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  • Selina Barker

Don’t Listen to This in the Car


man driving vehicle with cell phone mounted on red dashboard
Photo by David Tran on Unsplash

Listening to your favourite songs in the car can be a fun way to pass the time, but is there a point at which music becomes too distracting while driving?


Compare the Market studied every song in the top-ranking global ‘road trip’ playlist on Spotify (not counting playlists made by Spotify itself) and found the most distracting songs to listen to while driving.


For the curious or the skeptical, the playlist is called “Roadtrip Bangers” by Sindre Skirstad, and would last you through a 36 and a half hour road trip – long enough to drive East to West across the United States from New York, New York, to Las Vegas, Nevada.


Each song in the list was scored on beats per minute, energy, danceability, and loudness, and then ranked from most to least distracting. Here are the top 10:

Rank

Title

Artist

Distraction Score %

1

Dragostea Din Tei

O-Zone

78.76

2

Empire State Of Mind

JAY-Z

78.37

3

Pump It

Black Eyed Peas

77.80

4

Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'

Michael Jackson

77.11

5

All About That Bass

Meghan Trainor

76.59

6

Price Tag

Jessie J

76.46

7

Despacito - Remix

Luis Fonsi

76.39

8

Hey Baby (Radio Mix)

DJ Ötzi

76.36

9

The Lazy Song

Bruno Mars

76.26

10

Beat It

Michael Jackson

76.13

Chart from drive.com.au

 

Dragostea Din Tei” from Moldovan Eurodance group “O-Zone” was determined to be the most distracting song on the most popular road trip playlist on Spotify. You may not know this smash hit by name alone, but upon playing it you are sure to recognize the tune, and likely remember all the words to the bridge. Perhaps you know it by its English title "Words of Love,” or more likely as "Maya Hi" or "Numa Numa.”


This song ranked high in energy - meaning it’s likely to tempt you into dancing in your seat - distracting your hands, feet, and mind from the road. Perhaps luckily, since the study was conducted, it has disappeared from the playlist.


Everything else in the top 10 were extremely popular charting songs that may set off a dance break when you remember a tune or lyric. They are designed to get you moving and singing along, so it is best to leave them off your driving playlist. Any song you love to energetically air-guitar or tap the steering wheel to is potentially a dangerous distraction - just as one commentor observed:


“Surely 'Bohemian Rhapsody' is notoriously the most distracting car song. Just watch Wayne's World to see what it causes.”

What Should I Listen To?


Make sure your music is not too loud, too energetic, or too exciting for you to devote all your attention to driving. But don’t play songs that are so slow, soft, and relaxing that they lull you to sleep either. 


Music can be a helpful tool when you are feeling tired or stir-crazy during a long or boring drive, although it is better to find a safe, out-of-the-way place to park and rest than to try staying awake and driving while fatigued. Singing also helps reduce stress and tension, which could help those with driving anxiety. But a split second spent trying to remember what lyric comes next could be the difference between a safe drive and a serious collision.


The least distracting music is that without lyrics or with lyrics in a language you don’t know. It is also better to listen to familiar songs than something new and exciting, so your brain isn’t trying to understand what is happening in the song while it should focus on driving. However, you don’t want to play anything you’re so passionate about that an intense sing-along becomes irresistible. Steer towards calm music that makes you comfortable.

 


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