Submit your own Neatorama post and vote for others' posts to earn NeatoPoints that you can redeem T-shirts, hoodies and more over at the NeatoShop!

11 Recordings of Terrible Hold Music

I know what you're thinking: What hold music isn't terrible? When I discovered the voice recorder app on my iPhone, I immediately started recording bad hold music whenever I was forced to wait for a real person to help me. Clearly, I spend a lot of my life on hold, as this short list represents only half the total I recorded over the course of the last year. What follows is the best, er, worst 11 of the lot. I've purposely kept the names of the companies who use these recordings out of the post to protect their anonymity. 

After you've listened to them all, tell us in the comments which is your favorite (wait, or would that be least favorite?). 1. My call was "first in line" for, ohhhh, maybe about 20 minutes. That annoying synth string orchestra did me in by minute 2! A power drill is more pleasing to the ear.

2. Am I the only person here who is reminded of some other kind of music with this one?

3. There’s nothing worse with hold music than bad loops. This is the worst one I’ve ever recorded.

4. Good thing that guy keeps coming back on the line, otherwise this one would have surely put me to sleep.

5. This is only going to bother the musicians out there, I’m sure. Get a load of this sudden modulation out of nowhere and to what key? I had to cut off the recording abruptly to protect the company’s anonymity, sorry! It just keeps modulating, trust me.

6. Many of you might recognize this offender. It’s a lulu!

7. Another really sorry loop… made worse by having to hear that honkey-tonk horn over and over again.

8. I’ll keep this one short; otherwise you might go looking for a large mallet to knock yourself out with.

9. I used to enjoy Vivaldi’s Four Seasons… that is, until I had to listen to this little portion of the Autumn movement for—ready for this?—34 ½ straight minutes!! Verily, I say unto thee.

10. Not sure who you should feel more sorry for: me, or the poor sap who had to write this ditty.

11. Seemed fitting to end with what sounds to me like something John Williams threw in his garbage can while working on Indiana Jones.

So let’s have a vote: In your opinion, which is the worst piece of hold music on the list? Photo:

I actually enjoyed playing as many at the same time as I could. Of course, in real life, these all suck. And why does the sound quality on these holding tunes always have to be that of a cassette tape about to self-destruct? What is worse...? How about endless looping commercials offering produces and services for the business that has screwed you over.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I vote for #5, I'd like to hear the endless modulation. I assume sooner or later it must modulate back to the original key?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
#11 sounds like the theme song for some 80s sitcom like Growing Pains or something.

If only they played all of Vivaldi's Four Seasons...that wouldn't have been too bad. Just the horrible "on-hold" elbow you inevitably get, right?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
So I used to do tech support for Apple, and they had a very large rotation of music they would use for hold. It was cool, cause you could hear some great stuff, but a customer stuck listening to some heavy metal for the 5 minute hold before talking to you about their laptop failing didn't always put them in the best mood!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Oh, and there is nothing I hate more than being told "Your call is important to us, please wait on the line . . ." They've done studies showing if you don't play that every 90-120 seconds, people are more likely to disconnect. But hearing it every 15 seconds on a 5 minute hold, I very quickly got very angry!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Back when I had Geico auto insurance (around '98-'99) they had the most atrocious wait music. It was maybe 5 or 6 seconds of nothing but jazzy Motown-type horn jabs played over and over and over... There were breaks in the music for recordings of a woman doing of the WORST voice reading I've ever heard (porn stars have better acting ability than what she had). She had the oddest and most irritating phrasing such as "Did you know. That Geico now offers boat insurance? Yes. It's. True!" During a 30-minute phone wait I had to hear this woman sprinkled in every 90 seconds throughout the monotonous horn music.

I think what made this suicide-inducing was that the hold music and commercials were absolutely BLARINGLY LOUD, but when a live operator came on I could barely hear them.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
None of these is as bad as the jazz they have playing at my work, we used to have half-decent soft rock/pop, but then our assistant manager read that easy listening jazz makes people buy more... and the nightmare began.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
HATE #4. it's used by one of the conferencing companies we use, so i get to hear it while waiting for the always late conference starter.

i actually call it spooky music, because i keep imagining it playing in the background of a so bad it's bad horror movie staring paris hilton.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Here's a hint for why #4 is so popular:

It's the default hold music for a Cisco CallManager system. It's name is "SampleAudioSource". If you don't add any other music to the system, it will get used any time you put a call on hold. They do ship a royalty-free music CD, but most of the music on it is as bad or worse, so most everyone I know just leaves it as the default.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I listened to these solely to see if my most hated was on the list - #6 is shared by two companies that I thankfully only have to call once or twice a year, but the fact that neither has changed it since I've been using their services makes it extra annoying.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
#3 is the music to's hold music. I know this because I have listened to it countless times while waiting for people to join my calls. I've written lyrics to it if you're interested.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
#10 makes me feel pretty special. Like a mountain breeze perhaps. #3 is so terrible it would cause me to hang up — which may be the action they're trying to provoke!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I'm pretty sure #6 is Verizon's hold music, both for their landline and cellular services, if I recall correctly. It's been awhile since I've heard it since I moved and no longer use their services, so I might be wrong. Either way, I remember wanting to jump out of a highrise window whenever I was on hold with them.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I laughed out loud at a couple in the last half of the list.

I would add to this torture (possible future article alert) some bad waiting room office 'muzak' I have had to endure. At least official Muzak (TM) is often full songs run through sappy string arrangements, or better.

My Doctors wife runs a bit wholistic in her choices for office decor and music which she chooses, and there is this odd new age cross of Tin Drum Jimmy Buffet ala John Tesh minimalism that is quite maddening, which the scented candles she prefers (what about allergy patients?) only makes worse.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
One of the local ISPs here always used Jeff Foxworthy's cd of redneck jokes. While it was different, it got old pretty quick when you were on the line for support.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Its between 3 and 10. The bad loop timing will surely drive you insane, but the style of music in 10 will have you looking for pink and purple tights and the big hair spray.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Some of these are probably telecom system provided "royalty-free" music. The on-hold music that was provided by Nortel on my company's Option 11c switches was crap ... didn't hear it on the list, tho.

I replaced that shizzle with an MP3 player of great stuff. That is, of course, not necessarily "royalty-free". ;D

The lady in loop 1 also does the voice for the speech files of the Asterisk open-source PBX system. They also have some pretty generic "royalty-free" music by default.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Wow, those are all terrible. I'd say #3 is the worst, just because of the complete lack of attention paid by the person (sadist?) who looped it.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)

We've since changed it.

You hafta listen to at least the 50 second point to appreciate the lunacy of this.

Bonus points for anyone who can survive to 1:30 without going stark raving bonkers, and serious awards to anyone getting through the inexplicability of 2:41 to 2:50. And that's just the beginning.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
@rasqual: Wow. That starts off pretty decent, and then goes off into completely weird territory very quickly. And it makes the chord progression in #5 seem perfectly reasonable. I also love the random inexplicable "vroom" bass sounds scattered throughout with no rhyme or reason.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I don't care to check if it's still there, but my vote is for the tech support hold music for Western Digital. It sounded like they looped a 20 second music snippet, and not a good one.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The recordings you captured actually sound great compared to those I usually hear. Imagine these same insipid compositions sounding warped and battered like they're playing under water or like someone's holding their thumb on a tape! Does the company who uses these ever check the condition of their recording?
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Next time, try re-dialing the number but change the last digit to the next number. So, if the last digit is 5, dial 6. Large companies have blocks of phone numbers, sometimes successive.
If you don't want to hear the movie theater's recording, dial up (or down) a digit and the manager might answer. And then you can ask him to check lost & found for your cell phone.
Works with US Gov't. offices and lots of other places.
Sometimes they say, how did you get this number? Oops, did I misdial?! Oh while I have you on the phone...
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
We use #1 at my work. I think it's the default for the phone system honestly. We also, for at least 3 years straight, have kept our average answer time solidly under 30 seconds.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I have a soft spot in my heart for number 2. One day, while waiting for a conference call to start, I put it on speakerphone to share the atrociousness with my colleagues. One of them immediately launched into a hilarious Barry White impersonation to accompany this soft porn soundtrack: "Aaaww yeeeah. . . your call is VERY important to me, baby. You just hold on now. I'll be with you VERY soon. Yeeeeeaaahhh. That's right."

It was pretty hard to stop giggling when my client finally got on the call.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Number 3 gets my vote! Pretty sure it caused me to have a seizure, much like the "Mary Hart Effect" on TV. They all bring back horrible memories. Considering recording them on my answering machine for the benefit of telemarketers. It would be fun to hook these tunes up to one's doorbell with an outdoor speaker...driving away those annoying people selling products and religion.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
#6, absolutely, brings me back really bad memories of my old job.

However! My least favorite of all time is a tie between those who use ice cream truck music (I used to have to call car dealerships and this existed) and this other dealership who used a 30 second clip from New Radical's "You Get What You Give". A particularly terrible dealership and now that song gives me a ragestroke every time I hear it.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
#6 might be Progressive.

In any case, hold music that doesn't make me want to throw myself through a window is a rare thing!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
# 10 is way worse than at #2. To the person who has written thier own lyrics...would love to hear those! If you want to hear #2 hold music to dance check you on YouTube for some dancing entertainment.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
You want to hear GOOD hold music? Good hold music has squirrels mentioned in it. This is how you do hold music:
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
I work at the front desk in a hospital lab, so I have to call doctors and clinics all day long. You know when you call your doctor and have to navigate that convoluted phone tree from hell only to get put on hold for 20 minutes? Welcome to my nightmare. Many of them use #4, and I have actually grown to like it because 1) it's WAAAY better than some of the crap I am subjected to ("Thinking about liposuction? We're here to help!") and 2) it gives me a brief respite from the dreadful, repetitive, "Fergalicious" Top 40 radio station I am forced to listen to all day long. How sad is that bit of Pavlovian conditioning??
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Haha. These are great. #4 is a classic. I used to have a customer service job that sometimes required me and my coworkers to be on hold for long periods of time. We all agreed that #4 was the cheesiest hold music ever invented, and whenever one of us got stuck listening to it, we would put it on speakerphone so the whole office would have to suffer. Haven't heard it in years, but I recognized it right away. Thanks for the memories.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
correct me if i'm wrong, that's the hold music used by MICROSOFT.
It only wins because you will spend at least TWO HOURS deling with Tech Support and a good amount of time is listening to this awful s**t!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
The best hold music is Symantec (Norton Anti Virus). They play pop/rock music from the 80's and 90's. Well that was 2 years ago. I don't know if they still play the same thing.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
"Melody Phone" was invented by Jean Georges A Mourra. My father was the first person who invented music while waiting on the phone. It's a music box that you attach to the back of the phone. My father invented it because everytime he was waiting on line for someone, they would hang up the telephone, and he got tired of waiting and then they would hang up on him. If anyone says they invented it, they are wrong. My father is still alive and he is 81 years old.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Where can I download #4?? I have a customer at work that loves that song (not sure why) and it would be awesome if I could get it to him for a ringtone. Any ideas? I've scoured the internet and cannot find it and my internal phone guys are no help.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Carson, Brandi, Vampiress, and Aerik:

You all mentioned #4. It reminds me of flying over the coast of a caribbean island with the blue water below the plane!

Could one of you PLEASE research the Title/Artist of that hold loop?

For some strange reason I really dig it and would appreciate having the full-fidelity in my collection!

Thanks on behalf of myself and Dday!
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
#3 made me want to shove an auger through my ears and hit the Go Button. #4 actually wasn't too bad. Speaking of number 4 - I found two names and a song title attached to it: Darrick A. Deel and Tim Carleton - Opus Number 1. They were the two engineers that worked on the Unified CallManager project.

Here's a directory with various wavs of the song in it:

The first, third, and fourth sound the same to me with the last one sounding a bit... "higher fidelity." *snrk* I couldn't be arsed to mess with the second file.

Here's a YouTube link if you wanna terrorize/please your friends:

Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.
Click here to access all of this post's 82 comments

Email This Post to a Friend
"11 Recordings of Terrible Hold Music"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More