"Middle of the Road" is a single that appears on The Pretenders' album Learning to Crawl.
Singer-songwriter Chrissie Hynde has stated that "Middle of the Road" refers to Tao Te Ching, which she interprets as "the middle way." According to Charles M. Young of Musician, the song is about "getting out there and mixing it up with the world." The song lyrics include observations about the difference between wealth and poverty that Hynde had observed.
The lyrics also refer to autobiographical details (i.e., the lyric “I got a kid, I'm thirty-three” although Hynde turned 32 shortly before the single was released). Hynde plays the harmonica solo near the end of the song.
"Middle of the Road" uses a 4/4 time signature. Hynde has acknowledged that "Middle of the Road" uses the same chords as the Rolling Stones' song "Empty Heart" and that it doesn't have much melody. She says that it uses basic chords and that it is like "a regular R&B song," going on to say that "it's like taking a basic format, like the blues, and just giving it new lyrics." She describes Robbie McIntosh's guitar solo as "nifty." Audio Magazine compared the song's structure to that of Dobie Gray's "The 'In' Crowd."
Allmusic critic Liana Jonas calls "Middle of the Road" a "classic example of pure, unadulterated rock music." She ascribes this to the fact that the lyrics focus on people's innate desire to "get up and go" and the "driven" music backs up the sentiment. Fellow Allmusic critic Mark Deming calls it a "furious rocker."