This song is the last track on Taylor Swift’s Speak Now album and is the first track in our Top Ten. Most critics speculate that this song is about Swift’s Album of the Year Grammy win in 2010 (and they’re probably right), but you know what’s just as cool as winning a Grammy? Getting your high school diploma (okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but we had to try). This song, like most of Swift’s anthems, is an easy and encouraging listen, reminding us that we need to cherish these moments, because one day we’re going to want to share them with others.
We know what you’re thinking: Really, a father-daughter love song played frequently at weddings and funerals is supposed to be my graduation anthem? Yes, yes it is. Originally written for Steven Tyler’s daughter’s movie Armageddon, "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" has become an anthem of love for anybody who feels the press of time – this means you, seniors. Also, it’s a great tool for making sure your parents and relatives get you a sweet graduation gift. Seriously, play if for them. Or, better yet, sing it to them. They will break down crying as they break out their wallets.
While "Don't You (Forget About Me)" may not be as relevant to graduates today, it must be included in this list. The chorus is a simple entreaty to not be forgotten, a plea we're sure most of us make of the world on a daily basis. Plus, it’s the theme song of the most iconic high school movie of all time (no, not High School Musical – we’ll discuss that movie later) – The Breakfast Club. So go on, pursue that great adventure called life, just don’t you forget about me.
This lyrically simple, yet ingenious, acoustically driven Green Day song is all about looking back at the good old days. Sure, high school seems pretty stupid most days and most of us jump for joy once that diploma is in our hands, knowing that we will never have to go back. But one day, you, like the characters in the music video for "Good Riddance," will be staring into space, wondering (in your nostalgia) where all the good times went.
Alright, this is the part where you roll your eyes, and we totally accept that. However, there’s no way "We're All in This Together" can’t make this list! The climax of the biggest DCOM (Disney Channel Original Movie) in history is a teary scene where we see the High School Musical characters we’ve come to know and love announce their majors, their schools, and their plans for the future, all while oohing and ahhing their way through a new mix of the original HSM song. You go, Wildcat.
So Aerosmith is the only name to appear twice on our list, but this song has to be included. “Dream On” is for all of those high school underdogs who view graduation as a portal out of their sucky high schools, where no one understands them, into a world where all of their dreams can come true. So, to all you drama kids, goths, and underappreciated newspaper editors, we say dream on. Dream on.
We wouldn’t doubt it if you told us that your teenage daughter/sister/friend/girlfriend was listening to "The Climb" right now as she prepped her hair and makeup to match her cap and gown. Miley’s second highest performing song ever (beat out only by her summertime national anthem “Party in the U.S.A.) is a heart-wrenching, yet heart-warming song about taking the bad in life and realizing it can only lead to bigger and better things. “Life’s a climb, but the view’s great.”
Kanye West has a whole album called Graduation (the last in his "Dropout Bear" trilogy), with “Stronger” being its best performing single, selling over 4 millions copies and earning West a Grammy. The song, like number 4 on our list, is all about overcoming the hardships in life and coming out the better for having faced them. Sure, that math class sucked, but what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger...and teaches you how to find the area of a triangle.
While this track may not technically count as a song, we’re going to say screw that, because this is an amazing song! Based off of a newspaper columnist’s address to the 1997 graduating class, Baz Luhrmann (the mind behind Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge) took the wise words and turned them into a mash up masterpiece. Voiced by Lee Perry, this song (also know as "The Sunscreen Song") is whimsical, entertaining, and awe-inspiring. If you find yourself nodding your head in agreeance of some of this advice, know that you are not alone.
Chances are that when you hear Vitamin C you think of orange juice and not the orange-headed pop singer of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. But Vitamin C was just as big as orange juice in her time (okay, maybe not quite that big). "Graduation (Friends Forever)" was her biggest hit (probably more so considered her only hit) and even samples Pachelbel’s Canon in D, a common graduation march. If you don’t start tearing up when the choir joins in, you obviously have no fond memories of high school.
Also, don't forget to check out our other Music Mania Top Ten lists, Music Mania Reviews, Music Mania Blogs, and Music Mania Store!