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Refresh your July 4 playlist with these surprising picks

MILES PARKS, HOST:

Next week, millions of Americans will celebrate the country's independence exactly as our forefathers imagined.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PARTY IN THE USA")

MILEY CYRUS: (Singing) Yeah, it's a party in the USA. Yeah, it's a party in the USA.

PARKS: Everyone knows that the first rule to a good party is a good playlist. So to help us all out ahead of Tuesday's big day, let's bring in NPR Music's Stephen Thompson. Hi, Stephen.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: Hey, Miles.

PARKS: So we called you here to help us out with our barbecue playlists. We're not looking for Bruce Springsteen, "Born In The USA."

THOMPSON: Sure.

PARKS: I'm not looking for Lee Greenwood. I want to think outside the box. What do you got?

THOMPSON: Well, I like the idea of a themed barbecue. Just a few weeks ago, I attended a barbecue that was billed as a Barbie-que (ph) in honor of the forthcoming Greta Gerwig-directed "Barbie" movie. It was also Pride month. And so they kind of combined the two ideas, which were already pretty close cousins, and put together - you know, everybody dressed as Barbie or Ken, there were pink drinks with glitter - the whole works. Really excellent, excellent party. And the playlist was full of kind of Pride-themed songs, songs from the soundtrack to the upcoming film "Barbie" and also, of course, Aqua's eternal 1997 hit "Barbie Girl."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BARBIE GIRL")

AQUA: (Singing) Come on, Barbie, let's go party. I'm a Barbie girl in a Barbie world. Life in plastic - it's fantastic. You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere. Imagination - life is your creation.

THOMPSON: So one of the nice things about the Barbie-que idea is that you can really musically take it in so many different ways. There are songs coming out on that "Barbie" soundtrack. In fact, there is a version of "Barbie Girl" performed by Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice. There are other songs kind of trickling out as they as they market that film. But also, like, I think it should be the law that Pride month should extend into July Fourth weekend. And so anything you had on your Pride playlist is going to work well on a Barbie playlist.

PARKS: It makes complete sense. And then I feel like, yeah, you get extra credit - Barbie, American icon, but also the barbecue pun. Did you bring any other barbecue puns here to WEEKEND EDITION?

THOMPSON: Miles, you know I did.

PARKS: (Laughter).

THOMPSON: I would also suggest you could throw a bar-B-que (ph) and celebrate American excellence by playing the music of the great American original Beyonce.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COUNTDOWN")

BEYONCE: (Singing) Oh, killing me softly...

PARKS: Oh, nice. Bring the hive to the barbecue - I love it.

THOMPSON: A bar-B-E-Y-que - you can take the complete collected works of Beyonce, play them in any order you want, because this is America. And really, we could drop the needle absolutely anywhere. It's Beyonce. You know Beyonce. You love Beyonce. Let's hear a little bit of "Countdown," what the heck.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "COUNTDOWN")

BEYONCE: (Singing) He pick me up - we eight. Make me feel so lucky - seven. He kiss me in his six. We be making love in five. Still the one I do this - four. I'm trying to make us three from that two. He still the one.

THOMPSON: You know, I was whiteboarding this whole thing, trying to come up with as many barbecue puns as possible. We could also do a Barb-beque (ph) and play the entire collected works of Barbra Streisand.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GUILTY")

BARBRA STREISAND: (Singing) And we got nothing to be guilty of. Our love will climb any mountain, near or far. We are...

THOMPSON: But if you did that, I think you have to play them in exact chronological order because I think she's a stickler.

PARKS: The vibe of that barbecue - I don't know. I just - I'm trying to imagine it.

THOMPSON: There'd be a lot of stillness.

(LAUGHTER)

THOMPSON: But in all seriousness, though, when I think about great barbecue music - I have lived in Washington, D.C., for 17 years now. And when I think of kind of the sounds of a summer in D.C., I think about go-go music - you know, funk with certain kind of rhythms attached to it. A go-go-themed barbecue - pull out your Chuck Brown records, pull out your Rare Essence, Trouble Funk. My favorite go-go song is by the group E.U. They have a song called "Da Butt" that is - has been a source of complete joy in my life for, like, 35 years. I just would love to have a barbecue soundtrack entirely by E.U. In fact, we will call it a barbec-E.U. (ph)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DA BUTT")

EXPERIENCE UNLIMITED: (Singing) Walked in this place, surprised to see a big girl getting busy, just rocking to the go-go beat.

PARKS: I feel like I can, like - I'm, like, pantomiming flipping burgers. Like, kind of, like, doing my, like, head nod with it.

THOMPSON: (Laughter).

PARKS: I've got, like, 15 to 20 people around me drinking some beers. That is good, good, good, good barbecue music.

THOMPSON: I mean, go-go is perfect for any barbecue. But let's be honest, the air quality in D.C. right now - I will probably spend actual July Fourth, like, dragging a kiddie pool into my living room and watching queer "Ultimatum" with my family. But let's pretend that I am throwing the barbec-E.U. of my dreams.

PARKS: Well, we appreciate it. Stephen Thompson, playlist wizard from NPR Music, thank you so much for joining us.

THOMPSON: Thank you, Miles.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DA BUTT")

EXPERIENCE UNLIMITED: (Singing) I took that girl out on the floor. She rocked me from the backside. We did the butt till it made me sore. Now, it's a physical thing, but not hard to do... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers voting and elections, and also reports on breaking news.
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)