Dazzle Your Shotgun Rider

DISCLAIMER: While all these songs are appropriate for my level of decency, they may not be for you. Proceed at your own risk. There are over 30 links in this article. Don’t click them all, but I do encourage you to try at least three of these. Find a category that fits, (or doesn’t) and maybe you find your new favorite song.

If you’re in the car, and anything like me, you’re listening to music, lest you be alone with just your thoughts. I rarely settle for the radio, unless I am truly desperate, or out of data. It is 2019, I am listening to what I want, and right now. And in this age of on-demand music and mixtapes, I find no greater joy than becoming my little Dodge Avenger DJ for whoever gets in my car. You have to read your audience, dazzle them with your music range, entertain them with your curation. You have to walk a fine line when selecting your song! You want it to be a banger, possibly something they have never heard before. But pick a pop song for the guy who has modest mouse records on vinyl, and you’ve lost the room… er, car. You only get the duration of the car ride to make a musical impression. So here is what song to play when you let any sort of person ride shotgun.

The Country Guy:
You know the type, a total country music purist. Completely unable to process music unless there is a certain amount of twang. Be forewarned, country music fans are one of the most isolated groups of music followers. They ONLY listen to country, and will ONLY respect your choice if it touches on one the crucial big 6 of country topics (USA, Family, God, Beer, Heartbreak, Story-Telling). To earn their respect, I am going to lead off with a classic: Made in America by Toby Keith.¹ This establishes that you too, love this great country, and are not a secret America hating jerk (sometimes country fans start from there and you have to prove otherwise). Now that they’ve taken the bait, I am setting the hook. You Broke Up With Me by Walker Hayes will leave them feeling crossed up. The song is undeniably country, but also undeniably pop-y, and great none the less. There is a solid chance they haven’t heard this one yet, so you’ve got them on the back foot now. They are thinking “Wow this guy knows a lot about country, even if his taste is a little different from mine, I want to know who sings that song!” Your destination draws near, it is time to put on the finishing touch. Free Bird! Just kidding. Go with a song you both know but haven’t heard in a while. Camaraderie will be at an all-time high when you’re both belting out One in Every Crowd or International Harvester².

The Country Guy:
You know the type, a total country music purist. Completely unable to process music unless there is a certain amount of twang. Be forewarned, country music fans are one of the most isolated groups of music followers. They ONLY listen to country, and will ONLY respect your choice if it touches on one the crucial big 6 of country topics (USA, Family, God, Beer, Heartbreak, Story-Telling). To earn their respect, I am going to lead off with a classic: Made in America by Toby Keith.¹ This establishes that you too, love this great country, and are not a secret America hating jerk (sometimes country fans start from there and you have to prove otherwise). Now that they’ve taken the bait, I am setting the hook. You Broke Up With Me by Walker Hayes will leave them feeling crossed up. The song is undeniably country, but also undeniably pop-y, and great none the less. There is a solid chance they haven’t heard this one yet, so you’ve got them on the back foot now. They are thinking “Wow this guy knows a lot about country, even if his taste is a little different from mine, I want to know who sings that song!” Your destination draws near, it is time to put on the finishing touch. Free Bird! Just kidding. Go with a song you both know but haven’t heard in a while. Camaraderie will be at an all-time high when you’re both belting out One in Every Crowd or International Harvester².

On the Way to an Event: [Goal: Hype Music that gets the positive vibes up.]
Closer by Lemaitre³
Decisions by Flite
Burn the House Down
by AJR

The Wife:
You tread on shaky ground here son. You have the rare opportunity to control the radio when your wife is in the car, selection here is critical. One misstep, one poor choice, and it is going back to pop music and Maroon 5 faster than you can spell WIOG. Ease her into it, you absolutely must play a song she knows and loves first, lest she think you are on some playlist she hates. I’d lead off with Panic! Brendon’s voice is intoxicating for both man and woman, and you have a plethora of song choices to choose from, can’t go wrong with Death of a Bachelor though, Brendon and you both can try and hit the high note and if you play it loud enough you can pretend you both nailed it. For the wife I am going with back to back slam dunks, bust out some Taylor Swift London Boy off her new album. She’ll think it’s for her, but just like the show Pretty Little Liars, you secretly love it too. You’ve earned her total trust with those, it’s time to introduce her to something new. Not something so shocking she’ll be unreceptive, but just good enough she will like it and be engaged. The goal here is to get it worked into the rotation for future road trips. What You Know by Two Door Cinema Club⁴ is a great choice. Certainly off the beaten path but an absolute ear worm you’ll both be humming for days. Maybe just maybe you’ll have earned the right to control the radio again.

The Metal Head: [Goal: Survive]
Don’t let metal heads in your car.

Mid 50’s Guy:
Easy one here, you play classic rock. For some reason, this particular set of music listeners are incapable of evolving. Unlike country guys, who listen to modern day country along with the classics, classic rock fellows have a set of about 100 songs they will listen on rotation until the day they die. The trick is finding a few from those 100 you don’t hate and then mixing in a new song that sounds like classic rock but is modern. They’ll be confused, but ultimately, the fear of not knowing a classic rock song will cause them to listen on silently, or bring shame to the classic rock fraternity. Lead off with My Sharona, a song that anyone with a pulse will like. Follow up with any song by ACDC, sure to make any classic rock place total faith in you. And then hit them with this: Grounds for Divorce⁵. One of my all time favorite songs you have yet to hear. Maybe the fact that it is not an American song will give our Dad an excuse for not knowing it, go a little easy on his ego.

Coming Home from the Event: [Goal: Music that encapsulates a good night and everyone of varying sobriety levels can sing]
Best Song Ever
Just a Friend
All the Small Things

Mom:
Mom is in the car. And even though I am a 27 (check that… 28?) year old man, I still feel an overwhelming need to project the best version of myself to my Mother. Now if she gets in the car and I just play straight worship music the whole time, she is going to be suspicious. Instead I need to keep it PG the whole time but in a manner that is believable. I introduce her to my brand with The Judge by Twenty-One Pilots, I can always count of them to make amazing, mom appropriate music. Great chance she hasn’t heard this one, and a small chance she actually enjoys the ballad portion of it and respects the message. Then, as if your entire playlist was on shuffle, boom. Hit her with My Lighthouse by Rend Collective. As if to say, the worship music coming up in this playlist is NOT an anomaly, and I casually listen to worship music everyday. She if feeling all warm and fuzzy now, so proud of her son. Put the cherry on top and hit her with a song from her era she knows and loves: Rocket Man by Elton John⁷. (I tried to put a Mommas and the Poppas song in here for you Mom but goodness all their music stinks.)

Complete Stranger: [Goal: Show them your wild and varied but absolutely top tier songs]
Another Sad Love Song by Khalid
The Mother We Share by CHVRCHES
Break Up With Him by Old Dominion
Gold on the Ceiling by The Black Keys⁸
3005 by Childish Gambino
Make Me Cry by Noah Cyrus⁹
If you don’t like any of these five songs you can FIGHT me.

Its 3AM on your road trip:
You are driving through the night and most of your so called friends have fallen asleep. Assuming you aren’t overly tired, you just need some good music to pass the time. I am opting for some story telling music. Like a musical audio book if you will. Don’t Take Your Guns to Town by Johhny Cash¹⁰ (so many options from Cash here). General by Dispatch¹⁶ is one of my all time favorite songs. Alexhei Mikail by The Weather Machine¹¹ is probably the most unknown song on this entire list, by gosh darn if I can’t stop listening to it.

The Geek: [Goal: Play geeky music, duh]
My Leather, My Fur, My Nails by Stepdad¹²
The Geeks Will Inherit the Earth by I FIGHT DRAGONS
The Game is Over by NSYNC¹³

The Connoisseur:
A true music fan gets in the car, and you are faced with a mammoth challenge. Try to impress the dude who listens to it all. Odds are good you won’t be able to shock them, but I’ll try my hand a few amazing songs that are off the beaten path. Hit em with some Watsky, who is Youtube famous… but maybe not famous famous. I like Welcome to the Family¹⁴ the most by him. Then a song I heard on a video game soundtrack back in like 2006… You Owe Me an IOU by Hot Hot Heat, it has been stuck in my head since then. If the connoisseur is impressed so far try and hit them with a song It’s Strange by Louis the Child¹⁵. They might know it, but I love the song so much I just need it to be in the article.

Christmas Junkie: [Goal: Not to hate Christmas by the time actual Christmas comes around]
12 Days of Christmas by Relient K¹⁷
Favorite Christmas Story by Capital Lights¹⁸
Last Christmas by Taylor Swift¹⁹

The post ended up being something I hadn’t really intended when I started writing it, but I think all-in-all I got the message I wanted to send across. Plus it will make for a really sweet Spotify playlist. (Where else can you go from Khalid to Relient K and then back to Cash?)

Check that playlist out here.

Thank you for giving me this music:
1 – Casey Gold, and sorry Bri.
2 – Nate Greeley
3 – Google Pixel Commercial
4 – FIFA Soundtrack
5 – Jon V.
6 – Some Heineken commercial
7 – Family Guy
8 – Mike Ancic
9 – Emily Gold
10 – Ben Hays
11 – Ilia Kate V.
12 – Ben Reger
13 – Amanda Hays
14 – Matt V.
15 – Nate Strayer
16 – Matt Greeley
17 – The Gold Family
18 – Hannah ❤
19 – Don’t hate this song is a banger

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