By Caitlyn Trudnich
The Fourth of July is a fun-filled day of BBQs, block parties, fireworks, and people proudly wearing red, white, and blue.
While your typical Independence Day playlist might include songs from The Boss or Mellancamp, we’ve created a slightly different collection of songs.
From punk protests to alternative tunes, this semi-patriotic playlist is sure to rock your Fourth!
“American Idiot” – Green Day
From their 2004 smash album of the same name, Green Day brought attention to the media’s control and influence over the nation. The music from the album was later adapted to the stage in the form of a musical/rock opera in 2009, co-written by frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong. The musical garnered rave reviews, and was nominated for “Best Musical” at the 2010 Tony Awards.
“‘Merican” – The Descendents
Punk rock legends, The Descendents, released their ‘Merican EP in 2004, including the song of the same title. The song talks about America’s history, both the good and the bad. Lead singer and writer, Milo Aukerman, sings, “I’m proud and ashamed, every Fourth of July. You got to know the truth, before you say that you got pride.”
“Land Of The Free?” – Pennywise
Pennywise is no stranger to expressing political beliefs through music with songs like, “God Save the USA,” and “American Dream.” Off of their 2001 album of the same name, this song questions the subject of actual freedom. Recently, Pennywise released their latest album, Yesterdays, which features fan favorites, rarities, and a new song entitled, “Violence Never Ending.”
“Kids In America” – The Muffs
Originally recorded by pop singer Kim Wylde in 1981, this version by punk band, The Muffs, was featured on the Clueless soundtrack, and also on the video game, Rock Band 2. It’s been covered by countless others, including NOFX, Nirvana, and even One Direction!
“Homebrew” “Sunset In July” – 311
I guess we know what 311’s favorite month is! “Homebrew” was the first single off of their 1994 album, Grassroots. Lead singer, Nick Hexum sings, “Fourth of July, with Lucy in sky. I remember pine trees and the coat of many colors. I was nineteen. I’d do anything. S**t like that now scares me, but I’d like to do it again.” Released in 2011 off of their tenth album, Universal Pulse, “Sunset In July” is a great song to listen to on a hot, summer’s day in July!
“4th Of July” – Soundgarden
This song, released on Soundgarden’s 1994 hit album, Superunknown, is actually not about the Fourth of July at all! In an interview with RIP Magazine, lead singer Chris Cornell said that the song was inspired by a trip on acid that he experienced. He said, “‘4th of July’ is pretty much about that day. You wouldn’t get that if you read it. It doesn’t read like, ‘Woke up, dropped some acid, got into the car and went to the Indian reservation.'”
“Freedom” – Rage Against the Machine
Although there are so many Rage songs to choose from that can make this list (see “Bulls On Parade,” “Killing In The Name”), this song, off of their 1994 self-titled album, questions freedom and promotes rebellion against comformity. The music video protrays the story of American Indian Movement leader, Leonard Peltier, who was found guilty of murdering two FBI agents.
“4th of July” – X
Released off their 1987 album, See How We Are, and written by Blasters guitarist, Dave Alvin (who replaced orginal X guitarist Billy Zoom), the song is actually about a couple fighting on the 4th. X also wrote about their disappointment with the government, specifically the Reagan administration, with their 1983 song, “The New World.”
“Fight For Your Right (To Party)” – Beastie Boys
This song is so awesome, it deserves a place in every holiday’s playlist! The Beastie Boys’ essential classic, released in 1987, is a party anthem for every fan! And years later, the song reminds listeners to continue to fight for your right to have a good time!
“American Music” – Violent Femmes
Do you like American music? This little ditty by the Violent Femmes, released in 1991 on Why Do Birds Sing?, has become a fan favorite. In relation with the song’s early rock-and-roll influences, the music video includes references to American culture throughout the years, including Diana Ross, Chubby Checker, 60’s counter culture, and yes, even disco.
“American,” “National Anthem” – Lana Del Rey
Songstress Lana Del Rey released “American” off of her 2012 Paradise album. Del Rey is known for her obsession with Americana and Hollywood icons, and in “American,” she mentions rock performers rooted in our culture, like Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen. “Be young. Be dope. Be proud. Like an American.” “National Anthem,” from 2012’s Born To Die depicts the singer as Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy, while rapper ASAP Rocky is JFK.
“Blood-Red, White & Blue” – Rise Against
Rise Against is known for being very vocal about their beliefs on politics, religion, human rights, and animal rights, and express them through their music. With many of their songs written about the country’s government (see “State Of The Union,” “Make It Stop”) this song, released in 2003 on their second album, Revolutions Per Minute, talks about standing up for your own beliefs, especially about war and peace.
“American Jesus” – Bad Religion
Bad Religion is the quintessential punk protest band. Their way of effectively mixing well-educated ideals with good music has been going strong since the band’s formation in 1979. With a vast collection of songs influenced by ideas on religion, politics, and more, Bad Religion always makes you stop and think. For example, this song, released on 1993’s Recipe for Hate, the lyrics provide a satirical description which questions the country’s unity through religious beliefs.