Your graduation is one of the most important milestones you’ll achieve in your life. It symbolizes the transition from one point in your life to another, and it also shows that you’ve matured in some way. Graduation marks the end of an era – when grade school kids move on to the drama of high school, when high school teens move on to the more serious curriculum of college, and when college graduates move on to the “adult world.”
Naturally, such a huge life milestone should be marked by a an equally significant playlist. These tunes are some of the songs you’ll want to listen to during your graduation, as they’re about the great leap in life you’re taking as well as everything you’re leaving behind.
So while graduation may be a bittersweet moment for you and the friends you’ve made during this point in your life, let the catharsis hit you so much harder by listening to these poignant, insightful, and perhaps sad graduation songs.
Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten
When you graduate, it’s like opening a new chapter in your life. However, what’s in that chapter is entirely up to you. You’re starting off fresh with a new page, and only you have the power to move your life in the direction you choose. This uplifting song by Natasha Bedingfield captures the feeling of being free from the constraints of being an undergraduate and moving up in life as you seek higher education or more experiences in life.
Graduation party lines: Drench yourself in words unspoken
Life your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
Feel the rain on your skin
The Wonder Years – My Last Semester
Punk bands are often deemed the “losers” in high school, so they are often naturally happy to finally get out of their little hometown school to pursue bigger things. This is exactly the sentiment in My Last Semester by The Wonder Years. The song is all about being sick of high school drama, the hierarchy based on popularity, and all the rampant bullying high school is known for. And so they just wait around until the last semester finally ends.
Graduation party lines: I’m not sad anymore, I’m just waiting
It’s two more months ‘til I’m done with this
And I don’t make sense to anyone but my best friends
And I don’t fit in anywhere but the back of the van
Wiz Khalifa feat. Charlie Puth – See You Again
While this song gained its popularity because of the Fast and the Furious franchise as well as the death of Paul Walker, we can’t deny that it’s a fitting graduation song too. See You Again is about saying a temporary goodbye to the friends you made in school. And while you may part ways for now, you know you’ll always come back to each other and you can reminisce about the good old days.
Graduation party lines: It’s been a long day without you, my friend
And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
We’ve come a long way from where we began
Oh, I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again
Kelly Clarkson – Breakaway
Many of us dream of finally moving away from our small town once we finish school. We want to spread our wings and take our chances in the world beyond. After all, who wouldn’t long for the freedom and adventure of being in a new city, while still cherishing all those you’ll be leaving behind? If this is how you feel about finally finishing high school in your town, then Breakaway is the song for you.
Graduation party lines: Out of the darkness and into the sun
But I won’t forget all the ones that I love
I’ll take a risk, take a chance, make a change
And break away
Katy Perry – Firework
School can be a pretty rough place, especially when it makes you feel like you’re just another student temporarily gracing the halls. Sometimes, it can really drag down your self-esteem so badly that you start to feel insignificant. While this might be how you feel, take Katy Perry’s words to heart and believe that there’s more to you than just being that regular Joe or plain Jane from school.
Graduation party lines: You don’t have to feel like a waste of space
You’re original, cannot be replaced
If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow
Florence and the Machine – Shake It Out
Do you ever feel like school requirements are just there to drag you down and keep you from moving forward in life? Think of them as the demons being described in this very uplifting Florence and the Machine song. You have it in you to shake them all out, and while the road to finally getting that diploma and saying goodbye to the demons is a rough one, Florence tells you that it’s always darkest before the dawn.
Graduation party lines: All of his questions, such a mournful sound
Tonight I’m gonna bury that horse in the ground
So I like to keep my issues drawn
But it’s always darkest before the dawn
Foo Fighters – Times Like These
It’s times like graduation when you feel like you’re ready to take on the world head-on. You feel like you’re so full of life and potential, and you can take whatever the world throws at you. Sure, sometimes you may want to stay on the safe side, but where’s the fun in that? And for times when you feel your motor running, you need an equally inspiring song to give you that drive to succeed in life.
Graduation party lines: I am a new day rising
I’m a brand new sky to hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
Do I stay or run away and leave it all behind?
My Chemical Romance – Sing
One of the frequent recurring themes of graduation is that you are the future of the world. What you choose to do today will reflect what the future will hold for your entire generation. So if you have an advocacy, make a stand; make your voice heard so that you can be the change the world needs. This is exactly what My Chemical Romance is talking about when they tell you to sing!
Graduation party lines: Sing it out, boy you’ve got to see what tomorrow brings
Sing it out, girl you’ve got to be what tomorrow need
For every time that they want to count you out
Use your voice every single time you open up your mouth
Eve 6 – Here’s to the Night
It may not seem like it, but graduation might be the last day you see some of the people you’ve spent nearly countless semesters with. This might be the last day you can tell your crush how you feel. This might be the last time you can reconcile with your best friend. And most importantly, your graduation party might be the last time you all can celebrate all the strange, sad, wonderful, and inspiring moments you shared together.
Graduation party lines: Here’s to the nights we felt alive
Here’s to the tears you knew you’d cry
Here’s to goodbye, tomorrow’s gonna come too soon
The New Radicals – You Get What You Give
Whether you’re in high school or college, you have to admit that you got into some pretty crazy adventures with your friends. And that’s perfectly normal because when you’re young you want to do everything! You’re still a starry-eyed dreamer who wants to take on the world. So as The New Radicals are saying in one of their most popular hits: Don’t let go, you’ve got the music in you.
Graduation party lines: You’ve got the music in you, don’t let go
You’ve got the music in you, one dance left
This world is gonna pull through
Don’t give up, you’ve got a reason to live, can’t forget
We only get what we give
- Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly
Less a graduation party song, and more a graduation march song, R. Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly is an inspirational song for those who went through hard times before finishing school. This mellow song perfectly captures what it’s like to almost give up, only to find that the inspiration you’ve been looking for has been in you all along.
Graduation party lines: I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly
Bill Withers – Lean On Me
When graduation comes and you have to move on to a new chapter in life, things won’t always go so well. You might miss the comfort of your old friends as you move cities or find work. But this song by Bill Withers reminds you that there are always people you can lean on when you’re feeling homesick and afraid.
Graduation party lines: You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on
fun. feat. Janelle Monae – We Are Young
There’s just something about graduation that hammers home the fact that you’re all grown up. You’re no longer a child who goes to school, but an adult who’s bound for the “real world.” But if there’s one last night when you can be absolutely free of the responsibility of both school and finding a job, it’s your graduation day. So raise your glass, for tonight you are still young!
Graduation party lines: Tonight we are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun
Green Day – Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)
Here’s a bittersweet graduation song that gets played time and again despite how old this song is. Green Day’s Time of Your Life is one of those songs that already makes you feel nostalgic about the past, while simultaneously making you look forward to the future.
Graduation party lines: So take the photographs and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Vitamin C – Graduation (Friends Forever)
While it may seem like just another cheesy pop song, it’s one that might just make you shed a tear when played during your graduation. Graduation perfectly sums up all our thoughts about graduating and moving away from our friends. You wonder about the future and what your friendship will be like when you’re all working different jobs. You wonder if you’ll still be the same people who enjoy each other’s company. And most of all, you wonder if you’ll all achieve the dreams you’ve set out to achieve.
Graduation party lines: And so we talked all night about the rest of our lives
Where we’re gonna be when we turn 25
I keep thinking times will never change
Keep on thinking things will always be the same
Whether you’re graduating from grade school, high school, or college, give these songs a listen and pick the perfect soundtrack for this momentous milestone in your life.