Many musicians have written patriotic pop songs to express their political feelings and general pride for the United States. From tales of the working class and the search for the “American Dream” to celebrating the country and its values, many of these songs have taken on nationalistic meanings beyond their original intentions. Here is a list detailing eight of the top patriotic pop songs ever released.
Number Eight: ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ – Bruce Springsteen
Generally seen as a patriotic song, simply because of its chorus, “Born in the U.S.A. goes deeper. The song was actually written as a narrative about veterans coming home from Viet Nam and their treatment by the government and the public upon return. Springsteen’s song has become an anthem for the working class and the complexity of their experience.
Number Seven: ‘Made in America’ – Jay-Z and Kanye West Featuring Frank Ocean
While quite boastful (like a lot of rap music), “Made in America” tells of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s journey towards the American dream. The chorus is an ode to the civil rights movement, mentioning leaders in the struggle who influenced the rappers and singer.
Number Six: ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ – by Elton John
“Philadelphia Freedom” was not originally written as a patriotic song. John and writing partner Bernie Taupin wrote the song for Billie Jean King and the Philadelphia Freedom tennis team in 1975. However, since the song came out just before the United States’ bicentennial celebration in 1976, it was appropriated for the event.
Number Five: ‘Living in America’ – James Brown
The first song on this list explicitly written as a patriotic pop song, “Living in America” came out in 1985. Used in the patriotic scenes of the fourth Rocky film, the song is a word association of everything that composers Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight think of when they think of America, calling it the “promise land.”
Number Four: ‘America’ – Neil Diamond
From the remake of The Jazz Singer, Diamond sings about immigrants coming over to America to live out their dreams. The song ends with an interpretation of “My Country Tis of Thee,” a classic folk song. Diamond’s song and message were so popular that “America” landed at number one on the Billboard charts for three weeks in 1981.
Number Three: ‘Our Country’ – John Mellencamp
Mellencamp has written a number of songs that could easily be on this list, including “Pink Houses” (which supposedly was not supposed to be patriotic) and “Small Town.” However, “Our Country” is the most direct, talking about the diversity of America’s citizens and its inclusiveness. In more recent years, the song was used to sell Chevy cars, banking on its all-American feel.
Number Two: One of the Most Patriotic Pop Songs – ‘America’ by Imagine Dragons
“America” was written and released nearly 10 years after the September 11, 2001, attacks. Referencing the National Guard’s service to the country, the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the World Trade Center towers, the song is a reassurance that the country will find strength again.
Number One: ‘Star Spangled Banner’ – Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix’s cover of the national anthem is one of the most iconic instrumentals ever. Performed at Woodstock in 1969, Hendrix applied all sorts of distortions and effects to the song, making it sound like actual bombs bursting in air. Soon after his performance of the song, he said that his interpretation was pro-America and mirrored the political air of the country at the time. Thank you for reading our list of the eight top patriotic pop songs. We hope you enjoyed it.