For a bunch of rule breaking rebels, musicians sure have a fixation on life beyond the school gates. From Britney Spears’ basketball court dance-off in the pop classic “Baby One More Time Video” video, to Sting reminiscing about his days in the teachers’ longue for “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” school is most definitely not—as Alice Cooper might have you believe—out forever. Instead, thoughts of prom and your last spring fling are likely to linger into your 30s, if the average chart hit is anything to go by.
This is, of course, great news for hapless readers still fulfilling the drudgery of everyday life from behind a school desk. Teen cliques and clichés aside, there’s (purportedly) lots of fun to have at school. Musicians have told tall tales of high school debauchery since Chuck Berry taught us all the Golden Rule in the ‘50s. Not all accounts have been nearly as polite. So, just in time for classes to start, here are 10 songs about school to soundtrack your next study session.
1. Death Cab for Cutie, “We Looked Like Giants”
Wistfully recounting the virtues of your childhood sweetheart is an obvious direction to take when it comes to singing about school, but one taken nonetheless by Death Cab for Cutie in this sweeping track included on the band’s breakthrough 2003 album Transatlanticism. “We Looked Like Giants” is an understated musical treat that can console bruised teen hearts better than a giant tub of ice cream.
2. The Donnas, “New Kid in School”
A bonus track made famous by its inclusion on the game Rock Band 2, “New Kid in School” is everything you’d want of an attitude-filled school themed track from The Donnas. Sung from the perspective of a vixen hunting her prey around the locker room, the lyrics are more likely to scare the bejesus out of a new kid than seduce him.
3. Lana Del Rey, “This is What Makes Us Girls”
This song created a whirlwind of gossip when Lana Del Rey released it as the last track on her sophomore album, Born to Die, and with good reason. It recounts the not-so-innocent halcyon days of school life in what the singer songwriter reports to be a fictional narrative.
4. Weezer, “Troublemaker”
Lana isn’t alone in recounting debauchery in the library stalls. Weezer takes a metaphorical swing at a teacher in the aptly titled “Troublemaker,” a contentious song that documents the handy work of a school rebel with the immortal line: “I’m a troublemaker, never been a faker.”
5. Supertramp, “The Logical Song”
For free thinkers with a heart of gold, there’s “The Logical Song.” This anthem for creative thinking was designed to soundtrack to the intellectual rebel’s day. While Supertramp might not be the coolest of artists on this list, the lyrics will still resonate with many.
6. The White Stripes, “We’re Gonna Be Friends”
On the other hand, “We’re Gonna Be Friends” screams out for a hand-held, High School Musical-style chorus on the school lawn. The perfect companion to your first day back at school, The White Stripes hit the innocence of socialising with kith and kin bang on the head with this song taken from their 2001 album White Blood Cells.
7. Wheatus, “Teenage Dirtbag”
This song is a classic for good reason: Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag” was released a whopping 16 years ago but it’s yet to be beat when it comes to down-and-out anthems for the wild youth. Infectious melody? Check. Air guitar potential? Check. Guest video appearance from an it-girl, in this case Mena Suvari? Yup.
8. R.E.M., “All the Way to Reno (You’re Gonna Be a Star)”
Any student feeling disillusioned about their future prospects need only take a listen to R.E.M.’s uplifting “All the Way to Reno (You’re Gonna Be a Star)” to feel better about themselves. Meanwhile the accompanying video might well insight a school riot at the next Career Fair.
9. Beastie Boys, “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)”
The Beastie Boys
have been fighting for their right to party in the school canteen since 1986. Even if the group is no longer around, this song with live in perpetuity.
10. Pink Floyd, “Another Brick in the Wall( Pt. 2)”
Another classic, “Another Brick in the Wall” might be anti-school entirely. But when your parents have got you around the collar and you’ve no other choice, you might as well seek solace in a good tune and repeat the mantra, “We don’t need no education.”