Music sounds better in a fast car!
Each of us prefers different places for listening to music. Some favor headphones for it's the most intimate way to enjoy music, regardless whether you are walking or quietly sitting on the window sill. Others would rather go to a loud place, like a bar, a concert hall or a nightclub. Some listen to music trying to fall asleep, while others can spend hours sitting motionlessly in front of a vinyl recorder.
Most people, though, have at least once experienced this magical moment of listening to music in a car. It can be a pretty romantic picture, especially at starry nights or sunsets. Whether it's a two-hour techno set or a full album from the 70s', music in cars leaves nobody indifferent. It makes any trip special and memorable. It takes us beyond.
The sweet melody of Gorillaz's "Kids with Guns" can be easy to take for granted but as science says it's our brain that makes it extra pleasurable listening to it from the car stereo.
Nobody has yet studied the chemical processes of listening to music in a car versus at home, that'd be quite difficult, I hope you understand. However, there are some points that we do know for sure.
First, it's good to know that our brain likes music that evokes memories and emotions. Researches show that it likes new but kind of predictable tunes. Something has to be new, but not brand-spanking new.
Let's consider syncopation. The brains wouldn't actually respond to a super ordinary melody like in "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." On the other hand, the brain's hard to react to over-elaborate sounds with completely random rhythm, such as John Coltrane's "Interstellar Space," with a swift-changing melody. But if we take a level of rhythmic complexity somewhere between these two extremes, we would react and most likely start dancing or at least tapping feet.
In fast cars, there's enough background noise caused by the engine or air conditioner, and this noise slightly shifts your mind's baseline letting you hear the novelty of music.
Another possibility involves what's called "excitation displacement." It's a condition which happens when we ride roller coasters or watch horror movies. Our brain thinks we're going to die soon and produces adrenaline which makes our brain sensitized. It becomes far more responsive to various stimuli so whatever contributes to that danger, like loud music, seems more exciting because our brain is already excited. There's a difference between sitting in a comfortable armchair or sofa and rushing at 90 miles per hour, and when the latter happens our brain goes like "Wow, that's so exciting, I'm so excited, the music is so exciting, let's do it!"
Apart from those theories, when you're listening to music in a car, your brain's trying to organize plenty of sensory information, including visual like traffic signs, lights and so on. So that continuous attempt to integrate with everything around can also be an explanation why some artists which you would never usually listen to might seem enjoyable while you're rushing on a highway.
Finally, let's not forget about emotions. The road gives us a sense of freedom, of control. It's a positive feeling, and our brain is likely to associate this feeling with the music playing. Imagine you're with your friends, on your way to a coast, and then there's a song on the radio, and everybody enjoys it, and you're like "Cool, that's our song now!". That's totally worth it.