|Space age pop|
|Other names||Space pop|
Bachelor pad music
|Cultural origins||Early 1950s – early 1960s, United States and Mexico|
Space age pop is a subgenre of pop and easy listening music associated with Mexican and American composers and songwriters in the Space Age of the 1950s and 1960s. Also known as bachelor pad music or lounge music, it was inspired by the spirit of those times, an optimism based on the strong post-war economy and technology boom, and excitement about humanity's early forays into space. Although there is no exact album, date, or year when the genre was born, producer Irwin Chusid identifies its heyday as "roughly 1954 to 1963—from the dawn of high-fidelity (hi-fi) to the arrival of the Beatles."
The music is not limited to a single style, and it is not always easily categorized. There are several styles that can be recognized as an influence: classical composers like Ravel and Debussy; the big bands of the 1940s; and different exotic styles, such as samba, Latin, and Calypso music. It is also related to its genres of lounge music, exotica, or beautiful music/easy listening, and may be regarded as a precursor to the musical genre of space music. Albums often have album covers related to science fiction—those include rockets, moonscapes, or modernism.
Space age pop brought innovation to popular music in several ways—these albums in the early 1950s attend to include some of the earliest examples of concept albums, and embraced the earliest form of four-track recordings introduced in 1957.
Even though the genre takes on a variety of approaches in style, rhythm, composition, and arrangement, it also shows some similarities. For instance, many of the composers associated with the genre used a string orchestra for applying warmth and color to the sound, often combined with a Latin percussion section. A variety of keyboard instruments—from piano to marimbas to organ—are frequently used, and occasionally even the theremin for that out-of-this-world sound. The arrangements of the instruments tend to be highly original, conveying a sense of humor and playful charm—though album covers often have a science fiction or modernist theme.
It is also common for composers to use well-known jazz standards as a basis for their own work and recordings, such as Harlem Nocturne, Caravan, and Autumn Leaves. Classical pieces are also popular among space age composers, but almost always arranged in a lighter way than the original.
Space age pop, largely forgotten after the late 1960s, underwent an enormous surge in popularity in the early 1990s, leading to the release in 1994 of the signature CD compilation of the space age pop music of Juan García Esquivel, Space-Age Bachelor Pad Music, which sold over 70,000 copies. Underground pop band Stereolab, in 1993, released Space Age Batchelor Pad Music [sic], an EP which is said to have factored significantly in raising awareness of the band. In the 2010s, one can hear the resurgence of the style through the tribute Jazz Vocal Ensemble Randy Van Horne Singers.