How to find cliche background music that sounds like fake old TV commercials
August 20, 2005 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Audio Production filter: I'm looking for background music for an audio project. The problem is, I don't know how to describe it. It's what I would call '1950's americana marketing music' or maybe 'bouncy happy super-retro cliche music'. See inside for a link to an example...

I swear, this stuff is all over the place, but because I don't know how to describe it, I don't know how to find it! Anyway, I heard an example of it on a podcast and isolated it. (The podcast is "Distorted View", and not something I listen to anymore. I tried emailing the host of the podcast but got no response.) Can someone help me find a source for more of this cliche music? Or even a few words that would describe this genre better? As promised, here's the example.
posted by Wild_Eep to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The best track of this genre, and probably most widely known, is Holiday For Strings. There are loads of different versions of it, some are better than others. The British equivalent of this is the theme from Housewive' Choice (scroll down to Meanwhile Over on BBC Radio 2...).

When searching for other stuff, try the terms cocktail, bachelor pad, lounge, exotica. The Ultralounge series of CDs is an excellent starter.
posted by nylon at 9:12 PM on August 20, 2005

The track that you note is Gay Spirits by David Rose and his Orchestra. It's available on UltraLounge Vol. 3: Space Capades available here or for the iTunes Minded.

I highly recommend the entire CD series, but I can't help you find things that have that kind of speciifc feel but I'll be watching for better answers.
posted by shagoth at 9:15 PM on August 20, 2005

Doh. nylon was right and posted while i was composing. In that case, Gay Spirits might work for you.
posted by shagoth at 9:16 PM on August 20, 2005

A good compilation of this kind of stuff is Music For TV Dinners.
posted by Remy at 9:19 PM on August 20, 2005

Is there a name for this genre? Seems that would help.
posted by rolypolyman at 9:22 PM on August 20, 2005

According to all the reviews on the album I linked to, the genre name seems to be "production music".
posted by Remy at 9:24 PM on August 20, 2005

I am told that Harmonic 33's "Music for Film, Television, & Radio," or parts of it, would fall under what you are looking for.
posted by betheon at 9:32 PM on August 20, 2005

Response by poster: One of the Amazon reviewers for 'Music For TV Dinners' calls it 'Production Music'.
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:37 PM on August 20, 2005

Response by poster: D'oh! I forgot to reload the page before I posted my comment. This is my first request to mefi and I'm so very impressed!
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:39 PM on August 20, 2005

If you are seriously interested in this stuff, check out Timothy D. Taylor's book Strange Sounds . A detailed history of exotica and lounge sounds lies therein.

Awesome thread. I love when audio references weave in with the words.
posted by realcountrymusic at 9:44 PM on August 20, 2005

Robert Picardo - Iena Sequence
Fantastic Plastic Machine - Theme of Luxury
posted by picaro at 10:22 PM on August 20, 2005

Actual music to shop from the era. Too scratchy to do anything with but a fun listen. I ripped it from a MeFi thread last week.

Since we have mentioned the Ultralounge series I must recommend a couple of things that don't usually sound like the track you played, but may yield something similar for you: Esquivel(of course), Enoch Light, Bob Thompson, and Tipsy (for a sampledelic take on the genre).
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 10:32 PM on August 20, 2005

It's not cliche as much as visionary, but you must treat yourself to the Raymond Scott CD set, Manhattan Research Inc.
posted by mwhybark at 10:47 PM on August 20, 2005

Response by poster: 'Holiday for Strings' is very close, but not this particular song. I also remember hearing an example of this style during a Simpsons episode where Homer is daydreaming about living in a 'land of chocolate'. I believe it was the ep where the power plant is bought/taken over by German businessmen. This music is generally orchestral, sort of like Muzak, and the specific examples that come to mind always seem to be plucked string instruments like violins and cellos. Can anyone else cite specific (preferrably link-able) examples on the web?
posted by Wild_Eep at 11:47 PM on August 20, 2005

Response by poster: It was also used in a cut-scene from the PC Game 'Interstate 76' at a scene that takes place at a gas station/convenience store.

I'm tellin' ya, this stuff is all over the place!
posted by Wild_Eep at 11:51 PM on August 20, 2005

Hey Wild_Eep, I think the music you're looking for is also in the background for several parts of the Ren and Stimpy Show, right?

It's really plucky and full of pizzicato sounds. I've always wanted to know what that stuff was as well.
posted by redteam at 2:08 AM on August 21, 2005

These days, you can go to the source -- pull soundtrack elements off one of the hundreds of ephemeral films in the Prelinger Collection at
posted by omnidrew at 7:52 AM on August 21, 2005

Depending on what you're trying to accomplish (and thus how much you're worried about copyright), you could potentially get a larf from some of your audience by using the shopping mode music from the Sims.
posted by kimota at 8:15 AM on August 21, 2005

seconding the Raymond Scott recommendation...
posted by hellbient at 12:13 PM on August 21, 2005

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