Summer is the season of freedom and fun, and whether you’re a parent or a college student on summer break, epic road trips come with the territory. Singing in the car can make running an errand the best part of your day, and when you’re driving for hours at a time, there’s nothing like the energy boost of a car singalong.
The following nine YouTube performances star in-transit singers and lip-syncers who know how to tap into the power of music. From toddlers with potential to superstars backing their own tracks, these music lovers will show you how it’s done.
1. TJ Smith Serenades Roadside Buttercups
TJ Smith is already a working actor and singer, but his “Highway Sing-a-Long” series made him a bona fide YouTube star. If you want to spread joy everywhere you go, follow TJ’s lead, and embrace the contagious, shameless joy of singing in the car with an open window. He isn’t afraid to engage every driver he passes in his energetic rendition of “Build Me Up Buttercup” by the Foundations. That’s one way to build up your resistance to road rage!
2. Jennifer Hudson Does Carpool Karaoke with James Corden
She won an Oscar for her work in “Dreamgirls” and came in seventh on “American Idol’s” third season; he held his own in the Sondheim adaptation “Into the Woods” and started his career in a West End musical. But when Jennifer Hudson played “carpool karaoke” with James Corden, the two proved that their talents aren’t restricted to traditional mediums. Jennifer one-ups her own vocals during the eight-minute montage, while James stands in for Iggy Azalea in “Trouble” and channels R. Kelly in a fast-food drive-through.
3. Baby Ella Impersonates Elvis
Adorable Ella Mae wasn’t even two years old yet when she wowed the Internet with her rendition of Elvis Presley’s “An American Trilogy.” The little girl doesn’t just know the words; she also knows how to keep her act entertaining, with heart-melting “Hi, Daddy” asides and a drum-roll of her very own. Right before Elvis brings it home with a bombastic finale, she reminds us to “Get ready!” and plays the air drums like a rock star in training.
4. SketchShe Lip-Syncs Through the Decades
This talented Australian comedy duo earned millions of international fans with their “Mime Through Time” singing in the car montage, which takes place in a parked car but spans decades of musical movements. They start by channeling the Andrews Sisters in throwback pompadours and military uniforms, then move onto iconic looks like Elvis Presley’s rhinestone-studded jumpsuit and Beyoncé’s one-shouldered leotard. They even sing along to The Beatles as kidnapped flower girls, go grunge with some intense Nirvana air guitar, and take everything off as Miley Cyrus.
5. Family Takes on Frozen
Another lip sync success, this video by parents Sam and Nia went viral right in the height of the Frozen frenzy. Our favorite part, however, is their daughter in the back, who doesn’t even seem to be paying attention. Who says family road trips are boring?
6. Greg James & Taylor Swift Lip Sync “Blank Space”
Even talented singers can’t resist the fun of lip syncing! Here, British radio DJ and TV presenter Greg James takes Taylor Swift on an entertaining commute — remember, the more expressions and hand gestures you do, the better (drivers, keep your hands on the wheel!).
7. A Cappella “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
If you’ve ever seen the movie Step Brothers, you probably remember this scene, in which actor Adam Scott’s fictional family takes on an a cappella version of “Sweet Child O’ Mine”. Just remember, cut the negative talk! Singing the car should be fun, not full of pressure!
8. Drive-Through Mash-Up by Andie Case
Who needs a radio when you have a guitar and a couple of amazing singers? YouTube star and singer-songwriter Andie Case first went viral with her mash-up of “Me & My Broken Heart / Lonely No More”, in which she and her band bring the stage to the car. In this video, she returns with a mash-up of “Want To Want Me” and “I Want You To Want Me” by Jason Derulo & Cheap Trick.
9. Cruising Cop Shakes it Off
The car singalong that started it all wasn’t even staged. Police departments issue dashboard cameras for serious reasons, but the only serious thing about this video is the amount of dedication this on-duty cop puts into his lip-syncing routine. Officer Jeff Davis is happy to “keep cruising” for crime, as he shakes off the haters and puts his whole body into a Taylor Swift singalong. His enthusiasm took the Internet by storm.
Songs to Sing in the Car
Feeling inspired? Although some of the best car karaoke is often an impromptu thing, longer road trips call for a perfectly-crafted road trip playlist — songs you can sing along to, dance along with, and all-around make a fool of yourself. Now’s not the time to be shy!
Nervous about unrolling the windows and sharing your voice with fellow drivers at that red light? Working with a singing instructor can help you improve your voice, whether you’re blasting Joan Jett or Miley Cyrus (no judgement). As you head from one destination to the next, music will transform your mood and make memories good enough to go viral — just like these epic examples of singing in the car.