Flashback to your 2000s scene phase. You’re a day out from a road trip and focused entirely on prepping. Does that mean double-checking your suitcase or gas tank, though? Of course not. You’re more concerned with loading up your iPod with alternative summer hits.
Fortunately, even in the wake of widespread technological innovations, some basic routines haven’t changed. While you may no longer be dropping a dollar per new single to drown out your family or friends, playlist curation is still no joke… Especially when you’ve got a decade’s worth of summer-flavored jams begging for your attention and nostalgia.
We’re here to take away the stress of milling through Spotify so you can focus on your travel plans instead. Here are 15 2000s alternative hits that made and will continue to make the perfect additions to any road trip playlist.
System Of A Down – “Chop Suey!”
This August marks 20 years spent with System Of A Down’s “Chop Suey!” And if August Burns Red’s 2020 rendition is any indication, it still hits just as hard as it did in the summer of 2001. Nostalgia is hardly the only thing this playlist addition has going for it, though. With its frantic and volatile energy, this track is an effective substitute for that second cup of coffee. One more pit stop out of the way…
Weezer – “Island In The Sun”
Admittedly, you can never go wrong simply streaming the entirety of Weezer’s “Green Album.” After all, it’s only one of the best pop-punk records to come out of 2001. If you’re specifically on the lookout for summer vibes, though, there’s just no beating “Island In The Sun.” Thematic title aside, this song offers an easy, breezy energy that’s best consumed with the windows down.
Avril Lavigne – “Sk8er Boi”
Point of view: You’re cruising and singing along to some of your favorite songs with your best friends. All of a sudden, you’re hit with that instantly recognizable guitar riff that even MGK can’t let go (no pun intended). What do you do? Sing along at the top of your lungs, obviously, because there’s no resisting a good rock out to Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi.” Just be forewarned: You may find yourself at your final destination donning a backward hat and tie.
The Killers – “All These Things That I’ve Done”
Have you ever lived if you haven’t chanted, “I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier,” alongside your friends with cult-like precision? The Killers’ Bowie-inspired 2004 track, “All These Things That I’ve Done,” is the epitome of a feel-good summer jam. But on top of the vibes, it puts forth a lyrical narrative that would rival most audiobooks. What’s more, the concept is based on the lived experiences of MTV personality Matt Pinfield. Talk about an elaborate throwback.
The All-American Rejects – “Dirty Little Secret”
Don’t think for a second that Avril Lavigne is the only artist bringing irresistible intro riffs to your driving playlists. The All-American Rejects’ high-energy, summer hit, “Dirty Little Secret,” will take you back to 2005 in three seconds flat. The best part? It demands two sets of hands on air guitar so you won’t have to fight your passenger for the glory.
Motion City Soundtrack – “Everything Is Alright”
What better way to get in the summer mood than with an uplifting message backed by pop-punk theatrics? Motion City Soundtrack’s “Everything Is Alright” will give you just that. Aptly described by vocalist Justin Pierre as a self-directed “pep talk,” the track is a surefire way to liven up even the most tedious road trips. Just try to finish it out without a smile plastered to your face.
Jack’s Mannequin – “Dark Blue”
Ask anyone about tracks that epitomize 2000s alternative summers and Jack’s Mannequin’s “Dark Blue” will garner more than a few mentions. Colorful without sacrificing poignance, the piano-driven track bolsters relatability in a way that’s just refreshing. It’s one of those songs that, even over a decade later, you can’t help but sing along to. Halsey will tell you…
Gym Class Heroes – “Clothes Off!!”
It’s been 15 years and Gym Class Heroes’ “Clothes Off!!” remains just as much of an earworm as the summer it dropped. Following up on the overwhelming success of “Cupid’s Chokehold” the previous year, the track brought on Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump for another round of perfectly accenting guest vocals. With its blend of alternative hip-hop, funk and rock, this song is sure to be a crowd-pleaser in any context.
Cobra Starship – “Snakes On A Plane (Bring It)”
While on the topic of alternative eclecticism, we’re morally obligated by pop-punk code to mention Cobra Starship’s “Snakes On A Plane (Bring It).” Fortunately, the 2006 summer sensation of a collaboration is a totally appropriate list entry. Seriously, is there a better track to jam out to with friends than one that brought together Cobra Starship, Gym Class Heroes, the Academy Is… and the Sounds? Also, the premonition aspect is a good reminder that road trips are always preferable over flying.
Paramore – “crushcrushcrush”
Given that Paramore’s Riot! has no skippable tracks, this particular recommendation was a bit difficult to narrow down. After a totally scientific, not-at-all-for-pleasure listen, though, we’re confident in saying that “crushcrushcrush” is the ultimate road trip playlist addition. This edgy-as-hell, 2007 summer anthem instantly captured our hearts with its punchy energy. And, of course, no one will be left out of the singalong since we all got it down on Rock Band.
Mayday Parade – “Jamie All Over”
Bonus points if you’re driving out to see Las Vegas. Regardless of your destination, though, a Mayday Parade singalong is certain to make the time (and miles) fly by. And what better choice than a foundational summer hit that predates the band itself? With its quintessential variety of emo-leaning, 2000s pop punk, “Jamie All Over” will take you right back to the sweltering days of Warped Tour.
The Maine – “Everything I Ask For”
It’s unsurprising that the Maine’s “Everything I Ask For” is a must-add for any alternative playlist. After all, the summer tune kicked off their iconic debut record on just the right note. Don’t think that means you have to play it up top, though. In fact, we’d recommend saving it for later so that dose of energy will hit when you really need it.
Cute Is What We Aim For – “Practice Makes Perfect”
Cute Is What We Aim For certainly divided the scene in 2008 with their sophomore album, Rotation. Even so, there’s no denying that the lead single, “Practice Makes Perfect,” is a shimmering beacon of pop-punk positivity. It’s the perfect playlist addition for anybody who wants to throwback to the neon heyday but has already listened to “The Curse Of Curves” one too many times.
The Academy Is… – “About A Girl”
Much to the dismay of Almost Here and Santi-era superfans, the Academy Is…’ Fast Times At Barrington High earned the band a new level of fame in the summer of 2008. Of course, it was the leading single, “About A Girl,” that seemed to be at the helm of their popularity surge. That was for good reason. The catchy, pop-leaning display of relatable (albeit awkward) romanticism is impossible not to vibe with. Regardless of where you stood at the time, now that the dust has settled, this song makes for the ultimate road trip singalong.
Boys Like Girls – “Love Drunk”
We might have hoped that Boys Like Girls would give us a longer run prior to dissipating. But at least we have Love Drunk to remember them by. The band’s highly anticipated sophomore album brought a number of upbeat hits that captured the essence of summer ‘09. We can’t bring ourselves to look past the title track, though. With its infectious hooks and anthemic quality, you may just find yourself listening to “Love Drunk” on repeat as you get into vacation mode.
What are your 2000s alternative road trip essentials? Let us know in the comments below!