Space age pop or bachelor pad music is a subgenre of easy listening or lounge music associated with American and Mexican composers, songwriters, and bandleaders in the Space Age of the 1950s and 1960s.[1] It drew on contemporary fascination with technology, outer space, and "exotic" locations, exploiting new audio technology such as stereophonic sound, multitrack recording, and early electronic instruments.[2][3][4] Irwin Chusid identifies the heyday of the genre as "roughly 1954 to 1963—from the dawn of high-fidelity (hi-fi) to the arrival of the Beatles."[5] Major artists in the genre include Juan García Esquivel, Les Baxter, Enoch Light, Henry Mancini, Dick Hyman, and Jean-Jacques Perrey.[4][6]

Among the major influences on space age pop were Impressionist composers such as Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, big band jazz, Hawaiian music, and contemporary Latin American styles such as samba, mambo, and calypso.[7] There is much overlap between space age pop and contemporary exotica, surf music, beautiful music, and easy listening,[2][6] and it may be regarded as a precursor to space music or other forms of ambient music. Space age pop albums often have titles and covers related to science fiction, featuring rockets, outer space vistas, and mid-century modern design, or emphasizing its intended audience of affluent, stylish bachelors in cocktail bars and lounges.[2][8]

The genre saw a revival in interest in the 1990s, hand in hand with the contemporary swing revival and tiki revival which drew on related styles and aesthetics.[9] Contemporary bands that took inspiration from the style were mixed in their approach, with some, such as Combustible Edison, seeking to revere and faithfully revive the style,[10] while acts such as Mr. Bungle and Stereolab updated it with contemporary influences and offered postmodern commentary on easy listening styles' perceived Orientalism and celebration of conspicuous consumption.[11][12][13][14]


  1. ^ Pulse (Monthly music digest of Tower Records/Video) #164 October 1997 Page 57 Article: "Catalog Rolling: How Record Labels Decide What Titles to Re-Release" (article begins on page 42)
  2. ^ a b c "the 1950s and 1960s - an era obsessed with technological advancements and new frontiers. The covers depict happy families, comfortable homes, and cocktail parties. Space Age Pop is the musical interpretation of these dreams. It comprises the eerie, mesmerizing sounds of Mood music, the Polynesian, Hawaiian, Caribbean, and jungle melodies of Exotica; the hi-fidelity and stereo-inspired sounds of bachelor pad music; and the dream, seductive rhapsodies of cocktail tunes." Page 1, Exotiquarium: Album Art from the Space Age, Jennifer McKnight-Trontz and Lenny Dee, St. Martin's Press Music/Songbooks, 1999, ISBN 0-312-20133-8
  3. ^ "Space Age Pop developed out of America's insatiable appetite for the new and improved, providing grown-ups with the music they wanted: seductive moods, primitive beats, and fantastic effects.", Page 6, Exotiquarium: Album Art from the Space Age, Jennifer McKnight-Trontz and Lenny Dee, St. Martin's Press Music/Songbooks, 1999, ISBN 0-312-20133-8
  4. ^ a b "What IS Space Age Pop?--Some Definitions". Retrieved 2023-09-17.
  5. ^ "The History of Space Age Pop" liner notes by Irwin Chusid, Space Age Pop Vol 1: Melodies and Mischief, RCA Records 1995
  6. ^ a b "Ten Basic Space Age Pop Albums". Retrieved 2023-09-17.
  7. ^ "The Songs of Space Age Pop Music". Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  8. ^ Borgerson, Janet (2017). Designed for hi-fi living : the vinyl LP in midcentury America. Schroeder, Jonathan E., 1962-. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262036238. OCLC 958205262.
  9. ^ "FOR BETTER OR WORSE, LOUNGE MUSIC (YES, THAT EASY-LISTENING DRECK) HAS RETURNED, SO . . ". Chicago Tribune. 1996-02-19. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  10. ^ Records, Sub Pop. "Combustible Edison". Sub Pop Records. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  11. ^ Klein, Joshua (2001-08-29). "What the Bleep? Stereolab Does Some Actual Tunes". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  12. ^ Harvey, Eric (July 23, 2017). "Stereolab: Dots and Loops Album Review". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2023-09-18.
  13. ^ Huey, Steve, "Mr. Bungle - California Album Reviews, Songs & More | AllMusic", Allmusic, retrieved 2023-09-18
  14. ^ "Trevor Dunn talks about the making of MR. BUNGLE'S 'California'". Faith No More Followers. 2017-08-05. Retrieved 2023-09-18.