Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus and Christina Aguilera are also in the running this Fourth of July.
By John Mitchell, with additional reporting by Danielle Genet
Today is the Fourth of July — happy birthday, America! — and that means it’s time to celebrate the most patriotic ladies in music! Whether they’re singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in front of millions or wearing their love of their country on their sleeve (sometimes very literally), these ladies are living the American dream.
And this isn’t some arbitrary ranking, either! To determine who the most patriotic divas are, we got positively scientific (just go with it). We assessed these ladies’ patriotism based on four areas. Each was awarded one point if she, A) appeared at a patriotic event or in a pro-America public service announcement, B) was photographed wearing American flag-related clothing, C) sang the national anthem at a public event or D) released an America-themed song. The lady with the most points won.
So who are the top America-lovin’ ladies in music today? Check ’em out!
Spears famously appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in 2000 wearing an American-flag belly shirt with a play on Uncle Sam’s famous saying running beside her: “Britney Wants You!” We decided to be pretty liberal with what constitutes a patriotic event, so we are going to give Spears a combined single point for appearing at two very American (but not specifically about America) events: the NASCAR Winston Cup Pepsi 400 in 2001 and the Super Bowl XXXV halftime show.
Alas, Spears has not released a song specifically about America, despite being “Miss American Dream since I was 17.” She also, curiously enough, hasn’t performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” in her pop-star era. (There is a six-second YouTube clip of her performing the national anthem at age 8, but she wasn’t a sanctioned diva back then.)
We thought of Cyrus for this list specifically because of her good-times jam “Party in the U.S.A.,” which is not only about America but weirdly became a bona fide anthem that reflected the mood in the country following the death of Osama Bin Laden.
But just when we thought we could award the young pop star only one point, we stumbled upon her PSA for the American Red Cross, asking for support in the wake of the earthquake that ravaged northern Japan earlier this year. Way to lend your celebrity to both a very American organization and an allied country in dire need, Miley!
America is all about being yourself. We are a melting pot, after all. And Lady Gaga is all about being herself, and she wants you to be yourself too — there’s nothing more American than that!
We’d love to see her put those killer pipes to use and sing the national anthem, but she hasn’t done it just yet. She does earn points, however, in the three other areas of our survey. Gaga is, interestingly, perhaps the pop star most involved in the democratic process. Last year she spoke at the National Equality March and at rallies in Maine to encourage the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. She even appeared in a PSA for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network asking her fans to contact their senators to voice their displeasure with the policy.
On the sartorial front, she sported an American-flag bikini in her “Telephone” video. (Wouldn’t you have been more surprised if we had told you that Lady Gaga had never worn the American flag?) She also has a song on her most recent album, Born This Way, called “Americano.”
Aguilera is known for her awesome singing voice, so it’s no surprise that she has performed the national anthem at several major events, including this year’s Super Bowl, where she mangled the lyrics something fierce in an uncommon bout of nervousness. (That’s what it was, right? Seriously, she’s done “The Star-Spangled Banner” about a thousand times!)
The “Beautiful” singer also filmed PSAs for “Rock the Vote” in 2008 to encourage young people to get out and do their duty as U.S. citizens. In the clips, she sings “America the Beautiful” a cappella while holding her newborn son Max, who is wrapped in an American flag (double points!). Yes, Aguilera herself isn’t draped in the flag, but we thought we’d give her the point anyway because of her USO-themed video for “Candyman.”
Perry impresses in three of our categories. Late last year, she performed at the “USO Presents: VH1 Divas Salute the Troops” concert at Miramar, California, where she also wore an American-flag bustier. That is not the only instance of flag-waving clothing Perry has sported, however. During an appearance on British TV show James Corden’s “World Cup Live!,” Perry wore a latex flag dress.
Given her frequent pro-America attire, we’re going to give Perry the benefit of the doubt and count her pro-tolerance anthem “Firework” as an America-themed song, because in America, all men and women are created equal, and that’s basically what “Firework” is all about. Also, it’s the Fourth of July, people. Fireworks!
Was it even really a contest? Beyoncé sang (and nailed) “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 2004 Super Bowl in her hometown of Houston, Texas.
What’s more American than singing the national anthem at America’s most-watched sporting event? Well, perhaps being personally asked by the president to perform at his inauguration. The girl (who runs the world) was asked to sing “At Last” while Barack and Michelle Obama had their first dance as president and first lady of the United States.
Beyoncé recently released a cover of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” to benefit the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund. (Seriously, could she be more awesome?) Having worn the American flag as a dress to get down opposite Lady Gaga in the video for “Telephone,” Queen B is the only diva who fulfills all our categories.
When it comes to Beyoncé and America, we could go on and on — she recently repurposed one of her hits for Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” anti-obesity campaign, and in 2001, she performed with Destiny’s Child at the United We Stand: What More Can I Give? benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. — wearing American-flag pants, we might add. But it’s the Fourth of July, and we think a real patriot like B would prefer you get out and celebrate America’s 235th birthday instead of celebrating her dedication to the US of A!
Score: 4 (OMG, you guys, not only is 4 B’s lucky number, it’s the name of her latest record!)
Who did we miss? Share your pick for the most patriotic diva in the comments below!