My driving commute from school to my family’s home is just shy of 9 hours. While I’ve recently been opting out of the car in lieu of faster travel, I’d say I’ve had my fair share of road trips. Mainly ones where I sat shotgun, and thus, was in charge of the AUX cord. Now, I take my AUX cord responsibility VERY seriously. As DJ of the vehicle, you have the power to set the mood, to determine which song you and your comrades will (inevitably) fail at actually singing. In my opinion, there are certain criteria that a song must pass before being played in the car.
I love jazz/EDM/instrumental music just as much as the next person. However, for the sake of your passengers, I believe that having a song with great lyrics is best. Songs that either have lyrics easy to sing along to or lyrics that are widely known, are perfect for your drive. I default to some “oldies/classics” most of the time. Think Queen, Journey, and The Beatles, or even early 2000s sort of Somebody Told Me (The Killers) and Animal (Neon Trees).
The popularity of the song works in conjunction with the previous point. While I understand wanting to share your “personal fire mixtape”, your goal as AUX coordinator is to please the crowd. When I’m with my family, I typically stick to The Rolling Stones, Journey, and Bruce Springsteen. With friends it’s: Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Vampire Weekend. If it’s going to be played on an “throwback” radio station in 20 years, or if it’s already on one, you’re on the right track.
Most of my road trips have taken place in the Midwest. Basically, I’ve seen a lot of corn, soybean, and just barren fields. Due to the lack of scenic views, it’s up to you as song decider to keep everyone engaged. I rely on pop songs like Want U Back (Cher Lloyd), feel good songs like Hooked on a Feeling (Blue Swede), or epic rock/punk songs like Fell in Love with a Girl (The White Stripes) to keep energy levels high.
Now I know I just talked about how high energy is necessary on road trips. I also believe that cheesiness can help to keep spirits high. Belting out Somebody That I Used To Know (Gotye) or some Maroon 5, OneRepublic sort of throwbacks are always fun.
Below I’ve linked my personal road trip playlist, full of songs that fit the criteria I’ve listed above. Feel free to use it on your travels, or to take some inspiration to make your own!