Kings, Clubs, what's next?
November 21, 2012 3:30 PM   Subscribe

In the 1990s, every* mid-priced yuppie restaurant in Philadelphia and NYC was playing the Gipsy Kings. In the 2000s, it was Buena Vista Social Club. What's the inoffensive ethnic band of the 2010s?

* ok, maybe not EVERY restaurant. But I swear I heard 'em pretty much every time I went out for something fancier than cheesesteaks.
posted by moonmilk to Media & Arts (26 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Sade had a (pretty awesome) 2010 album called Soldier of Love that, now that I'm aware of it, I hear all the time.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:42 PM on November 21, 2012

Response by poster: Hmm, that seems about right. I'll check it out!
posted by moonmilk at 3:46 PM on November 21, 2012

On one hand we may only be able to identify this in retrospect, but I also have noticed that the kind of place that would throw on an inoffensive ethnic CD today opts for a digital radio station instead for fear of being caught without the appropriate commercial music license. In 2005 or 2006 I even started to heard stories of music industry/RIAA reps dropping in on small businesses to remind them that they weren't authorized to play their own CDs at work, and to gently suggest that it would be better for everyone if they switched to a "music provider" who rolled the licensing fees into their subscription price.

In a way this is a non-answer answer, but you might also see what's playing over in the SiriusXM™ Coffeehouse.
posted by pullayup at 3:50 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: A friend just suggested Los Lobos as the 1980s version. So we can work our way backwards, too.
posted by moonmilk at 3:52 PM on November 21, 2012

Nouvelle Vague.

Also ye ye and chanson music in general.
posted by Sara C. at 3:53 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

Manu Chao, definitely
posted by decathexis at 3:54 PM on November 21, 2012 [8 favorites]

Does Beirut count? Not actually world music in the same way your other artists are, but I've heard it in a lot of different places around Portland for the last couple years.
posted by redsparkler at 3:56 PM on November 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I'll check out the Coffeehouse!

Yes! Manu Chao, first heard (by me) at Cafe Steinhof around 2009 or so - a bit early, but a good fit restaurantwise.

I've never heard Beirut in a restaurant, though I'd like to. Seems a bit edgy for East Coast yuppies. I don't think I've encountered Nouvelle Vague either, though they sound like they'd fit just fine.
posted by moonmilk at 3:59 PM on November 21, 2012

I also remember 2009 as the year that every fourth or fifth public radio music segment was on fado.
posted by pullayup at 4:01 PM on November 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

manu chao was more early 00s, i'd think.
posted by elizardbits at 4:02 PM on November 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

Not ethnic, but I haven't been able to escape Arcade Fire no matter how hard I try.
posted by greta simone at 4:09 PM on November 21, 2012

Rodrigo y Gabriela
posted by iamkimiam at 4:19 PM on November 21, 2012 [12 favorites]

I'm pretty sure I hear the goddamned Thievery Corporation in every single "trendy" bar/restaurant/lounge I've been in the past 5 years. I'm pretty sure of this because I always make note of it, and I have made note of it multiple times. At least in DC - "worldly" yuppies LOVE Thievery.
posted by windbox at 4:20 PM on November 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

I think the trend has flipped. You now go to ethnic restaurants and listen to American and English eighties music.
posted by srboisvert at 4:27 PM on November 21, 2012 [7 favorites]

Pretty difficult to answer this question in 2012, but I'll submit Gotan Project as a candidate.
posted by mannequito at 4:30 PM on November 21, 2012

Seconding Rodrigo y Gabriela, and sometimes also Amadou & Mariam.
posted by oinopaponton at 4:37 PM on November 21, 2012

Haha, Nthing Manu Chao and Thievery Corporation.
posted by TungstenChef at 5:08 PM on November 21, 2012

Prince Royce.
posted by empath at 5:24 PM on November 21, 2012

Oh, that's why I like the Gypsy Kings. Actually, in the early 1990s, I used to hear them in a hole in the wall Lebanese restaurant. Maybe they were reading the same trade publications.
posted by mollweide at 5:42 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hear Bebel Gilberto in about 80% of the restaurants and "lounges" I patronize.
posted by dynamiiiite at 5:52 PM on November 21, 2012

Neither are very ethnic, unless you can call Scandanavian ethnic, but Kings Of Convenience and Jose Gonzales are cafe favourites.

Anouar Brahem's Astounding Eyes of Rita and Cesaria Evora have been popular over the last few years. None of these are ubiquitous.

I think that people's knowledge of music has become too diverse to create anything as universally popular as The Gypsy Kings.
posted by nevan at 6:15 PM on November 21, 2012

I feel like this sort of question could possibly be answered by perusing the kcrw dj picks.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:45 PM on November 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not quite ethnic, but I hear Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes a lot in cafes and restaurants, more so since a cover of Skinny Love became a top 20 hit here. Also, over here there's a new wave of chart-friendly acoustic musicians which have taken that slot - Ed Sheeran, Mumford and Sons, Ellie Goulding, sometimes Florence and the Machine - in places where Buena Vista Social Club, Gotan Project and Manu Chao would have been played five years earlier.

And yes, definitely Nouvelle Vague.
posted by mippy at 6:46 AM on November 22, 2012

There's a vaguely world-music themed mid-priced chain here which caters to middle-class families, but I can't find out what music they play on the site.
posted by mippy at 6:49 AM on November 22, 2012

Response by poster: It's a good point that it's really too early to tell, and interesting to think, as nevan suggests, that musical tastes may be too diverse now for there to be another Gipsy Kings restaurant muzak takeover.
posted by moonmilk at 10:32 AM on November 22, 2012

Rupa & the April Fishes
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 4:00 AM on November 23, 2012

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