With respect to Andrew W.K., and his fine suggestion of keying your 4th of July soundtrack around one song that everyone can sing along to, reflect upon and find deep personal meaning in the lyrics and melody—we're old fashioned. We like mixes. We like carefully hand-selecting a playlist of holiday-appropriate bangers, and then wowing our co-partyers with the breadth, timeliness and consistent excellence of our musical selections. (Or, at the very least, we like having a bunch of songs at our disposal that we like just in case the party ends up sucking and we have to end up getting drunk and wailing along to the lyrics of each while everyone stares at us concernedly, to stay properly amused.)
Anyway, we couldn't possibly bear the thought of sending you out into the fray this weekend without proper mixtape ammunition. So here is the official Popdust 4th of July Weekend Playlist, featuring ten songs with some form of national reference in their title to make you swell with pride for your country while you're fighting with relatives and chowing down on some vodka watermelon. You can listen to our playlist on internet radio site 8tracks at the bottom of each page. And don't worry—neither Toby Keith or Lee Greenwood are anywhere to be found therein.
MILEY CYRUS, "PARTY IN THE USA"
Duh. Thanks to the assassination of a certain Middle-Eastern someone a few months back, "Party in the USA" has somehow come to be the single-most patriotic pop song of the 21st century, a Boot-in-Your-Ass anthem decrying anyone who dares threaten America's most precious resource—its popular music. If you're sick of the original and would rather go the Notorious B.I.G. mashup route, or even with the awesome Bad Lip Reading version instead, we could hardly blame you, but we still get a giddy rush when we hear that opening guitar lick, and Miley hops off that plane at LAX with her dreams and a cardigan. A dozen violently deposed al-Qaeda leaders probably won't change that.
DOM, "LIVING IN AMERICA"
Massachusetts trio DOM have certainly taken advantage of all their many fantastic freedoms living in the United States of America, namely their freedoms to create catchy underground electro-pop/rock and take a lot of publicity photos where they look like they Don't Give a Fuck. (Our ancestors would be so very proud.) "Living in America" is the group's tribute to their homeland of opportunity, centered around a chorus proclamation of "It's so sexy to be living in America." Guess they'd know.
JIMMY EAT WORLD, "BLEED AMERICAN"
Hey, it's not so sexy for everyone living in America. Some of us are fucked up teens or twenty-somethings who rely on the TV for company and on pharmaceutical medication for mental stability. But we all still bleed American (or something), as maybe promised by emo legends Jimmy Eat World on the title track to their smash 2001 album. "Salt, sweat, sugar on the asphalt / Our hearts littering the topsoil / Tune in and we can get the last call" sings Jim Adkins on the song's chorus. Not really sure what it means, but it sounds anthemic, and on 4th of July Weekend, that's the top priority anyways.
ESTELLE FEAT. KANYE WEST, "AMERICAN BOY"
Nothing like a little foreign perspective on what makes our country so great, and in the estimation of British R&B singer Estelle, the explanation is obvious: Hot dudes. Well, yeah, she's also into seeing the sights of Chicago, San Francisco and Brooklyn and whatnot, but what's really on her mind are the guys wearing the baggy jeans, and what they've got underneath them. (Estelle!) Kanye shows up to ostensibly provide some American perspective, but he's too busy flexing his Anglophile muscles ("Who killin em in the UK, everybody gonna say UK!") to do much representing. Still, it's good to know we still have something stateside to offer the women of the world.
DESTROYER, "SONG FOR AMERICA"
Unfortunately, "Song for America" is not actually Destroyer mastermind Dan Bejar's song for America—that either appears somewhere else on the group's excellent 2011 release Kaputt, or maybe doesn't exist at all. ("I wrote a song for America, and they told me it was clever / Jessica's gone on vacation on the dark side of town forever / Who knew?") Still, there are lyrics that vaguely describe what could be 4th of July weekend partying, or at least some dark, depraved version thereof: "Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall / Punks kick a ball in a park on a Sunday / Strung out in the rain!" Not buying it? Oh, whatever. It's a good song. You do like good music, don't you?
For lots more arguably patriotic pop songs, including Kid Rock and a mashup of some of our country's greatest Top 40 treasures, click NEXT.
KID ROCK, "AMERICAN BAD ASS"
You know we couldn't have a 4th of July Weekend playlist without including Robert James Ritchie, greatest American of them all. The Kid's take-no-prisoners view of patriotism does border on the jingoistic at time—that big-ass flag in the background's not there by accident—but then again, Rock spits on national haters just the same as foreign ones, as anyone who doubts his Badassness is clearly the enemy. "I went platinum selling rhymes! / I went platinum SEVEN TIMES!" Only in America.
HEALTH, "USA BOYS"
Nobody writes songs about American Girls anymore—they probably figure that Tom Petty cornered the market on that one long ago. Anyway, it's tough to tell whether "USA Boys" actually has anything to do with its titular subject matter–gauzy Cali indie rockers HEALTH have gone on record talking about how they purposefully obscure their lyrics to keep things vague for the listener. But it's certainly pretty and highly sensual—especially if you watch the video—and it certainly has a wicked synth stutter-hook. USA boys like most of those things. (By the way, if you want to watch the unedited version of the video's drug-fueled sex romp, you can do so here, but we recommend saving it for the post-game hours of your party.)
LIAM LYNCH, "UNITED STATES OF WHATEVER"
Amidst all the mindless patriotism of the 4th of July holiday weekend, we should take a moment to remember that there is still a place in our country for skepticism and apathy. Showing up for the dissenting opinion on the Popdust 4th of July Weekend playlist is comedy rocker (and one-time Sifl and Olly puppeteer) Liam Lynch, whose satirical slacker anthem "United States of Whatever" represents the absolute finest in American wiseassery, and has a pretty nifty surf-rock stop/start groove to boot. Be wary, though, kids—start snapping back at your parents with too many "YEAH, WHATEVAH"s this summer, and it might be off to boot camp to learn some hard moral values before you know it.
DJ EARWORM - "UNITED STATE OF POP 2010 (DON'T STOP THE POP)"
What could possibly make you feel prouder to be American than one of DJ Earworm's traditional year-end Top 40 megamixes, expertly mashing up the 25 biggest hits of the year in a shockingly seamless juxtaposition of the most omnipresent songs from those 12 months in American pop music. If listening through five and a half minutes of our country's best and brightest from last year—Ke$ha, Usher, Rihanna, Katy Perry and so many others—isn't enough to get your motor running to celebrate your country's independence day, that does not speak highly towards the possibility of you bleeding red, white and blue, my friend. C'mon—even Train's "Hey Soul Sister" sounds pretty good in its two-second snippet form here.
AMERICA, "WORK TO DO"
And to close out our playlist, an exception to our mix guidelines to honor the most patriotic band name of all-time—even if the lead singer was actually totally British. Still, you gotta love the Adam Schlesinger-written "Work to Do," a cut off the '70s soft-rockers' 21st-century comeback album Here and Now, just as catchy and lovable as any of their old-school hits. (Except for the absolutely peerless "Sister Golden Hair.") And besides, even 235 years into our country's independence—we still have some work to do of our own, don't we? Thought-provoking question.