45 Graduation Songs to Add to Your Playlist, from Beyoncé to Green Day

If there's any occasion that can send you on a roller coaster of emotions, it’s graduation day. Not only are you officially bidding farewell to school dances, pep rallies and midnight cramming sessions, but you’re also embarking on a new journey and exploring new opportunities. It’s a milestone that can make you feel excited one moment and anxious the next. But thanks to our favorite artists, there’s a host of graduation songs to help you process this strange mix of emotions.

Maybe you’re looking for an upbeat classic that’ll have you up and dancing, like Simple Minds’ “Don't You (Forget About Me).” Or maybe you’d prefer a playful anthem about refusing to grow up, like “Opposite of Adults” by Chiddy Bang. Keep reading for 45 of the best graduation songs that capture this rite of passage, from country tracks to pop hits.

50 Funny Graduation Quotes for the Class of 2022 (Because They Could Use a Laugh)

1. “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C

  • Release year: 1999
  • Standout lyrics: As we go on, we remember / All the times we had together / And as our lives change, come whatever / We will still be friends forever

Inspired by her own experience with high school friends, Vitamin C takes us down memory lane with this sweet tune about graduating.

2. “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts

  • Release year: 2006
  • Standout lyrics: My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to / Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small

Jeffrey Steele may have written the song as a tribute to his daughter, but the lyrics will resonate with graduates who are leaving home.

3. “Don't You (Forget About Me)“ by Simple Minds

  • Release year: 1985
  • Standout lyrics: Slow change may pull us apart / When the light gets into your heart, baby / Don't you, forget about me

It’s impossible to hear this classic without thinking of John Bender and his classmates in The Breakfast Club.

4. “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield

  • Release year: 2004
  • Standout lyrics: Staring at the blank page before you / Open up the dirty window / Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

In this fun anthem, Natasha encourages listeners to carve their own paths and enjoy every step of the journey.

5. “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem

  • Release year: 2007
  • Standout lyrics: If the sun comes up / And I still don't wanna stagger home / Then it's the memory of our betters / That are keeping us on our feet

James Murphy walks us through his younger years, complete with wild adventures and bad decisions.

6. “I Can” by Nas

  • Release year: 2003
  • Standout lyrics: I know I can / Be what I wanna be If / I work hard at it / I'll be where I wanna be

Nas encourages young kids to steer clear of drugs and pursue their biggest dreams in this upbeat tune. It’s a powerful message that’ll empower any graduate.

7. “Here's to the Night” by Eve 6

  • Release year: 2000
  • Standout lyrics: Here's to the nights we felt alive / Here's to the tears you knew you'd cry / Here's to goodbye / Tomorrow's gonna come too soon

This song reminds us that it’s never easy to move on. Play this as you reminisce on your best memories with your BFFs.

8. “Moments Like This” by The Afters

  • Release year: 2013
  • Standout lyrics: Here we are this is the time / Like a dream coming to life / We live for moments like these / We come alive in moments like this

One of the biggest lessons we learn in school is the importance of living in the moment, which is a key message in this song.

9. “(Good Riddance) Time of Your Life” by Green Day

  • Release year: 1997
  • Standout lyrics: It's something unpredictable / But in the end, it's right / I hope you had the time of your life

Fun fact: This song was inspired by Billie Joe Armstrong’s girlfriend after she moved away. But because of its nostalgic lyrics, the track became a staple at high school proms and graduations.

11. “Everybody's Free (to Wear Sunscreen)” by Baz Luhrmann

  • Release year: 1999
  • Standout lyrics: Don't worry about the future / Or worry, but know that worrying / Is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum

Luhrmann drops several gems in this classic, spanning from friendship advice to planning for the future. TBH, this could double as a commencement speech.

12. “Graduate” by Third Eye Blind

  • Release year: 1997
  • Standout lyrics: Can I Graduate / To the bastard talking down to me / Your whipping boy calamity / Cross your fingers / I'm going to knock it all down,

While the song was originally inspired by the band’s experience with getting signed to a label, it also captures the angst that some graduates feel as they move closer to adulthood.

13. “Don't Stop Believin'” by Journey

  • Release year: 1981
  • Standout lyrics: Some will win, some will lose / Some were born to sing the blues / Oh, the movie never ends / It goes on and on, and on and on

It's one karaoke staple that'll have every graduate singing along at the top of their lungs.

14. “Seasons of Love” by Rent Cast

  • Release year: 2005
  • Standout lyrics: It's time now to sing out / Although it's not the end / To celebrate, remember a year in the life of a friend

This sentimental track was made for milestones, whether it be a first-generation college graduate getting their diploma or Michael Scott spending his last days at Dunder Mifflin in The Office.

15. “Times Like These” by Foo Fighters

16. “Never Grow Up” by Taylor Swift

  • Release year: 2010
  • Standout lyrics: I don't wanna grow up / Wish I'd never grown up / Could still be little / Oh, I don't wanna grow up

Swift reminds us that growing up and establishing your independence is a scary step—something that all graduating teens can relate to.

17. “This Could Be the Year” by Ryan Star

  • Release year: 2009
  • Standout lyrics: This could be the year / This could be the moment you've been waiting / Your whole life to show the world that you are ready

The lyrics are fitting for grads as they bid farewell to high school and enter adulthood.

18. “It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” by Boyz II Men

  • Release year: 1991
  • Standout lyrics: And I'll take with me the memories / To be my sunshine after the rain / It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday

Originally written for the 1975 film Cooley High, this cover will have you reaching for a tissue within the first few seconds.

19. "You Raise Me Up" by Josh Groban

  • Release year: 2003
  • Standout lyrics: I am strong, when I am on your shoulders / You raise me up to more than I can be

This beautiful track will also move you to tears as you reflect on the impact of your loved ones.

20. “Whenever You Remember” by Carrie Underwood

  • Release year: 2005
  • Standout lyrics: Whenever you remember times gone by / Remember how we held our heads so high / When all this world was there for us / And we believed that we could touch the sky

This song will make you want to grab your best friend and reminisce about your best moments together.

21. “Goodbye” by Spice Girls

  • Release year: 2000
  • Standout lyrics: The times when we would play about / The way we used to scream and shout / We never dreamt you'd go your own sweet way

Because parting ways with your friends is never easy.

22. “You Gotta Be” by Des'ree

  • Release year: 1994
  • Standout lyrics: Listen as your day unfolds / Challenge what the future holds / Try and keep your head up to the sky

This sunny tune is a testament to the power of positive affirmations. Give this one a listen for when you need a confidence boost.

23. “I Was Here” by Beyoncé

  • Release year: 2011
  • Standout lyrics: I want to leave my footprints on the sands of time / Know there was something that, something that I left behind

Channel your inner Beyoncé with this emotional R&B ballad about leaving your mark in the world.

24. “You've Got a Friend” by Carole King

  • Release year: 1971
  • Standout lyrics: You just call out my name / And you know, wherever / I am I'll come runnin' / To see you again

Although it’s common for high school friends to grow apart after graduation, this song will inspire you to keep in touch with your closest pals.

25. “I Will Remember You” by Sarah Mclachlan

  • Release year: 1993
  • Standout lyrics: I will remember you, will you remember me? / Don't let your life pass you by Weep not for the memories

McLachlan reminds us that even though time flies, we continue to remember those who left an impression on us.

26. “We Are Young” by Fun feat. Janelle Monáe

  • Release year: 2012
  • Standout lyrics: Tonight We are young / So let's set the world on fire / We can burn brighter than the sun

Is it even possible to listen to the chorus without singing along at the top of your lungs?

27. “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

  • Release year: 2014
  • Standout lyrics: Here come bad news talking this and that / Well give me all you got, don't hold back / Well I should probably warn you I'll be just fine / No offense to you don't waste your time

Graduation season can be bittersweet. But knowing you’ve come this far calls for a dance party.

28. “Going Away to College” by Blink 182

  • Release year: 1999
  • Standout lyrics: I haven't been this scared in a long time / And I'm so unprepared so here's your valentine / Bouquet of clumsy words, a simple melody This world's an ugly place, but you're so beautiful

Did you know that the lyrics were inspired by the classic teen movie, Can't Hardly Wait (which also featured music by Blink 182)?

29. “Graduation” by Kero Kero Bonito

  • Release year: 2016
  • Standout lyrics: Today's my graduation / So long to education / Didn't learn a thing anyway!

If you’re looking to add some J-Pop to the mix, try Bonito’s “Graduation,” where the singer recounts her special day.

30. “Started from the Bottom” by Drake

  • Release year: 2013
  • Standout lyrics: Started from the bottom, now we're here / Started from the bottom, now the whole team here

Celebrate how far you and your pals have come with this catchy number.

31. “Good Morning” by Kanye West

  • Release year: 2007
  • Standout lyrics: Look at the valedictorian scared of the future / While I hop in the Delorean / Scared-to-face-the-world complacent career student / Some people graduate, but we still stupid

West gives us plenty to think about with his thought-provoking lyrics, which challenge the idea that college degrees are required to become successful.

32. “I’ll Be There Song” by The Jackson 5

  • Release year: 1970
  • Standout lyrics: I'll reach out my hand to you / I'll have faith in all you do / Just call my name and I'll be there

This chart-topping love song will hit home for anyone who’s parting ways with their high school sweetheart.

33. “I Go Back” by Kenny Chesney

  • Release year: 2009
  • Standout lyrics: Every time I hear that song I'll go back, I'll go back / We all have a song that somehow stamped our lives / Takes us to another place and time

We’ve all had that moment where a song takes us straight back to a high school memory–and Chesney knows that feeling all too well.

34. “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack

  • Release year: 2000
  • Standout lyrics: I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance / Never settle for the path of least resistance / Livin' might mean takin' chances, but they're worth takin' / Lovin' might be a mistake, but it's worth makin'

This iconic country song fits almost every occasion, whether you’re a new mom welcoming a baby or a highschooler who's moving away to college.

35. “To Sir With Love” by Lulu

  • Release year: 1967
  • Standout lyrics: But how do you thank someone / Who has taken you from crayons to perfume?/ It isn't easy, but I'll try

In this Oscar-nominated song, Lulu shows her gratitude to a mystery mentor, making it the perfect ode to your favorite teachers.

36. “School's Out” by Alice Cooper

  • Release year: 1972
  • Standout lyrics: No more pencils, no more books / No more teachers, dirty looks / Out for summer, out 'til fall / We might not come back at all

Anyone who knows this track will tell you that there’s something satisfying about singing, “Schooooool’s out! For! Ever!!!”

37. “For Good” by Idina Menzel And Kristin Chenoweth

  • Release year: 2003
  • Standout lyrics: I've heard it said / That people come into our lives for a reason / Bringing something we must learn / And we are led / To those who help us most to grow

Since life-changing friendships are, by far, one of the best parts of high school, you’ll appreciate this gorgeous duet between Elphaba and Glinda.

38. “Good Life” by OneRepublic

  • Release year: 2009
  • Standout lyrics: When you're happy like a fool / Let it take you over / When everything is out / You gotta take it in

Who doesn’t love a feel-good anthem about living your best life?

39. “Opposite of Adults” by Chiddy Bang

  • Release year: 2009
  • Standout lyrics: Tell mommy I'm sorry / This life is a party / I'm never growing up

Making it through school is the best feeling, but a small part of us will always cherish the simpler days, when homework was our biggest problem.

40. "Celebration" by Kool & The Gang

  • Release year: 1980
  • Standout lyrics: We're gonna have a good time tonight / Let's celebrate, it's all right

Making it to graduation day is certainly something to celebrate. Are we right, or are we right?

41. “Live Your Life” by T.I. feat. Rihanna

  • Release year: 2008
  • Standout lyrics: You’re gonna be a shining star, In fancy clothes and fancy cars / And then you’ll see, you’re gonna go far, ‘cause everyone knows just who you are

Here's your reminder to live your best life and strive for what you want after graduation. (We dare you to sing this one at the top of your lungs.)

42. "Moment 4 Life" by Nicki Minaj

  • Release year: 2010
  • Standout lyrics: This is my moment, I waited all my life / I can just tell it's time

That feeling of pride as you walk in your cap and gown, with your diploma in hand, is easily one of the most rewarding moments of all time.

43. "Hope for the Future" by Paul McCartney

  • Release year: 2016
  • Standout lyrics: From out of the darkness / Our future will come / If we leave the past behind / We'll fly beyond the sun

MacCartney may have written the song for a video game, but the message will definitely resonate with anyone going through a major transition or life change.

44. "My Future" by Billie Eilish

  • Release year: 2020
  • Standout lyrics: Cause I, I'm in love / With my future / Can't wait to meet her / And I, I'm in love

Play this gem as you look ahead and plan for the next chapters of your life.

45. “Here's To Never Growing Up” by Avril Lavigne

  • Release year: 2013
  • Standout lyrics: Say, won't you stay forever, stay / If you stay forever, hey / We can stay forever young

Speaking of not wanting to grow up, Avril perfectly captures the sentiment with this pop-rock tune. Plus, the prom-themed music video will give you “Complicated” vibes.

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Nakeisha has been interviewing celebrities and covering all things entertainment for over 8 years, but she has also written on a wide range of topics, like career...