No road trip is complete without the right tunes to provide a soundtrack to the journey. In the good old days, motorists would create mixtapes of the best driving tunes for their long-distance voyages, but few cars even have CD players these days, relying instead on connectivity with smartphones and other devices.
In fact, music streaming services like Spotify have given drivers and passengers much more flexibility when it comes to creating the perfect playlist for a road trip. No longer are we limited by how many tunes you can fit onto one cassette tape, and you don’t even need to own an original recording to be able to include a great driving song on a virtual road trip mix tape.
Check out Spotify and other streaming services for yourself, and you will see that thousands of other users have already created their own road trip playlists, which other drivers can play or use as their inspiration. But how many of them are safe to listen to while you’re driving cross country?
Moneybarn has carried out a detailed analysis into which tunes are considered the most dangerous driving anthems, based on criteria such as tempo, energy and even the aggressive nature of the song’s lyrics. Check out which songs the experts think should be ditched from road trip mixtapes for the good of all road users.
20 Wannabe - Spice Girls
When it comes to singalong anthems, however, they don’t come more memorable than Wannabe by the Spice Girls, the debut single from the band that invented Girl Power, which reached number one in 24 different countries, including the UK and the US.
This peppy and poppy smash hit might not be an obvious choice for a driving song, but the fact that the experts have assessed it as a dangerous road trip tune just goes to show that tracks don’t have to have lots of drums and heavy guitars to make them too aggressive for motorists to listen to safely!
19 All the Small Things - Blink 182
Pop-punk trio Blink 182 was formed in California in 1992 and enjoyed breakthrough success with the high-octane tunes on their 1999 album Enema of the State, including hit single All the Small Things which reached number six in the Billboard Chart. This rock anthem also happens to be one of the most dangerous driving tunes, thanks to its exuberant energy and its high-speed tempo of 148 beats per minute.
It may seem like a fun pop-punk tune, especially when combined with its tongue-in-cheek video, but it’s definitely one to be avoided when you’re coming up with a playlist for your next road trip.
18 Party in the USA - Miley Cyrus
Anyone who watched Hannah Montana as a child would find it difficult to accept that wide-eyed star Miley Cyrus could ever pose a risk to motorists with her music. Sure, her songs might not be to everyone’s taste, but could that bubblegum pop really be too dangerous for drivers?
Well, there is one track that according to an analysis by the expert is unsafe for inclusion on road trip playlists; her high-energy, high-speed hit Party in the USA, which peaked at number two in the Billboard Chart in 2009. Party in the USA may predate her more recent controversial moments, but it remains a controversial choice for drivers.
17 Highway to Hell – ACDC
There are few tracks by Aussie rockers ACDC that would make the cut when it comes to creating a driver-friendly playlist for road trips that isn’t going to encourage road rage or speeding. In fact, given the band’s extensive back catalog since the 1970s, it is possible to make a list of 20 ACDC tracks that are too dangerous for driving! Back in Black has a tempo of 188 beats per minute, with tracks like Thunderstruck and Shook Me All Night Long not far behind.
Perhaps the worst selection for a driving playlist, however, is Highway to Hell, which is not only high-tempo but high in aggression too.
16 One Kiss - Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa
It isn’t just rock tunes that drivers need to steer clear of when they are coming up with the perfect virtual playlist for their next big road trip; modern pop songs also tend to be too high-tempo and too high-energy to be considered safe driving songs. The recent chart hit One Kiss, by producer Calvin Harris and British singer Dua Lipa reached number nine on the Billboard Chart in 2018 and even won the award for Best British Single at the Brit Awards.
Dua Lipa’s mellow vocals hide a fast-tempo dance track – Harris’ signature style, which can be heard on other collaborations with Rihanna and Ariana Grande.
15 The Pretender - Foo Fighters
Rock songs tend to dominate lists of tunes which are considered dangerous choices for road trip playlists, and The Foo Fighters have certainly released plenty of powerful and hard-hitting songs since they formed in Seattle, Washington in 1994.
Former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl was responsible for some of the most iconic tracks of the grunge era, and although he now sings and plays lead guitar, Foo Fighter tracks like The Pretender are just as powerful as anything he played on in his Nirvana days – and its antagonistic video, featuring the band taking on a row of riot police, doesn’t exactly lend itself to calm and composed motoring.
14 Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
New Jersey rocker Bruce Springsteen has enjoyed a lengthy and successful career, from his early albums in the 1970s to the more mellow releases he has produced since the turn of the 21st century.
The Boss has always had a reputation as a great songwriter and performer, and though he may not have the same hard rocking image that he enjoyed in the 1970s and 1980s, his songs, including Born in the USA, Dancing in the Dark and Born to Run are still popular choices even for Millennials who are making up their own driving playlists, despite the impact they can have on their driving.
13 Big For Your Boots - Stormzy
If the speed or beats per minute of a song is the main criteria for what makes a piece of music dangerous to drivers, then there is one kind of music that is particularly lethal to motorists; grime music. This is a kind of British dance music which first developed in London in the early 2000s, and which has been developed in recent years by successful artists like Stormzy.
His single Big For Your Boots, which reached number six in the UK charts in 2017, boasts an astonishing 175 beats per minute – the kind of speed that could easily encourage a driver to put the pedal to the metal.
12 Chop Suey - System of a Down
Chop Suey by heavy metal band System of a Down may come in at a paltry 126 beats per minute – well below the average grime track – but their heavy guitar chords and shouted vocals add to the aggressive feel of this track, which is definitely not a great option for a chilled out road trip playlist.
System of a Down was formed in Glendale, California in 1994, by a group of friends from an Armenian background, and their tracks are very much influenced by traditional music from their homeland. Singer Serj Tankian enjoyed a solo career for a few years before the group reformed in 2010.
11 2004 Hit - Green Day
When it comes to the Moneybarn assessment of various classic driving songs, there was one that came out worse than all the others, both in terms of tempo and energy. That song came out in 2004 by pop-punk trio Green Day, a single from their concept album of the same name.
The tracks from the album were even turned into a stage musical, which brought the concept to life, and which has proven a success both on Broadway and in London’s West End. It may be a great track to wake up to on a morning, but it’s not the best choice for the morning commute!
10 Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
Those music fans who weren’t around in the 1970s might have a misguided idea about the music of Led Zeppelin. After all, their biggest hit was Stairway to Heaven, a chilled out hippy anthem which would actually make for a perfect calming driving song.
Unfortunately, few of Led Zeppelin’s other songs fit the bill, as they were better known for their hard-rocking - and their hard-partying - ways. Immigrant Song was a heavy metal single released in 1970, which included references to Norse mythology inspired by their tour in Reykjavik, and was even played over the final credits of superhero movie Thor: Ragnarok.
9 On Fire - Kings of Leon
From the kings of 1970s heavy metal to the Kings of Leon, a band that seemed more country and blues than rock when they launched their first chart success in 2003. As time has gone on, however, their sound has developed, and their music has become faster and louder – and increasingly unsuitable for road trip playlists.
Perhaps the best – or should that be worst? – example of this is this song, a rocking tune that is about as far from the Kings of Leon’s early country tunes as it is possible to get. Motorists should stick to the early singles if they want to listen to some Kings of Leon while driving.
8 Youngblood - 5 Seconds of Summer
From a band in Australia that has been around since the 1970s to another Aussie group that is one of the newest rock bands to hit the charts – albeit that they aren’t even fit to carry ACDC’s guitars! 5 Seconds of Summer, or 5SOS as they are known by their fans, is a pop-rock four-piece from Sydney who has enjoyed chart success in Europe and the US, where their 2018 single Youngblood reached number seven in the Billboard Chart.
This fast-paced catchy tune is just the sort of song that would distract drivers who should be concentrating on the road.
7 Welcome to the Jungle - Guns N' Roses
Back to those aggressive guitars now, and a classic rock tune from the 1980s that is bound to bring out the beast in even the most mild-mannered motorist. Welcome to the Jungle was a 1987 hit for Guns N’ Roses, from their debut studio album, Appetite for Destruction.
Axl Rose’s distinctive vocals and the raucous guitar riffs played by Slash might appear at first glance to make for an ideal road trip tune, but once any driver starts rocking out to a bit of GNR, they will soon find themselves distracted from what is happening on the road around them.
6 Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
Anyone who has seen the Mike Myers movie Wayne’s World will instantly know why Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen is a bad choice for a road trip. The song may be made up of varying different musical styles, from a rock ballad to an almost operatic interlude, but it is when the guitars and drums kick in that Wayne and his friend Garth started headbanging in the front seat of their car in the film; and it takes a hard-hearted driver to resist joining in with a little head banging of their own.
It may be a rock classic, but it is best left off the road trip playlist.
5 Get Rhythm - Johnny Cash
Think of the sort of tunes that aren’t conducive for safe driving, and it is unlikely that country music would be at the top of your list. Country songs are more likely to be heart-tugging ballads, than fast and furious melodies. However, there is always an exception that proves the rule, and in the case of country music, that exception is Johnny Cash.
The bad boy of country music, also known as the Man in Black played frequent gigs for prison inmates and was often in trouble with the cops himself, and his high-tempo hit Get Rhythm is sure to get a driver’s feet tapping.
4 Livin' On a Prayer - Bon Jovi
The poodle rocker bands of the 1980s were as well known for their shaggy hairstyles as for their pop-rock hits, and artists like Europe, Aerosmith, and Def Leppard are popular choices when it comes to driving song compilations, despite the high tempo and heavy guitars, which as we have already seen is not a great mix when it comes to a musical accompaniment to driving.
The quintessential poodle rockers were Bon Jovi, who enjoyed a long career since Livin’ On a Prayer gave the band their second consecutive number one hit – though according to the experts this is another one to be avoided while driving.
3 Rollin' - Limp Bizkit
In the 1990s, rock fans didn’t listen to heavy metal anymore but instead preferred a new kind of music called nu metal, which was a kind of mash-up between rap and hip hop music and conventional rock songs. The kings of Nu-metal were the band Limp Bizkit, led by singer Fred Durst who seemed to be permanently angry with the world – an attitude which permeated all his music.
The over-aggressive delivery of his vocals on hit single Rollin’ shouted over the top of guitar riffs and hip hop beats was a sure fire way to put any motorist in a heated mood.
2 Life in the Fast Lane - The Eagles
Seventies rockers The Eagles are not known for their heavy guitar riffs, but there are still plenty of reasons to avoid including some of their greatest hits on your road trip playlist. After all, any song which is called Life in the Fast Lane is bound to have a bad influence on whoever is behind the wheel.
The Eagles song isn’t the only motoring-related tune that is to be avoided; Route 66 by Chuck Berry is also too high tempo for sensible drivers, while pop star Rihanna’s hit Shut Up and Drive is enough to make even the most even-tempered motorist experience road rage.
1 Stan – Eminem
Rapper Eminem has earned his place on this list not just because of the high temp of many of his hits, but also because of the aggression of his lyrics – and the hard-hitting way in which they are often delivered. His songs are hardly likely to calm down stressed drivers or prevent motorists from getting involved in road rage incidents, but there are some Eminem tracks that are worse than others when it comes to putting drivers and passengers in danger.
Stan, for example, is about a stalker who ends up driving his car off a bridge when Eminem doesn’t reply to his letters…
Sources - Money Barn, Autoweek, We Travel, Youtube