Editors' Notes Pop's equivalent of a victory lap, easy listening—a.k.a. "adult contemporary"—essentials don't have a specific style or era in common so much as they share a crucial trait: familiarity. Easy listening's high-profile songs are instantly identifiable classics by blue-chip old (and young) masters like The Beatles, Norah Jones and Ed Sheeran. And while mellow tracks by Barbra Streisand and Simon & Garfunkel put the crucial "ease" in easy listening, Whitney Houston and Céline Dion amp up the energy with passionate, soaring vocals, proving that adult contemporary isn't only about pop's soft side.

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