Five for the Fourth of July: An All-American playlist

With Fourth of July parties popping off across America, we figured you might need a soundtrack for the day and weekend – something to dance to while still feeling vaguely patriotic. Thankfully, America’s produced some straight-up classics in this category. Odes to New York City’s 24/7 pulse, Motor City love, era-defining speeches: it’s all here, in four-on-the-floor time.

“Hands Up For Detroit,” Matthew Dear & Disco D (1999)

Producer Matthew Dear may have been born in Texas, but he moved to Detroit to get closer to the city’s music scene; this track is a fitting tribute to the sounds he discovered there. “Hands Up For Detroit” begins as a funky, techy club track, but disco influences – and that iconic vocal sample – creep in just before the two minute-mark. Sound familiar? Fedde Le Grand put Dear’s vocals at the center of his 2006 smash “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit,” immortalizing them for a new wave of dance fans.

“NYC Beat,” Armand Van Helden (2007)

With “NYC Beat,” Armand Van Helden perfectly captured a certain pre-EDM era energy permeating the Big Apple at the time; change was afoot in the city’s nightclubs and parties, with BPMs creeping ever higher and further away from the once-standard urban sounds. Van Helden’s track is pure, feel-good house, with a sing-songy refrain that’s all but impossible to resist. The track was the foundation for no end of bootlegs, and one – a combination of “NYC Beat” and Hardrox’s “Feel The Hard Rock” – even made it onto Ministry of Sound’s annual The Annual compilation in 2008.

“Free At Last,” Simon (2000)

Does it get any more American than sampling Martin Luther King, Jr.? In combining strong house drums with snippets from MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech – and, in doing so, taking house music’s spoken-word tradition to new heights – Simon had a worldwide hit on his hands. “Free At Last” was among the tracks featured by DJ Scott Henry on his 2000 mix-CD homage to Buzz, Washington, D.C.’s long-running rave/warehouse party; Buzz was ultimately shuttered after an overblown news report and subsequent government investigation. Both then and now, King’s words take on new meaning when booming from a nightclub’s speakers: the dance floor is the great equalizer, after all.

“Hello Chicago,” Topher Jones & Amada feat. Ido (2012)

Chicago, one of house music’s birthplaces, has had its share of tributes over the years, but here’s one tailor-made for the EDM generation. With high-flying vocals and a big, juicy synth drop, “Hello Chicago” is a fitting paean to the city in its modern form: it’s home to the huge Wavefront Festival, has dance acts headlining Lollapalooza’s Main Stage and is one of DJs’ must-play markets.

“Illmerica,” Wolfgang Gartner (2010)

So, maybe Wolfgang Gartner’s “Illmerica” honors the U.S. in name only, but no matter. The track is Gartner at his disco-meets-electro-house best – and besides, the DJ/producer is one of the country’s finest dance music exports and trendsetters. “Illmerica” went on to appear on Gartner’s 2011 album, Weekend In America, the following year; with its intense energy and genre-blending sound, the LP marked Gartner’s future-funk vision for the country. And we’re behind him all the way.