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Sunday, 13 May, 2001, 21:34 GMT 22:34 UK
The rise and rise of Lounge
Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr and Frank Sinatra
Sinatra's Rat Pack was in at the birth of Lounge style
Perry Como was one of the unlikeliest beneficiaries of a rather odd fashion shift in the 1990s - the renewed popularity of easy listening music among the young, who normally dubbed it "Lounge".

Like many pop trends, this one was rooted in hip London clubs and Hollywood.

For many, the first sign of this new taste for what was once derided as music for the middle-aged was a surprise pop hit for the Mike Flowers Pops in December 1995.

Mike Flowers' Wonderwall was an authentic-sounding Lounge arrangement of the Oasis rock song and hit number two in the British charts.

Swingers

The hit sparked a new interest in the pop music of the pre-Beatles era, associated in many minds with smart suits, dresses and cocktails - the Good Life of the Sacha Distel song.

Tony Bennett
Still singing: Tony Bennett
Another push came from the 1996 film Swingers, directed by Doug Liman.

The story of a couple of slackers in Las Vegas addicted to gambling and cocktails, the film had a soundtrack which included Lounge classics like Dean Martin's You're Nobody 'Til Somebody Loves You, With Plenty Of Money And You by Count Basie and Roger Miller's King Of The Road.

Las Vegas had much to do with the origins of Lounge.

In 1954 former big band leader Louis Prima moved to Las Vegas and started playing at Casbah Lounge at the Sahara - which soon became the place to see and be seen by the likes of Sinatra and the rest of his close friends, the Rat Pack.

Songsmiths

Sinatra and contemporaries like Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin exemplified the best of Lounge - the sound of melody, musicianship and clever songwriting.

The Lounge revival movement re-awakened an appreciation of the great songsmiths - such as Burt Bacharach, whose smooth and melodic music typifies good Lounge.

Burt Bacharach
High priest of cool Burt Bacharach
In 1999 Bacharach teamed up with Britain's Elvis Costello for the album Painted From Memory.

In the same year the first of a series of Lounge compilations came out under the title Music to Watch Girls Go By - the title of an Andy Williams hit from 1967.

The album - which sold more than almost anyone predicted - included Perry Como's Magic Moments as well as classics from Tony Bennett, Al Martino, Julie London and even Bert Kaempfert.

At a time when British pop music has been criticised for aiming too exclusively at the young, the success of Lounge has been a reminder of the cross-generational appeal of a good melody - and a good martini.

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See also:

13 May 01 | Americas
Perry Como: From clipper to crooner
15 May 98 | Sinatra
Sinatra - leader of the Rat Pack
16 May 98 | Sinatra
Clinton leads Sinatra tributes
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