April 09, 2015
8 of Our All-Time Favorite Patriotic Songs
From marching bands to contemporary country, these songs celebrate everything that makes the United States so unique. In many ways, patriotic songs have shaped the identity of our country. They define what it means to be American. They enrich our culture and make us proud to wave the flag.
Whether you’re making a playlist for your next 4th of July party or simply in the mood to celebrate America, the top patriotic songs on our list are crowd-pleasing classics. There are patriotic songs for everyone, young and old alike. Play these tunes at your next barbecue and you’re guaranteed to have a great time.
Here are 8 top patriotic songs that celebrate America:
8. Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA
Long before Wrecking Ball and her infamous MTV performance, pop sensation Miley Cyrus released Party in the USA in 2009. The song peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has been certified platinum. In it, Cyrus sings of relocating from Nashville to Hollywood and celebrates American teen party culture.
The upbeat pop song was an instant hit, launching Cyrus’ musical career and receiving frequent airplay. It has been covered and parodied numerous times, as well as featured in many movies, TV shows, and ads.
7. John Philips Sousa – The Stars and Stripes Forever
If you’ve attended a military parade or a high school football game, you’ve probably heard this classic. Declared the official National March of the United States by Congress in 1987, The Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philips Sousa is truly iconic.
Written on Christmas Day in 1896, Sousa actually composed the march in his head during a boat trip home from Europe. The song’s first public performance in May 1897 was a huge success. The Stars and Stripes Forever has also been featured in countless movies, TV shows, cartoons, and more. We particularly love this version performed by the United States Marine Band.
6. Lee Greenwood – God Bless the USA
Also known as “Proud to be an American,” country artist Lee Greenwood’s signature song was released in May, 1984. God Bless the USA soon became a popular fixture at political rallies and events. The song was also prominent during the Gulf War, when it was often used to boost morale among the troops.
An ode to freedom and the American dream, God Bless the USA has topped the Billboard charts and received Platinum status. The song has also been covered by artists from Dolly Parton to Beyonce. Beyonce’s version was released following the death of Osama Bin Laden and proceeds from the song were donated to charity.
5. James Brown – Living in America
James Brown’s funky hit Living in America was released in 1985 and reached number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Brown won a Grammy Award that same year for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. The song’s energetic melody celebrates a number of iconic American cities ranging from New York City to LA.
The iconic song was also featured prominently in the Stallone movie Rocky IV.
4. Simon & Garfunkel – America
Written by Paul Simon and released on the duo’s fourth studio album in 1968. Simon & Garfunkel’s America tells the story of two young lovers hitchhiking across the country. Fusing Simon’s poignant lyrics and the pair’s harmonies, America gets our vote for one of the best songs written about the Land of the Free.
America has been covered by a range of artists from Yes to David Bowie to Josh Groban.
3. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA
No list of top patriotic songs is complete without Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA. Released in 1984, Born in the USA was ranked 275th on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Addressing the treatment of Vietnam War veterans, Born in the USA is a moving, epic rock tribute to soldiers of all walks of life, as well as anyone pursuing the American dream. The song has been covered multiple times and remains immensely popular.
2. Jimi Hendrix – The Star Spangled Banner
The Star Spangled Banner is America’s national anthem, written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key. It has been covered and reinterpreted countless times by countless different artists, but no modern performance has had as much impact as Jimi Hendrix. Even though we wanted to cover patriotic songs beyond the Star Spangled Banner, this Hendrix performance was so unique we had to include it.
Performed live at the historic Woodstock Festival in 1969, Hendrix transformed the national anthem into a solo symphony of emotion and power. The guitar legend used special distortion effects and rare guitar techniques to mimic the sounds of bombs and rockets, captivating listeners with an evocative take on the anthem’s lyrics. It is often considered one of the greatest solo guitar performances of all time.
1. Ray Charles – America the Beautiful
Finally, no list of patriotic songs is complete without America the Beautiful. Featuring lyrics by Kathrine Lee Bates and music by Samuel A. Ward, America the Beautiful was published in 1910. It gained tremendous popularity and soon became an informal, second national anthem.
America the Beautiful has been recorded and performed hundreds of times by a diverse range of artists from all genres of music. But in 1976, Ray Charles’ soulful rendition elevated the song to another level. Charles’ version of America the Beautiful was an instant hit, peaking at number 98 on the US R&B chart at the time.
As far as we’re concerned, it’ll never be done better than Mr. Charles did it here.
From all of us at the Music and Arts family, we hope you and yours have a safe, happy and healthy Fourth of July!