You might not be watching any actual fireworks displays this year, but you can still listen to songs about fireworks on the Fourth of July.
Here are some of the top songs that mention, reference or allude to fireworks:
1. “Firework,” Katy Perry (2010)
I’ll start with perhaps the most obvious choice: Perry’s uplifting blockbuster from her terrific third studio album, “Teenage Dream.” And I don’t use the term “blockbuster” lightly here. “Firework” is one of the biggest singles of all time, having been certified 11 times platinum, and its video has been viewed over 1.2 billion times on YouTube alone.
2. “Afternoon Delight,” Starland Vocal Band (1976)
Sure, most people believe there is some sexual innuendo in the fireworks-themed lyrics — “Sky rockets in flight/ Afternoon delight” — but I have a strict policy of never reading too far into the meaning of Starland Vocal Band songs. It is odd, however, that someone would choose to shoot off skyrockets in the middle of the afternoon.
3. “Fireworks,” First Aid Kit (2018)
The Swedish folk-pop duo is one of my favorite acts of the last 10 years. And the two sisters — Klara and Johanna Söderberg — definitely do not disappoint on this haunting, shimmering ballad from their must-have sophomore release, “Ruins.”
4. “4th of July,” X (2007)
The legendary Los Angeles punk band delivers this roots-rock gem, with Joe Doe on lead vocals and Exene Cervenka adding exquisite harmony work, on its sixth studio album, “See How We Are.” Chalk it up as further proof that X needs to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
5. “Fireworks,” Drake featuring Alicia Keys (2010)
The Canadian hip-hop megastar kicks off his debut album, “Thank Me Later,” in memorable fashion with this smoldering track. Drake’s rapping skills are on full display here, nicely complemented by Keys’ mesmerizing work with the chorus.
6. “Just Watch the Fireworks,” Jimmy Eat World (1999)
If you only know Jimmy Eat World for “The Middle” — which, admittedly, just might be the best pop-punk tune ever recorded by a band not named the Buzzcocks or the Mr. T Experience — then make time to listen to the emo-classic “Clarity,” which presents a very different side of the band. And one of the highlights of that album is this powerful “Fireworks” number.
7. “Sparks Will Fly,” J. Cole featuring Jhené Aiko (2013)
Cole is at the top of his game on this fiery number, which features tremendous vocal work from Aiko on the chorus. You can find this bonus track on the extended edition of “Born Sinner,” which, for my money, remains Cole’s best album.
8. “Fireworks,” Embrace (1997)
It’s a breathtaking beauty, delivered with gentle care by the British indie-rock act Embrace in advance of the release of its debut album, “The Good Will Out.” Warning: Don’t be surprised if “Fireworks” leads to multiple hours of listening to Embrace music.
9. “Fireworks at Dawn,” Senses Fail (2008)
The New Jersey post-hardcore/screamo act leads off its third studio album, “Life Is Not a Waiting Room,” with this emotionally raw and poignant number. The song builds nicely for about the first minute and then really takes off like a rocket, propelled by Garrett Zablocki and Heath Saraceno’s guitar work.
10. “Your Hand in Mine,” Explosions in the Sky (2004)
With a name like Explosions in the Sky, I figured I had to include at least one soaring instrumental from the Texas post-rock powerhouse on this list. And this number from the “Friday Night Lights” soundtrack is an absolute gem. Honorable mentions go out to other bands with firework-friendly names, including the Bottle Rockets and Catherine Wheel.