In continuation of the preparations for our great nation’s birthday, we’re giving you another patriotic party essential: an awesome playlist. Here are our top 25 picks for Friday’s festivities, as All-American as baseball and apple pie:
1. Independence Day – Carrie Underwood: Ever since she won American Idol in 2005, Carrie Underwood has sparkled as one of America’s sweethearts. This cover of Martina McBride’s country classic was one of the first songs of her career.
2. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynrd Skynyrd: Even if you hate country music and make a point of staying north of the Mason-Dixon line, you can’t help but sing along to this hallmark of good ol’ southern pride.
3. Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival: The cool, blues-y rock sound of this classic American song goes perfectly with a beer and a backyard barbeque. We’re also big fans of the Tina Turner version.
4. Born in the USA – Bruce Springsteen: We all know that the greatest perk of an American birth certificate is really the right to belt this song at the top of your lungs. Expect this to be replayed at least five times by the end of the night - whether you’re celebrating in Jersey or not.
5. American Pie – Don McLean: Children across America have grown up listening to this ‘71 song; personally, I always heard it from the back seat of my mom’s dark red Volvo station wagon (where I pondered what a “levee” could be). Go ahead and get cliché - this classic is best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
6. Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus: As hard as we may have tried to fight it, this peppy song has lodged itself firmly on the American soundtrack, and it is there to stay.
7. Surfin’ USA – The Beach Boys: Nothing says, “It’s time for some summer fun,” better than a Beach Boys hit. Play this at your seaside celebration (particularly if you’re on the West Coast) and you’re sure to have everyone on their feet.
8. Wagon Wheel – Old Crow Medicine Show: This country anthem sounds best when it’s (somewhat drunkenly) crooned in unison at the end of the night, when -though you’re not really sure why- you absolutely love this song and possibly feel like crying.
9. Rockin In The Free World – Neil Young: The de facto chorus of the collapse of communism, this rock song is a seriously catchy testament to American pride.
10. We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel: Anyone wishing to review half a century of American history in just a few minutes need only give this Billy Joel hit a good listen. Bonus points if you can sing along.
11. Empire State of Mind – JAY-Z: If you’re anywhere in New York City (and, probably, Long Island) on Friday night, you can be certain that this song will come on — and when you’re wondering after the weekend why your voice is so hoarse, it’s because you thought you could keep up with Alicia Keys.
12. Small Town – John Mellencamp: If “concrete jungles” and “big lights” don’t really resonate with you, John Mellencamp’s ode to Seymour, Indiana just might manage to pull on your heartland heartstrings.
13. Born To Run – Bruce Springsteen: Few lyrics paint a more perfect picture of our nation’s spirit than, “In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream.” This is one to blast.
14. Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen: We could include the entire Born In The U.S.A. album - but we’ll top off our Bruce picks with this anthem of American nostalgia.
15. Life Is A Highway – Rascal Flatts: This is another country song that even the genre’s greatest critics can’t help but sing and jump along to. Celebrate summer, celebrate life, and celebrate being American.
16. Scenes From An Italian Restaurant – Billy Joel: This song speaks to generations and the special American quality of being able to change and keep going.
17. Chicken Fried – Zac Brown Band: Another irresistible country ballad. Find your pair of jeans that fit just right, because you’re going to be singing about them.
18. Jack & Diane – John Mellencamp: What “Scenes From An Italian Restaurant” is to the Northeast, “Jack & Diane” is to the Midwest - and we love them both.
19. Firework – Katy Perry: This pop hit will please the younger members of your party, and it’s correspondence to the Fourth of July theme is delightfully cheesy.
20. American Woman – The Guess Who: We’re not sure who will want to belt this out more - the American men who have to deal with American women, or the American women who are proud to be free.
21. Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver: This is our final country song - and again, we insist that whatever your feelings on the genre may be, you can’t help but like it.
22. Born On The Bayou – Creedence Clearwater Revival: The smooth, easy sound of this song, plus the fact that it’s written about the Fourth of July, makes it a must for this list.
23. A Boy Named Sue – Johnny Cash: Johnny Cash is an American legend - we couldn’t make a patriotic playlist without including at least one of his hits!
24. The Star Spangled Banner – Beyoncé: It wouldn’t be a party without the Queen Bey, and her stirring rendition of our national anthem is sure to be a crowd pleaser (and, quite possibly, a tear-jerker).
25. The Ballad Of Ira Hayes – Johnny Cash: Although this song is not exactly festive, we include it because of the story it tells. Commemorating a Native American Marine corporal involved in the raising of our flag on Iwo Jima in WWII, it reminds us to be conscious of the cost of our freedom.