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best driving albums

'Rumours' tops the chart

Rumours by Fleetwood Mac has been voted the best album to drive to in a poll of over 20,000 AA members to coincide with National Album Day

11 October 2018

This year is the 70th anniversary of the album, and the AA poll coincides with the first ever National Album Day which will be taking place on Saturday 13 October 2018. Throughout this week musicians, producers, songwriters, record labels and the public will be celebrating their mutual love of the album format. 

In the AA-Populus poll, drivers were asked: 

For many it's rare to get the opportunity to just sit and listen to a whole album but driving provides an ideal opportunity to do so, especially when driving somewhere on your own. Which classic album would you choose to listen to when driving alone?

The Top Ten were:
  1. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours
  2. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
  3. Ed Sheeran – Divide
  4. Paul Simon – Graceland
  5. Adele – 21
  6. David Bowie – The rise and fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars
  7. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
  8. Bruce Springsteen – Born to run
  9. Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
  10. U2 – The Joshua Tree

A selection of classic albums on compact disc

One reason why the 1977 album ‘Rumours’ tops the driving charts may be because one track is synonymous with motor sport. The Chain from Rumours became the theme tune to BBC 1 Formula One coverage in 1978 and was retained by Channel 4 when they began F1 coverage in 2016.

There were some variations within the age groups but Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours made the top two across all age groups.

18-34 year olds
  1. Ed Sheeran – Divide (19%)
  2. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (9%)
  3. Greatest Showman soundtrack (9%)
35-54 year olds
  1. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (12%)
  2. Ed Sheeran – Divide (8%)
  3. U2 – Joshua tree (7%)
55-65+ year olds
  1. Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (15%)
  2. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (10%)
  3. Paul Simon – Graceland (8%)

For the older age group ‘Pink Floyd’ as the artist was also popular with most opting for ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ or ‘Wish You Were Here’. 

Choosing not to listen to an album

Interestingly older drivers were more likely not to listen to an album while driving than younger drivers – perhaps counter-intuitive in the age of streaming. 

Percentage saying they wouldn’t listen to an album while driving:

  • 18-24 year olds – 10%
  • 25-34 year olds – 11%
  • 35-44 year olds – 13%
  • 45-54 year olds – 12%
  • 55-64 year olds – 14%
  • 65+ year olds – 29%
The perfect environment?

Commenting, Edmund King, AA president (and owner of all the Top ten driving albums) said:

“The car can be the perfect environment for listening to these classic albums. You can select an album to reflect your journey, mood or indeed type of car you are driving.

“Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in California in a convertible Mustang accompanied by The Eagles ‘Hotel California’ album is perhaps my perfect combination.

Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in California in a convertible Mustang accompanied by The Eagles ‘Hotel California’ album is perhaps my perfect combination
Edmund King, president of the AA

“Ed Sheeran’s ‘divide’ might be the perfect album to drive from Ipswich to Cambridge as it takes approximately 46 minutes, according to the AA route planner, which is the same length as the album, but when ‘Castle on the hill’ comes on perhaps drivers should refrain from driving at ninety down those country lanes.

“Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ would last you the 76.20 minutes from Chipping Camden to Hereford perhaps in a beaten-up Saab.

Is there an ideal type of music to drive to?

“Playing an album can help reduce boredom on long journeys but is there an ideal type of music to drive to?  Some academics** warn that up-tempo loud music may not be as safe as slower, quieter tracks. We are told that if music is above 60 beats per minute, listeners experience a faster heart rate and increased blood pressure which could lead to them taking more risks. Classical music may not be as fast as dance music, but the number of notes, combined with the repetitive crescendo and diminuendo can have the same effect.

“The driver blasting out Wagner’s ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ may react in a similar way as the head-banger booming out Motorhead’s ‘Ace of Spades’. It is all down to the speed of the beat of the music. Luckily our driving Top Ten albums are all good and safe to drive to. We urge people to dust down their albums and enjoy a drive on National Album Day. The car can also be a good ‘private’ place to sing along to your favourite album tracks on your own or indeed in harmony with family or friends.”

A spokesperson for National Album Day, said: 

“Over a fifth of all music listening takes place in the car - so, as you discover new destinations when driving, you are just as likely to be discovering new music.  It’s no surprise too that Rumours should have proved such a hit with AA members - it’s a classic album, packed with anthemic numbers that are the perfect accompaniment to any long journey, not least The Chain - arguably motoring’s most iconic song.” 

Over a fifth of all music listening takes place in the car - so, as you discover new destinations when driving, you are just as likely to be discovering new music
National Album Day spokesperson

National album day logo


National Album Day is being organised jointly by ERA (Entertainment Retailers Association), representing the nation’s music retailers and digital/streaming platforms, in partnership with record labels body, the BPI (British Phonographic Industry).  It also has the backing and input of the wider music community, including AIM (Association of Independent Music), Classic Album Sundays, BBC Music, FAC (Featured Artist Coalition), MMF (Music Managers Forum), MPG (Music Producers Guild), Official Charts Company, PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited), United Talent Agency, and industry umbrella body UK Music. 

AA Populus survey of 20,650 drivers on-line August 2018

**The research by academics at Ben-Gurion University, Israel.

Research has shown that up-tempo music may cause drivers to have double the amount of accidents as those listening to slower music. The study gave 28 students different types of music, ranging from slow ballads to dance music, and monitored them as they used a driving simulator. Drivers who were listening to music with a fast beat were found to be twice as likely to go through a red light and have twice as many accidents.

Other stand out artists in the verbatim responses and most popular albums:
  • Abba
  • AC/DC  (Back in Black)
  • Queen 
  • Meatloaf (Bat out of Hell)
  • Bon Jovi
  • Pink Floyd (Dark side of the Moon, Wish you were here)
  • Dire Straits (Brothers in Arms)
  • Eagles (Hotel California)
  • ELO (Out of the Blue)
  • Elvis
  • Guns n Roses (Appetite for destruction)
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Metallica (Master of puppets)
  • Oasis (What's the Story, Morning Glory)
  • Status Quo
  • George Ezra
  • Neil Diamond
Some respondents opted for a genre of music rather than artist 
  • Classical
  • Country
  • Motown
Selected quotes from verbatim responses to the survey:

"I just listen to a few gospel songs"

"Varies as depends on my mood"

"Depends on my mood that day"

"On the road classic driving anthems + Clarkson rocks full throttle anthems"

"Some proper music, i.e. classical"


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