5 Faves: 4th of July Musical Treats

Posted July 5, 2013 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Five songs of American pride that deserve a smidgen of respect

Okay, Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA” is too obvious, “Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” is overly overrated, Kanye’s “All of the Lights” is loaded with more stars than it does stripes, Don McLean’s “American Pie” (the English actually invented “apple pie”) and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” are not quite the patriotic anthems as their titles suggest. And then there’s the full gamut of songs that have no connection whatsoever with the 4th of July that makes the part (Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration,” Katy Perry’s “Firework”). Of course these songs are going to surface every year for the nation’s Independence Day (which actually should be the 2nd of July, since the Congress officially declared their independence from Great Britain two days before the Fourth), but some songs feel better on the ear than others. Some of these aren’t run-of-the-mill songs and barely hold a candle (or a sparkler) against “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but they aren’t the obvious worn out choices America rushes to. And for those reasons, these songs deserve a little extra patriotism.


“Living in America”
James Brown

Rock-to-disco-to-blue eyed soul singer Dan Hartman teamed up with the Godfather for this Rocky IV soundtrack offering. It’s not the funkiest thing Brown has inherited, but he spills out enough American pride and a ‘80’s-inspired Rick James jam to get the job done: “Eye to eye, station to station/Living in America, hand to hand, across the nation.”


Simon & Garfunkle

On the Bookends album, singer/songwriter duo Simon & Garfunkle whip up a Lewis & Clark expedition across the country, hitting destinations like Saginaw, Michigan and the New Jersey Turnpike. The mood of the song shrinks from hopeful to sad over the period of the song, but isn’t that a part of the American story anyways? It’s a grim look at reality, but one that most Americans are able to digest.


“America the Beautiful”
Ray Charles

Dozens of versions of “America the Beautiful” are out there, but this version takes America straight to church. Its stoked with a slow-churned gospel cream, enough to save America’s soul from going to hell.


“4th of July (Fireworks)”

A cheeky Rihanna-esque dance track that may just be the sole inspiration behind Katy Perry’s “Firework.”


“Made in the USA”
Demi Lovato

As if she’s trying to bring back the old days of American product branding like the golden days of Walmart, the Disney pop star princess is showing off her red white and blue on a bubblegum pop single about romantic love on American soil. It’s as if she’s copied a footnote from Miley’s High School High scrapbook.


And this Fourth of July holiday we seriously hope your firework extravaganza goes off without a hitch. And that it avoids a catastrophe like this:

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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