culture

CarAdvice's best driving songs 2020

A good nonessential cruise needs some good tunes

We've polled the office, and these are the sounds most likely to get a CarAdvice staffer hitting the road. Good thing we're allowed to, now!

Depending on where you live in Australia, it's just about time to get your motor running and head out on the highway for a relaxing, mind-healing and legal nonessential drive.

You'll need some tunes, of course. No doubt you have a delectable selection ready to roll, but because we love a good driving tune as much as the next cruiser, I thought I'd call on the team to share their faves.

What are yours? If they pass my utterly infallible personal taste test (also I'm humble and never exaggerate), I'll add them to the below Spotify playlist. I've also linked each of our picks to YouTube versions, if you're not a Spotify user.

Get listenin', get sharin' in the comments, and like a band of gypsies let's get on down the highway.


James Ward, Publisher

Van Halen's Dreams, and the Tron Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk.

Dreams. Van Halen.

I've loved it since first seeing the Blue Angels video clip in the late '80s on late-night Rage. Great beat, great sing-along and it makes any car feel like an A4 Skyhawk.

The Tron: Legacy Soundtrack by Daft Punk

Late-night freeway drives to this whole album makes any sound-system upgrade worthwhile. Try an XC90 with its Bowers & Wilkins system on the ‘Gothenburg Hall’ EQ setting and you’ll feel like you are on ‘the grid’.

Mike Stevens, Senior Producer

The Weeknd's Blinding Lights

I don't think I have an all-time fave, to be honest. I live for music, but I hate to choose favourites. Feel free to check out my garbage tastes on Spotify, to verify!

Lately, though, I've been beating the hell out of The Weeknd's Blinding Lights. His latest album, After Hours, is a winning mix of themes around passion, lust and regret, and this track – the first single off the record – is 'a banger' as the kids say.

It's got a mint '80s feeling, too. Not quite 'Outrun' vibes, but it's good to drive to, that's for sure.

Rob Margeit, Culture Editor

Wide Open Road - The Triffids

Originally from Western Australia, The Triffids encapsulated the sheer size and loneliness of Australia in 4m03s of melancholic pop perfection.

With lines like 'the sky was big and empty' and 'I yelled my insides out at the sun', as well as the titular 'It's a wide open road', The Triffids manage to evoke time and place and the vastness of our continent. And the video features an old HQ Holden, so that's cool too.

Best listened to driving on the Nullarbor, windows down, elbow resting on the door and singing your insides out at the sun.

Jesus Built My Hotrod - Ministry

Ministry's powerful industrial metal anthem is the perfect accompaniment to driving. The frenetic pace of the song, all crashing drums and thrashing guitars almost demands you drive faster.

Said to be inspired in part by lead singer Al Jourgensen's stepfather, a stockcar racer and mechanic, Jesus Built My Hotrod takes you on a rambling and scrambling musical journey among the prophets and the seers, the Devil, and yes, Jesus.

The song ends with the line 'Jesus built my car. It's a love affair, mainly Jesus and my hotrod'. And the cover artwork for the single, released in 1991, is a photo of a 1970 Chrysler 440 Six Pack V8 Hemi engine in all its naked glory. Respect!

Susannah Guthrie, Journalist

Take it Easy by The Eagles / Jackson Browne (I prefer the Jackson solo version).

One of my all-time favourite songs. Aside from the many references to driving, the chorus makes me feel like I’m driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible even if I’m just on the Monash Freeway at peak hour.

It also features one of the simplest but wisest pieces of life advice I’ve ever heard, which also happens to double as a driving reference: “Don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.” Brilliant.

Sam Purcell, Off-road Editor

Susie Q, Creedence Clearwater Revival. 1968

Let's be honest, anything from Creedence is good driving music. Between Cosmo's Factory, their 1968 self-titled album album and Chronicle, you've got enough of John Fogarty's bayou crooning for hours of driving.

The Last Frontier, Redgum. 1986

Putting aside the heavy socialist overtones of John Schumann for a minute, few songs get me as keen to bust out a long, dusty drive into the red heart of Australia. I reckon the best version is on their Caught in the Act live album, and line up Lear Jets over Kulgera while you are there. It's a ripper.

Uncle Remus, Frank Zappa. 1974

I can't play any musical instrument worth a damn, but this song makes me wish I could. But alas, the best I can do is tap on a steering wheel. Once again, this number sits amongst a collection of other songs I highly recommend. The album is called Apostrophe, and sums up the weird awesomeness of Zappa quite well.

Texas Sun, Khurangbin, Leon Bridges. 2019

Take one look at the cover artwork of this song, and tell me you don't want to mow down some miles with someone special.

Liam Murphy, Journalist

Jamiroquai's Cosmic Girl

The entire song feels like you’re cruising down some undulating, winding aural highway – and it figures, seeing as the lead man for the band is a car nut himself. There’s also the legendary story of how not one – but two – incredibly rare, purple Lamborghini Diablos were harmed in the making of the song’s music video.

Golden Earring's Radar Love

No other song transports you into the lead role of a cheesy action movie playing in your own head quite like this one. Trying to get to the grocery store before they close? Radar Love. Wondering if you’ll make it to the next truckstop before you wet yourself? Radar Love. Want to turn any mundane drive into something exciting? The answer is always Radar Love.

Leo, Marketing Director

Crowded House's Temple of Low Men album, and Jack Johnson's In Between Dreams album

We usually dust off the best of Crowded House (Temple of Low Men a standout fave) and Jack Johnson's In Between Dreams album. Signals the beginning of the journey, easy on the ear, and we (think) we know all the words.

James, Engineering Lead

California Dreamin' - The Mammas & the Papas

It was like this song was created for car listening. The floating melodies and accompanying vocals become a soulful travelling companion and, in this reviewer's opinion, could be extended out to a 30 minute track and not lose any of its magic.

Nightcall - Kavinsky

This is the opening piece to the movie Drive and provides the perfect soundtrack to Ryan Gosling's night-time drive through the city of angels. While I'm not a getaway driver by trade, I do like to think that I could be – and I'd have this song on repeat the whole time.

Road to Nowhere - Talking Heads

I don't only play this when I'm lost or on a seemingly endless family road trip – it's just too great a track. The building of this song to its frenzied climax never disappoints. This is my favourite Talking Heads track, and up there with my favourite tracks of all time.

C.R.E.A.M. - Wu-Tang Clan

One of the greatest hip-hop songs of all time – and it sounds amazing in a car too. Just had to add it.

Ravi, office team

Tracy Chapman's Fast Car

It feels like the bare minimum of music's purpose is covered: it gets straight to your heart. It's a very well sung, beautiful song. Tracy's voice brings out your hidden emotions and you just resonate with her voice.

Driving with this song, on a long drive… it gives me a high! It's not a city song for me, I much prefer to enjoy it on a country cruise.

Jess, office team

New Radicals' You Get What You Give

Love this idea! It immediately brought me back to when I first came to Australia for a three-month family road trip in 1999.

We hired a car and used to blast New Radicals' You Get What You Give out the window. It became the anthem of the trip. I vividly remember us driving through the Central Coast (we’d just been to Erina’s McDonald’s drive-thru but that taints the magic of the memory a bit, hah) with this song blasting out the window, all four of us singing at the top of our lungs, thinking 'THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER’. What is it about playing music out the car window that is such a buzz?

It also reminds me of being awe-struck by Australia. I was nine years old and knew there-and-then I wanted to come back here to live… fast forward 21 years and here I am about to become a citizen.

Still, today for me it’s one of those important songs you keep tucked away in your heart, and I play it when I’m either missing my family or need a bit of a kick up the butt – in fact it’s first on the list for my marathon this weekend. Doesn’t ever fail to put a big grin on my face and give me the biggest nostalgia hit – and it reminds me of how proud I am that I did in fact come to Australia and make a life for myself here, all those years later.

Shaz, office team

Morgan Page's The Longest Road

My problem is I have way too many favourites! But, if I had to pick one meaningful driving song it would be The Longest Road.

It brings me back to one European summer holiday I took with my best friend. We drove across Cyprus in an old beat-up Yaris through dodgy roads that had no street names. (yet you didn't choose U2's Where The Streets Have No Name?! - Stevo)

We had zero mobile reception, so we stopped to ask for directions to a main road and were told to keep going until we reached the herd of goats at the end of the street...

Best time of my life!

Mat, office team

Massive Attack's Be Thankful For What You've Got

Whilst not a song that encourages driving at a rapid pace, Massive Attack's Be Thankful For What You've Got is top of my playlist for hopping in your car to unwind - be that driving home from work or heading off for a late night drive to nowhere in particular.... Plus the Cadillac described in the lyrics sounds amazing.

Deanne, office team

Down on the Corner - Creedence Clearwater Revival

An early memory of going away on family holidays to the beach as a kid and this song would come on the radio. My dad would turn it up real loud and sing.
It reminds me of good times and family and makes a constant appearance on my Spotify playlists.

Nick, office team

Vampire Weekend's A Punk

Why? I think all 2 minutes and 20 seconds of this indie anthem screams cranking up the radio and belting it out at the top of your lungs. A genuine feel-good tune that instantly changes my mood, regardless of how my day has played out. Though I’m not sure car fans would resonate with the opening, ‘Johanna drove slowly into the city’, I think everyone at least once in their life has (hopefully) belted out ‘Ey, ‘ey, ‘ey, ‘ey!’.

I’d be hard pressed to find a road-trip where this hasn't featured more than once. A classic, both in and out of the car (but hopefully in)!

Sarah, office team

Jimmy Barnes's Driving Wheels

There are many I could mention, as I do have a “driving” playlist, mostly consumed with '80s tunes. However, as a massive Jimmy fan growing up, Driving Wheels always gets me singing. It reminds me of the first few years just after high school, heading off on weekend camping trips with my friends, down the highway with the city lights fading in the background – young, free and a whole world in front of us.

A true fact: on my first solo drive after getting my Ps, I jumped into my first car – a Torana Sunbird and yes, Driving Wheels was on the radio.

The Anonymous Staffers

These few folks couldn't bring themselves to be identified, which is a shame, as there's nothing embarrassing about these picks!

Cruel Sea – Honeymoon is Over

Great song to sing to in the car (alone) with a great tune. (Yeah, singing this one alone is probably wise… - Stevo)

ELO – Mr Blue Sky

I used to listen to this when very young and then had a second wind a few years ago, so the whole family is now onboard with it.

INXS – Just Keep Walking (or any of their songs, really).

This was big when it came out. I remember having an argument with my mother who insisted the band’s name should be spelt “in excess”.


And now for any post punk / screamo fans. Here are some tracks recommended by those who'd prefer to not be named (I could change their names to protect you innocents, but hey).

Enjoy, if you dare!

Parkway Drive - Deliver Me | Live in London

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