It's the 4th of July so here's the 10 best songs that capture the American spirit
Honouring the most vivid tunes inspired by the red, white and blue.
American Independence Day brings a rake of powerful imagery to mind.
The stars and stripes. The bald eagle. World Cup '94. Bill Pullman. Bruce Springsteen. Endless baseball games. The terrible opening scene from The Newsroom.
Music may just be one of the above aspects - can't leave out The Boss, in fairness - but there's a great deal to choose from when it comes to the very best tunes that celebrate America.
So let's go through them, shall we?
#10. 'Real American' - Rick Derringer
Clip via WWE
An adrenaline-fuelled call to arms that cannot, will not be denied.
Nor would Hulk Hogan as he blazed a trail through the World Wrestling Federation en route to numerous World Championships and plenty of backstage politicking.
Originally conceived for the US Express tag team of Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo, 'Real American' fell into the hands of the Hulkster at the end of 1985 and played a huge part in his rise.
Such a great, inspiring song that Hogan didn't need to bother with American flag-themed attire, opting instead for canary yellow, as 'Real American' made it clear that the power of patriotism - and nothing else - was pumping through his veins.
#9. 'Party In The U.S.A.' - Miley Cyrus
Clip via HollywoodRecordsVEVO
Before Miley Cyrus terrorised the world by sticking her tongue out a lot and hanging around with Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne, she was the picture of heartland wholesomeness.
The former Hannah Montana has always had sharp pop and country sensibilities in her locker, and 'Party In The U.S.A.' is a ludicrously fun mix of both genres.
Co-written with, of all people, Jessie J, 'Party' is a glorious sun-kissed summer jam.
#8. 'Free Bird' - Lynyrd Skynyrd
Clip via fxdwg6969
Excess. Pure colossal excess.
You might make the argument for 'Sweet Home Alabama', especially if you're a big a fan of Con Air as we are, but it's gotta be 'Free Bird', right?
Lynyrd Skynrd's most over-the-top hour (or nine minutes and two seconds, to be precise), 'Free Bird' is the indomitable American spirit in one gigantic, crashing journey of a song.
The second half is basically a guitar solo, for christ sake. Still, it's wildly infectious and really quite joyous by the end. When it arrives. Eventually.
#7. 'American Girl' - Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Clip via jaxdriver
The title is admittedly a bit of a giveaway, but 'American Girl', courtesy of the late, great Tom Petty, is an all-timer.
Petty had a knack for relatable short stories powered by driving guitar lines, and the second single from his debut album with The Heartbreakers both laid the path for future while paying respects to the likes of The Byrds who came before him.
#6. 'Trailer Trash' - Modest Mouse
Clip via spoonyfork
Another man with a penchant for compelling small-yet-huge details and characters you can sink into is Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse.
Taken from 1997 sophomore album The Lonesome Crowded West, 'Trailer Trash' captures the mind-numbing daily routine of growing up in a small-town trailer park, albeit with the classic Modest Mouse marriage of melancholy and strange optimism.
'Float On' is likely to be the band's epitaph when all is said and done, and it is indeed a classic, but songs like 'Trailer Trash' sum up their identity perfectly.
#5. 'Sleep Now In The Fire' - Rage Against The Machine
Clip via RATMVEVO
Sure what's a list about the most American songs without some good old-fashioned political commentary that is arguably just as relevant today?
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Rage Against The Machine at their most biting, most piercing and most pissed-off.
Rage may have been a major label band, but they still wanted to fuck with the system as best they could.
'Sleep Now In The Fire', complete with on-location Wall Street video (helmed by Michael Moore) leans on the likes of Christopher Columbus, the Vietnam War and U.S. slavery as Zack De La Rocha scatters fire on his targets.
And like every great RATM song, it's a goddamned belter.
#4. 'Kids In America' - Kim Wilde
Clip via Julian Hiti
Once heard, never forgotten, and a supreme distillation of the world-conquering strength of British synth-pop.
Kim Wilde's urgent floor-filler is a beast of many forms; disco anthem, era-centric radio-friendly collision of rock and pop, and football terrace chant.
Mostly, it's a vital tune that still sounds razor-sharp some 27 years on.
#3. 'This Is America' - Childish Gambino
Clip via Donald Glover
There's a fairly major current controversy surrounding Childish Gambino and 'This Is America', what with some accusations of plagiarism coming Donald Glover's way last month.
Whether those claims prove to be legit or it's simply a strange coincidence - and hey, all art is theft, is it not? - 'This Is America' is, as its title promises, a powerful, pertinent summary of America in 2018.
In tandem with its searing, genuinely exceptional video, the track bottles the violent unease, racial tension, class division and great struggle that many Americans face under the Trump era, and long before, and then shatters the whole thing with the fury of a thousand suns.
#2. '1979' - Smashing Pumpkins
Clip via Smashing Pumpkins
Though not explicitly about the United States, few songs capture the promise and pain of youth like '1979'.
It is a song awash with idyllic adventure and sobering reality, one coated in a distinctly American summer haze. Billy Corgan gets a lot of stick, but much of his work as the leader of Smashing Pumpkins feels timeless and poignant in a way that not many artists can attest to.
'1979' is a beautiful achievement, one born in dreams, and that's enough for us to justify crowbarring it into this list.
#1. 'Born In The U.S.A.' - Bruce Springsteen
Clip via Bruce Springsteen
Well it has to be here, doesn't it?
There's a great Bruce Springsteen anecdote, as told by the man himself during a Rolling Stone interview.
Upon driving out of a car park one day in the mid-2000s, The Boss was stopped by a fan who didn't beg for an autograph nor profess his undying fandom. Instead, he simply offered a few words:
"We need you, Boss."
That's what an artist like Bruce Springsteen means to his fans, and to America. Turmoil will probably always exist in that country and the wider world beyond, and Springsteen is a reassuring constant for those in need of escape.
Like the blue collar men and women that have populated his songs for decades, Springsteen is the people who go to his marathon shows and feel pride for where they've come from, even if the hand they've been dealt isn't the most enviable one.
'Born In The U.S.A.' is a voice for the voiceless, and it soars.