Songs that drive you to distraction?

man singing while driving car

As if there aren’t enough distractions for drivers, research has added music to the list.

Yes, you read that right. In-depth analysis by PassMeFast of Spotify’s 20 most popular car playlists has identified the 50 most dangerous songs to listen to while driving.

As we’ve said often, distraction is a known cause of road accidents. So what if the songs you’re playing could be deemed too dangerous to listen to? Time to check the list.

Hey Ya! by Outkast has been crowned the most dangerous driving song, with a distraction score of 72.6 per cent. Second place goes to the alternative rock floor filler Mr Brightside by The Killers (69.6 per cent), while in third place is the hip hop entry Empire State of Mind by JAY-Z (69.5 per cent).

Read: Is the campaign to get you driving an electric vehicle a PR con?

You can discover the 50 most distracting songs, the 50 least distracting (available to download as a Spotify playlist) and safe driving tips from PassMeFast here.

Using Spotify data, PassMeFast analysed the 20 most popular driving playlists (combining 1485 songs) and scored them in terms of danceability, high energy and how emotionally charged they are. Those with a high distraction percentage score are energetic, emotionally charged but with low danceability. The last factor means it has an irregular beat or tempo.

These scores were then averaged to create an overall distraction score for each song. Using the Spotify API’s popularity score, only the songs with a popularity of 80 plus were included in establishing the top 50 results. This means only the most played songs were included.

Song nameArtist Distraction score
1Hey Ya!Outkast72.6%
2Mr BrightsideThe Killers69.6%
3Empire State of MindJAY-Z69.5%
4Take on MeA-ha69.4%
5Can’t StopRed Hot Chili Peppers69%
6Feel So Close – Radio EditCalvin Harris68.5%
7You Give Love A Bad NameCalvin Harris68.5%
8Bring Me To LifeEvanescence67.3%
9LevitatingDua Lipa67.2%
10Dusk Till Dawn – Radio EditZAYN66.2%

Now some of these distracting songs aren’t the kind of music over-50s are generally listening to. Outkast? Jay-Z? On the other hand, Take on Me by A-ha and Can’t Stop by the Red Hot Chili Peppers could well be on your playlist.

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And here’s an ironic twist, Livin’ on a Prayer by Jon Bon Jovi, No. 15 on the list, is the song used in a McDonald’s TV commercial, with carloads of people perhaps paying more attention to the music than to the driving.

So what are the top 10 safest driving songs?

Song nameArtist Distraction score
1Bad GuyBillie Eilish8.1%
2JulyNoah Cyrus9.3%
3BruisesLewis Capaldi10.2%
4When I Was Your ManBruno Mars10.3%
5Love YourselfJustin Bieber10.4%
6Dancing On My OwnCalum Scott11.5%
77 ringsAriana Grande11.6%
8Enough For YouOlivia Rodrigo12.2%
9Mr Blue SkyElectric Light Orchestra12.3%
10All of MeJohn Legend13.4%

It’s good news for avid Billie Eilish fans as her runaway hit Bad Guy, which was the best performing global single of 2019, proves to be the least distracting and therefore safest popular song to listen to while driving. And the list of least distracting songs probably looks a lot like what you listen to in the car.

Over-50s … as usual, responsible (and safe) drivers. Rock on!

Paul Murrell is a motoring writer and creator of, which specialises in “car advice for people whose age and IQ are both over 50”.

This article was originally published on and is republished with permission.

What do you listen to when you’re on a road trip? Were any of the songs listed above on your favourites playlist? Do you prefer something upbeat or chilled? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Written by Paul Murrell

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