Nothing says "I love you" more than a song. OK, maybe uttering the actual words but, then again, those very words with a tickling of the ivories beneath them? Or the gentle plucking of a Fender acoustic? That takes it to the next level. Love is meant to be set to music, so it would only make sense that a celebration of anything in song is proof in and of itself that the thing is loved. And when that thing is America? Or the very things we, as Americans, have come to associate with the country? Well... turn it up.
1. "We're an American Band"/Grand Funk Railroad: A #1 single in 1973 and for good reason. Fact is, a huge percentage of... well... Americans probably couldn't even tell you who recorded the song. But GFR distinguished themselves in song just as the wave that was the British Invasion had finished crashing ashore. If it ever really even did. Which is what makes the song so awesome. And so American.
2. "Pink Houses"/John Cougar Mellencamp: Yep, smack dab in between the Cougar years and the Mellencamp ones came this huge hit, with that rousing chorus of "Ain't That America." Hell, Johnny had another song off Uh-Huh called "Jackie O" and his next full-length would include "R-O-C-K in the USA." But it's "Pink Houses" you'll hear before a ball game—a hot dog in one hand and a brew in the other—there to get ya good and primed. Dissect the lyrics all you'd like; it's about the American dream, and that's all that matters.
3. "Born in the USA"/Bruce Springsteen: Speaking of dissecting lyrics, many love to do that with this anthem, including the lyricist himself. Springsteen was both in awe that then-President Ronald Reagan knew and loved the song, and that this guy from Jersey got to meet him as a result; but he was also angry that the song's intent was to express discontent. That discontent was in favor of our veterans, however, and what The Boss felt was a cold shoulder being given to them. It doesn't get more patriotic than that. And no song musters more red, white and blue belting from a crowd than this one.
4. "American Bad Ass"/Kid Rock: This is Kid's middle finger to the critics he felt were dismissive of his music, even while he repeatedly went platinum (and sang about it in this very song). And it epitomizes the American spirit; it's the freedom of expression, free speech and a rock 'n roll protest all in one. He boasts about what he's acquired as a result of his records selling, name drops his favorite artists and even his own songs, all in the name of having earned the right to.
5. "Living in America"/James Brown: Look, nobody expected a song from "Rocky IV" to make the list, but how does one ignore this Godfather of Soul classic? Brown takes Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" and flips it on its side, giving love to everyone already here. The word "celebration" comes up again and again, as Brown believed living in America was worth one. Further, he sang about a bunch of spots in the good ol' USA where setting up shop would do you just fine, including New Orleans, Dallas, Detroit and Atlanta to name but a few.
6. "The Boys of Fall"/Kenny Chesney: With a chorus like, "Well, it's turn and face the Stars and Stripes/It's fighting back them butterflies/It's call it in the air, alright yes sir we want the ball/And it's knocking heads and talking trash/It's slinging mud and dirt and grass/It's I got your number, I got your back when your back's against the wall/You mess with one man you got us all/The boys of fall," Chesney only celebrates one thing more than beach life, and that's football. The country superstar has a knack for making many songs not just an embracing of something in particular, but also of the value America has placed on it. This one's a gem.
7. "Drinking Class"/Lee Brice: Country crooner goes a less traditional route than football, Friday Night Lights and ferocious competition—he goes full tilt toasting (pun intended) the 9-to-5ers and how, sometimes, the only reward for that 40-hour-workweek is the drinking that punctuates it. It ain't about middle-, or lower- or upper-class; it's about putting in the hours, a hard week of working in America and capping it with... well... a night cap! Brice's arguably bigger hit, "I Drive Your Truck," is a heart-breaking anthem about driving your boy's rig around, after he's given his life for this great country, if only to be in his presence while at the wheel, leaving the radio set at the very station he himself left at it. Soldiers, radio, and wheels—all at once.
8. "American Saturday Night"/Brad Paisley: There just isn't a night of the week Americans love more than a Saturday—is there? Paisley goes all over the world lyrically, referencing Brazilian boots, German automobiles, Italian ice and more, but it's Saturday night that he deems American. He sings about the gal driving around listening to—and singing—The Beatles' "Back in the USSR," but is quick to point out that "she may be going around the world tonight, but she ain't leaving here."