NPR logo Don't Mind Me: The Least Offensive Music Ever

Don't Mind Me: The Least Offensive Music Ever

Yesterday, I was sitting at an outdoor cafe, eating lunch with friends and listening to songs designed to enhance the experience: Vanessa Carlton, late-period Rod Stewart and Mike + The Mechanics. The restaurant thought it was placating its clientele, appealing to the masses by playing non-music; that is, music for people who would otherwise hate music. It's like this: Something happening in the background is suggestive of sound and implies melody; it could be music, or it could just be a cat wearing a fake mustache talking to a dog. It's hard to tell.

I'm fascinated by music that is designated as background noise. Do artists set out to be the soundtrack to mommy-and-me lunches, facials and waiting-room smudged-with-chocolate magazine perusals?

There are certain songs, like Phil Collins' cover of "Groovy Kind of Love," that I've only ever heard in a grocery store. In fact, one indicator that a song will automatically be thrown into the "safe to play" category is if it's late-period anything. I think we all know that The Kinks' "Come Dancing" lends itself far better to dentistry than "You Really Got Me."

So, whereas we've probably already discussed the most offensive music ever made, today let's celebrate the least offensive. Who, in your opinion, is the least offensive artist out there? What are some of the least offensive songs?

One person I would have to nominate is Bruce Hornsby: