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By Anna Byrne (@annaebyrne)     3 Jun 2016

Le Méridien taps post-punk bossa nova band Nouvelle Vague for a ‘disruptive’ playlist suited to the modern guest

What do you first notice when you enter a hotel? Perhaps you eye up the decor, make a mental note of where the bar is and spot the coziest fireside spot. Maybe you’re more interested in the people and the service. But what about the music? A standard hotel might have a few hours of Muzak stored up to pump into the elevators day and night. Someplace a little more retro might go for a jazz pianist in the foyer. Your hipster hangout in Berlin will probably plump for deafening, soul-destroying, nonstop techno. But head to a Le Méridien hotel, and you’ll be treated to a 24-hour playlist created by post-punk bossa nova band Nouvelle Vague.

The partnership is not as unlikely as it seems—in fact, Le Méridien and Nouvelle Vague share a number of common traits. Both have their roots in Paris, are interested in the juxtaposition of traditional and modern, and appeal to the curious-minded and adventurous. In the words of the band’s founder, Marc Collin, they both like to ‘play in the same way with time and space, so that’s the link.’ Since joining forces, the band has played exclusive gigs at Le Méridien properties worldwide, and drop in regularly for shows in Asia, from Kuala Lumpur to Abu Dhabi and Paris to Shanghai.

As the name suggests, Nouvelle Vague covers punk rock, post-punk and new wave songs, but with a nod to 1960s bossa nova style. The lineup changes regularly—although Collin and Olivier Libaux are constants—and many former members have gone on to enjoy huge success in their own right.

The 24-hour playlist that the band has created for Le Méridien hotels worldwide is a collection of their tracks, along with songs that inspire them. The soundtrack has been curated to ensure that the mood and tempo fall at the right time of day, with beats per minute increasing toward the evening.

On its self-titled debut album, the band’s vocalists were only allowed to record songs they’d never heard before to preserve the authenticity and energy of their performances. As a group that specializes in a unique take on classic songs, this project was particularly interesting. The idea that someone might be in an elevator and recognize a track—but because it’s so far removed from the original is impossible to place—is part of the disruptive and unexpected effect the band wants to have. And it ties in perfectly with the sort of experience Le Méridien wants to provide for its guests: a series of surprising and rewarding cultural nuggets—the Unlock Art program, for example, which gives guests free access to art museums around the world.

Hear the magic for yourself. Check Nouvelle Vague’s exclusive curated playlists out at any Le Méridien worldwide.

Does elevator music drive you crazy or do you barely register it? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter with #momentumtravel

Photo: Rex

Anna Byrne
Anna Byrne (@annaebyrne)

Anna Byrne is a journalist and editor, writing on music, fashion, travel and culture. She’s also group editor of John Brown Media.

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