My car is littered with dozens of stray mix CDs. Some of them have been marked with a green Sharpie, given embarrassingly uncreative titles like “Karen’s Summer Mix!” or “Road Trip Hits!” Others are subjected to an even sadder fate – unmarked, abandoned and probably scratched to oblivion. I accept the fact that track 6 skips and track 8 freezes up but if tracks 1-4 are in listenable condition, it stays in rotation.
Besides their wayward condition, my CDs all have another trait in common: their track list. With every mix, I aim for songs that accompany the act of rolling down your window while belting out incorrect lyrics to the world.
Yet by going through my collection, I realize that some of my choices appear on numerous discs. In fact, some of my choices appear on all of my discs, making it seem like my new discs are just paying tribute to their elders. Even if I have a CD dedicated to Wilco, ABBA seems to find a way of sneaking on board. My Matt Pond PA Greatest Hits compilation includes “She-Bop” by Cyndi Lauper for some reason. Yet these aren’t the worst of the offenders. Friends, I present the Top 5 Songs that inhabit space on nearly every single disc.
- Kelly Clarkson – ‘Since U Been Gone’. Oh my gosh, this song rocks and I promise that I’ll never get tired of it. Being the official anthem for at least two breakups in my past, I’ve noticed that its message is more powerful the louder you scream along to it. Added bonus: Since so many remixes were created, you can choose the original version or a club version to liven your car ride. But be careful: dancing while driving isn’t a wise choice.
- Any radio hit by Live. Wait, let me amend that. Any radio hit by Live that isn’t ‘Lightning Crashes’ or ‘The Dolphins Cry’. So pretty much ‘I Alone’ and ‘All Over You’. I can’t even use the excuse that “Well, Live originated the town over from where I live now”, since the timeframe doesn’t truly match up in a convincing way.
- The New Pornographers – ‘Bleeding Heart Show’. This all started around 2007, when I was listening to Twin Cinema. This song came on and I literally had it on repeat throughout an entire 3-hour car ride. In fact, I managed to formulate an entire screenplay in my head based on the construction of this song. Despite scrapping the screenplay when I realized it was nearly identical to the film Reality Bites, I feel like the song is key when successfully creating new ideas. Also, it’s just really, really good.
- The Cranberries – ‘Dreams’. Maybe I just want to pretend that I’m in a Meg Ryan movie. Maybe I wish that Tom Hanks would be sending me e-mails without me realizing it was Tom Hanks. Or maybe I was just one of the very lucky few who owned the soundtrack to You’ve Got Mail growing up. For those of you who’d like to fantasize that their life is a movie, ‘Dreams’ is great for your final moment where you’re driving off in a car after doing something powerfully quirky and romantic.
- Madonna – ‘Like A Prayer’ Madonna may claim she hears my voice, but trust me. Busting out the lyrics to this song while driving on a highway does not sound like an angel sighing. Nor would it make her feel like flying, unless she’s flying to the ear plug store. With ‘Like A Prayer’, the pace jumps around a bit, which kind of livens the listener’s experience.
‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ by Def Leppard – I’ve gotten into not one, but two car accidents while listening to this song, so I’ve tried to steer clear from it for the time being.
‘Bad Day’ by REM – I’m a huge REM fan, and feel like this poppy little hit is a good cure for – well – a bad day. It’s nice to constantly have on hand, just like I always want to have “Everybody Hurts” around for moments where I’m stuck in traffic, and want to reflect on my life.
‘Going On’ by Gnarls Barkley – The one downfall to having this song on a car mix is trying to resist the urge to dance. As mentioned before, please avoid dancing and driving.
So, let me hear it – are you also guilty of CD-Repetition Syndrome? What are the songs that constantly make their way onto your mixes? Maybe you can help me shake things up by suggesting a few of your go-to replacements. I’d love to get myself out of the habit this summer, and finally move forward. After all – change is good.