Ultimate Passenger Princess Antoni Bumba Shares Her Top Tips for Listening in the Car

Drivers in the U.S. spend an average of 60 minutes per day behind the wheel. So whether you’re slogging through the daily commute, ripping through errands, or gearing up for a road trip with friends, you’re going to want the best music, podcasts, and audiobooks to make that time count. 

With 100+ million songs, 5+ million podcasts, and over 150,000 audiobooks, Spotify is the ultimate listening companion when you’re on the go. Plus, you can listen to Spotify in the car and effortlessly bring the world’s music along for the ride with our new features like DJ, Jam, and daylist

Picking precisely what to listen to is a special role, one that often falls to the person in the passenger seat. And our listeners know it: This past year, users have taken to social media to proudly announce their status as a “passenger princess”—the person who, while being chauffeured, also ensures fellow passengers are fed, hydrated, and musically satiated. 

They also claimed this title on Spotify. This year, we saw a 300% rise in the number of user-generated “passenger princess” playlists created each month. “Snooze” by SZA and “Paint The Town Red” by Doja Cat were two of the tracks that popped up most frequently. 

For the Record talked to Antoni Bumba, creator and self-identified passenger princess, on what it takes to be the best copilot for any road trip. 

Why’s it so important to have good music playing in the car? 

It does two things. One, it helps us curate the vibe for the location that we’re on the way to or for what type of day we want to have. But it also fills up the empty space. Unless you just want to be listening to your tires run against the road, which is really boring.

Antoni Bumba playing ukelele

Tell us about the role of the passenger princess.

Okay so, I know it’s called the passenger princess, but once the role umbrellas itself into being the DJ, it becomes really hardcore. This is one where the pressure is on you at all times. You have to have what’s gonna play next figured out, because if everyone in the car gets mad at you and wants to take the aux from you, they’re never gonna trust you again. 

If the person driving the car is getting us from point A to point B, then the passenger princess is making sure we’re all having a good time. That we’re not all hating this car ride. It seems simple, but you really have to read anyone’s energy. They’re not going to say what they’re in the mood for. You just have to read it on their face, read it in their vibe, and play something that’s gonna be fire. 

But the role can also be really chic and cute and fun if you make it that way. 

You’re the passenger princess on an epic road trip. What’s on your playlist?

The first thing I’m gonna play is something right in the middle. Something that feels good, maybe some Motown. Then you want to transition quickly into something that’s going to sustain people, someone people are going to want to sing along to. Rihanna is great to put in this category, Megan Thee Stallion, or Doja Cat. We need to get feelings riled up with songs with really enjoyable beats and voices and lyrics that aren’t too demanding. 

And then after you’ve done a few songs, screaming lyrics, videotaping your road trip, then you’re going to start talking. And someone is gonna be hungry. Someone is going to want to stop to pee. So you need to have a good filler. This is when all the randoms can be played. If you have a weird demo in your library and it starts playing at this time, good. After you eat your food, you’re driving, you have four hours left. And this space is less about getting excited, and this is where you can start playing lyrical stuff. Not anything necessarily too emotional, but with lyrics that are fun and kitschy. 

Then I also have music without lyrics. So good. This is the time when everybody wants to dissociate, wants to forget that we’re all in the car together, look out the window, scroll on their phones. I have a bunch of cool, psychedelic rock, funky music playing. People get sick of that and then we move to things that are a bit more Fantasia

Then finally, we’re gonna want music that’s going to hype you up for pulling into whatever place you’re about to pull up to.

Do you ever choose a theme?

Location matters. When you’re driving from LA to San Francisco or something—like when I was driving with my friend Victoria and we were going skydiving—you drive past all this scenery. So we had all this chill music playlist that was very reminiscent of California rock ’n’ roll. But then once we got closer to where our location was, it was Nicki Minaj. Full. Blast. 

Antoni Bumba

Now on our way back, there is a different vibe. You don’t want to go too hard on the melodies, because you don’t want people to fall asleep, but once you get closer to home, play that new Lana Del Rey. Play “Crystal” by Fleetwood Mac. Songs that make you feel good about pulling in.

What song are you always belting out from the passenger seat? 

We were driving through Vancouver and we were singing Céline Dion and Whitney Houston. The first song we were singing by Celine Dion was “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” and then Whitney’s “The Greatest Love of All.” Just big ’80s ballads. Also, Heart. Very ’80s, love, power-hour ballad. 

On your channel, you talk about beauty from the passenger seat. Do you have any recs for staying hydrated and comfortable on long trips?

I definitely think that you want to wear something that’s going to be super comfy. Shoes, very comfy. Hair, done up in a way where you don’t have to worry about it. I usually go for a headband to tie my hair back, because if I put my hair in a pony or in a bun and I want to go to sleep, it’s just going to be knocking into the seat. And I always keep a moisturizer with me, maybe some Aquaphor or a moisturizing mist. When it comes to traveling in the car, I think it’s important to sustain beauty, not create it. 

Catch Antoni’s heartbreak road trip playlist only on Spotify.