Top 10 Patriotic Pop Songs

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Grand Funk - "We're An American Band" (1973)

Grand Funk We're An American Band
Grand Funk - "We're An American Band". Courtesy Capitol

Grand Funk (sometimes known as Grand Funk Railroad) were one of the most successful album rock bands of the early 1970s when they recorded their seventh studio album We're An American Band. They had released four consecutive top 10 charting albums and four of their albums had been certified platinum, but the group continually faced critical scorn. For We're An American Band they connected with Todd Rundgren as producer and the result was acclaim for the band's professionalism and the title song became their first #1 pop hit single. 

The song is somewhat autobiographical and details the group touring across the US encountering groupies along the way. Writer Dave Marsh says the song grew out of a discussion between Grand Funk and British band concert tour mates Humble Pie over which was better British or American rock.

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Elton John - "Philadelphia Freedom" (1975)

Elton John Philadelphia Freedom
Elton John - "Philadelphia Freedom". Courtesy MCA

Elton John was at the commercial peak of his career when he released "Philadelphia Freedom" in 1975. It became his sixth consecutive top 5 charting pop hit single and the third of those to go all the way to #1. It was released as a standalone single and did not appear on an album until Elton John's Greatest Hits Volume II collection appeared in 1977.

The song was written by Elton John and his lyricist Bernie Taupin in honor of close friend and women's tennis star Billie Jean King. She was a member of the professional tennis team The Philadelphia Freedoms. The song was also seen as a tribute to the Philadelphia soul sound spearheaded by producers Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Thom Bell. The latter would produce Elton John's 1979 top 10 pop hit "Mama Can't Buy You Love."

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Top 10 Elton John Songs

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Neil Diamond - "America" (1981)

Neil Diamond America
Neil Diamond - "America". Courtesy Capitol

"America" was written and recorded by Neil Diamond for the soundtrack to the movie The Jazz Singer. It became the third top 10 pop hit single from the film and hit #1 on the adult contemporary chart. The song has been used in multiple patriotic promotions including as a theme for Michael Dukakis' 1988 presidential bid, the 1996 Olympics, and the centennial rededication of the Statue of Liberty.

The song "America" celebrates the history of immigration in the United States. The recording uses overdubbed crowd sounds to make it sound as if it is a live recording. The song closes with a lyrical interpolation of "My Country 'Tis of Thee."

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Kim Wilde - "Kids In America" (1981)

Kim Wilde - Kids In America
Kim Wilde - "Kids In America". Courtesy RAK

Although it celebrates youth in the United States, "Kids In America" was recorded by a British singer and co-written by her brother Ricky and father Marty who was a popular rock and roll artist in the UK in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The song hit the top 10 on pop charts around the world and peaked at #25 in the US. It was Kim Wilde's biggest hit in the US until she went all the way to #1 in 1986 with her remake of "You Keep Me Hangin' On."

Lyrically, "Kids In America" speaks of a "new wave coming" and was included in the new wave pop genre. Discussions about the unusual geography in the lyric line "New York to East California" have been credited to being written by songwriters somewhat unfamiliar with the United States.

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Bruce Springsteen - "Born In the U.S.A." (1984)

Bruce Springsteen Born In the U.S.A.
Bruce Springsteen - "Born In the U.S.A.". Courtesy Columbia

"Born In the U.S.A." is the title song from Bruce Springsteen's landmark album of the same name. It was released the third of a record-tying series of seven consecutive top 10 pop hits from the album. It became a pop hit around the world peaking at #5 in the UK. 

"Born In the U.S.A." is one of the hardest rocking songs on the album. Many mistakenly see it as a simple patriotic rallying cry due to the chorus. The verses detail the negative experiences of Vietnam War veterans. One indication of widely spread misunderstanding of the song was Ronald Reagan's 1984 presidential campaign seeing it as a national rally cry. However, it is difficult to not feel some sort of patriotic pride in listening to the powerful chorus.

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James Brown - "Living In America" (1985)

James Brown Living In America
James Brown - "Living In America". Courtesy Scotti Bros.

"Living In America" was written by Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight for the soundtrack to the film Rocky IV. It turned into a major career comeback for soul legend James Brown. It went all the way to #4 on the pop singles chart becoming James Brown's first top 10 hit in 17 years. In the film the song represents the patriotism of Rocky Balboa's opponent Apollo Creed. 

Lyrically "Living In America" celebrates the working class in the US. It also references many great cities including New Orleans, Atlanta, and Chicago. James Brown earned a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal. 

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John Cougar Mellencamp - "R.O.C.K. In the U.S.A." (1986)

John Mellencamp R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.
John Mellencamp - "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A.". Courtesy Riva

John Mellencamp was reluctant to include "R.O.C.K. In the U.S.A." on his album Scarecrow because its upbeat nature is at odds with the intensity of such songs as "Rain On the Scarecrow." However, it did manage to help balance the themes in the albums and brought John Mellencamp his seventh top 10 pop hit. "R.O.C.K. In the U.S.A." was used as a campaign song in George W. Bush's first presidential bid.

The lyrics of "R.O.C.K. In the U.S.A." celebrate the country's rock and roll heritage. Before the recording of the album Scarecrow took place, John Mellencamp had his band work through nearly 100 covers of classic rock songs of the 1960s. It was part of a conscious effort to absorb the spirt of those past recordings.

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Estelle - "American Boy" featuring Kanye West (2008)

Estelle American Boy
Estelle - "American Boy" featuring Kanye West. Courtesy Atlantic

"American Boy" is the song that proved to be a pop breakthrough for British rapper and singer Estelle. It was co-written with Kanye West, John Legend and among others. The song received positive critical acclaim and hit the top 10 on pop singles charts around the world peaking at #9 in the US. Estelle earned a Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration with "American Boy." 

Estelle credits the genesis of "American Boy" to a conversation with John Legend in which he suggested that she write a song about meeting an American boy. Kanye West added his own tongue in cheek attitude to the song with featured raps.

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Miley Cyrus - "Party In the U.S.A." (2009)

Miley Cyrus Party In the U.S.A.
Miley Cyrus - "Party In the U.S.A.". Courtesy Hollywood

Miley Cyrus was only 16 when she released the anthem "Party In the U.S.A." It was written as a collaboration between rising British singer-songwriter Jessie J and American producers Dr. Luke and Claude Kelly. Jessie J elected not to perform the song herself seeing it as not edgy enough. Reaching a peak of #2 on the US pop charts, "Party In the U.S.A." was Miley Cyrus' biggest pop hit until the release of "We Can't Stop" four years later. Having sold more than 5.5 million copies, it is one of the biggest digital hit singles of all time.

The lyrics of "Party In the U.S.A." discuss Miley Cyrus' experiences relocating from Nashville to Hollywood. In the song's narrative, she is comforted by hearing songs by Jay-Z and Britney Spears. In interviews, Miley Cyrus admitted she had not yet heard any of Jay-Z's music when the song was first recorded.

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Demi Lovato - "Made In the U.S.A." (2013)

Demi Lovato Made In the USA
Demi Lovato - "Made In the USA". Courtesy Hollywood

Demi Lovato released "Made In the U.S.A." in 2013 to coincide with July 4th celebrations in the US. It was the second single from her album. It was written as a patriotic love song. The recording incorporates influences from pop, R&B, and country music in an effort to sound distinctly American. Some observers looked at the song as a "grown-up" version of Miley Cyrus' previous hit "Party In the U.S.A."

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