It’s time to load up your 4th of July playlist for your barbecues and holiday celebrations. We’ve assembled a list of classics songs that span decades and genres, and collectively speak to the pride of being a U.S. citizen. Give them a listen below and ensure that your 4th of July bash has more spark than a fireworks display!
1. ‘Party In the U.S.A.’ – Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus may have moved on from her Hannah Montana look, but the smash hit “Party In the U.S.A.” will never go out of style. From the infectious chorus to indelible lines about listening to Jay-Z songs, Cyrus comes through with a bouncy ode to patriotism that has since become an Independence Day staple.
2. ‘America the Beautiful’ – Ray Charles
“America the Beautiful” started out as a poem, but its lyrics were adopted into song by 1910. Several legendary artists have recorded the song, including Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Barbra Streisand, but none were able to capture the soulful urgency of Ray Charles’ searing cover. The R&B stalwart released his during the 1976 bicentennial, and it also appeared in the coming-of-age film The Sandlot.
3. ‘God Bless the U.S.A.’ – Lee Greenwood
No 4th of July playlist is complete without Lee Greenwood’s soaring country anthem. With nods to the American troops who have died, as well as the freedoms they helped protect, “God Bless the U.S.A.” is a surefire way to rally the hearts of those around you and perhaps even shed a tear of two.
4. ‘Back In the U.S.A.’ – Chuck Berry
Few artists could fill a dance floor like Chuck Berry, and one of his first big hits was the classic “Back In the U.S.A.” With witty lyrics and a killer guitar work, Berry gave the nation its first slice of rock-and-roll patriotism, which would inspire everyone from the Beach Boys to the Beatles’ “Back In the U.S.S.R.”
5. ‘American Woman’ – The Guess Who/Lenny Kravitz
The meaning of “American Woman” has been debated for decades, but everyone can agree that this classic rock staple sounds sharp as ever. Whether you prefer the original Guess Who version or Lenny Kravitz’s fiery update, this is the perfect track to get a party going.
6. ‘Made In America’ – Jay-Z & Kanye West
Jay-Z and Kanye West have both been critical of the American justice system, but on this serene track, they pay tribute to civil rights leaders of the past, and the way their sacrifices paved the way for their success. Frank Ocean is also on hand to deliver a soaring chorus.
7. ‘American Pie’ – Don McLean
Mournful as it is meaningful, Don McLean’s “American Pie” is an ode to lost innocence. The singer-songwriter makes reference to fallen rock stars like Ritchie Valens and Buddy Holly, and later described it as a “snapshot” of the American landscape in 1971. It still holds weight today.
8. ‘R.O.C.K. In the U.S.A.’ – John Mellencamp
Like “American Pie,” John Mellencamp’s patriotic hit pays tribute to the fallen stars of classic rock. That said, his take on the subject has a bouncier, more celebratory feel to it, making it the perfect toe-tapper for any barbecue setting.
9. ‘Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue’ – Toby Kieth
Toby Keith recorded this track as a tribute to the victims of 9/11 and to his father, who died in a car accident the year before. The emotion is rife throughout, and the sense of patriotism and generational pride is unmistakable.
10. ‘Born In the U.S.A.’ – Bruce Springsteen
Perhaps the most famous song ever about American patriotism. Bruce Springsteen’s propulsive anthem has received plenty of satirical takes, most notably in the film Canadian Bacon, but the catchy chorus and easy-to-remember lyrics remain irresistible to this day.