Must-have music for your late-night summer drive playlist

CANADA - 2011/08/13: View of a sunrise in the 401 Highway in Toronto which is one of the busiest freeways in America. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images)
CANADA - 2011/08/13: View of a sunrise in the 401 Highway in Toronto which is one of the busiest freeways in America. (Photo by Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

With the month of August already here, making the final moments of summer count is essential. Whether jamming out with a group of friends or simply exploring the roads on your own, late-night drives are a great way to make the most out of those perfect summer nights.

With so many different artists and songs to choose from, finding music that best suits the tone of your summer night driving playlists is challenging, and if you’re anything like me, popular suggested songs and overplayed artists don’t make the search any easier.

Here are a few lesser-known and under-appreciated suggestions of must-have music to add to your late-night summer drive playlist.

  1. Bad Dream-Cannons

Nothing sets the tone for a night drive more than a song that makes you feel euphoric, and with this song on your playlist, you’ll no doubt be feeling blissful. The Indie pop band Cannonscame together in 2013 in Los Angeles, releasing their very first EP (Up All Night) a year later. Michelle Joy (lead vocalist) made her way into the group through a Craigslist job posting created by childhood friends Ryan Clapham (guitarist) and Paul Davis (Keyboardist), who had been searching for a singer that would tie up the band’s members.

Ironically their first ever album, released in 2017, was named Night Drive. You may recognize Cannons’ unique sound, as their song Fire For You appeared on the soundtrack of Netflix’s original series Never Have I ever.

“Bad Dream”, released in 2021, is a necessary addition to a late-night summer drive playlist; if you’re looking for a song that sets a chill and careless feel to your late-night cruises and makes you want to stick your hands out the window, this one is for you.

        2. Lifetime-Swedish House Mafia (Feat. Ty Dolla $ign & 070 Shake)

If you’re thinking of hitting the highway or the backroads for your night drives, this song is the one for you. Swedish House Mafia, known as a DJ supergroup formed in 2008, created a variety of popular hits such as “Save The World” and “Don’t You Worry Child.” More recently, the trio (Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso) came together to produce Moth To A Flame, one of the well-known artists, The Weeknd’s latest singles. They also created an album this year named Paradise Again, which included a variety of featured artists.

The song lifetime from their album Paradise Again is well worth a spot on your playlist. It features Ty Dolla $ign, and 070 Shake, who add to the song’s already energetic beat with catchy lyrics and signature vocals. “Lifetime” is a definite song choice if you want something to blast while merging onto the highway or rolling over backroad hills.

3. Good News-Classified (Feat. Jann Arden[Acoustic]

Feeling more emotional? “Good News” is one of those choices for those who are driving to clear their heads. Canadian rapper Classified, also known as Luke Boyd, started his music career in 1995. You may recognize the rapper from his single, “Inner Ninja”, with guest vocalist Olly Murs, released in 2013. Classified also released another popular hit the following year, “Higher”, with B.O.B as the song’s feature.

“Good News, featuring Jann Arden”, found on his latest album (Retrospected (Acoustic)), showcases the rapper’s more emotional side and love for acoustic music. If you feel a little overwhelmed by a summer job or the endless summer planning, Good News is one of those songs that gives you a sense of calm. The song’s catchy melody and relatable lyrics are perfect for a slow-paced night drive at sunset when you need a break from your busy summer days.

4. About You-G Flip

Let’s be honest, we all love a song we can sing all the lyrics to while cruising through neighborhoods and side streets, but sometimes those overplayed radio songs don’t quite hit the same. About You by G Flip gives you that ‘freedom’ sensation paired with easy-to-learn lyrics. G Flip is one of the most unique artists on this list.

The talented 27-year-old, non-binary singer, started off making music in the comfort of their bedroom, later working with Future Classic, an independent record label, and releasing their debut single, “About You”, in 2018. With only one album to their name (About Us), this dynamic, anthemic pop artist is just beginning their journey to much-deserved stardom.

If you’re on the lookout for a song that makes you feel weightless on your summer night drives and makes you want to roll all the windows down, “About You” undoubtedly deserves a spot on your playlist. However, try not to wake your neighbors when screaming the song’s lyrics out your car’s rolled-down windows.

5. Finders Keepers-Mabel (Feat. Kojo Funds)

Late-night summer drives are perfect for driving around with friends; nothing makes the ride more memorable than a song that makes you want to shimmy in your seat. If you’re in a groovy mood, this song is the one for you. 20-year-old R&B-pop artist Mabel joined the music industry in 2015, releasing her first single, “Know Me Better”, on SoundCloud. Although you may know her from this viral hit, “Finders Keepers”, featuring Kojo Funds, released in 2017, topped UK charts and led to her BRIT Critics Choice Award nomination.

If you’re hitting the road with friends, “Finders Keepers” is the perfect song to jam out to, especially if you wind up parking at a lookout point during your late-night cruise. The song’s groovy tone and smooth vocals are sure to have you turning the volume to max and lead to some funny car dance moves with friends.

6. Cool It-Claudia Bouvette 

Are you the kind of person who loves finding unique and out-of-the-box music that often flies under the mainstream radar? Then consider adding this original anthem to your summer night drive playlist. Claudia Bouvette from Montreal, Canada, kicked off her music career in 2019, releasing her very first EP Cool It (different from her single).

Known for her particular yet captivating style, the signer offers a modern take on electro-pop paired with a variety of instrumental beats. Her album Paradise Club, released on May 20, 2022, is a must-have for those managing the ups and downs of relationships.

If you’re looking for a song with an authentic and funky beat to play during your late-night travels or that will be a definite conversation starter, “Cool It” is the song for you. The song’s simple lyrics are also a bonus for those who enjoy singing along behind the wheel.

7. Girl at Coachella-Matoma & MAGIC! (Feat. DRAM) 

The last but never the least suggestion on this list will surely have you feeling the summertime vibes, especially those late-night ones. We all know the band MAGIC! from their hit single “Rude,” released in October 2013.

The Canadian reggae fusion band started producing music in 2012, coming out with their first album (Don’t Kill The Magic) in 2014, with the song “Rude” hitting number one on global music charts. MAGIC! later released albums such as Primary Colours in 2016 and Expectations in 2018. “Girl at Coachella” is one of the band’s many song collaborations with other music artists. For this song, MAGIC! worked alongside DJ Matoma and artist DRAM.

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“Girl at Coachella” is a perfect addition to your late-night summer drive playlist if you want to jam out to a feel-good rhythm that reminds you of summer’s easy-going moments. This song will undoubtedly have you soaking up the last bits of your summer nights, whether you’re cruising with friends or riding solo at sunset.