The Art of the Perfect Summer Road Trip Playlist

Updated

You’ve done it. You’ve finally done it. You’re going road tripping around Australia and you’ve called shotgun. You’re sitting in the beautiful, spacious passenger seat of your friend’s compact SUV feeling like some sort of road king. 

But then they hand you the aux cord (or ask you to connect to the Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth system, etc.).

You’re on DJ duty.

Worry not: over the course of this article, we’ll teach you the secret art of crafting the perfect driving playlist, whilst also perfecting our own Google search rankings by using phrases like hatchback cars, best SUV in Australia and compact SUV.

This is a win-win.

The Intro

You know when you go to a concert (remember concerts?) and the band plays their biggest, hugest track at the start?

Of course not. That’d be madness. Everyone would leave if they did, and road trip playlists are EXACTLY the same.

If you churn through all your best material before your first snack stop, your friends will probably leave you at the servo, watching as their hatchback / small SUV drives off over the horizon.

A good tip is to pick a song that’s actually the first song off an album (remember albums?). Guaranteed: pro music producers are going to be better at this than you, so you should exploit all the hard work they’ve already done for your own social gain.

You can’t just open with Livin’ on a Prayer. Livin’ on a Prayer isn’t even the opening song on the album that Livin’ on a Prayer is on.

The Chorus

So, you’ve played a couple of good build tracks, and now the tension in your friend’s excellently priced, incredible value compact SUV is almost unbearable.

What do you do now? Some would say you should ease into your driving playlist with a couple of real solid quality tracks here and there.

Our advice is to start dropping banger after banger. No mercy. No surrender. 

We’re talking Mr Brightside, into The Anthem, into American Idiot.

Your road trip companions won’t have a minute to breathe. This SUV would be shaking from all the singing if it weren’t of such exquisite build quality—truly the best SUVs in Australia.

But why those three pop-punk bangers specifically? Because they’re all in harmonious musical keys which is just a complicated music mumbo jumbo way of saying “they sound good together”. 

“Do I have to really worry about musical keys?” we can hear you asking. 

Depends: do you want to be an RSL DJ or do you want to be a road trip playlist God? That’s what we thought. 

For an easy reference on songs that sound good together, check out this website: https://tunebat.com/*

*Disclaimer: this is actually good advice. We’re not even messing with you. This is basically how DJs decide what songs to play together. You’re welcome.

Duration

Let’s talk a moment about the worst thing, ever. You and your friends have just spent the last 5 minutes grooving out to [insert name of indulgently long song with a sweet solo/drop… *ahem* Stairway]. But juuuust before that solo starts, the car turns off, the music stops; you’ve arrived at your destination.

You just listened to six minutes of Let It Happen, and you’re not even gonna get to enjoy that chunky end riff.

Planning the duration of your driving  playlists perfectly for each trip is crucial if you want to avoid your tunes getting turned off at the worst possible moment.

This will take some planning.  

Inspect travel times for the route that your road trip is going to take. Check different travel times based on time of day, weather and traffic conditions. How many traffic lights are there and what’s the average wait time? How likely is your driver to take a detour/get lost? How much drag is going to be created by wind resistance on your exceptional quality small SUV (minimal, probably).

Is this a bit excessive? Maybe for road trip playlist poseurs (that’s a fun French word for “poser”… ya welcome). But you’re a cultured car conductor.

Our advice on picking the best songs to play on a road trip is to figure out roughly how long the trip is going to be, and then start playing a bunch of outro tunes that are a huge vibe, yes, but can be turned off at any moment without causing a huge fuss. We’re talking Con Te Partiro, we’re talking Orinoco Flow, we’re talking The Jurassic Park Theme Song. It’s the perfect cooldown track to convey the epic grandeur of your journey, without having any pesky lyrics for anyone to have to sing along to.

You now know pretty much everything there is to know about orchestrating the perfect road trip playlist—and just in time for summer road trips to be a thing again.

Rock on, you automotive musical maestro.


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