40 Best Graduation Songs: Soundtrack Your Milestone with These Hits

7 min read

Bruce Powlowski, Lead Writer


The moment has arrived. Gowns are being adjusted, caps secured, hearts fluttering with excitement. Graduation is more than a ceremony; it’s a significant life milestone, and music plays a pivotal role in encapsulating the emotions of this grand transition. Whether you’re a hopeful graduate or looking to curate the soundtrack for a grand commencement celebration, the following list of 40 best graduation songs provides the perfect backdrop to amplify the spirit of achievement and the sweet sorrow of farewells.

Capturing the essence of graduation season, these tunes range from the nostalgic and reflective to the upbeat and forward-looking, embodying the spectrum of feelings that graduates experience. As you step into a new chapter, let these hits provide the soundtrack to your milestone.

The Essential Graduation Playlist: 40 Tracks for Your Caps and Gowns

Embarking on the journey of compiling the ultimate graduation playlist, we’ve sifted through decades of music to bring you a diverse range of songs that translate the feeling of this monumental day. These tracks have become synonymous with saying goodbye to one’s alma mater, embarking on new beginnings, embracing the future, and reminiscing about the days of youth and friendship.
Related article; best graduation gifts

Reflective Anthems to Start Your Journey

Vitamin C - “Graduation (Friends Forever)”

Perhaps the quintessential graduation song, “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C, stands out as an iconic track that encompasses the bittersweet nature of finishing school. With its compelling lyrics and catchy melody, it resonates with graduates across generations who are on the cusp of pursuing their dreams.

  • “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”

Green Day - “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”

The acoustic chords of Green Day’s “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” vibrate with nostalgia, making it a staple for graduation ceremonies. Its contemplative message urges graduates to reflect fondly on the past while looking eagerly toward the future.

Songs of Endings and New Beginnings

Alice Cooper - “School’s Out”

As the school doors swing closed for the last time, Alice Cooper’s raucous “School’s Out” captures the rebellious joy of liberation from the constraints of school life. A bold proclamation of freedom, it’s the perfect anthem for the rush of release as you throw your cap in the air.

  • “Well we got no class
    And we got no principles
    And we got no innocence
    We can’t even think of a word that rhymes”

Natasha Bedingfield - “Unwritten”

Empowering and insightful, Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” is a tribute to the unwritten future that lies ahead. The exhilaration of an open-ended future is captured in this stirring melodic narrative that promises limitless potential.

Upbeat Songs to Dance into Your Future

Kool & The Gang - “Celebration”

With the uplifted mood that ignites any party, “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang is an irresistible invitation to dance away any post-graduation blues. The song reminds graduates and their loved ones to celebrate the present moment, packed with an infectious beat and joyful harmonies.

Pharrell Williams - “Happy”

Few songs can match the infectious joy of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy”. A global hit renowned for its feel-good vibes, it injects a bounce into every step, making for a quintessential addition to any graduation party playlist.

Reflecting on Memories and Friendships

Eve 6 - “Here’s to the Night”

Immersed in nostalgia, “Here’s to the Night” by Eve 6 serves as a poignant salute to the memories made and friendships forged during school years. It’s a tune that tends to bring about group hugs and communal singing, a perfect ode to the end of an era.

Sarah McLachlan - “I Will Remember You”

Sarah McLachlan’s tender “I Will Remember You” is an emotional ballad that tugs at the heartstrings. Its somber tone and heartfelt lyrics make it a powerful anthem for honoring the past and preserving memories.

Soaring Anthems for Embracing Open Roads Ahead

Miley Cyrus - “The Climb”

“The Climb” by Miley Cyrus is a testament to the journey and the courage it takes to pursue one’s aspirations. An uplifting track, it evokes the spirit of perseverance and determination which are crucial for any graduate stepping into uncharted territory.

  • “There’s always gonna be another mountain
    I’m always gonna wanna make it move
    Always gonna be an uphill battle
    Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose”

R. Kelly - “I Believe I Can Fly”

For a powerful dose of inspiration, R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” provides wings to the dreams of graduates. It is a soaring melody that embodies the elation of achieving what once seemed impossible and encourages listeners to aim for greatness.

Sentimental Tracks for Commemorating Achievements

Kelly Clarkson - “Breakaway”

“Breakaway” by Kelly Clarkson is a song that strikes a chord with everyone striving to find their place in the world. Its encouraging lyrics and Clarkson’s impassioned vocals imbue a sense of boldness to redefine oneself beyond the academic arena.

Taylor Swift - “Fifteen”

Taylor Swift’s “Fifteen” deals with the themes of youth and reflection. It serves as a gentle reminder of the innocence of freshman year and the growth that has occurred since. A reminder of how far you’ve come and the wisdom that comes with age.

Party Tunes to Kick Off New Adventures

Katy Perry - “Firework”

Katy Perry’s explosive “Firework” is a motivational anthem that spurs graduates to embrace their uniqueness and shine brightly. It’s a reminder that everyone has the potential to light up the world like a firework.

Fun. - “We Are Young”

With an anthemic quality, “We Are Young” by Fun. is a powerful declaration of living in the moment and embracing youth. As a celebratory song perfect for the end of one chapter and on the verge of beginning another, it has the magic to make every graduate feel boundless.

Deep Cuts and Hidden Gems: Lesser-Known Graduation Tracks

While the well-known anthems have their rightful place in graduation lore, there are like the following songs that bring a fresh perspective to the quintessential graduation playlist.

Alternative Tracks with a Message

Arcade Fire - “Wake Up”

Arcade Fire’s “Wake Up” speaks to the transition from the sheltered life of schooling to the responsibilities that await. Its earnest intensity and surge of energy make it a compelling inclusion for anyone primed for change.

Ben Rector - “Brand New”

A beautifully optimistic track, “Brand New” by Ben Rector is a heartfelt expression of starting anew, rich with anticipation and excitement for the unknown journey that lies ahead.

Indie Anthems for a Personal Touch

Vampire Weekend - “Campus”

Indie rock darlings Vampire Weekend offer “Campus,” a song that reflects on college days with both whimsy and sharpness. It’s perfect for anyone who’s looking for a less traditional graduation soundtrack with an indie flavor.

The Head and the Heart - “Rivers and Roads”

For grads wrestling with the distances that may spread between friends and loved ones, “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart is a fitting homage to these relationships. Its sincere and folky charm calls out to those who hold their connections dear.

Final Thoughts: Music as a Commencement Companion

The songs on this playlist provide more than just catchy melodies—they are the companions to your journey, the background to your hard-earned accomplishments. Whether you’re reflecting on your time spent within the academic walls, celebrating your victories, or preparing to embark on your next big adventure, these 40 best graduation songs encapsulate the broad spectrum of emotions tied to this life altering event. As you step across that stage, remember that every note, every lyric, and every song has been part of crafting the unforgettable experience of your graduation. Revel in it, and let the music play on.

Congratulations to all graduates on your remarkable milestone! May your life’s soundtrack be as unique and inspiring as your dreams.

Bruce Powlowski, Lead Writer
Bruce Powlowski

About the Author Mission Statement Our mission is to provide high-quality, informative, and engaging content to our readers. We strive