Three Great Songs For Your Next Road Trip : Pop Culture Happy Hour If you're thinking about taking a road trip, you're gonna need road-trip music. You might need a pick-me-up, or a distraction, or something for when you need a break from podcasts. So if you're headed out on the road soon, we're here to help.

Three Great Songs For Your Next Road Trip

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If you've been feeling isolated or restless, then maybe you've thought about taking a road trip. And if you're thinking about taking a road trip, you're going to need some road trip music. You might need a pick-me-up or a distraction or something for when you need a break from podcasts. But if you're headed out on the road, we're here to help. I'm Stephen Thompson. And today on POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR, we're talking about three songs to blast on your next road trip, so don't go away.


THOMPSON: Welcome back. Joining us today is NPR Music's Marissa Lorusso. Hello, Marissa.


THOMPSON: It's great to have you here. Now, there is no way that we could possibly run the full gamut of road trip music in just three songs. These picks are just to get you started. Marissa, could you kick us off? Give us a song that you're going to play on your next road trip?

LORUSSO: OK. So the first song I'm bringing as an ideal road trip song is "Closer To Fine" by the Indigo Girls.



INDIGO GIRLS: (Singing) I looked to the children. I drank from the fountains. There's more than one answer to these questions pointing me in a crooked line. And the less - the less I seek my source - I seek my source for some definitive, closer I am to fine, yeah, closer I am to fine.

LORUSSO: So "Closer To Fine," of course, the opening track on Indigo Girls' breakthrough sophomore album "Indigo Girls" from 1989. I think it's probably their biggest hit, probably the song people think of when they think of Indigo Girls. At the heart of the Indigo Girls and what makes them so special is this deep friendship and collaboration between Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. And of course, you hear that in the way they sing, right? Like, there's the main melody and the countermelody, and they just kind of, like, interact with each other.

Something that's important to me in a road trip song is high singalong potential, which I think, obviously, "Closer To Fine" - extremely high singalong potential. This song to me sounds like just like being in the car with your friends, windows rolled down, everyone is trying to, like, both sing the main melody and the countermelody at the same time. Even if you don't know the words, you probably know the part of the chorus that goes closer to fine - great singalong track.

THOMPSON: Yeah. This is a great choice. And I got to say, this song came out when I was 17 years old. There are not many songs that are more crucial to at least my own musical development than this one. I fell spectacularly in love with the song. And so for me, this is a perfect road trip song because not only does it have that great singalong potential, but it has a harkening-back-to-my-youth potential, which is always good for a driving song (laughter). If driving makes you feel young, this is the way to do it.

LORUSSO: Absolutely.

THOMPSON: All right. So way back in 2008, NPR Music put together a series called Road Trip: Songs to Drive By, which was a collection of five-song road trip playlists to kind of spark people's imagination. And I put one together. You know, I did one, of course, that was like crushingly sad songs; that's my wheelhouse. But I also did one that was called Nine-Minute Road Trip, which was five songs that added up to a total of 9 minutes. And they were supposed to present, like, an entire world of experiences that you would be having in 9 minutes. And so it was like if you were on the go and needed to compress your road trip way down, this was the one. And one of the - my favorite songs on that playlist is "Song 2" by Blur.


BLUR: (Singing) Woo-hoo - when I feel heavy metal - woo-hoo - and I'm pins and I'm needles - woo-hoo - well, I lie, and I'm easy all of the time, but I'm never sure why I need you. Pleased to meet you. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

THOMPSON: So two things about "Song 2" - one is you mentioned that high singalong potential.

LORUSSO: Mmm hmm.

THOMPSON: If you don't sing along with the woo-hoo and then the part of the song that's like tha-tha-tha-tha-tha-tha-tha-tha (ph)...


THOMPSON: ...So you can mouth along with what are probably the lyrics, but then you get to yell, woo-hoo. The other thing about this song is it's perfect, ideally, if you are road tripping on the autobahn because it is very, very, very hard not to absolutely max out your car's possible speed for the two minutes and two seconds of "Song 2."

LORUSSO: I think that's such a great road trip song, as well, because you could really put that at the beginning of a playlist to hype you up. You could put it in the middle of a playlist when you need to kind of reach an emotional peak. And then you could also put it at the end of a playlist to kind of send you off into the world. Great choice.

THOMPSON: (Laughter) Thank you very much. How about you? You got another one for us?

LORUSSO: I do. OK. So there is about a trillion Beyonce songs that would be great for a road trip playlist. I chose the song "Love On Top" from her album "4," which came out in 2011.


BEYONCE: (Singing) It's gonna take the real work - oh, oh - and nothing's perfect, but it's worth it after fighting through my tears. And finally, you put me first. Baby, it's you. You're the one I love. You're the one I need. You're the only one I see. Come on, baby. It's you. You're the one that gives your all. You're the one...

LORUSSO: I think there's not much I could say about Beyonce that hasn't been said a billion times by a billion other people. But for me, this was one of the first songs that really, like, made me feel totally blown away by Beyonce. It is a great hype-up song, which I think is another good genre of road trip playlist track. And of course, there's a lot of Beyonce songs that keep you hyped up.

But the thing about "Love On Top" is that there's that part of the end where, you know, she, like, sings the chorus a bunch of times, and it modulates, and it changes keys. So every time it gets higher, and she's just like singing higher and higher and higher. And I defy you to be in the car with one or more Beyonce fans, which, like, it could - and also include yourself - and not try to, like, keep up with all of those key changes and have a huge smile on your face. It simply cannot be done. As a person with, like, a relatively high speaking voice, I feel like I'm at an advantage to keep up with Beyonce. But of course, I wouldn't say that I can keep up with Beyonce. But anyway, I think that that makes for a - good road trip fun.

THOMPSON: Nice. Literally nobody can keep up with Beyonce.

LORUSSO: To be clear.



THOMPSON: I mean, Beyonce has - I can vouch. Like, I have seen proof that Beyonce is great on road trips. We have a - kind of like a family road trip playlist, you know, that I put together. It's called Katie Is in the Car. And when I first put it together, it was probably about 80 songs, and, like, 11 of them were by Beyonce.


THOMPSON: So you really - I would also say "Countdown" is great in the car. "XO" is great in the car.

LORUSSO: Great choice.

THOMPSON: You - really, like, if you were just starting a foundational road trip playlist, just dumping all your Beyonce onto it and then subtracting is a great way to go.

LORUSSO: That's a great place to start.

THOMPSON: Well, we want to know what songs you listen to on a road trip. Find us on and on Twitter @PCHH. And of course, thank you for listening to POP CULTURE HAPPY HOUR from NPR. If you want more song recommendations, be sure to check out some of the excellent podcasts from NPR Music, shows like Alt.Latino and All Songs Considered. That brings us to the end of our show. Marissa, thanks so much for being here.

LORUSSO: Thank you.


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