Singing in Cars: The Appeal of Mobile Karaoke

pink tinted image of a toyota corolla

It’s worth nothing how much of a raging success James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke continues to be. Why is singing in the car so common? Music therapist, Lyndie Walker says cars are a place we can dive into the music we most resonate with and music activates every part of the brain. “We can process emotions so much through music. You think about the lyrics that you’re singing and how it makes you feel on the inside, but really it’s the physical act of doing it,” says Walker.

In season 1 of the podcast, many guests identified either the shower or the car, or both– as places for truly uninhibited expression and processing of emotions with sound. For many, the act of singing in the car becomes a cathartic journey that can also evoke memories and offer solace from life’s challenges.

Karaoke: The Lure of Familiar Songs

As we age, certain songs become our personal bedrock soundtrack, especially those that we connect with between the teenage years through to the early 20s. The songs of these times in our lives imprint on our memories and when we hear them, they take us back to “those times when…” These songs mirror back to us experiences in our earlier years and different times of life, whether positive or negative.

The most profound aspect of singing in the car is its ability to foster connection with others. The shared experience of singing transforms the car into a sanctuary of solidarity (and it helps us practice for karaoke). 

At one point in my life after being rear-ended, we were carless for some weeks and were given a giant, black, gas-guzzling Lincoln as our rental car. It was a strange time but the car sure was cushy and like driving a giant boat. I nicknamed it after the novel about a horse from my childhood, the Black Beauty (by Anna Sewell). Karaoke out to these songs centered on that theme or enjoy in your ride:

If you can’t view the Spotify list above, click here for the full publicly viewable list.

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