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During an interview with Wired, one of my Spotify co-workers explained the depth of our listening data by saying that we knew, for example, what the hottest song was in Cleveland on the 4th of July.  

This was intended rhetorically, but the interviewer, reasonably if maybe over-literally, asked him what song it actually was. And thus I got an email.  

We do, in fact, know what the hottest song was in Cleveland on the 4th of July. It was (for at least one definition of "hottest") Lee Greenwood's "God Bless The U.S.A.".  

But I never like one-song answers when an army of semi-autonomous robots would suffice. Obviously we know a lot more than this one song. Patriotic July 4th listening spikes aren't as sharp or wide as the ones around Christmas, but that kind of just makes them easier to detect. And because July 4th is a native holiday here in the US, where Christmas is imported, the spikes are also interestingly regionalized.  

So I did a little analysis of the songs whose Spotify streaming spiked most dramatically in individual American cities on July 4 compared to the rest of the world in the preceding week. 103 cities had distinct enough patterns to make statistically relevant top-40 lists of these songs, so I made playlists for all of those (and a sampler with 1 song from each), and then combined them into this insane grid-thing I use for making abstruse sense of a lot of lists at once:  

 

Each number in the grid is the rank of that row's song in that column's city's 4th of July list. From this we can see that Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers' "American Girl" is the 4th of July song shared by the most cities. (But it ranks quite differently in different places, and some of the places where it doesn't even make the top 40 form a potentially telling set: the Bronx, Compton, Detroit, Houston, Newark...)  

Pick your own city (the names along the top are links to the individual playlists in Spotify) and see if it sounds familiar.  
 

I started to try to take the non-4th songs out of this, but quickly decided that that made things less interesting, so I didn't. This is what we were listening to on the 4th of July, 2015. There weren't fireworks all day, and next year will be partly different just like it will be partly the same.  

If you like moving parts, you can re-center the grid by clicking the little gray arrow under any city. The cities whose listening was most similar to Cleveland's are mostly cities similarly insulated from glamor: Plano, Louisville, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Orlando. But then there's Boston, not far away after all, with 3 of the same songs as Cleveland in the top 10, and more than half their top 40s in common. This makes sense to me. Bright lights and loud noises appeal to fairly basic instincts, and we are certainly drawn to them here.  

But then, if you spin it again and look at the country from Boston's point of view, there's Portland Oregon, and San Francisco, and Seattle and New York and DC. I don't think you'd mistake Boston for John Mellencamp's "Small Town" for longer than a day. We wave the flags with enthusiasm, but then the cannons fire, and the last rockets leave the barges in the Charles, and before very long it's dark and quiet and north-eastern again, and we turn and walk back through the streets to our homes.  

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