Kiley's Under The Blacklight strikes me as loungey, but that might be because it just came up on random on iTunes. ^_^
posted by maryr at 11:09 AM on September 25, 2010

I like Astrud Gilberto/Stan Getz for this kinda thing, 'cause of the tongue-in-cheek nod to '50s cocktail parties.
posted by ifjuly at 11:12 AM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oooh, Pink Martini is a lovely suggestion. When I swan about like a diva home alone dressed up for no reason, wine in hand, I listen to "Sympathique." Something like "Milord" by Edith Piaf might work too. And Francoise Hardy--say, her cover of "Suzanne" or "Only Friends." Nico or the Velvet Underground might work too--the more subdued stuff anyway.
posted by ifjuly at 11:15 AM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't tell how strong the strain of irony is in the event you're describing. But it seems to me that whether tongue-in-cheek or legit, maybe pre-1976 Roxy Music might fit? I say this because it's not lounge, it's not deep house, you might hear the Bowie connections (which you refer to in your question), and the style/thematic of the groups first albums fit. Post 1975, their music might seem too "obscenely grown up," but the first albums might fit nicely.
posted by .kobayashi. at 11:26 AM on September 25, 2010

This may be super old news to you, but the Verve Re-Mixed CD's (they take standard jazz/blues/motown songs and remix them) have some nice party tunes. Bitter:Sweet has that slower-yet-upbeat sound. I like Dragonette a lot, but it may be a bit too dancey/electronic for your needs. Hero by Asteroids Galaxy Tour is nice, the rest of their stuff is great too (assuming you don't hate her very distinct voice), but again, possibly too boppy for what you want.
posted by miss_kitty_fantastico at 11:27 AM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Squirrel Nut Zippers!
posted by jquinby at 11:29 AM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Serge Gainsbourg is good for this vibe too.
posted by CheeseLouise at 11:30 AM on September 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

Brian Eno, David Byrne, Brian Eno & David Bryne.
posted by rikschell at 11:36 AM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Air - moon safari
posted by dirtdirt at 11:41 AM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Oh, also the Secret Agent stream. Good stuff there.
posted by jquinby at 11:47 AM on September 25, 2010

Nouvelle Vague's various covers are extremely awesome.
posted by elizardbits at 12:01 PM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

When I've hosted similar get-togethers, I've had success with Four Tet, Jenny Wilson, Röyksopp, April March, Lykke Li, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Detektivbyrån, The Buggles, MGMT, The White Stripes, Florence + The Machine, Firefox AK, Air, Vampire Weekend and Nouvelle Vague.
posted by Orchestra at 12:02 PM on September 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nouvelle Vague!!!
posted by chicago2penn at 12:06 PM on September 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

For a *very* retro turn - but most assuredly not lounge - try Radio Diskmuke.
posted by pianoboy at 12:08 PM on September 25, 2010

I don't know what "obscenely grown-up" means. Does that exclude Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker, and Anita O'Day?

Cuz if it does, I don't wanna go to your cocktail party.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:16 PM on September 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

I'm going to throw in a suggestion for early era Cardigans, in particular the first three albums, and absolutely include "Gordon's Gardenparty."" They also have recorded lounge versions of "Iron Man" and "Sabbath Bloody Sabbath," without veering into parody Richard Cheese territory. A rarities album of theirs called The Other Side of the Moon even has a fifteen minute long track called "Cocktail Party Bloody Cocktail Party," which is a medley of songs from an earlier album, complete with the muted sounds of a cocktail party in the background.
posted by adipocere at 12:27 PM on September 25, 2010

I came to also recommend soma fm's Secret Agent station.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:43 PM on September 25, 2010

I don't know what "obscenely grown-up" means. Does that exclude Frank Sinatra, Chet Baker, and Anita O'Day?

Cuz if it does, I don't wanna go to your cocktail party.

Agreed. Maybe also Cole Porter? Something that might be good for fun, retro (vintage?) classy suggestions would be to pop on the Ink Spots on Pandora or The husband and I have a tradition of listening to 40s tunes on Sunday mornings, which makes us feel both very goofy and very grown-up. For, like, people who are 26 and 32, respectively.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:48 PM on September 25, 2010

The In Sound from Way Out is instrumental music from the Beastie Boys and is insanely good for any party.
posted by jeoc at 1:05 PM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

My hipster friends I am with suggest Nouvelle Vague: French lounge covers of New Wave songs.
posted by mckenney at 1:29 PM on September 25, 2010

Perhaps a bit too exotic and/or dancey for your purposes, but I recommend:

DJ Zhao - Ngoma mixes One and Two, which are free to download.

Three is also good, but may be too aggressive for a cocktail party.
posted by Spacelegoman at 1:45 PM on September 25, 2010 has loads of commercial-free stations that are perfect for parties.
posted by cyndigo at 2:27 PM on September 25, 2010

Download a few albums of bossa nova from Sabadabada!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:44 PM on September 25, 2010

The Sea And Cake - laid back but still relatively high energy - they make great background music without being offensively bland.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:43 PM on September 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe not ironic enough, but the soundtrack to Ocean's Twelve is chock full of dreamy, instrumental music that, if I knew anything about it, I'd say it was straight out of 60's Europe. It's great stuff, and would work well in snippets in the background of a cocktail party.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:26 PM on September 25, 2010

Sounds like you just want to put on the Hype Machine Popular list. Just hit play!
posted by empath at 8:08 PM on September 25, 2010

Caravan Palace.
posted by bloggerwench at 8:51 PM on September 25, 2010

Jazz. Starting with Orlando Cachaito Lopez and Getz/Gilberto. Maybe some Oscar Peterson. Try Hotel Costes X; the earlier ones are very good in part but you need to filter them whereas X can be played straight through.
posted by polyglot at 3:12 AM on September 26, 2010

For a twist on singles by David Bowie, try Seu Jorge's Portugese covers of his songs (you might have heard them in the film, The Life Aquatic).
posted by spec80 at 4:01 AM on September 26, 2010

How about some lovely Mouse on Mars?
posted by krilli at 5:52 AM on September 26, 2010

Perhaps the Puppini Sisters? They're a vocal trio that covers old standards and newer songs, such as "Walk Like an Egyptian" and "Crazy in Love." Fun and retro.
posted by daikaisho at 8:30 AM on September 26, 2010

Robert Mitchum and Maya Angelou made calypso albums.
posted by brujita at 9:54 AM on September 26, 2010

i love to play Beirut when i have friends over. it's lovely, and different, without being overpowering.

also, Nthing Nouvelle Vague.
posted by photoboothsupermodel at 11:58 PM on September 26, 2010

Codeine Velvet Club - "Hollywood"
Dusty Springfield - (anything with her voice including her PetShopBoys foray) but especially "Oh no! Not My Baby", "Stay Awhile", "The Look of Love"
Bebo Valdes - Bebo de Cuba (album)
Broadcast - "Before We Begin"
The Ravonettes - "Black Satin"
Mum - "The Ballad Of The Broken Birdie Records (Ruxpin Remix II)"
The Legends - "Closer" (from Facts & Figures album)
Atlas Sound - "Atavin", "Walkabout (With Noah Lennox)"
Bebel Gilberto - "Samba Da Bencao"
Toro y Moi - "Talamak"
School of Seven Bells - "Connjur"
Vince Gauraldi - "Great Pumpkin Waltz"
Nancy Sinatra - "You Only Live Twice"
Memoryhouse - "To The Lighthouse"
Suede - "So Young'
Devendra Banhart - Samba Vexillographica
Of Montreal - "We Were Born The Mutants Again With Leafling"
Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out Of This Country (the whole durn album)
Richard Hawley - "The Ocean"

These tracks in no way "go together"...but maybe they'll help point you in a direction.
posted by RK at 11:28 AM on September 28, 2010

Nouvelle Vague

Think Getz and Gilberto for 2010. Quirky, poppy, jazzy covers- so much fun. I think this would be the ultimate ironic cocktail party music.
posted by emilyclaire at 9:39 PM on September 29, 2010

think about the median age of everyone attending and at the beginning of the party, play various pop hits that would've been popular during your childhood (stuff your parents listened to).... to create a nostalgic, comforting, and relaxing atmosphere. as the party goes on and more cocktails are consumed, have another mix ready consisting of pop hits from when the collective group was in high school/early years of college. think of songs to create a nostalgic, fun, rebellious atmosphere. if you listen to the song and it's depressing, skip it. think fun, light, and once again - nostalgic. unless all attendees can be definitively categorized as "goth" or "preppy" or "artsy", don't veer too far off the pop path, or you'll probably make a few people feel somehow unincluded. pop might be cheesy, but it's universally recognized, and the common thread can spark conversation.
posted by peykron at 8:04 PM on October 4, 2010

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