The best and worst hold music

Originally published at: The best and worst hold music | Boing Boing


What I’ve never liked about the Cisco music is that it lulls you to sleep over time. By the time someone picks up, I’ve forgotten where I am and what I am doing.


“The Girl from Ipenema” is my top choice.


Recently I was on hold and “head like a hole” was playing, the Devo version, color me shocked.
A little excitement in an other wise dull day.


My personal hold music nemesis has always been United Airlines, which used a dirge-like lo-fi version of Rhapsody in blue: zhuuu zhuuu zhuuu ZHUUUUUUUUUUUU zhuu zhuu zhuu ZHUUUUUUUU dadada dadadada…

I have no idea if it’s improved in recent years – you don’t hear RiB in their ads anymore – because their app has improved to the point where I seldom need to talk to a person anymore.

But one of the biggest issues is that voice telephony is designed for a pretty narrow bandwidth: spoken voice is pretty good, but the high and low frequency stuff just falls apart. Baroque music in particular fails badly.

But many companies use tactical bad hold music: If you hang up, that’s one less customer they have to provide service for.


The best I’ve ever heard was classical. It began with some sexy Mozart, and segue’d into The Four Seasons. Very nice indeed.

The worst two I’ve heard were muzak - much worse than the version of The Girl From Ipanema to which Jake and Elwood were subjected - and awful, whiny-twangy country crap. Ugh.

The music in that 1st vid is quite nice. It reminds me of David Arkenstone’s instrumental Christmas Lounge album (2008), which is actually way better than its title suggests. It’s relaxing and pleasant, not exotica, lounge-singer- nor Vegas-esque.

I can see how it’d make you forget why you’re on hold, tho. Maybe write yrself a note!

I didn’t find the stuff in the 2nd vid unbearable, but I was in a very noisy Industrial band w/large metal “instruments,” and I like weird and weirdly-created rhythms, including electronic ones.


More about Opus No. 1 in this story:


I feel like it always used to be “Desire” - something close to this:

There isn’t a Wendy Carlos version?


Oh, that is wonderful :smiley:

I’m also a big fan of this 1971 release, here in its entirety:

But nothing beats


I like the second one because it always makes me think of the late Jack Horkheimer.


YES! The Star Hustler hipped me to the joys of Tomita. :smiley:


AI trained on Autechre and filled with hate?

That’s a disgrace to Autechre. It may be angry, noisey, and sharp but it doesn’t deserve the substandard lo-fi treatment of hold music. If anything it needs the high fidelity so you can enjoy the sharp bass and ear bleeding highs.


I’ve never heard either of these while on hold.
Thinking Think GIF by The official GIPHY Page for Davis Schulz


The most memorable hold music experience I just had recently was due to the playlist they somehow had been encumbered with.

The first song was “Baby Baby” by Amy Grant which then whipsawed over into the next song, “Party Up” by DMX. The dichotomy made me laugh and actually made my day.

So thanks local motorcycle center, I feel a smidge less gouged by the repair bill.


Dawnie Jefferson Reaction GIF by Originals


I once called into a tire store and the hold music was the SF Giants baseball radio broadcast. I’m sure it was in violation of the MLB’s intellectual property, but it was a nice change.


I really like his Enchantment: A Magical Christmas album, his version of the Coventry Carol is one of the very best New Age tracks I can think of. However I could never figure out why half of the tracks are just standard orchestral tracks from the Nutcracker Suite. It’s like he only had 30 minutes of Christmas tracks so they just threw in some Nutcracker songs to fill out the album or something.

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That’s really weird, esp given all the actual xmas music (in the public domain, even) that’s around.

Juuust leaving this one here…