Pop Life

It's Rude to Hog the Streaming Music in Your Car

Excluding the offenses that could get you a night’s lodging at the local jailhouse, which crimes are you most likely to commit in the car? Do you cram fast food into your hungry face while you’re literally single-handedly navigating a suddenly-treacherous-thanks-to-you roadway? Are you an insufferable ridealong who corrects your driver more than a golf coach? (Yeah, like Flo Rida, I just went double entendre, double entendre on ya.) Do you have one of those terrible Ed Hardy sun shades in your windshield?

All of these appalling acts should result in at least a misdemeanor citation; but if there’s an in-car act that skews toward a felony, it’s hoarding the streaming music playing in the vehicle. (And if this actually was a serious crime, I personally would need a Johnnie Cochran-style defense to avoid a bright orange jumpsuit — you know, something like, “If it’s a Top 10 hit, then you must acquit.”)

In 2010, auto-industry analytics predicted that 90 percent of American cars would be equipped with Bluetooth capabilities by 2016. This design enhancement means our smartphones and their streaming apps can transform our vehicles into gas-guzzling jukeboxes. Whatever the song is, it’s practically at your fingertips, via Pandora, Spotify, YouTube or some other music-centric program. You have great freedom and, as Spider-Man’s uncle said, with it comes great responsibility. Just because you can subject your carpool to your painstakingly assembled playlists doesn’t mean you should. Take it from me, a repeat offender: It’s really bad music manners. Here’s why:

Your Passengers Are a Captive Audience: They literally have no escape from your musical selections except to leap from a moving vehicle. In practically any life circumstance, a person can walk or run away from someone or something he or she chooses to avoid. Not so when you’re speeding in the HOV and playing the Eagles’ On the Border on loop.

Your Smartphone Is Not a Remote Control: But if it was, it might be better because you’d never make everyone in your group sit through house-flipping infomercials for an hour straight; so why are you making them listen to your tribute to the songs of the Glee cast? What is it about streaming music that turns you into DJ I-10 sitting high and mighty in the booth, a.k.a. the passenger’s seat?

There’s Not a Song for Every Occasion: Okay, maybe there is, but it’s not necessary to search your music app for one every time you get in the car. You don’t need to play “Holiday Road” every time you’re taking a family road trip. Too much streaming control means you’ll be dialing up Louis Prima on every trek to Olive Garden. No one in the car needs to hear “Buona Sera” to be reminded he's about to have all the breadsticks he can eat. Seriously, it’s overkill and unappreciated.

It’s Distracting: Hopefully, you’re not trying to be the driver and the DJ on your party bus. Let us all assume the gravity of distracted driving is not lost on you, dear reader. But even if someone else besides you and Jesus is behind the wheel, your streaming selections could divert the driver’s attention. For instance, dialing up “Disco Fever Karaoke” on Spotify (yes, it’s a real thing) is a bad idea if your driver might suddenly get infected with “Boogie Fever.” Wait till everyone’s arrived safely so your in-car karaoke antics don’t turn into your “Last Dance.”

It’s Tyrannical: That’s right, Kim Jong Scroll, you’re taking a page right out of the despot playbook when you oppressively tab through playlists for the next perfect song…and the one after that…and the one after that. The kids in the backseat have voted for “Hands to Myself,” but you mumble something about garbage and tell them, with no hint of irony in your voice, that you’re going to play the Beatles' “Revolution” instead so they can understand what great music was like once. 
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.