Billie Eilish’s ‘bad guy’ tops list of ‘safest driving songs’; Outkast’s ‘Hey Ya!’ most distracting?

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SALFORD, United Kingdom — Many drivers have a go-to playlist they listen to whenever they hit the road. Unfortunately, a new study finds some hit songs are more distracting than others when people get behind the wheel. Researchers found that if you want to hear some tunes while driving on those treacherous winter roads, the “safest” option is Billie Eilish’s “bad guy.”

According to Spotify data, commissioned and analyzed by PassMeFast, the study finds Eilish’s hit has the lowest “distraction score” (8.1%) out of the songs in Spotify’s 20 most popular driving playlists. That’s a list of nearly 1,500 songs!

The team ranked each tune’s ability to distract a driver based on three key scores: danceability, high energy, and how emotionally charged the music is. Songs that researchers consider extremely distracting were more energetic and emotionally charged but had a low danceability score.

The PassMeFast team averaged these scores together to create an overall distraction score. Using Spotify API’s popularity score, they then matched their list against the songs with a popularity of more than 80 to find the top 50 hits which are either “safe” or distracting.

Also making the cut as the least distracting hit songs are “July” by Noah Cyrus (9.3%), “Bruises” by Lewis Capaldi (10.2%), and “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars (10.3%).

‘Hey Ya!’ named the most distracting driving song

Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” may be a fun tune to listen and sing along to, but the research shows it’s also the worst song to have on while driving! “Hey Ya!” received a distraction score of 72.6 percent, followed by “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers (69.6%) and JAY-Z’s hit “Empire State of Mind” (69.5%).

“It isn’t just music which can affect driving at this time of the year. In winter, roads will be icy, snow will probably be forecast, and you can bet that come 4pm it’ll already be dark,” the PassMeFast team writes in a statement.

Aside from changing up your driving playlist, researchers also listed a few tips for staying safe behind the wheel this winter and in poor weather.

  • Keep your distance: stopping distances double on wet surfaces and are even worse on ice or snow
  • Check your tires: make sure your tread depth is in good shape and consider getting winter tires before roads freeze
  • Check your lights: shorter days means using your headlights more than ever
  • Stay warm: keep a blanket or extra coat in the car in case you break down and need to wait for a tow
  • Use higher gears in icy conditions: shifting into a higher gear gives you greater control over your car

Top 10 Safest Driving Songs:

  1. “bad guy” – Billie Eilish (8.1%)
  2. “July” – Noah Cyrus (9.3%)
  3. “Bruises” – Lewis Capaldi (10.2%)
  4. “When I Was Your Man” – Bruno Mars (10.3%)
  5. “Love Yourself” – Justin Bieber (10.4%)
  6. “Dancing on my Own” – Calum Scott (11.5%)
  7. “7 rings” – Ariana Grande (11.6%)
  8. “enough for you” – Olivia Rodrigo (12.2%)
  9. “Mr. Blue Sky” – Electric Light Orchestra (12.3%)
  10. “All of Me” – John Legend (13.4%)

Top 10 Most Distracting Driving Songs:

  1. “Hey Ya!” – Outkast (72.6%)
  2. “Mr. Brightside” – The Killers (69.6%)
  3. “Empire State of Mind” – JAY-Z (69.5%)
  4. “Take on Me” – a-ha (69.4%)
  5. “Can’t Stop” – Red Hot Chili Peppers (69.0%)
  6. “Feel So Close” (Radio Edit) – Calvin Harris (68.5%)
  7. “You Give Love A Bad Name” – Calvin Harris (68.5%)
  8. “Bring Me To Life” – Evanescence (67.3%)
  9. “Levitating” – Dua Lipa (67.2%)
  10. “Dusk Till Dawn” (Radio Edit) – ZAYN (66.2%)

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About the Author

Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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