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The 20 best car songs.

Who hasn’t sung “Mamaaaa, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh…” at the top of their lungs while driving? Any fragment of Bohemian Rhapsody is good for letting it all out, releasing stress and happy motoring. Now, according to a survey conducted by SEAT UK, we know we aren’t alone when we sing at the wheel.

Happy: 90% of drivers admit that listening to music in the car gives them a feeling of happiness. In fact, the great majority of them (84%) always or very often listen to their favourite songs while driving, as shown by a survey by SEAT UK done on a simple of 2,000 drivers between the ages of 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.

We will rock you: And even though there is no accounting for individual music tastes, the participants in the survey also listed their favourite genres, with pop and rock coming out on top. 64% claim that listening to different kinds of songs changes their mood.

Given the strong connection between music and driving, today’s sound systems must sound like an orchestra. Several aspects influence the quality of sound, from the location of the speakers to the layout of the passenger compartment, and of course, movement. 

Quotes openOur ultimate goal is to achieve the most natural sound possible.

Adrián Mateo, a Car Audio Acoustics engineer at SEAT.

Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen, tops the list of favourite songs for drivers.

Bohemian Rhapsody: Any fragment of Queen’s smash hit 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.

I Gotta Feeling: The only two current performers that made it into the top ten are Pharrell, with Happy, and Black Eyed Peas, with I Gotta Feeling. There are a lot of modern songs beginning in 11th place, such as This Is Me, from the film The Greatest Showman, or Roar, by Katy Perry.

Songs 11 to 20 on the list also include the oldest hit, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (1966), and the only one from the 90s, Wonderwall, by Oasis.

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

… and five aspects that make them a hit song (according to Pablo Cano, musician, producer and composer of more than 500 tracks)

  • 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.
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