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What Is Space Age Pop Music?


What Is Space Age Pop Music?

Perry and Kingsley's landmark 1966 electronic album "The In Sound From Way Out!"

Definition: Sometimes labeled with the unwieldy moniker of "Space Age Bachelor Pad" music, Space Age Pop was designed for just that -- modern music for the swinging adult male. But it wasn't necessarily mood music: Space Age Pop was that rare genre of music created especially for a delivery system, in this case, the new "hi-fi" stereos flooding the market in the late '50s and early '60s. It was a style in which stereo "panning" and "separation," not to mention wide mixes and gimmicky sound effects, were all used to demonstrate the stunning new vista of stereo sound. As cocktail or lounge music went, Space Age Pop also was likely to sport a futuristic sensibility, one in which lunar and space themes often played a part. (In fact, some consider the genre to be an outgrowth of exotica in which the moon itself was the far-off and exotic land in question!) To that end, the new electronic sounds being created in "sound labs" were often incorporated to give the music an up-to-date feel.

Typically, a Space Age Pop song would be a jazz instrumental of sorts, perhaps with a more exotic or Latin rhythm, tricked out with bizarre sonic runs, unusual instrumentation, and abrupt changes in style. While designed for that latest of suburban innovations, the "den," the style also worked well for entertaining, hence its alternate name. By the end of the '60s, Space Age Pop had evolved into a full-blown obsession with electronica, and rock groups like Pink Floyd and the Beatles came along to explore the stereo landscape more effectively. Space Age Pop was largely forgotten by the mid-70s as electronic groups like Kraftwerk adapted the new sounds to a more pop sensibility, but it enjoyed a renaissance amongst hipsters in the '90s that still continues. Indeed, such pioneers as Esquivel and Raymond Scott, marginalized in their time, are lionized as masters of innovation today.

Also Known As: Space Age Bachelor Pad, Lounge, Electronica, Exotica
  1. "Latin-esque," Esquivel (purchase/download)
  2. "Swan's Splashdown," Perry and Kingsley (purchase/download)
  3. "Electric To Me Turn," Bruce Haack (purchase/download)
  4. "Watch What Happens," Denny McLain (purchase/download)
  5. "Danny's Inferno," The Three Suns (listen)
  6. "Punctuated Performance," Henri Rene (listen)
  7. "How High The Moon," Ferrante and Teicher (purchase/download)
  8. "Cindy Electronium," Raymond Scott (purchase/download)
  9. "Roller Coaster," Les Baxter (purchase/download)
  10. "Fire Island," The Mystic Moods Orchestra (purchase/download)
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