The Most Distinctive ‘Fourth of July’ Songs in 50 U.S. States


(This post originally appeared here.)

The Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day in the United States, is nearly here. Folks across the country are gearing up for annual barbecues, parties, picnics, firework displays, and, of course, the “American” songs that get queued up more on that day than on any other — although that music can differ, depending on where people live.

As a fun experiment, Paul Lamere, director of developer platform for The Echo Nest at Spotify, looked into how the 50 U.S. states stack up in terms of what they listen to on the Fourth of July.

We suspected this would lead to an excellent playlist of the songs that are most core to the concept of Independence Day. But we were also just plain curious about what kinds of music the people in the United States play to celebrate it in their own way.

The following map shows the most distinctive “Fourth of July” song for each state. This represents the song out of this playlist (methodology below) that the people in a particular state listened to the most on the Fourth of July in 2013, compared to how they listen on other days (larger version).


Pretty neat! You can find your state, and listen to its song, as well as all the others, in the playlist.

Paul also ranked all 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.) by how much each one listened to all of that Fourth of July music on last year’s fourth of July. Here’s how they stacked up:

  1. District of Columbia (not a state, but it scored so high we included it here)
  2. Nebraska
  3. Delaware
  4. Louisiana
  5. Utah
  6. Arkansas
  7. North Dakota
  8. Missouri
  9. Virginia
  10. Tennessee
  11. Massachusetts
  12. Pennsylvania
  13. Minnesota
  14. Maryland
  15. Wisconsin
  16. Oregon
  17. Ohio
  18. Oklahoma
  19. Illinois
  20. Michigan
  21. Idaho
  22. Montana
  23. Wyoming
  24. North Carolina
  25. Vermont
  26. Colorado
  27. Indiana
  28. Georgia
  29. Kentucky
  30. Washington
  31. Texas
  32. Iowa
  33. New York
  34. Alabama
  35. Rhode Island
  36. New Jersey
  37. Connecticut
  38. California
  39. Arizona
  40. Florida
  41. Kansas
  42. Mississippi
  43. South Carolina
  44. New Mexico
  45. West Virginia
  46. Nevada
  47. Hawaii
  48. South Dakota
  49. Maine
  50. New Hampshire
  51. Alaska

How it was done:

We started with a big pool of all the music included in the thousands of playlists on Spotify with “Fourth of July” in their titles.

“That set of songs is this really funny mix,” says Lamere. “You get the core patriotic songs like ‘God Bless America‘ and ‘The Star Spangled Banner,’ but you also get summer songs like “Summer of ’69” and barbecue songs like ‘Chicken Fried,’ and then you also get whatever was popular on the 4th anyway, like ‘Blurred Lines.'”

To distill the list he compared how much people listened to those songs on Independence Day in 2013 to during the following week. This isolated just the songs that are really, really associated with just the Fourth of July, to build you this perfect playlist for July 4, 2014.

He also looked at each state’s favorite song, finding that a whopping 46 of the 50 to prefer Miley Cyrus‘ “Party in the U.S.A.” So to create our map, we looked at the “distinctive” song for each state — the one that people in a particular state tended to listen to the most on the Fourth of July relative to the rest of the year.

(Earlier, Lamere did something similar for state listening in general.)