Whether you are doing some barbeque in the backyard or you're at someone else's you need these 1980s songs on the playlist. And heck, I don't even care if the people in charge say you can't do a playlist. Well, guess what? You are going to make them happy whether they want to be or not!
I am not saying high-jack your friend's boom box or modern laptop computer and blare stuff people don't want. I mean, no offense to any kind of music, but the 4th of July doesn't really scream, "techno bluegrass!" But go in with a overview drive to entertain.
Now, sticking with three songs is wrong too. You'll need to flesh out your own playlist. But I will help you by letting you know to definitely play the following three songs.
Three songs from the 1980s to play on the 4th of July
Falco - "Rock Me Amadeus"
It's an American holiday, the Fourth of July. So why not start your playlist with some music from an Austrian? You could also go with Kraftwerk here, but that likely would confuse some of the guests. These people want to have fun and feel relaxed, so give them some Falco.
In the United States, Falco is probably best remembered for this ode to Mozart, but you should check out some of his other songs. "Der Kommissar" has a beat you can dance to and is kind of Falco's reference to "I Shot the Sheriff." And the entire album that "Rock Me Amadeus" is from, Falco 3, is excellent.
But people will remember "Rock Me Amadeus" and maybe sing along. It'll get them off of their seats, stop eating their cake, and boogie down. Basically, just the way celebrations should be.