5. “Party in the U.S.A.” by Miley Cyrus
Graduation is a time for celebration, but that celebration has texture. It comes with uncertainty about the future. It’s very much like Miley being in a new town. It’s unfamiliar territory, and that can be pretty frightening. However, just like Miley these graduates will always have their song, whether it’s Jay-Z or Taylor or Charles Mingus. That song is what grounds them and keeps them from feeling completely un-moored. It’s what allows them to party in their new surrounds. They can throw their hands up and the fears off, swing their hips and nod their heads and know that everything’s gonna be alright.
4. “Hanging Around” by Charlie XCX
Every graduation needs a call to move on, to get outta this place and head out for adventure or whatever. This is especially true with high school graduation. For many kids, they’ve been in the same place since childhood and are ready for something different. They are ready a new life with new scenery. They are ready to:
Take the car and cut the brakes
Driving out into the dark
Even though I love mum and dad
I wanna swim out there with the sharks
I wanna learn to speak Japanese
Razor-sharp on the silver screen
We were made for a limousine
So get your shit now and come with me
3. “First We Take Manhattan” by Leonard Cohen
Sometimes we’re motivated to change the world because of optimism; other times we’re motivated by resentment. This song embodies the later view. Many students are like Matt and are ready to burn the world down after their experiences in school. For nearly twenty years they’ve been told what to do and what to think. They’ve been forced into a box, made into another brick in the wall. Why not channel that frustration into taking over the world?
2. “Go in Peace” by Sam Baker
We want our graduates to take on the world, but we also want them to be good people, to make a positive impact. It’s good that have a fire under them and are ready to take on injustice wherever they see it. But it’s also good they are full of love and peace. It’s good that they seek to make the world around them a home for them and for everyone else. Let’s fill them with hope.
1. “My Shot”/”Wait for it”
One of the main conflicts in the musical Hamilton is between Aaron Burr and the titular character. There is many layers to this conflict, but at the root of it is a difference in personality, and those differences are demonstrated in these two songs. Hamilton is the ambitious, “young, scrappy, and hungry” one; Burr is the more reserved one, the one willing to “talk less, smile more” while waiting for his chance to arrive. I think these songs can motive/restrain the to extreme types of graduations. For the graduate is ready to run out into the world and take what’s there for the taking, we should say, “Wait for it.” Your time will come. You don’t have to rush things. But for the graduate who is more timid we should say, don’t just sit around and expect things to fall into your lap. Go out there and do something. Don’t give away your shot. These two songs bring balance to the force that is a new graduating class. Plus, these two songs will give the graduates some history that they might have missed during their years in school.