READING’s Official Coffee Shop Music Bla...’s Official Coffee Shop Music Blacklist

As a courtesy to coffee shops everywhere (and as a follow-up to our 8 Barista No-Nos), the editors at are proposing the following industry-wide music blacklist for cafes, banning the following from airing over the speakers during business hours. These artists/albums aren’t necessarily bad. They’ve just been completely bastardized and overplayed and if we go to another cafe and the following is playing, so help us God…

  • Portishead
  • The Shins
  • The Amelie Soundtrack
  • Any Wes Anderson Soundtrack
  • Coldplay
  • Radiohead’s “Kid A”
  • Any Modest Mouse record after “The Moon and Antarctica”
  • The Mountain Goats
  • MGMT
  • Iron and Wine
  • The Decemberists
  • The Arcade Fire
  • Aimee Mann/Neko Case
  • Any Ani DiFranco record released after 1998
  • Johnny Cash
  • Bob Marley “Legend”
  • Death Cab For Cutie
  • Jack Johnson/Jason Mraz/David Gray
  • Buena Vista Social Club

Have we missed anything? Leave a comment below. Thank-you.

A quick side-note: now that cold weather is upon us (unless you’re Aussie), we recommend bumping as much music as possible from or inspired by the nation of Trinidad to heat things up indoors. For starters, try the Smithsonian Folkways compilation of early Mighty Sparrow recordings, “First Flight”, or Van Dyke Parks’ 1972 Calypso masterpiece “Discover America”.

  1. Molly

    28 December

    “Rumors” by Fleetwood Mac! It’s too good. There was a shop I went to that only played “Rumors” unless someone stopped them! Let’s see some “Bare Trees” and “Future Games!”

  2. Nolan Parker

    9 June

    Please, please update this list!! German coffee shops (outside of Berlin) need so much help.

  3. Stephen

    17 May

    Given that this list is…..understandable…what, then, would you like to hear more often? What is underplayed at your local establishments?

  4. J Taylor

    6 November

    I dislike your list. Let me rephrase that, I strongly dislike your list. In that, I like, listen to, and play the music on your list frequently. I can see you point though, don’t overplay. I would view the music listed as salt, too much ruins the dish, but the right amount perfects it.

  5. hipster holly

    23 October

    so let’s keep it hipster and play everything obscure.

  6. Jonnie

    22 October

    You should probably ad the Gypsie Kings to the No Play list!

  7. jon ferguson

    22 October

    Schooley, you’re right. Positive. I didn’t see anyone list Fela, Can, Stereolab, or Hawkwind, so I guess that’s a good sign. Talking Heads is a big one for us, probably because it’s easy to get on vinyl, along with Brian Eno. Both overplayed in my shop, but I still seem to dig it. GO VINYL and you’ll see all the trendy overplayed tunes disappear, and have more customers come up to the counter and ask, “I’ve never heard this, what is it?” and we’ll reply with anything from Ernest Tubb to Roland Kirk.

  8. jon ferguson

    22 October

    Put a turntable in your café in a convenient location for your employees and you’ll get some interesting results. no ipods, computers, or streaming one certain genre of music. And the music that’s played is usually interesting, since, who collects vinyl other than people who love music? Plus… you need to change the music every twenty to thirty minutes, allowing the baristas to change after listening to one side. It’s worked well for us.

  9. cg

    21 October

    Air, Cat Power


    21 October

    I agree on the bloody emo titles but Bob Marley? we could listen to this all day. you better hope doesn’t get a hold of this. We have banned Kid A, Modest Mouse & Arcade Fire & started a policy that you can’t play it if has been a car commercial, this helps a lot.

  11. john ohrn

    20 October

    Bon Iver
    Michael Jackson
    The Decemberists
    Joanna Newsom
    Any “Jazz”, no matter how “free” it is

  12. Name (required)

    20 October

    Manu Chao

  13. schooley

    20 October

    so negative, why can’t this be like a “featured cafe playlist” or something where we could say, this is what was playing here and it was rad.

    but really the answer to YOUR question is ANYTHING other than the Doobie Bros. or ICE T’s Body Count.

  14. Name (required)

    20 October

    misfits?? just kidding that never can get old!!

  15. Chris Capell

    19 October

    The Postal fucking Service.

    Can’t we at least play Arcade Fire’s ‘The Suburbs’ for a little while longer?

  16. Bryan Wray

    19 October

    Vampire Weekend. OMG. Vampire Weekend.

  17. Mike Jones

    19 October

    Fleet Foxes. Four Tet. Devendra Banhart. Elliot Smith. M. Ward. Explosions in the Sky. Garden State Soundtrack (duh). RJD2. Sufjan Stevens

  18. Evan

    19 October

    CSS. The Knife.

    I don’t care who your boyfriend is.

  19. Chris

    19 October

    Really? This is an example of why some people won’t go into your coffee shops. How about a “Barista No-no”.. Don’t make your customers uncomfortable.

  20. Sprudge Editors

    19 October


  21. Emily

    19 October

    If I ever hear Neutral Milk Hotel’s “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” while enjoying a nice cup of coffee and trying to get some work done, I will lock myself and my entire family in an attic for a year. (Too soon?)

  22. Brandon

    19 October

    Sufjan? As much as I love him he is definitely overplayed.

  23. required required

    19 October

    Anything/everything they play at “Sureshot”/just blacklist “sureshot”

  24. finest creativity

    19 October

    I love this! I believe especially with Coldplay. But now that I see this list is it weird I have a odd urge to download some of these artists music?

  25. John Giannakos

    19 October

    Fleet Foxes

  26. ksaki

    19 October

    Animal Collective

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