For me, the Fourth of July is the sort of American holiday that holds a twofold purpose. First, we should celebrate the founding of our nation and every good thing we’ve done as a country to this point. Second, we should look at where we have shortcomings and use the celebration of our heritage to inspire further improvements. There are going to be plenty of picnics, parades, and fireworks to accomplish the first goal of the holiday, so instead of choosing three ultra-patriotic country songs, I’m using the column this week to look at three songs that take a slightly critical stance in relation to elements of our country and embrace patriotism in a different way.
1. “Miss America” – Conditions
While “Miss America” might be more a metaphor for a specific individual than the actual institution of Miss America Pageants, the message easily translates to both. Discussing the destructive allure of some beauty, Brandon Roundtree’s vocals cut through the song’s melodic guitar lines with a biting and concerned tone that fits his lyricism perfectly. The drum fill prior to the second chorus is a great moment, and the song’s structure keeps momentum building even through the more spacious bridge, until the track eventually ends with a calmer outro.
2. “American Landslide” – Eye Alaska
Taking a slightly different tone than the other two songs this week, “American Landslide” combines the sound of thunder with Eye Alaska’s brand of cinematic hip-pop to provide a great backdrop for Brandon Wronski’s flowing lyricism. Centered around economic losses and how that transfers over to every other element of life, the song uses lines like “the American dream is falling out of its seams” and the theme of an “American landslide” to frame the destruction of marriage and everything crashing down. While the chorus is deceptively upbeat, the verses and the atmospheric instrumental parts give plenty of indication of the clouds hanging overhead. I enjoy Wronski’s work as Roy English, but it’s hard to not miss the sort of work Eye Alaska did with Genesis Underground.
3. “The Quick Fix” – I The Mighty
From my very first listen of Satori, “The Quick Fix” was one of the songs that really caught my attention, with its powerful chorus and fantastic bridge. The album’s political undertones shine through well in the lyrics, and the track perhaps best embodies the idea of examining where we are now and how we can get better. It involves looking beyond just sheer patriotism and claiming we’re the best and instead noticing the truth of where we’ve fallen behind and using the luxuries we’re afforded as a group of people to be selfless and help others for the benefit of us all. The structure of the bridge forces the line “if everyone loved just a little more” to be stuck in your head, and that’s exact the sort of message that should be stuck in your head. The vocals are some of the best I’ve heard all year, the guitar parts are very creative, and the drums tie everything together perfectly. This is the soundtrack to my holiday, and I hope it’s yours as well.