With the exception of a few soul-grabbin' sunny-side-up songs, most truly compelling music evokes pain, loss, loneliness, or a similar, buffet-style sampling of neurosis. And where better to find these scrambled emotions then a high school cafeteria, where a healthy dose of teenage angst is always on the menu? So, we've compiled a list of classic or just ineffably accurate songs about those memories of broken curfews, first dates, and failed keg stands. Together, they paint a portrait of the fabled rite of passage that is the American high school.
1. The Replacements, "F*** School"
The utter simplicity of the refrain is the reason it truly embodies the 9th to 12th grade experience. Actually bothering to think of a heady, verbose way to insult authority figures? That's so... collegiate. Anyway, f-ck 4th period, man, let's go long-boarding.
2. The Ramones, "I Don't Wanna Be Learned"
A million English teachers cried crocodile tears at the flagrant conjugational mishap of "learn." A million and one high schoolers couldn't have been happier to have their disdain for intellectual stimulation articulated with such perfect illiteracy.
3. The White Stripes, "I Can Tell that We Are Gonna Be Friends"
This unassuming ballad to glue sticks, cafeteria lunches, and choir is as sweet as the fruit punch at a Valentine's Day dance party.
4. Animal Collective, "We Don't Have to Go to College"
For a lot of people, high school is just a vessel into universities and eventually, real world. For a few flying above (or perhaps, way below) the curve, meandering seems more appealing than signing up for a life prescribed by parents, teachers, and future employers. Animal Collective would have been the free-spirited kids eating lunch in the grass and drawing Christmas trees in the bubbles of scantron tests.
(Superfluous personal anecdote: this song has had a special place in my heart ever since my older sister sent it to me after I received my 9th or 10th "We are sorry to inform you..." letter from an unsympathetic college admissions office.)
5. Joan Jett, "Bad Reputation"
Every smeared black-eyeliner, leather jacket bad girl's mantra, to be listened to during student counsel elections, skipped gym classes, and lonely lunch periods, with the knowing that college will be a million times better. In the meantime, if you can't beat 'em, sneer and flick 'em off.
6. Blink 182- "Going Away to College"
This slightly whiny, cloyingly sweet song is all doilies and prom corsages, perfectly embodying the clumsiness that is first love and first heartbreak. You'll cringe when the lead singer poses the question "Is my picture still hanging in your locker?" because you'll remember exactly how important the answer from a certain someone once was.
7. The Beach Boys, "Be True to Your School"
The Beach Boys clearly had an awesome time in high school, so much so that they did what almost no other self-respecting rock group could do -- they wrote an ode to their Alma Mater. About their cheerleader girlfriends. And their cheerleader girlfriends' pom-poms. If the Beach Boys had gone to the same school as The Dead Kennedys, they probably would have gotten their asses kicked after the talent show. Anyway, if you ever were voted to Homecoming Court or were all "ra-ra-ra" at football games or still wear your varsity jacket, this is the song for you to reminisce to.
8. Sixpence None the Richer, "Kiss Me"
Aww shucks. There's a reason that this song appeared at the romantic high-point of every teen comedy to be made in the '90s. Young love at its most diabetically sugary-sweet.
9. Brownsville Station, "Smokin' In the Boy's Room"
It can't be coincidental that most high schools share a similar architectural aesthetic with maximum-security prisons. So is it any surprise that the teen heathens can get a little criminal sometimes? Cue Brownsville station's ode to kids bein' kids. And don't mind the nicotine haze being blown out the bathroom window. Whatever gets you through the day, young scholars.
10. Alice Cooper, "School's Out"
This ode to the first-day of summer is the poor school boy's "Joy to the World." Generation after generation can enjoy this gospel of intellectual freedom as they enjoy lazy sweaty Popsicle days and skinny-dippin' beach nights. The tune sticks around for a reason: it's to the point, and is best served with a heavy dose of careless shouting.
Whether high school represents tear-stained, whirly-filled time best forgotten, or some of the best days of your life (bleak......), there's a song on this list bound to transport you back to that time of just-budding adulthood and 4-minute-breaks between classes. Yes, high school's ripe with material for songs about love, authority, and identity. But on behalf of all 14-18 year olds -- honestly, sorry, but you really wouldn't understand, dude, you're way too old.