It has come to my attention that many of you will be graduating from high school very soon (or maybe you already have, I’m not exactly sure). Regardless: Congratulations, class of 2009! You’ve overcome a lot to get to this point (sexting, cuddle parties, whatever else Bill O’Reilly tells me you kids do all day long) and you deserve to celebrate. That’s where I come in.
Regardless of whether you’ve already received your diploma or if you’re still being fitted for your cap and gown, you’re part of the Class of ’09, and every graduating class (obviously) needs a graduation song. Now, picking that song is tough: You need something to not just commemorate the moment, but the past four years of your life — the friendships, the unforgettable moments, etc. A song that’s both nostalgic and current, one that will bring a tear to your eye and joy to your heart. Oh, and you should probably be able to dance to it, too.
Clearly, no ordinary song will do. So I’ve been asked to help you guys out with a few picks — my suggestions for the official song of the Class of ’09. Hopefully, these tunes will be the soundtrack to your celebrations, because you really should be celebrating. Hard. Because the future is kind of scary. Let’s concentrate on the present — and the past — instead.
Good luck, and congratulations once again. Now get a job.
R.E.M., “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”
You probably know this one, despite the fact that it came out 22 years ago. That it’s stood the test of time is a testament to the ringing guitar work of Peter Buck and Michael Stipe’s stream-of-consciousness, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”-lite lyrics, which stir up a mixture of joy, terror, sadness, madness and bliss. Also, everybody needs an excuse to shout “Leonard Bernstein” at the top of their lungs at least once in their lives.
Semisonic, “Closing Time”
Somber yet full of hope, earnest yet unabashedly grandiose, sentimental yet spirited and full of a genuine belief in the possibilities of tomorrow. You know, just your average late ’90s sorta-alt rock ballad. They don’t write ’em them like this anymore. Or maybe Jason Mraz does and I’m just not paying attention.
Alphaville, “Forever Young”
Someday when you’re old like me, you’ll look back on your life and realize that you totally had it better back when you were 18, that you never really had problems until you met maturity and agreed to his terms and that youth really is wasted on the young. You’ll find yourself agreeing with the sentiments of noted German poet (and Alphaville lead singer) Hartwig Schierbaum. And then you’ll look out over your cul-de-sac, shuffle some papers around on your desk and die a little inside. Celebrate hard, kids.
Van Halen, “Right Now”
Because right now, opportunity is passing you by. Because right now, justice is being perverted in a court of law. Because right now is just a space between ice ages. And because right now, Ed’s got his hands full. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, watch this. Then add this song to your playlist immediately. Right now, even.
Ice Cube, “It Was a Good Day”
May your graduation day be like one of them fly dreams, full of domino games, Fatburger, the three-wheel motion, chronic and Lakers victories. Oh, and hopefully you won’t have to use your AK, either.
The Killers, “When You Were Young”
A classic overwrought super-ballad, full of soaring vocals, trilling strings and sky-high synths — the kind of song mega-popular rock acts really don’t record anymore (and after the way the Killers were raked over the coals, probably never will again). Brandon Flowers gets sentimental, howling about skylines and hurricanes and the beauty and promise of youth, and the Killers provide the musical cinemascope for his widescreen dreams. Also, much like your overtly Christian valedictorian’s commencement speech, there’s plenty of mentions of Jesus here.
Green Day, “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”
I am 100 percent sure Billie Joe Armstrong never intended to write the song that launched a million prom nights and graduation parties, but sometimes the biggest accidents are also the best. In fact, if not for American Idiot, this song might have been Green Day’s musical legacy. Think about that.
Mariah Carey, “Hero”
A song about empowerment and inner strength, two things you’re definitely gonna need when the times get tough (like, you know, starting tomorrow). And if the lyrics aren’t enough to inspire, just enjoy Mariah’s vocals, which range somewhere between “transcendent” and “otherworldly.”
Vitamin C, “Graduation (Friends Forever)”
As a part of MTV News’ Class of ’09 Week, we’ll be celebrating high school graduation season with stories and memories of graduation from your favorite celebrities, but we’re also looking for input from you! This is your chance to represent for your peers in the class of ’09. We’re looking for the best video of you explaining what you think the defining factors of your generation are. What are your goals, dreams and aspirations? What issues and roadblocks do you plan on overcoming? We’ll pick out the best answer and fly the winner to New York for lunch with Sway and a taping of the brand new MTV series “It’s On with Alexa Chung.” The winning video will also appear on MTVNews.com and may even air on MTV!
Want to enter? Just go to your.mtv.com to create a user account and upload your video (which should be no longer than three minutes). We’re looking for the clearest, most original answer to the question, “What are the defining factors of your generation, and how are these factors reflected in the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the class of ’09?”