Music, much like scent and image, often conjures memories from past moments in our lives. This musical nostalgia can provide a comfort and familiarity that makes us enjoy listening to songs from years past, reminding us of happy memories or simpler times. It is also generational, as popular music from a particular decade becomes defining for those whose childhood, adolescence, college years etc. took place during that time. The familiarity, comfort, and generational aspects are something that we often see, from “I Love the 80s” compilations to our own personal playlists of favorites from our youth. Knowing the positive effect of old favorites and hits from years past, many brands choose to include this element in their sound.

I’ve recently incorporated this familiar element into the custom sound for two very different brands; one is a family restaurant, the other a Vegas casino. Though the atmospheres have little in common, I used some of the same songs in each. For the family restaurant, mixing classics from the 60s-70s with current Top 40 (such as Justin Bieber and One Direction) keeps the vibe young and family oriented. Mixing the same songs with more mature pop and adult contemporary (such as Adele and John Mayer) creates a more grownup sound for the Vegas casino. In both cases, mixing classic favorites with current hits widens the generational appeal and taps into that sense of comfort and familiarity that many people feel when listening to hits from the past. As different as they are, both environments are designed to encourage customers to stay for a while and have a good time, and both use musical nostalgia to achieve that.

– Submitted by Erin Yousef, Music Design