I’ve always been a sucker for a good graduation song. I don’t think of myself as an overly emotional person, but those first few chords of Green Day’s “Good Riddance” are enough to make me feel all fuzzy inside. As the time finally approaches for my own graduation, it was only natural for me to put together an epic playlist to celebrate!
1. “Verge”- Owl City featuring Aloe Blacc
This was one of those songs that I discovered one day completely by accident, but ended up falling in love with. This catchy little tune portrays the graduation experience perfectly. That feeling of one chapter ending and getting ready to turn the page to the next one is hard to put into words, but this song does an excellent job of it.
2. “Try Everything”- Shakira
This fun song was featured in the 2016 Disney movie, "Zootopia." The song celebrates the mistakes we will make throughout our lives and how we can learn to grow from them. As we graduate, this message is important to remember. Making mistakes is a completely natural part of life, so we shouldn’t let the fear of making them keep us from taking risks!
3. “Unwritten”- Natasha Bedingfeld
I could not make a graduation playlist and not include this early 2000s bop! Our lives are completely ours; no one gets to live them for you! This song celebrates the open book that is the rest of your life and that fact that there is only one author: you.
4. “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?”- Bon Jovi with Jennifer Nettles
This song is particularly special to me because the “home” that Jon Bon Jovi is referencing is the same as my own: the good ole state of New Jersey. By the time your high school graduation rolls around, you probably can’t wait to get out of your hometown, especially if you’ve lived there your whole life. This is a completely natural thing. Go out and live your life, but know that no matter where you go, home will always be there to welcome you back when you need it the most.
5. “On My Way”- Phil Collins
This adorable song was featured in the Disney movie “Brother Bear”. This tune celebrates the future and all the exciting opportunities that lie ahead.
6. “For Good” - Wicked
This Broadway classic is the perfect song to sing (and cry) along to with your best friend as you prepare to graduate and go on your own separate adventures. This emotional duet celebrates the bond between friends and the lessons you pick up from them along the way. This song is the perfect way to tell your fellow graduates that “because you knew them, you have been changed for good."
7. “How Far I’ll Go” - Moana
I believe it’s safe to say that Disney songs make the best graduation songs! This ballad from Disney’s most recent animated musical perfectly captures the feeling in the hearts of many graduates. We have big dreams and though we may not know what lies ahead, we will do whatever it takes to make them come true, even if we have to be the first to attempt it.
8. “My Life” - Billy Joel
This popular Billy Joel song sheds light on the more cynical side of the graduation experience, but still makes a great addition to the playlist all the same! Upon graduation, our class will go on many different paths. Some may follow paths that are more conventional, others may follow ones that are anything but. It is important to not judge those who decide to take the latter path and understand that they are smart enough to eventually figure everything out all by themselves!
9. “You’ve Got a Friend”- Carole King
You may not realize it right away, but you the bond you have with your graduating class is one like no other. This classic song does a beautiful job of representing this bond through the lyrics. Even though you may part, you know that you will always be there for your friends and that they will always be there for you.
10. “How Far We’ve Come”- Matchbox Twenty
While graduating isn’t the end of the world like the apocalyptic analogy used in the lyrics, this song still does an awesome job of portraying how surreal the end of this chapter feels. Things are never going to be quite the same again, so there is no better time than now to look back at how far we’ve all managed to come in our young lives.
11. "Forever Young"- Audra Mae & The Forest Rangers (Originally by Bob Dylan)
There are endless amounts of renditions of this iconic song, but I particularly love this sweet version, especially in the context of graduation. This song represents the hopes and dreams that our families, friends, teachers and other loved ones have for us as we leave the nest on our own journeys. May we always stand up for what is right, stay true to ourselves and most importantly, do whatever we can to remain "forever young" in spirit.
BONUS: "High School Musical"- High School Musical 3: Senior Year
The class of 2017 grew up in the peak of the High School Musical craze, so I couldn’t not include a song from the infamous musical trilogy! I could easily have added the entire soundtrack of the third movie and called it a day, but I finally decided on the epic finale. This jam celebrates the journey we had throughout high school and reminds us to hold onto the memories while also continuing to make new ones as we travel on!
No matter what graduation songs you choose to listen to, they all represent the same message. Follow your dreams, realize the potential that lies ahead of you and always live in the moment! Congratulations graduates! You did it!
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