Simply put, easy-listening music is a piece of music that is pleasant to our ears. It is relaxing and soothing, a perfect choice for background music. It is defined by moderate to slow tempo arrangements with full instrumentation usually with synthesized string sounds or string sections. Most of the time, this music is instrumental, sometimes with solo vocals.

Easy listening music is not classical or jazz music because these two genres require the listener’s full attention. It covers instrumental recordings of pop standards, hit songs, rock songs, and even folk. Generally, the focus is on melodies and luxurious arrangements.

As said before, this is background music, it is not intrusive and aggressive. For that reason, it is the perfect music genre for everyday tasks such as studying, working, reading, etc.

The History of Easy Listening Music

The origins of easy-listening music go back to the 1930s when the so-called “sweet bands“ became popular. Their sound was labeled as “with strings“ music. The strings became even more popular in the 1940s and 1950s when jazz and pop standards started to include them in their own material.

But the genre achieved its success during the 1950s and throughout the 1970s. In that period, genres like rock’n’roll, pop, and folk dominated the charts so the easy-listening acts benefited from them by simply arranging and recording covers of the chart hits. A formula that won over a new generation of listeners. Here are the two most popular examples: Mas Que Nada by Sergio Mendes, and Moon River by Henry Mancini.

Nowadays, easy-listening music is evolving by each second thanks to technology. In this scenario, it influenced music in a good way, we have so many new genres and subgenres. 

There are a couple of popular derivative forms of easy-listening music that we will mention so keep on reading!


Chill-out music is defined by a relaxed mood and slow tempo. It ranges from ambient to lounge, from cinematic to deep house, and from downtempo to modern classical. As you can see, chill-out combines different styles of music in a relaxed and harmonious way. To deliver that well-known chill-out sound, it uses electronic instruments such as drum machines, sound effects, synthesizers, and wind instruments. Just to point out, chill-out is not electronic music. It has no similarities with electronic sound or techno.

Popular Easy Listening Music Genres

Sunshine pop

Sunshine pop is a subgenre of pop music that originated in Southern California in the mid-1960s. It is characterized by lavish harmony vocals, rich orchestrations, and good cheer. It was mildly influenced by psychedelic pop and nostalgic moods. Over the years it has collected quite a cult following. No wonder that happened because sunshine pop has a seductive tone to it, lush melodies, sweet harmonies, and nostalgia for youth. To give you a full picture of what sunshine pop is, here are the most popular bands of that genre: the Beach Boys, the Mammas & the Papas, the Turtles, etc.

Adult contemporary

Adult contemporary music highlights relaxed rhythms, love-focused lyrics, undistorted instruments, and vocal proficiency. Don’t confuse this genre with pop music, it is different. Adult contemporary has gentle instrumentation like acoustic guitars or gentle keyboards. Also, it has a strong R&B influence, and it’s in contrast with heavy metal, hard rock, funk, disco, and similar. Some of the most popular adult contemporary artists are Céline Dion, Elton John, Phil Collins, Sting, etc.


Ambient music emphasizes texture, tone, atmosphere, and mood over standard melodies and rhythms. This genre does a very good job of combining electronic sounds and acoustic instruments with sounds from nature, and it has many subgenres. Ambient music likes to linger on chords and notes for a long time. Above everything, the main goal of ambient is to build an atmosphere. Some notable ambient musicians are Brian Eno, Aphex Twin, Klaus Schulze, etc.

Popular Easy Listening Music Genres


Lounge music was popular in the 1950s and 1960s in the US. The name refers to music that was played in lounges of casinos and hotel bars, usually with one singer and one or two musicians. Today, lounge music also means easy-going electronic music known as downtempo. This genre invites you to take it easy and relax in a place, to be present. Some of the popular artists are Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Nouvelle Vague, Pink Martini, etc.


Lo-fi music is so much more than chill beats. Lo-fi or low fidelity was originally a low-quality recording with audible flaws like for example background noise. It is a subgenre of electronic music that has qualities like downtempo music, chill-out, and lo-fi hip hop. This genre successfully mixes elements of jazz, house, hip-hop beats, easy listening, and samples with a do-it-yourself music aesthetic. The result is dreamy audio with a retro and relaxed sound. Popular lo-fi musicians are Powfu, ChilledCow, Chillhop Music channel on YouTube, etc.

Popular Easy Listening Music Genres

We trust you have gained valuable insights today. Meridian Chapters is a company specialising in creating tailor-made playlists for beach bars, hotels, restaurants, and beyond. Explore our music selection to discover the perfect ambiance for your venue!

Connect with us to elevate your beach bar’s in the Mediterranean now!

Meridian Chapters Logo

Ivan Boban

+385 99 4967 531