The Top 20 songs to listen to while driving

According to a survey conducted by SEAT UK, 90% of drivers admit that listening to music in their car gives them a feeling of happiness. 84% of this 90% always or very often listen to their favourite songs while behind the wheel. This study was conducted on a sample of 2,000 drivers between the ages 18 and 84. 

These findings are backed by research published in Nature magazine which shows that listening to music releases dopamine, the happiness hormone. Furthermore, enjoyment increases when listening to a song we especially like. In this sense, SEAT is the world’s first carmaker to integrate Shazam in its vehicles. According to Nielsen Consulting, 70% of users consult this app while on the go in a car, at over 30 km/h. 

Although there is no accounting for individual music taste, participants taking part also listed their favourite genres, with pop and rock coming out on top. 64% claim that listening to different kinds of songs change their mood. 

Given the connection ​between driving and listening to music, today's sound systems in your car must be state-of-the-art. Several aspects influence the quality of sound, from the location of the speakers to the layout of the passenger compartment, and of course, movement.​ “Our ultimate goal is to achieve the most natural sound possible”, points out Adrián Mateo, a Car Audio Acoustics engineer at SEAT. 

Any fragment of Queen’s smash hit, Bohemian Rhapsody, is a clear example of the effect that music has on drivers. Based on the answers from the SEAT UK survey participants, Bohemian Rhapsody, recorded in 1975, is at the top of the list of the 20 best songs to listen to while driving.

There are a lot of must-haves in the top 10 positions. The second most popular song is another hit from the 70s, Dancing Queen,by Abba, followed by Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer and other 80s hits like Walking on Sunshine or Eye of the Tiger.

The Top 20

1. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen

2. Dancing Queen, ABBA

3. Livin’ on a Prayer, Bon Jovi

4. I’m Gonna Be (500 miles), The Proclaimers

5. Eye of the Tiger, Survivor

6. Walking on Sunshine, Katrina and the Waves

7. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, Wham!

8. Happy, Pharrell

9. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Cindy Lauper

10. I Gotta Feeling, Black Eyed Peas

11. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

12. Don’t Stop Believing, Journey

13. Wonderwall, Oasis

14. This Is Me, The Greatest Showman

15. Roar, Katy Perry

16. Hey Ya!, Outkast

17. I Believe in a Thing Called Love, The Darkness

18. Three Little Birds, Bob Marley

19. One Kiss, Calvin Harris & Dua Lipa

20. Hey Baby!, DJ Otzi​

The five aspects that make them a hit song, according to Pablo Cano, musician, producer and composer of more than 500 tracks are:

  • Rhythm. 2/4 or 4/4 beats are easy to identify and dance to; they are as familiar as our own heartbeat.
  • Harmonics. Major keys (C major, D major…) bring a sense of “vitality and joy”. Furthermore, the idea that less is more also applies to music: “Many hit songs only have 3 or 4 chords”.
  • Structure. It must be logical so that people listening can anticipate which part is coming up depending on the style of the song.
  • Lyrics. They are generally uncomplicated, “so that anyone can understand the message and identify with it”. The goal is to generate empathy.
  • Chorus. “It has to have a simple melody that is easy to sing”. It is what the listener is going to remember, so making it repetitive is very important.