Graduation season is upon us, which means that all around the world, students are finishing a chapter in their academic career to the tune of some inspirational or sentimental pop hit. We asked you to name your favorite song for the occasion, and your responses ran the gamut from super-sentimental to highly irreverent. Click through to see your picks.
Nineties radio was full of sentimental tunes about endings, maybe because the 20th century was coming to a close and everyone was feeling a bit of what Tricky called "pre-millennium tension." Semisonic's one huge hit was one of the best of this breed, and it endures as an alt-rock radio and karaoke bar staple. It would definitely be a great commencement tune, so long as you ignore that the song takes place at a bar around last call.
Simple Minds' smash hit from The Breakfast Club soundtrack is arguably the best of all John Hughes soundtrack tunes, and certainly the gold standard for conveying teenage sentimentality with a touch of cool-kid intensity.
"Forever Young" is arguably the sweetest, most big-hearted tune in Bob Dylan's entire discography, with the legendary songwriter openly expressing a deep love for his son and blessing him as he enters the world. It's a great song for graduations, particularly from the perspective of parents and teachers.
It's hard to imagine any school actually playing "Another Brick in the Wall Part 2" at a graduation ceremony, but there is no question that many, many kids have identified with its extremely dark vision of school life – "We don't need no education / We don't need no thought control / No dark sarcasm in the class room / Hey, teacher, leave those kids alone!" – just before graduation day.
Fun.'s breakthrough hit is only a few months old now, but it's already one of your top picks for graduation tunes. The song doesn't have much to do with school – it's more about nursing a painful hangover – but it's a glorious celebration of youth.
One of John Lennon's great gifts as a songwriter was an ability to express sentiment without being remotely saccharine. "In My Life" is one of his masterpieces, and an ideal song for a person of any age looking back on the past with fondness.
Queen excelled at taking mundane aspects of life and blowing them up to a heroic, operatic scale. "We Are the Champions," one of their greatest songs, is unrivaled in its ability to make any victory, no matter how trivial, feel like the greatest triumph in all of history.
The Killers' first single from their second album is one of their most ambitious tunes, with the Utah rockers aiming for a huge, romantic sound on the scale of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run." It may not match Bruce, but it definitely captures that feeling of invincibility that many kids feel upon making the transition into adult life.
Green Day's title for this farewell ballad cuts to the core of why it works so well, as its sweet nostalgia is tempered with a punky disdain for sentimentality. It's a tearjerker for people who haaaaate to have tears jerked out of them, and the perfect song for folks who want to say goodbye on their own terms.
"School's Out" won this poll by a landslide, and with good reason. While lots of songs are all-purpose tunes about some vague rite of passage, Alice Cooper's big hit revels in a very specific joy: "School's out for summer! / School's out forever! / School's been blown to pieces!"