The billowing smoke of a backyard barbecue and glimmering displays of fireworks might await you, but what’s a party without a solid Fourth of July songs playlist?
While it’s hard for many of us to feel patriotic this year after Roe v. Wade has been overturned, it’s important to continually find joy where we can. And maybe that includes a curation of catchy chart-toppers to listen to by the lake.
The best songs for this holiday transcend genres—from earworm pop songs like Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” to a truly spectacular rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Whitney Houston, there’s not a single musical niche that has to go unheard this Independence Day. They vary in subject matter too. For every empowering anthem like Katy Perry’s “Firework,” there’s a song that calls for protest or points out the many hypocrisies that exist in society. Because, to be truly patriotic, we must ask ourselves how we can make this country a better place for all.
Below, are the best Fourth of July songs to add to your party playlist.
“Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus (2009)
“Party in the U.S.A.” is arguably the most electrifying pop song about the allure of the American dream. And though we play it every year, the incessant rewind never gets old. It quite literally creates a party in the U.S.A., no matter where you live.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” by Whitney Houston (1991)
Etched into our collective memory for its sky-rocketing notes and fervent delivery, this rendition of the national anthem is a playlist no-brainer.
“American Life” by Madonna (2003)
Techno EDM juxtaposed with questioning your identity within modern society lies ahead. Just like Madonna quips, “This type of modern life is for me.”
“Firework” by Katy Perry (2010)
This shimmering self-empowerment anthem has the perfect amount of metaphorically explosive lyricism to become a mainstay of this holiday.
“This Is America” by Childish Gambino (2018)
The lyrical commentary on society’s willfulness to ignore issues like gun violence and systemic racism feels particularly relevant this year.
“Born in the U.S.A” by Bruce Springsteen (1984)
An iconic rock song of protest with a chorus of conviction.
“Before I Let Go” by Beyoncé (2019)
The urge to queue Bey on any playlist is irresistible—especially this cookout-acclaimed classic.
“Fourth of July” by Fall Out Boy (2015)
Just imagine the fist-bumping chorus and blazing vocals of this emo-core hit blaring out the windows as you cruise to your holiday destination. Pure bliss.
“God Bless America” by Celine Dion (2001)
For those who need a palate refresher after an afternoon of back-to-back upbeat hits.
“American” by Lana Del Rey (2012)
Jazzy haunting tones ooze through Del Rey’s lyrical ode to distant memories of love and homeland pride.
“America, The Beautiful” by Homeboy Sandman (2014)
A reflection on the hypocrisy present in so-called American freedoms and systemic privileges takes center stage in this hip-hop banger.
“Living in America” by James Brown (1985)
Guided by the Godfather of Soul’s sublime funky rasp, you can mentally traverse the nation from Pittsburg to Kansas City to L.A. in this classic.
“Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus (2019)
Wrangler chaps, thoroughbreds, tractors, and Maserati sports cars at the rodeo (?)—there’s perhaps nothing more patriotic than an ode to the American landscape set to a country and hip-hop fusion sound.
“Surfin’ USA” by The Beach Boys (1963)
One of the best beach songs of all time and a solid rock-and-roll jam for the Fourth.
“American Woman” by Lenny Kravitz (1999)
Some say the track is an antiwar protest; others say it alludes to the dangerous allure of the American woman. However you interpret it, the magnetism of this guitar-driven piece is inescapable.
“R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A (A Salute to 60s Rock)” by John Mellencamp
A foot-tapping and head-nodding tribute to the architects of one of America’s favorite genres.
“American Boy” by Estelle featuring Kanye West (2008)
A mushy cross-continental banger for those feeling romantic vibes this holiday.
“4th of July (Fireworks)” by Kelis (2010)
Ever imagined a kaleidoscopic pyrotechnic love? Me neither, until I heard Kelis’s iconic meld of R&B and EDM.
“Freedom” by Pharrell (2015)
Captivating and socially conscious? The best of both worlds.
“American Pie” by Don McLean (1971)
We can’t go through Independence Day without waxing poetic on the end of one of America’s greatest musical eras: early rock and roll.
“California Dreamin’” by The Mamas & Papas (1965)
This pick is for those of us with no holiday plans and an inescapable longing for the warmth of the California sun.
“Made in the USA” by Demi Lovato (2013)
A flirty love letter to all the sparks in made in the USA.
“America, The Beautiful” by Ray Charles (1972)
Defined by its soulful boasts and choir harmonies, this gospel cover of Katherine Lee Bates’s original 1893 poem is in a class of its own.
“War” by Edwin Starr (2007)
There’s not a single counterculture-charged statement that exceeds the widespread recognition of this hit.
“America” by Imagine Dragons (2010)
A ballad honoring sacrificial love for our nation is always fitting.
“Independence Day” by Martina McBride
Gracing the list of Rolling Stone‘s 100 greatest country songs, this tale of misfortune, family, and ultimate independence is the perfect car-cruising tune.
“Back in the USA” by Chuck Berry
Transport yourself to the time of winding freeways, drive-ins and diners, jumping jukeboxes with this swinging rock-and-roll classic.
Originally Appeared on Glamour