With America’s birthday less than 24 hours away, we realized you might need some guidance when crafting your own holiday playlists. Whether you’re spending the day barbecuing with your parents, celebrating with friends or missing home on another continent, these are the songs that’ll help make it your best Fourth of July yet.
I went with a retro take here, because I don’t think there’s anything more American than the Cold War. I mean, if you can’t appreciate Bruce Springsteen or Billy Joel, you’re probably a Communist. Without further adieu, your Fourth of July Fixat10ns:
Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell This song instantly reminds me of one of the best movies ever — Remember the Titans. There are few things, I think, more American than that movie. It’s got football, a feel-good story, Turk from “Scrubs” and Denzel Washington. And Ryan Gosling, who’s incidentally not American but on the Fourth of July everyone’s American, right? Am I confusing this with St. Patrick’s Day? Whatever, the moral of the story is, listen to this and feel like a high school football player who’s helping crush the bastions of racism. ‘Murrica.
California Girls – The Beach Boys As an east coast girl, I almost want to hate this song on principle — You “wish [we] all could be California girls?” Come on. But actually, the Beach Boys hit up the wondrous virtues of girls from every corner of the nation. East coast girls are “hip” and The Beach Boys “dig those styles they wear.” Good to know. And there are few things more American than appreciating the beautiful girls of South Dakota who “keep their boyfriends warm at night” — right?
Livin’ on a Prayer – Bon Jovi Alright, things are getting serious now — welcome to the ’80s. I honestly don’t think this song needs any explanation: just listen to the chorus and you’ll know just why this song is American.
Somebody Loves You –Betty Who OK, I’ll admit it — I’m cheating with this one. If you’ve never heard it before, you might think that it’s a pop song from the ’80s you’ve never heard before, but actually it’s from 2013. But, assuming that I did successfully trick you into thinking this was actually retro instead of brand new, you can’t complain. And once you listen to the amazing bubble gum pop Betty Who is serving up, you won’t even be mad at me anymore. Probably.
We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel Speaking of the Cold War, Billy Joel will help you run through the history (plus a bit more) at a lightning pace with this track. I actually really wanted to put “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” on here instead, but it’s a little mellow for raging — but, like “Livin’ on a Prayer” it tells the classic story of two kids trying to make it when they’re poor and in love. Fun fact about the song I did put on here: at one point he says “Communist bloc” but I always thought he was saying “Communist rock.” Communist rock, I imagined, was a really awesome underground rock scene that was rebelling against the Soviets using the power of guitar solos. I have a lot of friends.
Jessie’s Girl – Rick Springfield This came on at a party I was at last semester and everyone freaked out and sang along. Until that moment, I didn’t realize this was a song other people liked. And now, you too can play it at your Fourth of July party and have an epic sing-a-long. You’re welcome.
Ignition (Remix) – R. Kelly Apparently this song is 10 years old, which makes me feel old, so it’s qualifying as retro. It also almost became the new national anthem kind of, qualifying it as patriotic. Basically the most appropriate song for the Fourth, then.
Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet This song is literally about day drinking. Jimmy Buffet is so drunk that he can’t find the salt shaker. Think about that. If you’re of age, this is the perfect song to listen to while you sit outside in the sunshine and drink a few too many in the name of patriotism.
Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen Yeah — I didn’t put “Born in the U.S.A.” You thought of playing that one already — and truthfully, many of Bruce’s best songs are Fourth of July appropriate. That song, “Thunder Road,” “We Take Care of Our Own” and “Glory Days” all almost ended up on here too. “Born to Run” won because not only is it the best of these songs, but something about being born to run embodies the freedom this country is all about. If you consider yourself an American and you don’t listen to Springsteen on the Fourth, you may as well trade in your passport and go to Europe where they don’t have freedom and George Washington.
God Bless the U.S.A. – Lee Greenwood Yes — this is a bad song. Awful, cheesy and schmaltzy. But it’s the Fourth of July, you’re unironically wearing an American flag tank top and you still haven’t found that salt shaker. Kick back, enjoy the fireworks and remember: “The flag still stands for freedom, and they can’t take that away.” The beauty of that lyric is that “they” is never identified, so Republicans and Democrats can sing together and think about the other side without them noticing. Liberty! Fraternity! Equality! Wrong country again?
Happy Fourth, Hoyas!