The Best and Worst Songs to Play at Your Fourth of July Party, Ranked

Hogan on the guitar, good. 1812 Overture, bad.

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• July 4, 2019 5:00 am


There are lot of great American songs you can play at your Fourth of July party this year, and there also a lot of… well, not-so-great American songs. So how's an intelligent, discerning patriot supposed to know which troop-supporting, jingoistic tunes to play while grilling up some dogs and shooting off illegal explosives? By listening to me, obviously. Here's the comprehensive ranking of the best and worst songs to play at your Fourth of July soiree:


1. "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"– What can you say about one of the greatest songs ever written? "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is so good, SEC teams adopted it as their fight songs even though the Union sang it while burning down their traitor-infested cities. Stirring, patriotic, pro-war, and explicitly Christian, this is the perfect song to own a lib or a Neo-Confederate this Independence Day.

2. "Stars and Stripes Forever"– If John Philip Sousa doesn't play at least once during your Fourth of July festivities, you've royally screwed up. "Stars and Stripes Forever" is easily Sousa's best work, although he himself insisted it was "Semper Fidelis" and you can't go wrong there. "The Washington Post" is another banger, but sadly is a tribute to fake news and must be forsworn.

3. "The Army Goes Rolling Along"/"Anchors Aweigh"/"The U.S. Air Force"/"Marine Hymn"– I'm not going to play favorites, all four songs are absolutely fabulous. (Beware of medleys, which typically also include a clip of a song belonging to some organization called "The Coast Guard"? Yeah, like the Ashton Kutcher movie. I don't get it either.)

4. "America! (F*ck Yeah!)"– Duh.

5. "God Bless America" as performed by Kate Smith while everyone wears Nike's Betsy Ross sneakers

6. "The Star-Spangled Banner"

7. "Hail to the Chief"– Not playing this one is tantamount to an admission that you don't want America to be great again.

8. "Real American"– I'm a little miffed this song isn't our national anthem. If you aren't immediately a fan, simply marvel at the official music video, which transitions seamlessly from images of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Vietnam Memorial to Hulk Hogan jamming on an American flag guitar in front of fireworks.

Worth playing, unless you hate freedom

9. "The Star Spangled Banner" (Whitney Houston version)

10. "Ragged Old Flag" Arguably not a song so much as spoken-word poetry, but criminally underrated.

11. "Old Town Road"– We live in a divided time, and yet every American knows what it's like to want to take your horse to the old town road and ride until you can't no more. Independence Day is a day to celebrate that can't nobody tell me nothin', including the British.

12. "The Star Spangled Banner" (Jimi Hendrix version)

13. "America the Beautiful" (Ray Charles version)

14. "Chicken Fried"– There are very few country songs on this list, mostly because all country songs are sort of celebration of America by default and country fans are better suited to decide their favorites. You can't go wrong playing "Take Me Home, Country Roads" or "Wagon Wheel" at your party. But unlike some country songs (more on that later), the Zac Brown Band's salute to the troops is momentary and poignant, leaving room for your guests to go back to saluting fried chicken and beer like true patriots.

15. "The Star Spangled Banner" (Enrique Pallazzo version)

16. "Living in America"– Great song, perfect for pumping you up to take on a superhuman Soviet boxer.

17. "Over There"/"You're A Grand Old Flag"/"Yankee Doodle Dandy"– Three great songs, all written by the great George M. Cohan. If you want an update to the old-timey tunes, feel free to substitute in The Donald Trump Girls.

18. "Yankee Doodle"– It's a Revolutionary War song, and it's Independence Day, you do the math.

19. "American Pie"– Not really patriotic per se, but America's in the title and it's a fun song once the Boomers have had a few and are uninhibited enough to sing along. (For millennials, see: "Party in the U.S.A.")

Can we not?

20. "My Country ‘Tis of Thee"– Do we really need to sing the Queen's song? On the Fourth of July? Ugh.

21. "The 1812 Overture"– It's not American, you idiots.

22. "Firework"– oh you played a forgettable pop song with "firework" in the title while fireworks are going off, aren't you special.

23. Anything from Hamilton

24. "This Land is Your Land"– Pinko commie shit.

25. "Born in the U.S.A."Incomprehensible pinko commie shit.

Please God no

26. Literally anything by Toby Keith that isn't Red Solo Cup

27. "God Bless the U.S.A."– Look, I'll just say it. This song sucks. It really, really sucks. It's saccharine, poorly-written ("I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free"?), musically bland and uninteresting, not particularly well-performed, with audience-insulting, pandering lyrics. It's the "Christmas Shoes" of patriotic songs. There's no reason to play it at a Fourth of July celebration when there are dozens of patriotic songs with ten times as much lyrical and musical depth.

Published under: Culture, July 4th, Lee Greenwood, opinion