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Dangerous Christmas Songs

Jamie C, 
Monday, 29 November 2021

With December here, we’re all about to get reacquainted with Christmas tunes – whether we’re Driving Home for Christmas or putting presents Underneath the Tree. But, if you’re listening to Christmas songs in the car, it could be influencing how you drive in ways you’re not aware of. To find out more, we analysed over 100 Christmas belters to find the most dangerous tracks.

To calculate the results, we used the tempo and energy of a song to determine how fast, loud and noisy a song feels. For safer driving, it’s suggested that you should listen to music that mimics the human heartbeat, with a BPM between 60-100. High BPM and energy songs were ranked by us as less safe, because studies have shown music with a BPM higher than 120 can result in speeding and other traffic violations. See our breakdown of the most dangerous songs below:

The Most Dangerous Christmas Songs:

Kelly Clarkson’s 2013 hit Underneath the Tree ranks as the most dangerous Christmas song, with a BPM of 160, putting it at the same speed as Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, and OutKast’s Hey Ya. Great for running, but not for driving!

In second place was Wizzard’s festive classic, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday. First released in 1973, it’s a staple song guaranteed to get everyone hyped for the big day. Rounding out the top three was another classic, Feliz Navidad by Jose Feliciano, which was released in 1970.

Rank Song Artist BPM Energy Total danger score/10
1 Underneath the Tree Kelly Clarkson 160 0.812 7.90
2 I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday Wizzard 139 0.903 7.68
3 Feliz Navidad Jose Feliciano 149 0.831 7.62
4 Step Into Christmas Elton John 140 0.828 7.29
5 Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End) The Darkness 124 0.921 7.25
6 Run Rudolph Run Chuck Berry 152 0.711 7.05
7 Wombling Merry Christmas The Wombles 130 0.847 7.04
8 Merry Xmas Everybody Slade 126 0.869 7.03
9 I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus The Jackson 5 129 0.818 6.84
10 Santa Claus Is Coming to Town The Jackson 5 147 0.660 6.58

The Safest Christmas Songs to Drive To:

Our study revealed that the safest Christmas songs to drive to are mostly carols, from Carol of the Bells to Silent Night. However, it’s good news for fans of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and Bing Crosby, as their Christmas classics feature heavily in the top 10 safest songs.

Rank Song Artist BPM Energy Total danger score/10
1 Carol of the Bells Mykola Dmytrovych, John Williams 60 0.106 0.37
2 Christmas Time is Here Vince Guaraldi Trio 75 0.145 1.12
3 Santa Baby Eartha Kitt 85 0.103 1.23
4 O Christmas Tree Tony Bennett 86 0.982 1.24
5 O Little Town of Bethlehem Elvis Presley 99 0.0406 1.37
6 Medley: Caroling, Caroling / The First Noel / Hark! The Herald Angels Sing / Silent Night Perry Como 87 0.134 1.48
7 The Christmas Waltz Peggy Lee 81 0.172 1.49
8 The First Noel Frank Sinatra 85 0.153 1.52
9 I’ll Be Home for Christmas Bing Crosby 84 0.185 1.67
10 Silent Night Carpenters 89 0.174 1.78

Top tips for driving safely throughout the festive season:

Alongside getting your Christmas playlist right, there are other things you can do to make your driving safer during the festive period:

  • At Christmas, it’s easy to predict the busy periods. Avoid driving on a Friday evening where possible, and if you’re visiting family, why not travel down the evening before, instead of Christmas Eve?
  • Be careful the morning after – during this time of year, drink driving is magnified. If you’ve been drinking alcohol, you might not be safe to drive the morning after. If you need to think about whether you’re fit to drive, you’re most likely not safe to.
  • Road conditions can be difficult as the weather gets colder, so check the weather forecast before you drive. Make sure you check your lights before you drive off, too – you’ll need them in poor visibility.
  • If you are not using your car often during Christmas, it’s a good idea to let the engine tick over for a few minutes every few days.
  • Keep presents hidden away from view – lock them in the boot, and unpack them as soon as you get to your destination.

Methodology

Songs were analysed for BPM and energy based on Spotify API data (https://musicaldata.com/).

Songs deemed as “dangerous” were based on the application of research into how music can influence driving using a BPM >120 BPM and an energy score >0.8. However, these were not directly tested.

Brodsky (2001) “The effects of music tempo on simulated driving performance and vehicular control” ‘Transportations Research’ Part F 4 pp.219-241 (https://in.bgu.ac.il/humsos/art/DocLib/Pages/Scientific-Publications-warren/17_TRF.pdf).

Jamie C,
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