For the best reading experience, play the music from this video while reading.
If a character enters an elevator for any reason, the music playing on its speaker system — regardless of the program's genre — is almost always some version of "The Girl from Ipanema" by the great Antônio Carlos Jobim. (If not, it's probably the "Theme from A Summer Place," which would probably be referencing a comfortable break from the action.)
Some trace this trope's popularity back to directors such as John Landis, who used it as an in-joke for every scene he shot inside an elevator.
In Real Life, of course, it was once a common practice for elevators to have soft instrumental music piped in as a means to relax the nerves of jittery or claustrophobic passengers, this also being the rule for department stores/shopping malls and grocery stores/supermarkets. However, this fell out of favor in the 1990s and ever since the noticeably smaller number of places (including the relatively few elevators) that have music will have the actual songs rather than the instrumental knock-offs, making this in general a Forgotten Trope, and a Dead Horse Trope in the case of this song.
Even to this day, lots of films and TV shows still add in music when composing elevator scenes; in part because of the Rule of Funny (people standing up straight and not talking to one another while soothing music plays is inherently quite funny), in part because the audience expects the music, and in part to avert Dead Air, as it otherwise makes the elevator ride very uncomfortable to watch (unless that's the intention of the filmmaker).
That said, the familiar genre still survives on a few commercial services like SiriusXM satellite radio ("Escape") and Muzak's successor Mood Media ("Easy Instrumentals"), ready to be piped into elevators once again at a moment's notice.
Usually an integral part of an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment.
- An Australian comedy duo called The Umbilical Brothers have a skit that entails a ride in an elevator. As there's no elevator prop, entering the elevator is signaled with a vocal beatbox of "The Girl from Ipanema".
- There's an old joke about how people generally don't "get" the previous/next generation's music that has a father saying "if it wasn't for doctor's offices and elevators, you wouldn't know what good music was!"
- In the Angel: After the Fall comics, the Senior Partners send the entire city to Hell midway through the TV show's Bolivian Army Ending. It should come as no surprise what music plays when Spike gets in an elevator...
- Subverted and Played for Laughs in Rutetid, a cartoon spinoff of Pondus. A man and his wife leaves an elevator in shock, revealing that the music inside is played by a live black metal band. Cue this line: "I always thought elevator music was bad, but this...
- The Far Side also runs away with this trope, stuffing a string quartet inside the elevator.
- Subverted and lampshaded in Pretty Cure Perfume Preppy. In the sixth episode, there is an elevator moment, in which a bossa nova-ish version of the opening for the first season of Yes! Pretty Cure 5, "Smile Go Go", played instead of the obligatory "Girl from Ipanema". Chiara asks why is it so, and Hakuo responds it was too overused.
- The Life, a Halo fanfiction, has several scenes when the characters have to take an elevator. So far, every single elevator scene has had a muzak arrangement playing in the background. There's usually lots of Lampshade Hanging from the characters involved. In fact, the A.I. running the main character's ship plays elevator music on all ship elevators with the intention of invoking this.
- In the Discworld city of Ankh-Morpork, as envisaged by A.A. Pessimal, the nearest thing to a skyscraper is the unstable Tump Tower. It has prototype lifts which are ultimately powered by golems or trolls. As Assassin Miss Alice Band discovered when on a mission, the lifts also have very small gnomes who are moved to play soothing tunes on their elim whistles (a lot smaller than penny whistles).
"Research indicates that passengers in the new Stronginthearm lift and elevator system prefer to hear soothing light music as they ascend or descend..."
"Well, I don't!" said Alice, firmly.
- The Bolt Chronicles: A non-elevator example of piped-in canned music appears in The Mall. Occurring in the title venue, this irritates the music-loving Mittens no end — especially when she hears a tango-inflected version of a melody from Johannes Brahmss Third Symphony, though its mostly pop music from the 1950s through the 1980s that gets this treatment.
- Non-elevator example: in Finding Nemo, "Ipanema" plays in the dentist's office when Nemo is first seen in the fishtank.
- Used in the dining room scene of The Emperor's New Groove, to make the awkward silence that much more amusing.
- In Toy Story 2, when Al is riding the elevator down to the lobby, the music playing is an "Ipanema"-style version of the main theme from A Bug's Life. Both films were scored by Randy Newman.
- Non-elevator example: In Shrek, António Carlos Jobim's lesser classic "Meditation (Meditação)" is heard at the main guest entrance to the castle of Duloc.
- Sev Trek: Pus in Boots (an Australian parody of Star Trek: The Next Generation) has a muzak version of the theme music playing in the tardylift when our heroes are hunting down the alien.
- Another non-elevator-example: In My Little Pony: The Movie (2017), "Ipanema" is briefly heard in Capper's bachelor pad.
- In Night at the Museum, the museum's elevator plays an instrumental version of Barry Manilow's "Oh Mandy"
- Used in Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), when the title characters shoot their way into an elevator not once, but twice in quick succession. Both times, the song is clearly playing on the speakers. (The second time is arguably funnier, due to the presence of bullet holes in the elevator walls...)
- Particularly amusing in The Blues Brothers, as a contrast to all the blues, jazz, and swing in the rest of the movie. Also amusing is the fact that it's intercut with the National Guard troops going "Hut! Hut! Hut!" as they storm the building.
- Lampshaded in Deep Rising in a scene where three protagonists are in an elevator that stops with a crash, and the music comes on.
[in reaction to an odd noise that temporarily drowns out the elevator's muzak]
Finnegan: What is that?
Pantucci: "The Girl from Ipanema"?
- In The Matrix Reloaded, music that vaguely resembles "The Girl from Ipanema" can be heard after Neo and company get off an elevator, en route to meeting with the Merovingian.
- In A Good Day to Die Hard, after entering an elevator, "The Girl from Ipanema" can be heard in Ukrainian.
- Done with a Steampunk elevator in Asterix and Obélix: Mission Cleopatra.
- The Dawn of the Dead (2004) remake:
CJ: Hey, I like this song!
- The characters are riding in an elevator while escaping the zombies. Though the song playing in said elevator is a muzak rendition of "All Out of Love".
- Subverted earlier when the characters first arrive at the mall, where the song is a muzak version of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin.
- Subverted nicely (with a bit of Actor Allusion on the side) in Godzilla (1998). The lead character, played by Matthew Broderick, and others escape into an elevator, which does not play "Ipanema," but "Danke Schon".
- Used in Babe: Pig in the City, with an elevator full of animals.
- Pacific Rim: Uprising: Elevator music of "The Girl from Ipanema" plays in a scene where Newt and Hermann are being escorted by Shao's security.
- In Ciaphas Cain when he visits the local Arbitrator the elevator has a recording of Death to the Deviant playing. According to Cain it sounds like it was recorded by tone-deaf ratlings with nose flutes.
- On Scrubs, Dr. Cox and the Janitor take over the suite of a man who had been transferred out of the hospital to get some peace and quiet. After a while, the Janitor has the door to the room covered with plaster and wallpaper, and when Dr. Cox puts his ear to where the door should be, the Janitor is dancing to "The Girl from Ipanema".
- In an outtake for Stargate Atlantis Season 4, the actors are huddled in a corner of a Wraith set (a teleportation room in the corresponding episode). This looks so much like an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment that David Hewlett starts humming "The Girl from Ipanema", cracking up the others.
- This trope is also averted in an episode of Stargate SG-1. Sam Carter and Jack O'Neill are standing in one of the lifts at the SGC, having a bit of an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment, and Sam starts humming the show's Theme Song. Behind-the-scene commentary reveals that Amanda Tapping originally wanted this to be the theme song for MacGyver (as an Actor Allusion to Richard Dean Anderson), but nobody could remember it right.
- In the Stargate Universe episode "Epilogue", the elevator at the Teneran archives, which were created by the descendants of stranded 21st century Earth time-travelers, plays a Suspiciously Similar Song to "The Girl from Ipanema".
- Lampshaded in the Bones episode "The Mastodon in the Room". Sweets is playing "The Girl from Ipanema" on the piano when Caroline calls him to persuade him to give up his 10-Minute Retirement:
Sweets: I'm on sabbatical.
Caroline: Doing what, installing elevators? Because I can hear the music.
- This occurs in the Chuck episode "Chuck vs. The Nemesis". Especially comical because the elevator in question seems to be a coded-access elevator in a super-secret government facility.
- Used hilariously in the episode "Eye of the Beholder" of Castle in a shot of a swat team riding a hotel elevator, with the very uncomfortable hotel manager, altogether very awkwardly with this music playing in the background.
- Humorously used by Keith Olbermann on his sports show. The theme was that all the sports stories had gotten him riled up, and he had to leave his studio, go down to the ground floor, open the back door and let out a primal scream. All the way there and back he was muttering to himself... except when he's in the elevator, which was playing a happy, peppy number that had him smiling.
- The Weather Channel used to do a "Local on the Eights" (or simply a Local Forecast) which showed the current weather in the viewer's region (usually sponsored by their cable or satellite provider), as well as a forecast for the next few days, so that viewers would not have to wait for their region to come up on a national forecast, or sit through international and tropical weather forecasts, in order to get a forecast pertinent to them. As everything was being shown on the screen, Muzak played in the background. The Muzak would change every so often, and in December, there was usually holiday Muzak as well.
- Similarly, the Prevue Channel (later called the TV Guide channel) used to play Muzak while it scrolled through the TV listings available from the viewer's cable or satellite provider.
- In the "Mrs Premise & Mrs Conclusion" sketch of Monty Python's Flying Circus, the two titular Pepperpots hum "Ipanema" while on hold on the telephone.
- Hey You! What If...: In "You Could Take a Lift to Space?", having to put up with six months of lift music is identified as one of the inconveniences you would encounter.
- Lampshaded on The Lazlow Show. Anthony Cumia (of Opie & Anthony) joked that the hypothetical Space Elevator would require the world's longest version of "The Girl from Ipanema" while you rode it.
- Bleak Expectations: When the main characters are travelling into Hell via elevator, they hear three things: the screams of the damned, the pleasure of the masochists, and a "weird sitar version of the girl from Ipanema".
- The Foo Fighters:
- Their "Monkey Wrench" video features Dave Grohl riding an elevator with a muzak version of "Big Me" playing in the background.
- As something of a thematic continuation, the music video for "Learn to Fly" is bookended with a muzak version of "Everlong" playing in the background.
- The Trophy Mode music in Super Smash Bros. Brawl is an "Ipanema"-style remix of the game's Recurring Riff.
- When the player enters any elevator in System Shock, the background music changes to a suspiciously "Ipanema"-like ditty. Which creates horrible Mood Whiplash when you've just barely managed to blast your way through creepy dark areas full of creepy enemies while listening to creepy audio logs... and then you're in the elevator, and hearing this. Or when you exit the elevator and find yourself facing a room full of zombie mutants that want to eat your brains.
- In Mother 3, while riding the elevator in the Empire Porky Building, you are treated to an "Ipanema"-style arrangement of the pig-masks' theme.
- There is no actual elevator music in Iji, but Tasen logbooks boast that the lifts are equipped with music players and that they play such unforgettable classics as "exploding eardrums that are also on fire" and "Hel Sarie will kick you in the face".
- The elevators in GoldenEye 64 feature elevator muzak arrangements of the film's Theme Tune. Strangely, these were absent from the game's spiritual successor Perfect Dark.
- Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion has a Suspiciously Similar Song to "Ipanema" titled "The Girl from Galyanna."
- In Rise of the Triad, when you enter an elevator, there is a one in ten chance that this will play. In the remake, one of the levels has a segment which almost entirely takes place in a big elevator and which has a remade version of the tune.
- One lift in Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy plays a Muzak version of "With my mind" by Cold, part of the soundtrack for the game.
- In the Genesis game Zero Tolerance, every elevator on the space station has this music.
- The Glorious Trainwrecks 529 in One Klik and Play Pirate Kart has "Ipanema" as menu music, and you get achievements for listening to it enough times.
- Mass Effect:
- The Space Elevators in Mass Effect come complete with Space Muzak. Specifically, they're all muzak arrangements of several of the more dramatic pieces from the game. Which makes them a lot less dramatic.
- A shout-out to the first game in Miranda's loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2: The team must take a particularly long elevator ride with elevator music playing in the background. Miranda slams the elevator's console with an omni-tool, and the elevator speeds up and the music stops. She really must mean business.
- And in the Project Overlord DLC for the same game, the elevator music makes a comeback, while Shepard's team is investigating a crashed Geth ship. Hilarious, nightmarishly distorted elevator music while exploring a seemingly completely dead ship. It's even funnier the second time when you go back through that part of the ship later, with the same distorted music, while fighting off hordes of hacked Geth.
- Halo: Reach has a mission where you have to take an elevator to shut down a comms jammer. As you go up, and down the elevator, you're treated to gleeful muzak. Keep in mind this is while the city you are currently in is being nuked from sub-orbit.
- The music from Starship Titanic changes from majestic to tinny as you travel though the different class, suggesting the lower classes don't need good music.
- Magicka spoofs this in the challenge map called "Caverns", where the players enter the arena through a wooden mechanical platform that is (somehow) playing muzak. Some of the later enemy waves also enter through the elevator, accompanied by the same chime.
- Blood has this in all its elevators. If you shoot all the speakers, Caleb will say "Thank you."
- Kingdom of Loathing has the tune play in elevator during the Disco Bandit's Nemesis quest.
- Executive Assault does this with the elevator leading to your office.
- First Encounter Assault Recon plays an Ipanema-style muzak ditty during the Elevator Action Sequence where you have to protect Alice, resulting in Soundtrack Dissonance.
- Police Quest: Open Season has Ipanema-esque bossa nova music in the Parker Center elevators. One of these tunes was reused for the lobby music (Gammie's theme) in Leisure Suit Larry 6: Shape Up or Slip Out!. Another sounds similar to "How Insensitive", also composed by Jobim.
- Space Quest VI: Roger Wilco in The Spinal Frontier pulls the same trick with the Ascend-O-Pad that plays a remix of Shablee's theme. It's also one of the few places where Josh Mandel spent a lot of time writing jokes into every possible clickpoint.
- In the Fan Remake of Space Quest II: Vohaul's Revenge, Muzak plays inside a restroom on Vohaul's asteroid fortress. A tinny version of the Monolith Burger theme also plays outside the entrance to the titular restaurant nearby.
- Not necessarily elevator music, but the softer and slower arrangement of "Crimson Wings" in Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys sounds rather Ipanema-like.
- Obsidian has the cubicle maze area in the Bureau, with a swingy, exaggerated piece of muzak that constantly plays while you're there, fitting well with the Vidbot employees that parody things from eye doctors to personnel managers.
- The warehouse elevator in Pajama Sam 2: Thunder and Lightning Aren't So Frightening does this.
- In the Medical level of Nightmare Ned, muzak plays in a pitch black waiting room, which is the Hub Level for areas based on Ned's fear of doctors and dentists.
- Undertale does this with a bossa nova variant of the game's theme, labeled "Hotel" on the soundtrack. It plays during Mettaton's cooking show and at the MTT resort.
- In TRON 2.0, ENCOM's break room has a smooth jazz variant of the original TRON theme playing in the background.
- In American McGee's Grimm, pausing the game in any episode from the seventh onward results in a tinny Muzak rendition of the opening theme. The style and tinniness make it clear that this trope is being invoked.
- In the FPS sections of Jurassic Park for the SNES, the elevators you used to get between floors switched between two songs, one jaunty and the other smooth and relaxing. Considering that you were exploring a dark building full of Velociraptors and Dilophosaurs, this made for some prime Mood Whiplash. Especially when you were hauling ass to an elevator and right as you got in, you heard the horrible screech of a Raptor... only for the doors to close and that jaunty music to play.
- Fallout 4 has muzak on some elevators, such as the one to the Diamond City mayor's office.
- One level in Revolution X (featuring Aerosmith) has brief interludes in an elevator; the music that plays is, fittingly, a muzak version of "Love in an Elevator".
- After a couple of playthroughs of The Stanley Parable, you can open the door opposite the boss's office. This leads to an elevator which goes nowhere and does nothing, except it shakes a bit to give the illusion of movement and you hear Ipanema-style music playing.
- Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom plays a soft music (aptly-named "Elevator Music") in the two big elevators connected to the village of Aeria.
- In Celeste, the in-universe PowerPoint presentation that teaches the Wave Dash maneuver plays a muzak arrangement of the main theme.
- The Button Fail in Fleeing the Complex does this trope. In the original Flash version, the music that played was a track from Newgrounds known as "Jazz Tune in 3/4", but in the release for The Henry Stickmin Collection, the elevator music is instead a recomposition of Rossini's La gazza ladra.
- Elevators in Freeman's Mind and its Freeman's Mind Spinoffs often have elevator music, at least on the office lifts (with Shepard's Mind having the "actual song piped into the elevator" variant. He even sings along in episode 7). Industrial and laborotory elevators are silent.
- In The Saga of Biorn, Heaven is accompanied by a smooth jazz Muzak.
- Written as a musical score, no less in Irregular Webcomic!. Whether this counts as a Lampshade Hanging or not is debatable.
- Features prominently in a strip of The B-Movie Comic.
- Keychain of Creation: First Age elevators still play music after a millennium of disuse. Not exactly "elevator muzak", though — it's the opening theme song from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
- On this page of MegaTokyo, the elevator plays "Fly Me to the Moon", the ending theme song from Neon Genesis Evangelion.note
- Subverted in Everyday Heroes during an Uncomfortable Elevator Moment, when the music playing is actually "Wind Beneath My Wings". (If you can read music, you'll notice the melody is from the chorus, "Did I ever tell you you're my hero", which seems appropriate.)
- Homestuck's sixth volume album features a track called Elevatorstuck which remixes the Homestuck Theme into the style of this trope, though the flashes in which it was ultimately used had nothing to do with elevators. Its usually used as background music, or to infuriate and annoy people who complain about the background music.
- Referenced in Wondermark, "In which there are choices". Two men, waiting for an elevator that just won't arrive, suggest solutions to their problem that grow ever more ridiculous:
Man 2: We could be priests of the new order, sanctifying the Metal Cube Room as an oracle and allowing only ourselves access, and only then on the solstice, and only then following a blood sacrifice from throngs of peasants who've made desperate pilgrimages to hear the faint, muffled strains of the muzak version of "The Girl from Ipanema".
- In Beyond The Veil some salvagers have an argument about the elevator muzak on a centuries-old starship.
- Let's Play explicitly invokes the trope on this page.
- The explict absence of this this is lampshaded in ''Namesake. Shortly after arriving on Earth Ozian native Warrick is ushered into an elevator with the rest of the main cast, excitely stating he's read about them in books by the first Wizard and the Dorothys, noting that they play music. Aside a ding of a bell for the doors and constant Vrrrr of the elevator itself, there's no sound or speach until Warrick speaks up, disapointed, much to Emma's amusement.
- This very wiki uses it on the screen asking if you want to pass through the content curtain. The options are "Yes", "No", and "Maybe." If you choose "Maybe" you get a screen that says:
Cool. We'll wait for you to think it over.
We would play some soothing "hold" music for you now but there were licensing issues.
Hum "The Girl from Ipanema", if you like.
- The joke website www.zombo.com plays such a tune in the background.
- That Guy with the Glasses:
- When Stuart Ashen reviewed an iPad ripoff (here) the long loading screens gave him time to hum this.
- Godzilla Versus Disco Lando: Apparently, Sinatra's version plays inside Godzilla.
- How about a live version played just for you and your fellow passengers?
- In the Joueur du Grenier review of X-Perts, this classic elevator muzak is used when JdG points out that, unlike in many other games, you have to wait for an elevator to show up.
- Cleolinda Jones uses this in her Avengers in Fifteen Minutes, during the scene where Black Widow beats up Russian agents while Agent Coulson waits for her to finish.
- When Alton Brown reviewed useless kitchen gadgets for The Daily Dot, the long cooking time for the Rollie Eggmaster was backed by a ballroom-style song that, if not precisely "The Girl from Ipanema", was very close to it.
- In Kim Possible, the Muzak in Jack Hench's waiting room is a rather "Ipanema"-like arrangement of the Kim Possible theme song.
- In an episode of The Angry Beavers, Treeflower returns to the forest, only she is no longer the carefree New-Age Retro Hippie she was in her earlier appearance. Instead, she writes "elevator music" and wears a suit, since her retro 1960s band fell out of favor and broke up. She is also dating Truckee the Shrew.
- The "Blue Harvest" episode of Family Guy featured Han Solo (Peter), Luke Skywalker (Chris) and Chewie (Brian) taking an elevator in the Death Star and listening to a very "Ipanema"-like arrangement of the Imperial March.
- In the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost", Fry's duel with Lord Mayor of Colón is set to a thrilling swashbuckling piece, except for the part in the middle when they enter an elevator. During which they fight in silence.
- In an episode of Invader Zim, GIR has been merged with the house's AI. Zim commands the elevator to bring him down to the actual base, and GIR plays Muzak and demands that Zim dance to it before taking him anywhere.
- Enforced in Phineas and Ferb, where having a elevator remix was one of their self-imposed requirements to be One Hit Wonders in "Flop Starz". This version makes an appearance in a scene in which Candace is riding in an elevator with a giant gumball machine globe she was running from.
- On Doug, the Muzak playing in the dentist's office waiting room in "Doug's Dental Dilemma" was an elevator music rendition of in-universe rock song "Killer Tofu".
- Secret Squirrel, episode "Hot Rodney": Secret Squirrel, in his race car, is in an elevator rushing to save Morocco Mole on the roof of a building. Some "Ipanema"-style music plays as another passenger looks on uncomfortably.
- In the pilot episode of Cow and Chicken, the Devil (before he was Bowdlerized to "The Red Guy") takes an elevator from Hell to the surface world, with muzak.
- In the Steven Universe episode "Gem Drill", Steven wishes he'd brought some music to listen to when he learns it's going to take two hours to drill all the way to the Cluster. Peridot puts on some elevator music.
- For a band that likes Death Metal, and ONLY Death Metal, Dethklok of Metalocalypse certainly have an interesting choice of music in their elevators.