There is nothing more American than celebrating the 4th of July with a day of hanging around outside, throwing some meat and/or veggies on the grill, and chilling with friends and family. We know you’ll need some tunes to accompany your beautiful summer day, so we at Liberty Park Music have prepared a Spotify playlist to entertain you and your guests. Below, we explain our picks. Some tracks are decades old, some were released last year. Some are American-themed, some are just good for the summer. One thing is certain, ALL of these songs are perfect for a 4th of July BBQ playlist! With a wide range of genres, they’ll entertain everyone at your party, from your grandma to your little baby cousin, maybe even your summer crush!
“Up On The Sun” - The Meat Puppets
You maybe have never heard of the Meat Puppets, but one of their most popular tracks - “Up On The Sun” - happens to be one of the best songs of the summer. Therefore, it’s probably the best summer song you’ve never heard of. “Up On The Sun” perfectly combines catchy rhythm guitar over a slick lead riff. On top of that, are chill lyrics that, along with the title, convey the light aspect of a summer day. The perfect song to relax so on a gorgeous summer day.
“Born to Run” - Bruce Springsteen
It wouldn’t be the 4th of July without a Bruce Springsteen song! While there are so many amazing Springsteen songs that work with the 4th of July theme, we at LPM choose “Born to Run” for our BBQ playlist. Why? It encapsulates the youth and frivolity that we associate with summer. Turn on “Born to Run” to get that summer aesthetic going on full blast!
“Firework” - Katy Perry
Nothing says 4th of July like fireworks. Katy Perry’s smash hit off Teenage Dream is exactly what you need to turn up at any summer BBQ, and especially the 4th of July. The lyrics embody that free-spirit, have fun, summer attitude. “Firework” will have everyone belting out “BABY YOU’RE A FIRE-WORK” and get the party going.
“American Boy” - Estelle ft. Kanye West
Forgot about this gem from 2008? Don’t worry, we’ll remind you! Estelle’s “American Boy” features lyrics about a foolish American boy, who in the song, is Kanye West. How prescient! The track is a gorgeous composition, with a poppy synth licks and a fun segment made of Estelle’s “la la las.” She asks “will you be my American boy, American boy?” It’s a perfect playful track for a summer BBQ.
“Rockin’ In The Free World” - Neil Young
What is more American than a hard rock song? A hard rock song about freedom. But not really. Neil Young’s classic “Rockin’ In The Free World” is sure to spur you into a patriotic fervor, but not in the traditional way a lot of Americans might associate with patriotism. Neil Young sings about the darker sides of America, refusing to see the United States through rose colored glasses. Instead of blind faith in American capitalism and government, Young’s lyrics remind us that even the free world can be wrought with inequalities.
“Saints” - The Breeders
Straight out of the Akron, Ohio rock/grunge scene, The Breeders make a great additional to any summer BBQ. You’ve probably heard their song “Cannonball” more than a couple times. You’ve also maybe heard “Saints,” with memorable lyrics like “summer is ready when you are” and descriptions of a summer carnival. With a beefy guitar riff that screams American rock, “Saints” should definitely be on your July 4th BBQ, getting people in the mood for a fun time in the sun!
“Aqua Profunda!” - Courtney Barnett
Another song for the summer, if not specifically for America, Courtney Barnett’s “Aqua Profunda!” is a can’t miss. Courtney Barnett is actually from Australia, but her 2015 album Sometimes I Sit And Think And Sometimes I Just Sit is perfect for summer. We picked “Aqua Profunda!” for our Fourth of July BBQ playlist because of the poppy guitar work. Also Barnett sings about swimming in a pool in “Aqua Profunda!” and is there anything better than swimming on the 4th of July?
“Highway 61 Revisited” - Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan recently won a Nobel Prize for Literature for the lyrics to his songs. For decades, he’s been describing the American experience in clever lyrics over memorable guitar and harmonica. “Highway 61 Revisited” is one of his most memorable songs. Although it’s not particularly patriotic, it is lively and fun. A great addition to any 4th of July playlist!
“Ring of Fire” - Johnny Cash
Much like Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash has gone down in American history as one of the great musical storytellers of his time. While not particularly patriotic, his music speaks to the average American by describing the trials and tribulations of working class American life. With cheeky lyrics and popular blues guitar riffs, Johnny Cash should not be left out of any American-themed playlist. This 4th of July, we recommend “Ring of Fire,” which is about a love that’s so powerful it engulfs you. But it could also be about your grill or the firepit you’ve set up for the perfect 4th of July BBQ!
“Burning Down The House” - Talking Heads
Is it hot in here? YES, BECAUSE IT’S JULY AND YOUR BBQ IS BURNING DOWN THE HOUSE! The Talking Heads are an American classic of post-punk / new wave. Their track “Burning Down The House” is a great throwback for a summer day. With an electric chorus that feels like a call and response song, it’s a classic song that’ll get you and your guests into the 4th of July BBQ mood.
“Party in the U.S.A.” - Miley Cyrus
It’s not 4th of July until you blast Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” There’s nothing else I can say about this track, except: “PUT YOUR HANDS UP, THEY’RE PLAYING MY SONG. YOU KNOW IT’S GONNA BE OKAY. AHHHHHHHHH, IT’S A PARTY IN THE U.S.A.”
“Surfin’ U.S.A.” by The Beach Boys & “Back in the U.S.A.” by Chuck Berry
We’re grouping these two tracks together because they are the epitome of classic American surf rock. The Beach Boys “Surfin’ U.S.A.” has the perfect vibe for your BBQ because it is full of summer beach playfulness. A favorite among people young and old, it’ll even get grandpa tapping his toes! Meanwhile, Chuck Berry’s “Back in the U.S.A.” has that characteristic throbbing guitar line associated with his signature sound. Both will keep your party going as you grill on the 4th!
“I Felt Like A Gringo” - Minutemen
Speaking of post-punk, a summer playlist wouldn’t be complete without the Minutemen, who get their name from the fact that their songs are mostly less than a minute, not from the American Revolutionary War militia that were prepared to fight in a minutes notice. “I Felt Like A Gringo” was written shortly after the Minutemen took a trip to Mexico over the 4th of July. With a killer bassline, bangin’ drums, and a sick series of guitar riffs, this track is meant for a hot summer day. Add it to your 4th of July BBQ playlist!
“Fourth of July” - Fall Out Boy
Obviously we MUST include Fall Out Boy’s “Fourth of July” on our 4th of July BBQ. The alternative pop rock track came out on Fall Out Boy’s 2015 American Beauty / American Psycho record. Like most Fall Out Boy tracks, it’s got a heaviness to it, but, also like every Fall Out Boy track, it also has a good drum beat that makes it hard to stay off your feet. Great for kicking the party into gear!
“She’s American” - The 1975
In the spirit of British bands singing about Americans (see Estelle’s “American Boy” from earlier in the playlist), the 1975’s “She’s American” is one we can’t pass up adding to our summer BBQ playlist. With a chorus full of “She’s American, she’s American,” we can’t resist singing along to this laidback, pop-rock hit!
“To Where” - Grass Widow
Grass Widow, like Minutemen, is just drums, bass, and guitar in a post-punk trio. But, also like Minutemen, they build intricate instrumental pieces. On top of that, they layer their vocal melodies. While none of their songs are super patriotic, their song “To Where” gives off a really great summer vibe. Adding this to the 4th of July playlist ensures that you get into that summer chill summer feel; energized yet rested at the same time!
“Give It Up” by Angel Olsen
Angel Olsen’s 2016 album MY WOMAN rocked the charts last fall, but “Give It Up” is perfect for summer. What it lacks in American patriotism, it makes up for in summer aesthetics. The lyrics embody the archetypal summer romance: great intensity, like the heat of summer, that burns hot and then burns up leaving only heartache. It’s a great composition from top to bottom, sounding almost straight out of the same era as Johnny Cash. Like Cash, Olsen is an American treasure. Her song “Give It Up” is perfect for a 4th of July BBQ!
“A-Punk” by Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend is the BEST FOR THE SUMMER. Nothing says “summer” to me quite like Vampire Weekend. They blend punk rock with African rock in a way that sounds so fresh, like lemonade on a hot summer day. “A-Punk” is probably their most famous track and it still holds up almost a decade after its release. Turning this track on is sure to get people off their feet and into the dancing mood at any 4th of July BBQ!
“Made In The USA” by Demi Lovato
There’s this saying: “as American as apple pie.” Can we make a new saying: “as American as Demi Lovato.” Demi Lovato is a voice for youth in America, honestly speaking about her struggles with mental illness. “Made In The USA,” off her 2013 album Demi is a perfect summer American ballad.
“Party and Bullshit in the U.S.A.” by DJ Crazy J Rodriguez
A mashup of Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” and Notorious B.I.G.’s “Party and Bullshit.” While not necessarily family friendly (there are explicit lyrics), the song is great for your after hours 4th of July celebration. Two great songs that hold up on their own, “Party and Bullshit in the U.S.A.” deftly amalgamates these to tracks to create something wholly unique and hilariously funny. And then when you try to picture Biggie Smalls and Miley Cyrus standing next to each other, it becomes even more ridiculous.
“Star Spangled Banner - Live” by Jimi Hendrix
It’s not the 4th of July until you play Jimi Hendrix’s rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” from his historical 1969 Woodstock performance. Much like other classic American tracks like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA” and Neil Young’s “Keep On Rockin’ In The Free World,” on the surface Jimi Hendrix’s attempt at our national anthem seems patriotic. In reality, it’s a critique of injustices in our system. One article in SPIN Magazine mentioned how just when Hendrix gets to the “o’er the ramparts we watched” part of the song, the guitar instrumentation gets such to mimic bombs and explosions and a dark terror emblematic of the death and destruction of the Vietnam War. Again, the patriotism of this song is the critique of American exceptionalism. America is great when we acknowledge how we are - and have not been - great and strive to be better for all our citizens. Even if you don’t want to get too deep, Jimi Hendrix’s “Star Spangled Banner” is great for your 4th of July playlist because it is an AWESOME song and Jimi Hendrix is an American legend.
That’s it! Our picks for a bangin’ 4th of July playlist! Some tracks are more patriotic than others. Some tracks are more summer jams than others. Some tracks are fast. Some tracks are slow. Regardless, we wanted to give you a good blend of songs for your 4th of July BBQ. Tell us what you think in the comments below. And suggest any other songs you think embody the 4th of July BBQ spirit!
Check out our 4th of July BBQ playlist here - https://open.spotify.com/user/libertyparkmusic/playlist/5qPWhMVFdIrJiqfT6c0mxr
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