Warning! Warning!

Just heard this on Newsradio: The Royal Automobile Club of Britain has issued a press release warning of the dangers of playing loud, fast music in cars. They cite the results of a study which found that reaction times were worsened by as much as 20 percent while listening to loud music. They were also nice enough to cite examples of “bad music to listen to”, such as The Prodigy’s Firestarter, and Basement Jaxx’s Red Alert. (Red Alert didn’t sound too bad when Newsradio played a clip of it… maybe it’s just that Basement Jaxx fans turn their radios up louder.) The number one item on the list was a little surprising… take a guess what it was. Free hint: it’s a real golden oldie.

The most dangerous song to listen to at loud volume while driving is… Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries. (What do you mean you don’t know it? You know - kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, kill the wabbit, dum da dum!) They also held up Verdi’s breakthrough pop hit, Dies Irae, as a bad song to play. Honestly, kids these days have no appreciation for the classics. On the other side of the coin, the press release also made note of music “to play while driving, albeit quietly”. The inclusion of Sugababes and Blue on the list suggests that the songs are intended to be played as quietly as possible - or, even better, turned off entirely. I can’t help but mention the RAC’s number one song to play while driving - from their point of view, the least dangerous song to play while driving is Mad World, by Gary Jules - probably better known these days as “that incredibly depressing song from Donnie Darko”. Despite their valuable message and otherwise excellent song selection, the RAC’s judgment fails them here: playing Mad World in any car that I’m driving would be courting disaster.