Happy Fourth, everybody! As we all know, patriotism in this fine land of ours often sounds frickin' terrible when presented in song form. But feeling happy to be American doesn't -- we repeat, doesn't -- have to involve Toby Keith. Or Keith Urban. Or, well, anyone named Keith actually. Here then, are five songs that'll make you proud of your country, without resorting to schmaltz. Put them on at your barbeque today and watch your friends get happier.
"North American Scum," LCD Soundsystem
As we all know, George W. Bush (along with a great deal of help from Cheney and Rumsfeld) made the rest of the world really, really hate us for a while. Many Americans would bow their head in shame and apologize when faced with the wrath of foreigners -- but, oh no, not LCD. This was their defiant moment of half-assed American pride -- a grand proclamation that, hey, we're not perfect, but we're not all bad either. We take the "scum" in the title as spite-filled sarcasm. And we love it.
"Party in the U.S.A.," Miley Cyrus
Now, bear with us while we explain this one to you. We know Miley Cyrus is fucking awful. We do. But if you ever have a room full of drunk people in front of you on a national holiday, put this song on, stand back and watch what happens. People get really, really stoked. Like, stupid stoked. Like, jumping up and down and grinning and singing stoked. They'll tell you later on, once they've sobered up, that they were being ironic, but, trust us -- they weren't. This thing is packed full of irresistible, feel good American nonsense. It makes people smile, so just put the fucker on.
"American Boy," Estelle Featuring Kanye West
When the rest of the world is constantly accusing you of being an arrogant, insular, war-happy country with too many guns, nothing makes you happier more quickly than a really cute English girl making you sound like the most glamorous and fun place on earth. She doesn't want some namby-pamby English dude -- she wants an American boy! To take her to New York, L.A., Chicago, and San Francisco Bay! Thank God for that!
"American Girl," Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
You have to put this one on directly after "American Boy" just to bring balance to the party. Once the American girls in the room realize it's not actually The Strokes (who plagiarized the shit out of this song on "Last Nite," thus confusing an entire generation), they'll start to feel really special and really happy that, even though it's a "great big world with lots of places to run to," they come from the same country as Tom Petty. And that's enough to make anyone feel proud.
"Living in America," James Brown
In the 1980s, America was undoubtedly the most exciting place in the world. The only thing that said "America! Fuck yeah!" more excitingly than Sly Stalone beating up a Russian was James Brown on this song. It's so bombastic and sleek and sexy, you can almost forget about the fact that he seems to be telling us that the best thing about this fine country of ours is the "all night diners." Hey. You heard the man: "Got to have a celebration!" Hop to it, folks.