Who would you ban from your car this summer?

lev radin / Shutterstock.com
lev radin / Shutterstock.com
I can’t remember the last time I asked you for help mediating one of my own disputes. But I could use a little help with this one.

We’re on a three-week road trip from Orlando to Philadelphia, with stops in the Florida Panhandle (we’re currently at the Holiday Inn Resort here) Atlanta and Washington. It’s all of us — two adults, three kids ages 6, 8 and 11.

Our “banned” list already includes any food that crumbles, particularly cookies and crackers. Our Hertz rental car would look like a federal disaster area, otherwise. There’s also a moratorium on loud toys, like my daughter’s stuffed bear that belts out Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

But we can’t agree on the music.

The Sirius satellite radio with about a billion music and entertainment choices, is a source of endless conflict. What gets played? What doesn’t?

We have our favorite stations as presets. The kids are partial to the “hits” stations at the top of the dial. Our middle son knows all the words and sings along to last summer’s Carly Rae Jepsen hit Call Me Maybe. Really, he does.

Mom has the “First Wave” preset on the car and occasionally clicks on the Jazz station. I’m known to listen to a Reggae channel called “The Joint” when I’m driving the red-eye shift.

After a heated debate, we’ve agreed that it isn’t the preset, but the artists that should get blacklisted. Some musicians are overexposed or just too irritating for words.

You know what I’m talking about. Don’t make me ask Iden to sing Call Me Maybe for you. I will if I have to.

We’ve checked with our Facebook friends and consulted with the kids, and here are the nominees for a permanent and irrevocable ban from the car. Feel free to explain your vote in the comments. My kids will probably want to know why they’re no longer allowed to dance Gangham Style in the back seat. I’d rather defer to you.

Which artist would you ban from your car playlist?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Blackadar

    Need an “all of the above” option. :)

  • RoadTripFan

    I love Timberlake, don’t like Bieber or Jepsen. I can handle Psy for some fun bouncing around needed energy and I have no idea who the last one is.

  • sirwired

    I think general ban on all one-hit-wonders will help. At least some of the artists on your list, no matter how annoying, have some manner of variety. (And at least nobody wants to play “Friday”.)

    Really, a better solution would be cheap nearly-disposable MP3 players for each kid.

  • MarkKelling

    All of the above. But then maybe I’m finally just getting old. I do like the Reggae option.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    “I threw a wish in the well . . .” Iden and I could sing a duet, so your threat fails there, Chris. :)

    If separate mp3 players isn’t an option as sirwired suggests, then set a schedule or a “batting order”. Mom gets her station at her time or is 1st in the rotation, Dad gets his, and so on. Listening to an hour of pop music won’t scar you for life. Much.

    Alternatively, go to classical music when no one can agree. Or, use something like the Teaching Company’s (now The Great Courses) “History of Ancient Egypt” by Professor Bob Brier – 48 lectures of 30 minutes apiece. I guarantee that course will be a hit with all generations. [I can loan you mine, or you can wait for the course to go on sale (generally they go for 70% off, so don’t let the sticker price throw you). ]

    Use the time in the car to throw in a little learning. Many historical areas have CD or mp3 audio tours. South Dakota had several, about 10 years ago; check to see if other states, cities or neighborhoods where you’re going have them. I find it more fun to listen to those ahead of time, so I’m not tethered to my ear buds while I’m out actually experiencing an area. Or, if your kids don’t get car sick reading while in the car, have them practice their reading skills and vocabulary by reading brochures to the others in the car. Personal experience: a little of that goes a long way.

  • James Orth

    Any and all conservative talk stations

  • Tincanrider

    At the age of 65, I’m a classic rock fan (classic vinyl and classic rewind on Sirius)

    I know a couple of names on the list, but if I heard any of their music, I couldn’t identify it.

    Buy them all iPods!

  • Zarkov505

    Where’s the “All of the above” button?

  • E_Woman

    Instead of banning artists, reserve the right to change any ‘inappropriate’ songs determined by you and your wife. Other than that veto deal with a one hour rotation.

  • http://about.me/cblack Carl Black

    I’m grateful that I’ve only heard of two of those artists and only know the music of one. I would therefore ban anything but JT, though even that would need to be significantly limited.

  • Charles B

    I’ve always been a fan of Driver’s Choice – s/he who drives gets to pick the music.

  • Logan B.

    So here are the rules of the car radio as I know them:

    1. The front-seat passenger has primary control over the radio/music.

    2. The driver has veto power over what is played (as they are the person in charge of the vehicle).

    3. Those in the back seat may also override the front passenger’s music choice by a majority vote (in most cases, 2/3), but subject to the allowance of the driver (see Rule 2).

    Granted, parental law supersedes Rule 3. :-)

  • MortarMagnet

    I’m not a fan of any of those artists listed. I’m also fortunate enough to be able to travel alone without the distractions of others’ feelings or concerns, so I cannot imagine your plight, nor can I offer advice on it. Good luck, Chris. Post if and when you make it to Philly, and I’ll treat to a cheese steak and a beer.

  • amystery726

    Personally ALL Of those on the list. Use the trip as an opportunity to introduce them to some “the classics” (and not talking about Beethoven or Mozart) – The Beatles, The Rolling Stones…Some Motown (always good for singalongs)….And, yes, even some classics – maybe the William Tell Overture (the Lone Ranger rides again), and other tunes they’d recognize as theme songs…..
    You’ll have a more pleasant trip, and so will they.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Demi Lovato and Carly Rae Jepsen are essentially clones of each other.

  • emanon256

    HAHAHA! I was very happy to see Justin Bieber in the lead. I voted to ban him as well. I heard the Call Me Maybe song once, it had a catchy beat, but I primarily listen to classical, NPR, and Indi.

    We have a rule in my family, the driver always picks the music and the front passenger had to DJ. So we have hand signals for new station and skip to next song (If using an iPod). When traveling with mixed company I found the best thing to keep everyone happy on a long road trip is a book on tape, or comedy routines (There are a few that are appropriate for kids). Also I like to cue up old Car Talk PodCasts and play them one after the other. Nothing makes a road trip more fun that listening to Tom and Ray. Ive been listening to them since their show first started and am sad they are retiring.

  • Jennifer

    I we had Sirius in my car, the kids would vote for Radio Disney. But they also love books on tape, books like the Lightening Thief or The Alchemist.

  • Fishplate

    “I’m known to listen to a Reggae channel called “The Joint” when I’m driving the red-eye shift.”

    Heh. I get it. But I wouldn’t admit it these days…

  • Joe_D_Messina

    And anybody who finds a way to turn any and all conversations to politics.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I’ve been hearing Gangham Style essentially on a loop for the past month, so I would spare you that, Chris. That’ll spoil any song, no matter how much you liked it the first time!

  • emanon256

    I was thinking that as well because I don’t know most of them either, but I have heard of a few and while I have never heard a Beiber song, I still despise him (I saw an interview, can you say mega ego!). I saw JT on SNL a few times and he is really funny. I have anew respect for him.

  • Charles

    The best investment you can make on a long car trip with small children is earphones. Get them ipods and/or get them a Nintendo DS. Our kids would play music or games for hours and then lull themselves to sleep quietly in the back seat. Just be sure you teach them to keep the volume at a reasonable level.

  • http://upgrd.com/roadmoretraveled MeanMeosh

    At least be glad none of your kids wants to play “Friday”…

    We had a strict yet simple rule during road trips in my family – the driver gets to pick the music. Everyone else was free to bring a personal listening device or game and headphones of their choice and listen to whatever they wanted to. Especially since you can buy an MP3 player or iPod shuffle relatively cheap these days, you might find that the easiest way to keep the peace.

  • PsyGuy

    I’m single, no kids and I don’t own a car (I rent). I listen to what I want without fighting with anyone. I usually listen to Radio Disney or NPR/BBC. Why Radio Disney? It’s energetic and it all sounds the same.

  • http://twitter.com/DutchessPDX Dutchess

    Do hashtags work here?

    #firstworldproblems ;-)

  • Extra mail

    Definitely need an all of the above choice! If you have a favorite baseball team, we’ve found listening to a game makes the time pass.

  • Cyn2

    We’ve introduced the kids to radio dramas for road trips. They are fascinated with “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” We are looking at “Star Wars” and some of the BBC “Doctor Who” radio dramas for this summer’s road trip. No arguments, and it keeps everyone quiet so they can hear the story.

  • http://first2board.com/thedealmommy Dia (The Deal Mommy)

    If you think Psy is bad, wait till your kids memorize the Annoying Orange version. “Orange Nya Nya Style” haunts my nightmares.

  • cahdot

    have fun in philly my home town..listen to wmmr if it’s still on.. have fun eating there many good restaurants

  • Tookish

    Do you have a station that plays old radio dramas? I used to love to listen to radio shows like “Johnny Dollar” and “The Shadow.” We always risked getting out of range before we got to the end of the story. You won’t have that problem!

  • Bettina

    All of the above…. truly!!!!

  • http://www.riaservicesblog.net Colin Blair

    That is channel 82 on Sirius.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I thought Bieber was a “gimme” and ALWAYS banned, thus not even making it to the list.

    Another way to fix this is to give each person a certain period of time to choose the station (and I have Sirius, too, so there’s a ton to choose from). And if you’re driving eight hours a day, each person gets an hour and a half a day, with the remaining leftover being split between Mom and Dad (whomever pays gets final say).

    Long have we used rock, paper, scissors to resolve any and all disputes between the kids.

  • Jennifer Hanuschak

    Headphones for everyone!

  • Grant

    Rush Limbaugh :-p

  • disqus_A6K3VBf8Zn

    Justin Bieber is an underage overexposed, obnoxious punk. I cringe each time his name is mentioned or photo appears

  • ploughmud

    Put everyone else on a train and travel solo :)

  • adrienne

    Some wonderful show tunes that you could all sing together like from Sound of Music or West Side Story or Fantastics…..better if they could watch these shows on car video players also and become familiar with them. I used to put my kids to bed with show tunes hoping that they’d realize that there was life before Pearl Jam!

  • Dave Schulz

    Love the First Wave channel. Go Mom!

  • adrienne

    ….also books on audio cds like a James Patterson’s childrens stories r “W”here The Red Fern Grows” “or Sca”ry Stories to Tell in The Dark or the story tape by the audio collection by Maurice Sendak…and for you and your wife, Bob Green’s “The 50 Year Dash” It’s hysterical.

  • Lillian Worton Castner

    I hardly have any pity for you after making road trips between Boston and Atlanta in the 80s with a 4 year old and the soundtrack to “Annie” and “Rainbow Brite” – we did not have the luxury of Sirius. And even if we put the cassette tape in a walkman for her to listen by herself, she still sang along. Sorry, Chris. No sympathy whatsoever.

  • Joe Farrell

    uh, when I was a kid I listened to whatever the adults had on. Why would that change for you?

    You and the SO have heard of headphones, right? As kids in the rear-facing bench seat in the Uncle’s station wagon we actually would interact with each other, sing and play games. . . in the days before Walkman and i-whatever . . .

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    C’mon Joe, don’t forget about the great opportunities to embarrass your kids by singing along to one of *their* favorite songs! My younger son still talks about the time when on a Scout camping trip one of his friends started singing, “Evenflow . . .” and I chimed in with “thoughts arise like butterflies . . .” I guarantee there was no more Pearl Jam on *that* camping trip! :D

  • Meredith Putvin

    Thank you, I was going to say the same thing, though you need to add Taylor Swift to that list as well. I can most any type of music but draw the line here.

  • Bill___A

    Country Music is always and permanently on my “ban” list.