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Driven to Distraction: What are the most distracting Christmas songs?

Ahh, those Christmas classics — Mariah Carey, Wham!, Chris Rea. They’re instantly recognisable from the first couple of notes, and they signal that the best time of year is well and truly here. But what about when you’re on the road?

With Xmas 2021 looking like we’re back to normal, driving home for Christmas is back on the agenda. For new and learner drivers, however, this spells busy roads, dark nights and the potential for treacherous conditions. Do you really need a distracting Christmas tune thrown in the mix too?  

To find out what you should or shouldn’t be listening to when you’re behind the wheel this December, we set about uncovering the most and least distracting Christmas songs.

With the help of Spotify data, here’s what we found:

The 10 most distracting Christmas songs

Sorry, Shakin’ Stevens. While we can’t get enough of your classic, Merry Christmas Everyone, as soon as December hits, it turns out it’s not a good vibe in the car. With a distraction score of 76.4%, it tops our list as the most distracting Christmas song.  

But how did we compile our list? Here comes the technical bit...

Using Spotify data we analysed the most popular Christmas playlists (combining a whopping 835 songs) and scored them in terms of danceability, high energy and how emotionally charged they are.

Those with a high distraction percentage score are energetic, emotionally charged but with low danceability. The last factor means it has an irregular beat or tempo. These scores were then averaged together to create an overall distraction score for each song.

So hard luck, Shakin’, that irregular tempo has done it for you. But at least you’re joined by some heavyweight performers in the top 10 most distracting songs. José Feliciano and Feliz Navidad make second spot with 75.7%, followed by All You’re Dreaming Of by Liam Gallagher with a distraction score of 69.5%.

And that’s not forgetting Elton, Chris Rea, Michael Bublé, Mariah (but not the one you might think) and Michael Jackson who also make the top 10.

The 10 least distracting Christmas songs  

For anyone learning to drive, newly behind the wheel or setting out on a long journey when driving home for Christmas this year, it’s definitely best to listen to these least distracting festive songs.  

That classic Xmas crooner Bing Crosby makes it into the top 10 three times. While Nat King Cole with All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth) takes the top spot with a distraction score of just 13.2%. It’s followed by Ella Fitzgerald’s Baby it’s Cold Outside with 17.7% and Bing Crosby’s The Little Drummer Boy with a distraction score of 19.3%.  

Soothing, classic and perfect when you’re behind the wheel this festive season. 

The 10 most popular Christmas songs  

When analysing nearly 1000 Christmas songs across the most popular Spotify festive playlists, we saw some of the same songs popping up time and again.

So, when it comes to the most popular festive bangers, the merry people of Spotify can’t get enough of John Lennon, Leona Lewis and Mariah Carey. Mister Christmas himself, Michael Bublé, of course makes the list, but he might be disappointed with his eighth place.

The perfect driving home for Christmas playlist  

To make your drive home for Christmas as smooth as possible this year, we’ve created our very own tailored Spotify playlist. Featuring songs with a distraction score of less than 50% it will keep your festive spirits up without affecting your concentration levels as you journey home to celebrate the festivities with your nearest and dearest.

Driving home for Christmas tips from the experts  

It isn’t just music that can affect driving at this time of the year. In the December rush, roads will be busier, people will be hurrying, and it gets dark much quicker. We all love a white Christmas too, but not when we’re driving.  

To make sure you stay safe behind the wheel, here are our essential and expert driving tips:  

  • Keep your distance: Stopping distances can double on wet surfaces (and even worse on ice or snow) 
  • Check your tyres: Make sure your tread depth is a minimum of 1.6mm and consider getting Winter tyres before the freeze sets in! 
  • Check your lights: With short days and long nights, you’ll be relying on your car’s lights more than ever 
  • Staying warm: Keep a blanket or spare coat in the car in case you breakdown and need to wait for roadside recovery   
  • Use a higher gear in icy conditions: Higher gear = greater control over your car. If you’re struggling to pull off in the snow, try using the second gear 

Make it a Christmas road trip to remember  

With no distracting music and an increased awareness of road safety this festive period, you’ll be well on your way to a memorable and safe Christmas road trip home.  

And for those looking to learn to drive at this time of year, with PassMeFast you’ll benefit from our intensive driving courses to take your test quicker and get you on the road faster. With our network of expert DVSA-approved instructors, you’ll learn from the best. Learn more about our fast-track beginner and refresher courses 

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