Some Groovy Graduation Anthems
BY THERESA NINTZEL '24
It’s that time of year again! Summer is just around the corner, and we’re getting ready to say goodbye to late-night cramming sessions and overdue English essays . Whether you’re an underclassman taking your next step into the realm of high school or a senior feeling nostalgic about your past, we could all use some music to celebrate the milestone that is graduation (don’t worry, I won’t drill “Pomp and Circumstance” into your head). Over the years, pop music has given us unofficial “anthems” to recognize the occasion — songs that match the mood, emotions, and concepts of graduation so deeply as to become synonymous with the process. These songs come from many genres, and they can all reach the status of a perfect graduation anthem through a variety of factors.
Songs can have a unique outlook on graduation while still being effective. Songs that have poignant, bittersweet lyrics often work well for the occasion, matching the emotions felt by many seniors who have to say goodbye to their friends, teachers, and school. Some examples of these styles are “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack and “See You Again” by Charlie Puth and Wiz Khalifa — basically any song you can imagine yourself crying to late at night with a tub of Chunky Monkey in your room. I know country songs can be pretty divisive, but I DARE you not to fall in love with the encouraging yet bittersweet lyrics and orchestration of “I Hope You Dance.” The tone of the song is reminiscent of a parent or a close friend advising someone, telling them to live life to the fullest and to “never take one single breath for granted” no matter what happens. “See You Again” is a Gen Z classic, and the sadness of the song plus the nostalgic factor creates the perfect formula for a bittersweet graduation day. This song conveys the feelings of saying goodbye to friends, some of whom might have become family throughout the years of being in school together. Despite spending a “long day without you, my friend,” there is an underlying hope that friends will remain in our lives long after high school is over, and we will have more fun together when we eventually reconnect. Songs that look back on experiences also work perfectly for graduation, such as Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”, an unofficial graduation staple since its release. The passionate lyrics stick with the listener, reminding them of all the amazing memories they’ll carry with them in their new phase of life. Even though life is unpredictable and some might be hesitant to leave their old life behind, this song reassures the listener that everything is meant to be. As someone who gets emotional over the little things, I should probably move on from these songs before I start sobbing.
Graduation is a celebration, after all, so why not have some fun songs to accompany the day? The oh-so-iconic “We Are the Champions” by Queen and “We Are Young” by Fun are upbeat and joyous while staying true to the spirit of graduation. Making it through the twists and turns of high school makes everyone a “champion”, and the carefree, fun (pun absolutely intended) attitude of “We Are Young” fits perfectly with the ideal mood of the final days of high school. “We Are Young” might not be a super prophetic or deep song, but it tells us to enjoy the moment, which is an important message for everyone to hear. Although there are moments when you want high school to end (I’m looking at you, Math summatives), there are also moments when you can “burn brighter than the sun”, and it is important to seize the day and make the most out of every minute. Optimistic songs are also great for this reminder, and Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” fits the bill as being a sunshiny anthem of optimism. Look past the confusing lyrics (“Releas[ing] inhibitions”? “Feel[ing] the rain on [my] skin”? I’d rather stay inside, thanks), and you’ll find a song that radiates genuine positivity, which is perfect when confronting the small change of a new school year or a major change of graduating from high school. On the topic of fun songs, “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas is another joyful anthem to enjoy as summer approaches, regardless of what grade you’re in. “‘I Gotta Feeling’ feels like you’re proud to move on,” says Dhanvi Kalimireddy ‘24. “The ‘good night’ that Will.i.Am refers to [in the song] could be interpreted as college or the future in general.”
Whether they explore the lighter side of graduation or tearfully say goodbye to the past, the goal of graduation songs is to help you deal with all the emotions that come up during this transition. Graduation is an emotional roller coaster; you're happy and excited about your future while also sad about saying goodbye to your past... gosh this article made me philosophical, and I’m not even a senior yet. Anyway, I’ll leave you with this handy Spotify playlist to fulfill your end-of-school year needs. Until next year, that’s all folks!