The Top Ten Most Cliché and Overused Graduation Songs

School’s wrapping up for the summer, which means graduation season is in full force.

Graduation calls for sappy, “friends forever” songs for everything from class songs, grad party playlists, and soundtracks to those video montages everyone’s parents make for the graduation party.

The same songs get used and overused at graduations all across America.

In honor of graduation season, we are counting down the top ten most cliché and overused graduation songs. We have some suggestions along the way if you want a more original song.

[tps_title]10. “100 Years” by Five for Fighting [/tps_title]


Five for Fighting released this song in 2003, and since then it’s been a pretty popular song for every life event, from baby showers to graduations, weddings, and even funerals.


It’s the perfect song to get everyone in their “feels” and shedding a few tears, especially the parents and grandparents. But since this song can relate to any stage in life, everyone has probably heard this one too many times.

If you are looking for a song that will still hit close to home–

Replace With:  “Love Song to the City” by Kalle Mattson

“In a hometown, you can’t let go.”


[tps_title]9. “Closing Time” by Semisonic [/tps_title]


Closing Time was released in 1998, and, much like “100 Years,” it has found its way to becoming a theme song for all of life’s occasions.

Dan Wilson, songwriter and lead singer of Semisonic, revealed that the song was written about his preparation and anticipation of becoming a father, but that hasn’t stopped anyone from using it for graduations.


It’s easy to see why, with lyrics like “Time for you to go out to the places you will be from” and “every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end,” but that doesn’t make it less cliché.

Replace with: “All My Friends” by LCD Soundsystem

“You spent the first five years trying to get with the plan, and the next five years trying to be with your friends again.”

[tps_title]8. “For Good” from Wicked[/tps_title]

When it comes to Broadway hits that double as popular graduation songs, “For Good” from Wicked takes the cake. The number of high school choir BFFS who have sung this at the final chorus concert is overwhelming.

The song has a perfect “thank you for being my friend” message, but don’t you think we’ve all heard enough bad renditions of this song already? No, sorry, you can’t sing like Idina Menzel.

If you still want something Broadway but just a little less popular–

Replace with: “Our Time” from Merrily We Roll Along

“We’re the movers and we’re the shapers, we’re the names in tomorrow’s papers.”

[tps_title]7. “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” by Simple Minds[/tps_title]


“Don’t You (Forget About Me)” is almost every millennial’s favorite song from the 80s because, well, The Breakfast Club. The Breakfast Club is coined as one of the best high school movies of all times and this song has taken on a similar title.

This song is awesome, and not a bad graduation song. The truth is, though, there are a lot of people from high school that you will forget and, honestly, that you probably want to forget.

If you want another rockin’ graduation song from the 80s–

Replace with: “Better Things” by The Kinks

“Livin’ like you just begun, accept your life and what it brings, I hope tomorrow you’ll find better things.”


[tps_title]6. “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac[/tps_title]


Now, this one is a real tearjerker for everyone involved. “Landslide,” in a 3 minute and 19 second song, perfectly describes getting older and figuring it out. While this song is brilliant, it came out in 1975 and we haven’t stopped using it for graduations since.

If you think it might be time to retire this one, but still want a song that will make you cry about growing up–

Replace with: “Ribs” by Lorde

“And I’ve never felt more alone. It feels so scary, getting old.”

[tps_title]5. “We Are Young” by Fun.[/tps_title]


This song became an instant classic when it swept the nation in 2011. The 2012 graduating class didn’t waste anytime claiming it as theirs. We Are Young has all the qualities of a good gradation song. It’s catchy. It has a good, celebratory beat, and the message applies to a generation of having fun and being young.

It’s little ironic, though, as choice for high schools when the lyrics touch on abuse, drugs and alcohol. While everybody knows what seniors are doing, it’s not necessarily the message you want to be sending to your eighteen-year-old graduating students.

Want something less common but with the same feel good, be young feel?

Replace with: “Back Home” by Andy Grammer

“When ties loosen, we’re losing touch and fading away, we’ll still be raising our cups to the same damn things.”

[tps_title]4. “My Wish” by Rascal Flatts[/tps_title]

This is a big one for the moms and dads. This song is basically what every good parent wants for their child on graduation and every day after. The song was released in 2006 and has been the song parents send their kids off with ever since.

While it’s an okay choice, Mom and Dad, if you want a song with just as good advice but is a little less typical–

Replace with: “Now is Exactly the Time” by Noah and The Whale.

“If you can, you should try and learn to forgive yourself. Night and day, the world will try and make you someone else.”


[tps_title]3. “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack[/tps_title]


This is another one that’s big for the parents of the graduate. It’s their send-off song. It’s also sappy and an overused metaphor. Like take that chance, get up and dance, blah blah blah. Mom and Dads, your intentions are good, but this song came out in 2000 and it’s time for something new.

Want a song with some solid and funny mom and dad advice, that is less embarrassing and cheesy?

Replace with: “Learn to Live With What You Are” by Ben Folds

“But I just love you for the things you couldn’t change, though you’ve tried.”

[tps_title]2. “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C[/tps_title]


While we can’t say that Vitamin C was a one hit wonder exactly, “Graduation (Friends Forever)” is definitely her only song to make a lasting impact. The song was the third single off her debut studio album.

This song was written for graduation, so the lyrics are spot-on, but it’s also the definition of cheesy. Also, a lot of friends from high school do not stay friends forever.

If you want something just as spot-on with the lyrics about the future, but a lot more realistic–

Replace with: “I’ll Drink to That” by Outasight

“Singing these long days will be worth it when we’re older, weight is off our shoulders, I’ll drink to that.”

[tps_title]1. “Good Riddance” by Green Day[/tps_title]


After some research, it has become clear that “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day is the most used graduation song ever. Rolling Stone named it as one of the twenty best graduation songs in the last twenty years this year. The song was released in 1997 on Green Day’s fifth studio album Nimrod. “Good Riddance” has been featured in many movies and TV shows and is common at proms as well as graduations (Much to the band’s surprise).

When listening to the song’s lyrics, it’s easy to see why it has become a graduation hit: “So take the photographs and still frames in your mind” and “hang it on a shelf in good health and good time.”

It makes perfect sense as a goodbye song to high school, but the song was originally intended as a breakup song.

Plus, everyone can agree, high school won’t be the time of your life.

Want something with a rock edge about moving on, but not quite as popular?

Replace with: “Telescope” by Cage the Elephant

“Time is like a leaf in the wind, either it’s time worth spent or time I’ve wasted. Don’t waste it.”



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