I'm a boring person and I want boring music to go with my life.
August 23, 2014 11:20 PM   Subscribe

I want boring music to listen to. Not even elevator music: hallway music. Dull, faceless corridor music. Cheesy, soothing, soft. Commercial music, the kind of music that men in the 1970s thought would induce people to feel groovy and buy stuff. The music that plays in Animal Crossing while you get your haircut. Ceefax music. Music you'd hear in an old Mad Men episode. Music that just sits there and doopey-doops while I concentrate and get important stuff done.
posted by glhaynes to Grab Bag (58 answers total) 153 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Obviously free is nice, but I'd also be more than happy to pay for something I'd listen to a lot, especially if it's on iTunes. On that note, I like Suzanne Ciani, Wendy Carlos, and Vangelis. Tycho, too. Boards of Canada doesn't tend to do it for me, even though that's probably a lot of people's first thought.
posted by glhaynes at 11:33 PM on August 23, 2014 [4 favorites]

Have you searched for easy listening? Pandora has this.

Also, how about Kenny G?
posted by duoshao at 11:39 PM on August 23, 2014

You'll be wanting the Seeburg 1000, via this FPP.
posted by Mizu at 11:43 PM on August 23, 2014 [13 favorites]

Response by poster: Easy listening is almost the right direction, but it's usually too pretty. I'm not really wanting pretty, or majestic. More ... groovy. Kenny G might be a good idea, I'll check him out.
posted by glhaynes at 11:44 PM on August 23, 2014

Response by poster: Yeah, Mizu, that's good. Thanks! Not really what I had envisioned (a little before the era I'm really wanting), but will work very nicely.
posted by glhaynes at 11:46 PM on August 23, 2014

It changes up, iirc. There are different genres and I think the radio station does them in chunks like shows. You're probably into the "Mood" genre. For a more modern take on this, check out Soma FM's Groove Salad.
posted by Mizu at 11:50 PM on August 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

You might give a listen to B-Tribe, Enya, Jazzanova, Jephte Guillaume, Smadj, Idiot Savant, and Montefiore Cocktail.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 11:58 PM on August 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes! These are really good, and will provide a nice background for many hours of … doing stuff.

I suppose the perfect piece might even be loopable — like the Animal Crossing music I mentioned. You can hang out in the salon for hours and just have that cool groove behind you the whole time, if I'm remembering correctly. On that note: one of the ideas leading up to me asking this question was a post over on NeoGAF asking for favorite "shop" music from video games. A couple of my favorites from that thread: River City Ransom shop, Shin Megami Tensei IV weapon store.
posted by glhaynes at 12:12 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Here's somebody's rendition of some Animal Crossing music. And the top comment mentions Nintendogs, which has very much the sort of music I'd like. Just "everything is cool and fine and OK forever and ever" music. Woo. Everything's cool. I'm just gonna sit here and chill out and brush this puppy music.
posted by glhaynes at 12:18 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Hey, glhaynes, Ask Mefi isn't really meant to be a conversation or chat space, so it's okay to provide clarifications or answer questions, but other than that just relax and let the answers flow. Thanks.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:00 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

You might want to check out Datassette/Datashat's BUSINESSFUNK mixes. Slightly newer than something out of Mad Men (1978 - 1984), but they are basically just mixes of old "catalog music", stuff you'd hear in corporate training videos or science videos at school and what-have-you.

On preview: Oh I see you've mentioned Nintendo music, specifically SHOP MUSIC. Yes yes I can see how that would work very well. Here are some thoughts along those lines....

Shop theme from Ocarina of Time for TEN HOURS on youtube

Shop theme from Twilight Princess for ten hours

Finally, personally I've always been partial to Earthbound's Drug Store theme.
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:05 AM on August 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

You confuse me when you ask for boring and then mention Wendy Carlos; however, if you want boring, Test Card music is a thing.
posted by Segundus at 1:40 AM on August 24, 2014

Seems like there are now 20 Cafe del Mar compilation albums on itunes. They just keep... going.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 4:37 AM on August 24, 2014

Perhaps try some Philip Glass. Some is a bit tinny, so try a some that's more orchestral. I put his Glassworks album on repeat sometimes to get a certain focus.
posted by sammyo at 5:37 AM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you want self-described groovy "space age bachelor pad music," you really can't go past mid-period Stereolab. Personally, I'd start with Dots and Loops and take it from there.
posted by Sonny Jim at 5:57 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Brian Eno coined the term "ambient music" for this sort of thing. Check out his series of four Ambient albums, and his work with Robert Fripp.

This became popular genre in the mid 90s and there are a ton of mixes and compilations. I like "A Brief History of Ambient" on the Virgin label - apparently it was popular enough to spawn a total of 24 albums in the series.
posted by exogenous at 6:08 AM on August 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

Not exactly what you are looking for, but I have heard people recommend Disney theme park area music as something to play in the background that doesn't really draw your full attention. Youtube is full of loop music that may or may soothe you into a stupor.
posted by fermezporte at 6:09 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Have you heard the music from The Sims (the original version)? Maybe you would like some of the songs from the in-game radio (like Latin #4 and others from the Latin station) or songs from the game's Buy Mode (like Buy Mode #1) and Build Mode (like Build Mode #1). The neighborhood screen songs (like Neighborhood #2) are similarly instrumental and varying in tempo. These songs must have been the background music to hundreds upon hundreds of hours of my life while I would get into the flow of designing virtual homes and furnishing them down to the last detail. Definitely placid and soothing, the background music from The Sims also can also have a slightly cheesy, commercial, and even old-timey feel to it at times.
posted by datarose at 6:10 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I actually discovered Tycho via this Spotify playlist. It's got some higher-energy stuff, which I like for writing code, but still the kind of thing that will just sit at the back of my head and not bother me while I Get Shit Donne.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:25 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know that you can get more bland and period specific yet popular than Herb Alpert's Tijuana Brass. Whipped Cream & Other Delights seemed to have been playing everywhere and anywhere between 1965 and 1980. It seemed to be the background music for anything that needed inoffensive music that wasn't classical or Muzak.
posted by Tchad at 6:29 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Songs for the Supermarket: "If you are looking for that classic supermarket jingle then look no further. Sounds For The Supermarket was the title of a tape cassette produced by a Minnesota based Communications company in 1975. It was available by mail purchase to supermarket venders in the US and Canada."
posted by fussbudget at 6:56 AM on August 24, 2014 [16 favorites]

So, that animal Crossing song seems to me to be to be 1960s Bossa. Herb Alpert, Sergio Mendes, and maybe Stan Getz's work with Joao Gilberto. Quincy Jone's Big Band Bossa Nova album might work, but might not be subdued enough for you.

Also, Burt Bacharach's song writing doesn't get enough attention, and would be perfect for this. You may want to check out some of his work in film scores too. Casino Royal (The comedy version, not the newer one), Alfie, Butch Cassedy and the Sundance Kid, What's New Pussy Cat, etc. all have some great stuff that might fit your needs.

On preview: Tchad beat me to Herb Alpert
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:57 AM on August 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Etrian Odyssey IV soundtrack has a number of great "RPG shop"-like tracks. The whole OST is kind of... lounge-prog meets 80s sitcom themes? Reminds me a lot of Animal Crossing and like... Nintendo's incidental music in the Wii, Wii U and 3DS interface. It's excellent and I love it and you might too.
posted by aparrish at 7:20 AM on August 24, 2014

You're looking for library music.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:31 AM on August 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Combustable Edison
posted by goggie at 7:58 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Arvo Pärt's Alina
posted by John Cohen at 8:09 AM on August 24, 2014

Best answer: Sys Rq finally got it right. You're looking for production library music from the 60s and 70s.

The big purveyors of the kind of soft, funky instrumental tracks used underlying ads or announcements in the 70s were Keith Mansfield, Alan Hawkshaw, Alan Moorhouse, Syd Dale and the deeply funky Alan Tew. They recorded background and commercial music for the KPM or Amphonic labels.

I've always loved the Sound Gallery series of CDs for being an excellent introduction into this kind of music, but there are many out there. You'll also commonly hear production library music on Soma FM's Illinois Street Lounge or the funkier tracks on Secret Agent.

But here's the catch: you'll find that, as music designed to be inobtrusive but novel or exciting or soothing, composed and performed by true professionals, there's a tremendous amount of character and nuance there. Listen to enough 70s library music, and you may start to find "normal" music boring. Thankfully, after that happens, there's Skeewiff.
posted by eschatfische at 8:26 AM on August 24, 2014 [52 favorites]

I would not go so far as to say they are boring, but try Jimmy Smith (the grandaddy of the Hammond Jazz Organ) and Django Reinhardt. Both largely instrumental only, and very much a reliable substance music-wise. I have a grand time writing to both.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 8:56 AM on August 24, 2014

Sounds like you should consider putting countless versions of "Girl From Ipanema" together. For my money the most insipid, dadsy, beyond-bland, dreary piece of music ever created.
posted by Decani at 8:58 AM on August 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

Tenor sax player Lester Young's more meditative recordings. Smooth as whipped cream, always inventive, and subtle.
posted by Agave at 10:08 AM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Jonathan Butler--New Life
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:36 PM on August 24, 2014

I like boring music for before bedtime and Groove Salad is actually too interesting for my purposes, but Drone Zone fits the bill.
posted by clavicle at 8:22 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I am going old school with Montovani Orchestra And Mancini They had some real elevator music action but if you like movie soundtracks from the period than these two work.
posted by jadepearl at 10:33 PM on August 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been carrying this knowledge around in my head for more than 20 years, and it's strangely exciting to think that it may finally be of use to someone else.

In 1990, before there was a World Wide Web upon which to look up weather, my family would consult the Weather Channel's local forecast fairly often - and the music was always the same bland, soothing track that somehow became compelling to me in its own vanilla way. I didn't know who the artist was until I was at the 1991 FBLA national conference and a sound guy happened to use it as the soundtrack to a slideshow, and I asked him. The album was Inner Motion by David Benoit (Spotify link) and the soothing Weather Channel music is the track '6-String Poet'. But the rest of the album seems similarly "generic telephone hold music" appropriate.
posted by usonian at 9:57 AM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

Maybe something in the "Ultra Lounge" series? Their website is no longer active, but you can still get the CDs or mp3s from Amazon.

You mentioned Mad Men - in the show's early years they released a CD called "Mad Men Original Score Vol. 1" that has some of the show's instrumental cues.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 11:47 AM on August 25, 2014

Maybe I'm listening to too much Night Vale, but you might need Disparition. Always chills me right out.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:53 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

This may be a bit too hip and upbeat, but music for programming might fit some of what you want.
posted by jonbro at 5:54 PM on August 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

The few remaining CD copies have gotten crazy expensive, but the Private Lounge series was my boring inoffensive music for most of the 2000s. I think I originally found them because one song was a bumper into a local NPR promo, and I've noticed many of these songs used in This American Life and elsewhere on NPR.
posted by Gimpson at 6:00 PM on August 25, 2014

Here are some options to help make your life even more dull.

Check out the Nightmares on Wax album, Carboot Soul it's soporific.

Also, gonna 2nd the Vangelis!

Andreas Vollenweider can make an insomniac sleepy.

Jean Michele Jarre makes some space age hallway music.

Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells is a classic elevator jam.

Terry Riley's Shri Camel makes me cry tears of boredom.

Don't forget to let IASOS wrap you up in his mind-numbing embrace.

Santo and Johnny's greatest hits will do the trick when you've run out of Valium.

Sergio and Odair Assad play soothing guitar music.

Les McCann's album Layers has a sweet, sweet groove.

Donald Byrd had some jazzy tunes that might induce a mall goer to buy stuff.

DJ Sprinkles Mid Town 120 Blues is suuuper boring.

Have you ever had a Tangerine Dream?

Nujabes ever?

You probably won't like Sand Circles by Motor City.
posted by nikoniko at 11:14 PM on August 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

usonian, I was just going to recommend The Weather Channel, specifically this collection of "Weatherscan Music" which someone went through the trouble of ripping based on repeatedly recording the broadcasts and then splicing together the non-voiceover bits. (There's a link to download the lot of them.)

For maximal calming boringness you can play it while you look at the WS4000 simulator.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:17 AM on August 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

You might like the royalty free music that is offered as background music for people who make YouTube videos. You can search them by mood/genre.

There's the free music archive and also YouTube's own audio library.
posted by easternblot at 4:03 AM on August 26, 2014

The Weather Network (Canada)
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 7:43 AM on August 26, 2014

Tim Love Lee does some excellent 70's lounge mixes, but since East Village Radio ceased to exist there is little record of this online, so you'll just have to make do with his own tunes, which are also excellent! The album Just Call Me Lone Lee is probably close to what you are looking for.

Zero 7 - Simple Things might also tickle the spot.

There is a lot of stuff on Compost records other than Jazzanova.

But library recordings are probably the best bet.
posted by asok at 3:36 PM on August 26, 2014

OK, thought of something else: Mike Walthius is an extremely prolific and meticulous composer who used to release tons of music in MIDI format that generally falls into this sort of New Age/smooth jazz/light rock genre. He is also a really excellent "producer" in a way you wouldn't think possible just using General MIDI. Anyway, a lot of his stuff from that time period (e.g.) wouldn't be out of place in the background of a chill computer game like Animal Crossing or a program like TWC -- he actually used to release packs of short MIDI files as website background music -- and that GM instrumental palette adds an additional layer of nostalgia. Most modern computers have wavetable MIDI now and should do a decent job of reproducing them, though if you really want to feel like you're in '95 you could find a player that does Adlib/SB16-like FM synthesis.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:14 AM on August 27, 2014

Sounds like you should consider putting countless versions of "Girl From Ipanema" together.

In fact, it's even got its own TVTrope: The Elevator from Ipanema. (Among the examples are also some instances of other Ipanema-esque music.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:46 AM on August 27, 2014 [2 favorites]

...if you want boring, Test Card music is a thing.
It certainly was in the UK. Until the 90s there were few channels and none showing content round the clock. The Test card - with its own specially written orchestral music - was shown in some of the the down time. Here's 9 minutes to give you an idea of what was involved.. The CD series Test Card Classics 1 and 2 is a compilation of this stuff.
posted by rongorongo at 5:22 AM on August 27, 2014

Response by poster: So many good answers, it's going to take me a while to go through these! Thanks so much.

I've marked eschatfische's answer and am listening to Illinois Street Lounge right now, tearing through some incredibly boring work but feeling great about it. From just a brief sampling, many of these other answers are great, too. I'll be listening to every one and marking answers that nailed what I'm wanting.

Thanks again, everyone.
posted by glhaynes at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2014

George Benson or Chuck Mangione, if you want to start your journey down the dark path of enjoying 70s light jazz.
posted by mubba at 8:30 AM on August 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Movie soundtracks?
posted by rmd1023 at 7:30 PM on August 31, 2014

All minimalist music!

Traditional music from Borneo/Malaysia - Madeeh

Japanese 3 piece make minimalist techno using guitars - Nisenmondai

German band make minimalist techno using acoustic instruments - Brandt Brauer Frick
posted by asok at 4:28 AM on September 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you want a physical object, look for the FM3 Buddha Machine (previously), or other cheap Buddha jukeboxes. There are also apps of various sorts for both iPhones and Androids, or you could load up some (archived) web apps: the basic single Buddha Machine from Pumail.ru, or the 21 player FM3 Buddha Machine Wall from Zendesk. Both archived pages work as they should, with full looping audio capabilities. Or you can download the audio from FM3 themselves and loop the audio in your own computer/ smart phone/ tablet audio player with looping capabilities. [h/t to jessamyn for connecting the question and answer in the recent MetaFilter podcast]
posted by filthy light thief at 10:10 PM on September 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm late to the party, but I also was thinking that the soundtracks for The Sims might fit the bill, and since they're up to 4 of those games, there's a lot to choose from; if that works, you're likely to find stuff you like in other Maxis games too; I know the SimCity soundtracks were pretty similar. Upon listening to that New Leaf bit, I immediately thought of other stuff from videogames-- you don't want the battle music, but if you look on most videogame soundtracks, I'm guessing the music that they play for the peaceful parts of the game, especially in the cities, might be what you want. The song that plays on the Galaxy Map in Mass Effect 2, Wind Waker's Outset Island theme, stuff like that.

You might look at other songs by the Animal Crossing composer; though I'm betting the KK Slider stuff isn't quite what you're wanting. Most games have a lot of ambient background-y stuff that the players have to be able to listen to over and over while playing that game for hundreds of hours without ripping their ears out, so I think videogame soundtracks would probably work better for you than movie soundtracks, which you generally only have to listen to once. If you ever want to just try a bunch of random game soundtracks, the Humble Bundle has regular deals that frequently include the game's OST; they're pay-what-you-want so they can be a good way to grab a lot of game soundtracks at once.
posted by NoraReed at 12:28 AM on September 16, 2014

Put yourself on hold?
posted by gem tactics at 12:04 PM on September 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

Someone mentioned the Ultra Lounge series above. I have several of those, and I have them combined in an iTunes playlist for just this sort of thing. (Most often for when I'm out running errands.)

The ones I like best:
Bachelor Pad Royale

Cocktail Capers

Bossa Novaville

Cha Cha De Amor

I also suggest The Best of Martin Denny's Exotica . "Exotica" is basically Tiki bar music - meant to suggest South Sea islands, jungles, Arabian desert oases. It might make you start craving fancy rum drinks!

(Lastly, once December rolls around, if you're into this lounge/cocktail music genre, I highly recommend the 3-disc Christmas Cocktails set. It's fabulous!)
posted by dnash at 7:43 AM on September 26, 2014

I don't know if this is boring, but it's definitely something I could listen to all day. Indeed I have, on repeat. Gavin Bryars - 1-2, 1-2-3-4 -- it just keeps doing the same thing over and over, except slightly different.
posted by philip-random at 11:36 PM on September 29, 2014

Cheesy, soothing, soft. Commercial music, the kind of music that men in the 1970s thought would induce people to feel groovy and buy stuff.

Anything by Ray Conniff. Here's two and a half hours of him. You're welcome.
posted by blucevalo at 8:38 AM on October 11, 2014

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