Driving and listening to music go hand in hand, whether it’s through the radio, CD, aux cord, or of course a streaming app. Many playlists claim to contain the songs most suitable for driving, but are these actually the most listened to in reality?
To produce a definitive list of the most popular driving songs and artists, we analysed 39,399 songs across 600 Spotify playlists linked to driving. Scroll on for the results, including the most listened-to hits on the work commute.
Mr Brightside by The Killers revealed as the most popular driving tune
Out of all the songs and playlists analysed, Mr Brightside, The Killers comes out as the single most popular driving song – appearing 57 times across the 600 playlists. Although it’s without any clear links to driving, the tune’s popularity can’t be contested, with over 475m views on YouTube.
More surprising is Olivia Rodrigo’s good 4 u in second position. Despite being released only a year ago in May 2021 – nearly 18 years after Mr Brightside – the song appeared only five times less in our research. It’s also on 371m YouTube views currently, three quarters of the way to The Killers record in a fraction of the time.
Heat Waves by Glass Animals is third, level on playlist appearances with Rodrigo’s hit. Released in June 2020, before appearing on the Fifa 21 soundtrack in October 2020, it’s another modern song that’s risen up the rankings.
The classics don’t score too well here – Steppenwolf’s Born to be Wild, largely credited as one of the greatest driving songs ever, didn’t even make the top 500 due to its 13 appearances.
Harry Styles storms up the rankings with a recent release
Despite only being released a matter of weeks ago, Harry Styles’ As It Was comfortably made the top ten. In all, the recently released hit from his Harry’s House album appeared 45 times across the research.
That’s enough to top classics like Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey (44 appearances) and Dreams by Fleetwood Mac (34 appearances) – both of which were released more than 40 years previous.
Taylor Swift is the most listened to singer while driving
Appearing 628 times – more than twice as frequent as any other artist in our research – we can reveal Taylor Swift as the single most popular singer to listen to behind the wheel. On individual songs, I Knew You Were Trouble was the most popular, with 22 appearances across the 600 playlists analysed.
Taking the other podium spots are Ed Sheeran and Drake, on 301 and 299 appearances respectively. Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the table is dominated by modern artists – classic performers like Fleetwood Mac, Queen and The Beatles are few and far between on this list, too, failing to top Rihanna, Adele and Ariana Grande.
Harry Styles also performs well on an artist level, sitting in positions five and six through his solo music and work with One Direction.
As It Was is the most popular song for commuting
As It Was, sitting in sixth overall, takes the top spot for appearances in Spotify playlists with ‘commute’ in the title. Styles is joined by rappers The Kid LAROI and Lil Nas X, and also Adele in the top five.
Dua Lipa takes back-to-back spots just outside the top five with Don’t Start Now and Levitating, each on ten appearances.
Spotify playlists mentioning ‘car’, ‘commute’, ‘driving’, ‘motorway’, ‘road’ and ‘roadtrip’ were analysed – covering 600 playlists and 39,399 songs. The songs and artists were then ordered by those appearing the most in our research, highlighting the most popular.
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