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 Spotify subsidiary, The Echo Nest, 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 (larger version) 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 (see larger PDF version).
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 stack up:
- District of Columbia (not a “state,” but scored so high we included it here)
- North Dakota
- North Carolina
- New York
- Rhode Island
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
- New Mexico
- West Virginia
- South Dakota
- New Hampshire
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 make the list even more “Fourth of July,” he looked at how much people listened to those songs on Independence Day in 2013, versus 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 46 of the 50 to prefer Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.”. One often sees monolithic results when looking at a state’s most popular anything, so to create the 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.