Pet Peeve: Let Me Explain Why I Hate ‘Spa Music’


It’s time for another one of my famous tirades. But, unlike most of my tirades, this one is not directed at an inanimate object that could care less. This time there’s a human component.

I’m talking about spa music.

My husband Mark loves it. He plays it in the car, thanks to Sirius bouncing the drivel off a satellite for our “listening pleasure.” When I reach to change the station, he protests with, “It’s relaxing!”

I counter with, “Beethoven made better music when he was completely deaf!”

And now it’s become a “thing” with me. It makes my skin crawl; I recoil when I hear it; it becomes the subject of humor columns. I actually can no longer go to a spa because the music is so uninspired and boring that I get too irritated to relax.

And let me clarify — there is the occasional decent composition. It’s like a breath of fresh air. I hear it and I think, “Ahhh, someone actually took some time to think about this one.”

But most of them cannot even be classified as music. Most of them sound like someone went out into the alley and picked up a discarded 2×4 and thumped it absent-mindedly with a piece of rebar while trying to decide where to go for lunch. Somewhere along the line, this miscreant thought, “Hey! I’ve got rhythm!” and decided this thumping was a song. He should have been turned away at the door of the recording studio, but no. A burned-out music executive thought, “What the heck. I’ll take his recording fee and sell the CD to the spas.”

The stuff with lutes isn’t so bad. Instead of a recording studio, I can at least picture a bunch of natives sitting around in the rainforest having a little jam session in between chewing plants and napping.

But, really. Hasn’t music progressed beyond this?

Oh, I suppose that’s the point. When enjoying a spa experience, we’re supposed to go back to our roots, a simpler time, when we had so little to worry about. Who needs scales and repeats and fortissimos?

Perhaps I’m just jealous. Perhaps the four years I spent in the University of Wisconsin’s Fine Arts Department brought me to expect more. Maybe I’m just frustrated that I don’t have a single song playing on Sirius even though I’m an accomplished oboe player, yet any boob with a bongo can cash in.

Maybe that’s what I’ll do. I’ll take spa music to a whole new level by recording multiple tracks. (Yes! Multiple tracks!) I’ll do one track of 2×4-thumping, then overlay one or two notes on my oboe (you don’t really need more than two for spa music) and then get Mark into the act by having him pluck the lute until he passes out. Then we’ll loop this over and over until it’s a mind-numbing drone, like a cheap air conditioner, and we’ll sell millions!

I feel better. When I’m out of sorts, taking action is the perfect antidote.

Come to think about it, that’s probably the very reason I hate the lulling, soothing sounds of the spa.

I’d rather light a firecracker.