Photo: Hero Images (Getty).
The responsibility of picking the perfect graduation song is way too much pressure for a group of teenagers that still get lunch money from their moms. This is a song that’s going to define your final year of adolescence, and if you make a mistake you’re going to be haunted by it forever. Now, your instinct is going to be to pick something that’s very on the nose, like a song with “graduation” in the title, but that’s amateur hour. We’re going to dig a little deeper and find the track you should’ve picked that you’d still be celebrating to this day if you’d chosen correctly.
Class Songs You Should Have Picked For The Last 25 Years Of Graduations
What You Probably Picked: “Can’t Stop the Feeling” – Justin Timberlake
What You Should’ve Picked: “Work From Home” – Fifth Harmony
Look, I love that stupid Trolls song as much as the next 10-year-old — despite the fact that I want nothing more in the world than for someone to tell Justin Timberlake he’s not funny. The better option is clearly “Work From Home.” Especially considering that’s probably what you’re going to be doing for the next decade, since you’ll be blogging for Buzzfeed while sending out resumes to your dream job that’s, unfortunately, not hiring right now.
What You Probably Picked: “See You Again” – Wiz Khalifa
What You Should’ve Picked: “Bitch Better Have My Money” – Rihanna
As much as I’d love to do another Fifth Harmony song here, the appropriate choice is clearly Rihanna’s song about demanding a bitch to give you money. This is basically what you’re going to be singing every time you open a graduation card and the only thought going through your mind when an elderly person at your graduation party shakes your hand and you feel a little piece of paper in there.
What You Probably Picked: “Happy” – Pharrell
What You Should’ve Picked: “0 to 100” – Drake
“0 to 100” is way more applicable than you realize. Mainly because now you can be tried as an adult in a court of law, so instead of just disappointing your parents, you’ll disappoint your criminal record when shoplifting from Walgreens or whatever dumb thing you think you can do without consequences.
What You Probably Picked: “Good Time” – Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
What You Should’ve Picked: “Thrift Shop” – Macklemore
OK, let me explain before you get mad at me for picking a Macklemore song. Yes, it was incredibly overplayed and we all got burned out on listening to Macklemore rap about the Salvation Army. But give it a few years and it’ll turn into a guilty pleasure. Then a few years after that, it’ll be “a classic part of your childhood” and you’ll dance around to it while telling teens, “They don’t make music like they did when I was a teen anymore!” Everyone does it. You just get to do it over a Macklemore song.
What You Probably Picked: “We Are Young” – fun.
What You Should’ve Picked: “Blow Me (One Last Kiss)” – Pink
Oh man, is this song EDGY! Can you imagine the look on your principal’s face when you say your class song is BLOW ME!? He’d be like, “Whaaaaa?!” And then you’d be like, “Oh let me clarify. It’s about blowing a kiss.” Of course, you could just skip all this nonsense and pick “Gangnam Style.”
What You Probably Picked: “Good Life” – One Republic
What You Should’ve Picked: “The Lazy Song” – Bruno Mars
There is not a more motivational song in the world than “The Lazy Song.” It’s completely stupid, not really about anything, yet resulted in millions of dollars for Bruno Mars. If that doesn’t get you motivated to enter the workforce then I don’t know what would possibly work.
What You Probably Picked: “I Gotta Feeling” – Black Eyed Peas
What You Should’ve Picked: “Billionaire” – Travie McCoy
You should be very encouraged by the career of Travie McCoy. First of all, he’s a grown man that chose to be referred to as “Travie.” You know a lot of his songs, but not for anything he does in them. Instead, you probably recognize the chorus, which is always performed by a better, more talented singer. Then, he just mumbles some words and boom, a hit song. Apply that philosophy to your life and you’ll go far.
What You Probably Picked: “The Climb” – Miley Cyrus
What You Should’ve Picked: “Gives You Hell” – All American Rejects
It’s a song about living an amazing life and doing it all to rub it in your ex’s face. That is a level of pettiness we should all strive for, and a great track to launch you from childhood pettiness to full-grown adult pettiness.
What You Probably Picked: “My Wish” – Rascal Flatts
What You Should’ve Picked: “Live Your Life” – T.I.
I like to imagine this is T.I.’s one piece of advice for anyone in his life that’s facing a difficulty:
Friend: I’m stressed out.
T.I.: Just live your life.
Friend #2: I had to put my dog down this morning.
T.I.: Live your life.
Friend #3: Is it supposed to rain this afternoon?
T.I.: Live your life.
It’s applicable in literally any circumstance.
What You Probably Picked: “Whenever You Remember” – Carrie Underwood
What You Should’ve Picked: “Before He Cheats” – Carrie Underwood
There is no better piece of advice than Carrie Underwood reminding you that you’re allowed to flip out if someone cheats on you, and that car insurance does not cover the results of “white trash Shania karaoke.”
What You Probably Picked: “Unwritten” – Natasha Bedingfield
What You Should’ve Picked: “Unwritten” – Natasha Bedingfield
Good job, you made the right choice here. This is the only song in the world where it’s appropriate to wave one arm back and forth in the air while listening to it. I also would’ve accepted “Laffy Taffy” by D4L, but for no reason other than it’s awesome.
What You Probably Picked: “Breakaway” – Kelly Clarkson
What You Should’ve Picked: “Wait (The Whisper Song)” – Ying Yang Twins
Look, you’re never going to be able to pull off an X-rated song as your class anthem, except for this moment. You can just play the verse and the teachers won’t be able to make out the words, so they won’t realize it’s about showing someone your very impressive penis. Just don’t get to the chorus or you definitely won’t be getting your diploma.
What You Probably Picked: “100 Years” – Five For Fighting
What You Should’ve Picked: “Tipsy” – J-Kwon
When God made J-Kwon, he asked him if he’d like to have a steady, somewhat successful career, or if he wanted to make the greatest track the world will ever know. He chose the latter. The least you could do is memorialize it forever at your school. Thank you for your sacrifice, Kwon.
What You Probably Picked: “Miss You” – Aaliyah
What You Should’ve Picked: “Ignition (Remix)” – R. Kelly
It’s a tough decision to have to choose between “Ignition,” Chingy’s “Right Thurr,” or “Picture” by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow, but being an adult is about making choices that aren’t simple. You’re the future of this world. Prove it’s in good hands <3
What You Probably Picked: “The Middle” – Jimmy Eat World
What You Should’ve Picked: “Always on Time” – Ja Rule
Let your future employers know you’re going to be a punctual employee by casually mentioning you chose “Always on Time” by Ja Rule. Then wink like a dozen times. They’ll get what you’re putting out there. Or they’ll think you’re flirting with them. Either way, it’s a win-win situation.
What You Probably Picked: “Here’s to the Night” – Eve 6
What You Should’ve Picked: “It Wasn’t Me” – Shaggy
As an adult, it’s important to take responsibility for your actions. It shows maturity to admit when you’re wrong and people will respect you for it. Or you could be like Shaggy and deny wrongdoing in the face of damning, overwhelming evidence. It worked for OJ!
What You Probably Picked: “Graduation (Friends Forever)” – Vitamin C
What You Should’ve Picked: “Smooth” – Santana featuring Rob Thomas
I wish there were a deeper meaning for this one, but while every other graduating class had to walk around listening to that awful Vitamin C song, you guys get to slide into adulthood to arguably the greatest guitar riff of all time. You’d look hotter than a midday sun.
What You Probably Picked: “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” – Aerosmith
What You Should’ve Picked: “1999” – Prince
This is the only song that’s not from the graduating year, but seriously, if you didn’t take advantage of the ONE YEAR IN HISTORY that you can use “1999” by Prince, then you don’t deserve a scholarship. You clearly can’t make vital cognitive decisions and you should have to repeat another year of high school.
What You Probably Picked: “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” – Green Day
What You Should’ve Picked: “No Scrubs” – TLC
If you want to really make your parents proud of you, send a loud and clear message that you’re not going to be 18 and dating a 34-year-old street musician that is “in between apartments right now” and wants to take Polaroids of your feet for a “passion art project.”
What You Probably Picked: “Graduate” – Third Eye Blind
What You Should’ve Picked: “I Believe I Can Fly” – R. Kelly
When you have the chance to let a song from the Space Jam soundtrack define 12 years of your life, you take it. When that song happens to be “I freaking Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly, you lock that thing in without even having a discussion.
What You Probably Picked: “Change the World” – Eric Clapton
What You Should’ve Picked: “Ironic” – Alanis Morissette
This was a tough year because it’s absolutely loaded with amazing tracks and was the peak Mariah Carey year. But “Ironic” is the perfect choice because there’s nothing more ironic than being 17-years-old and having to decide over a summer what career you’re going to choose for the rest of your life.
What You Probably Picked: “I’ll Be There For You” – The Rembrandts
What You Should’ve Picked: “Waterfalls” – TLC
If I could leave you with one piece of advice when entering the real world: don’t go chasin’ waterfalls. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like great advice for life (and for kayaking).
What You Probably Picked: “All I Wanna Do” – Sheryl Crow
What You Should’ve Picked: “Anytime You Need a Friend” – Mariah Carey
What better way to end your high school career than by making the very empty promise that you’ll always be there for each other when, in reality, you’ll lose touch almost immediately and your friendship will be reduced to occasionally liking each other’s vacation photos on Facebook.
What You Probably Picked: “A Whole New World” – Aladdin
What You Should’ve Picked: “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” – The Proclaimers
You want to stick out as a memorable class? Leave them with the song that none of us truly like, but every time we hear it, that opening line gets stuck in our heads for the next two months. They’ll always remember you, but maybe not in a best way. Still worth it, though.
What You Probably Picked: “End of the Road” – Boyz II Men
What You Should’ve Picked: “Life is a Highway” – Tom Cochrane
“Life is a Highway” is the perfect choice because it sounds like it’s something profound, but honestly it makes no sense whatsoever. “Life is a highway / I’m gonna ride it all night long.” OK? It also sums up what adulthood will be like, because Rascal Flatts came along a few years later, covered the song, and now everyone associates it with them. So now the thing you worked so hard to make belongs to someone else. Have a nice life!