Stripes: Car Singing Day 27

Here’s the post I promised yesterday. I really did not intend to do more than a little blurb about the concert and say it was fun and stuff but Coldplay really blew me away so yeah, they got their own post.

Here are the facts about my driving habits for the last 5 years:

-I’ve been in college for 5 years at the same school.

-My family (and I mean my whole immediate family and at least half of my extended family) all lives around the Seattle area either in the city itself or in the various suburbs dotting the map around the epicenter.

-I did a distance relationship with someone who lived in Seattle while I was in college.

-I am adventurous (sometimes, anyways) and love to get out of our little college town to do cool things.

Because of all of this I have driven between Seattle and my college town about 100 times…and if you’re counting there are 2 ways each time and each way takes about 2 hours. In other words, I’ve spent a lot of time driving over the last few years. I was originally going to post about all the things I do while I drive that I think are kind of weird (cause I do a lot of weird stuff when trapped in a car alone) but when I started the section on car singing I realized I had way more material than necessary for a blog post so instead I decided to focus on my favorite (and most ritualized and obsessive) part of driving: Car Singing.

Car Singing, my friends, is an art form that I have developed over years and years of ridding in cars. I no longer do the whole half hearted, kind of singing along, easy to pretend I am on bluetooth in case that old man creeper in the next car looks in my window. No. I car sing like I am on American Idol and this is my last chance to prove I deserve to make it to the final episode.

For long trips, like the one home, I have started doing vocal warm ups (and cursing the fact that you can’t stand while singing in the car causing your breath support to suck and making those high notes in ‘Don’t Stop Believing’ nearly impossible to hit with a full voice). These warm ups accomplish two helpful things:

1. Protect your voice from damage. Let’s face it, unless I’m really tired or emotionally drained, I’m going to be singing the whole time I’m in the car. I am a marathon singer when need be and I don’t want vocal fatigue to kill it for me (and I want to be able to talk the next day…especially helpful for when you’re planning a long drive the next day so you can pick up where you left off and sing more).

2. Helps you to hit those notes like a pro. I would totally recommend some sort of warm ups so you can activate your vocal chords and gain more control over your sound. You’re going to sound 1000000x more like Whitney Huston/BSB/Lady GaGa if you can control your voice and know it’s limits.

The next step is your music selection. I usually start off on my iPod which requires some prep work in the form of an awesome playlist. I don’t mean to sound super conceited but I make awesome playlists and I think it makes or breaks the car singing experience. I have a play list of fast, dance music (think Beyonce, Lady GaGa, Rihanna, N*Sync…I don’t discriminate) another one literally titled ‘Sit on the Porch Mix’ which is all slow, bluegrassy acoustic stuff (think Nickel Creek, Hem, Iron & Wine) and another that is full of music in between these two genres. I also have an a’capella/showtunes mix that I reserve only for my most focused car singing times. I prefer a playlist to just picking an artist (aside from every once in a while when Coldplay or Sufjan Stevens calls me…can’t say no to that) because I like to mix it up. It can get boring singing one person’s stuff and that’s the last thing you want while car singing. I do, also, sometimes change over to the radio to mix things up a little bit and hear some new music…gotta keep it fresh.

After picking music it’s time to sing. I usually like to start off just singing melody but then adding in some bad ass harmonies when I feel the moment is right. It’s also really fun to put on simple music and make up songs/scat/vocally percuss/improv over it.

Now it’s time for the next best part of car singing: CAR DANCING. Oh yes, I took it there. Car choreo is very important because why bother taking all that time and effort to get ready to sing if you’re not really going to get into it? I usually limit myself to hand/arm motions or tapping out cool rhythms when driving for obvious safety reasons but sometimes you just can’t help but shimmy a little. And I say, embrace it. Embrace it good and just let it happen.

I realize that car dancing is the part that makes your awesome car singing less easy to hide form passers by. But you know what? You’re already awesome car singing so who cares? That person only wishes they were as good at car singing as you. So feel free to watch their lame, boring car drive away and sing with peace because you are a million times cooler than they are.

And this final part may just be my own a’capella perfectionism coming through (ok, most of this is my a’capella perfectionism coming through) but I sometimes get super obsessive about a song and will keep singing it over and over until I can nail it in my sleep because practice makes perfect. This includes but is not limited to: the words, correct notes, accurate harmonies, emoting, and proper car singing choreography. Yeah, I have a little OCD when it comes to performing BUT it feels sooooo amazing to sing something perfectly. Totally worth the work but also optional. I realize not everyone is into singing the same song 20 times in a row and that’s ok.

So a quick summary of my car singing routine: Sing healthfully [always, please!], sing proud, and dance your little heart out!

And now for the part you were waiting for, the outfit:

Sweater: Old Navy

Dress: A&E

Leggings: The Loft Outlet


What’s everyone’s favorite car singing songs? I personally am a fan of Somebody I Used to Know by Gotye (so many opportunities to harmonize and add stuff) and Take Care by Drake and Rihanna right now but that’s subject to change. Anyone else break out the car dancing? I’d love to hear what you all do!

2 responses to “Stripes: Car Singing Day 27

  1. Thank you for posting this! It really made me smile. I am right there with you as far as not being able to stand in the car for warmups. I’d do good singing posture and stuff in the car, but it’s such an uncomfortable driving position, especially when you’re driving a long distance. Does it bug you as much as me when someone sits back and crosses their legs when singing? I want to go right up there and have them stand up tall. Oh, well. Maybe it’s just me.

    I’m quite proud of car singing, and I actually WANT people to know that I’m car singing vs. talking on my Bluetooth. The one thing I get concerned about, especially during rush hour traffic in Seattle when people around me tend to get cranky, is that people might mistake my passionate car singing for yelling expletives about them. So I always try to look super-happy and not angry when I’m car singing. A friendly, carefree, fun expression is key. So yes, sometimes (okay, fine, most of the time) that involves breaking out the car dancing. Because, really, who shimmies while yelling expletives at someone?

    I, too, have to have a playlist when doing long drives. I’ve made it habit for the last 3 years to make a new playlist to reflect the year of my life, so I do mix up the fast dancey songs and the cheesy reflective ballads. The thing for me about driving playlists is that I usually repeat that CD over and over and over again, so I really have to absolutely love every single song on it. My purpose for this CD during long drives is to put me into a trance and so I can 110% memorize the lyrics so that the next time it comes around, I can add the flourishes like harmonizing or improv, or feel comfortable enough to sing it at the top of my lungs. Knowing these songs to a T makes it possible for me to use the playlist as a calming distraction from the crazy traffic. If there was a song I didn’t quite know, I might be tempted to listen to the lyrics and accidentally miss the jerk who tries to hastily veer into my lane without turn signals.

    Somebody I Used to Know really is a fabulous song, but one that I can’t get out of my head once I hear it, so I tend to avoid it. On a related note, have you seen the parody sketch of that song on SNL? Brilliant.

    Last week, I drove no less than 600 miles in 6 days because I had to drive 50 miles each way to dogsit. My playlist consisted of (I’ve been on a HUGE country kick lately…don’t hate) the new Miranda Lambert CD, “Hell on Heels” by Pistol Annies (a great song to singalong to!!), “Firework” by Katy Perry, “Colder Weather” by Zac Brown Band, and “Dancin’ Away With My Heart” by Lady Antebellum. The Miranda Lambert CD by itself is fantastic because the songs are very diverse mood-wise and I don’t get bored at all. I highly recommend it. 🙂

    On another note, I would love to hear what the other weird stuff is that you do in the car! I have a (formerly) fuzzy purple unicorn on my steering wheel that I rub when I start to get nervous, i.e., when someone is tailgating waaaay too close. That unicorn has been on my car for 7 years now and all the fuzz, and the horn, for that matter, has rubbed off. So that’s just one of the weird things I do.


    • hahaha YES! singing posture is SO important and after years of being reprimanded through high school for bad posture I am always on it when I sing now! Thanks for making me feel slightly less weird for my car singing habits! I knew there had to be more people in the world who are as serious as I am about producing awesome car singing!

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