The Songs of Summer #102: ‘EXOTICA’ by Martin Denny
I can’t possibly let this Songs of Summer List go incomplete without at least one classic exotica track; I figure if I’m only going to include one, I might as well use the song that gave its name to an entire movement of kitschy music.
This is hot weather music; it’s cocktails in tiki mugs music; it’s lounge music; it’s Martin Denny music; it’s EXOTICA music.
Martin Denny’s widely considered the father of exotica. Don’t know what exotica is? Get yourself informed. (OK, short version: it’s “tropical jazz pioneered in the 1950s to sound exotic, atmospheric, and occasionally savage, but still wonderfully listenable to a westerner’s ear.” (tikiroom.com) and Martin Denny’s wiki page says he “popularized his brand of lounge music which included exotic percussion, imaginative rearrangements of popular songs, and original songs that celebrated Tiki culture.” In other words, it’s kinda fake world music for suburban hipsters to listen to while they enjoyed their sophisticated tropical cocktails. It found a new popularity in the 1990’s, and I’ve been a fan of it ever since. It’s kitschy, it’s campy, and it’s honestly not very good, but that’s partly why I love it. It’s also incredibly relaxing and it’s different than just about anything else your friends and neighbors are listening to. And the record covers are usually amazing.
Martin Denny’s ‘Exotica‘contains the prerequisite tropical bird calls to set the perfect mood. Laid-back vibraphones and tinkling bells do the rest.
Summer’s damn near over, but it’s still hot out there tonight. It’s a muggy evening with a definite tropical feel in the air. Mix up a batch of mai-tais or some other tropical cocktail, maybe something with crushed ice and coconuts, put on your best (meaning worst) Hawaiian shirt, light the tiki torches on the patio and settle back with some relaxing classic exotica. You’ll be glad you did.
Songs of Summer Spotify Playlist:
Want more exotica? Here’s more than anybody could ever possibly need, or want: