American Anthems

by Francesca Peak 

The other night on TV (they all merge into one) I saw an advert for American Anthems, which is exactly what it says on the tin. Out of interest, I investigated the tracklist and was pleased with the array of American rock tunes – Journey, Huey Lewis and the News, Boston, Foreigner and Toto all made appearances, which practically  makes up my drunk-alone-at-home-on-a-Friday-night playlist. However, there were some notable absences that I was no less than horrified by. Whilst I realise you can’t include every single American legend around, and there are quite a few, clearly the CD compilators (SONY CMG named and shamed) need to get their priorities straight.

Aerosmith – Sweet Emotion/Mama Kin/Love in an Elevator and the list goes on. Why, oh why, are they missing out Steven Tyler and his full lips? If you know me at all, you’ll know that I love Aerosmith and have done since the tender age of 14 (read all about it here), so my horror was tangible and heartfelt. Pick any of the songs I’ve listed, and you’ve got a great American anthem. DREAM ON I forgot about Dream On. So many happy hours in the car have been spent singing to Aerosmith classics and I just can’t imagine my American playlist without them. Listen to Dream On and tell me it doesn’t encapsulate the American Dream. I dare you. Then watch Love in an Elevator and keep a straight face. IMPOSSIBLE.

Michael Jackson – Thriller/Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough/Bad and, again, the list goes on. MICHAEL JACKSON. I just can’t stop loving him, he’s so bad – I reckon it’s just human nature. I’m not even going to explain this one.

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit I think these compliators were so stuck in the 80s, they forgot about the 90s. This song defined a generation of sweaty, smelly, Seattle youths and deserves a place on American Anthems – was there no room in the 3CD compliation?

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car It’s about driving, and America loves to drive. It’s freedom, it’s masculinity, it’s individualism. It’s also a song by Tracy Chapman, whose desperation to flee yet hopeful attitude towards the future is essentially Americanism in a bottle. Wherefore art thou?

Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run Following on the theme of fleeing, getting in a car, and being American, this song is all that. When you hear this, don’t you just wanna stand up tall, wave the stars and stripes and shout AMURRICCAA.

Toby Keith – Red Solo Cup The soundtrack to every party, frat or otherwise, I went to in Tennessee, Keith’s ode to the simple plastic cup is a thing of beauty. The video not only resembles a 50-year-old re-enacting his college days, but also usefully shows you a range of uses for the humble cup. Educational and very American, it even features the American flag several times as well as girls in bikinis playing wheelbarrows. What’s not to like?

Kenny Chesney – She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy This song just goes to show the beautiful diversity and craziness that makes up the wonderful country that is America. Aside from a short appearance in ‘Footloose’, the humble tractor has largely been ignored in popular culture, until 1998 when Chesney brought this beauty out, complete with dungarees and everything. Oh America, how we love thee.



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