10 Classic "School's Out" Songs

Good tunes for another year done

When school's out for summer, you need a great soundtrack to go with it. Like oldies and want to celebrate the end of a school year or reminisce about your school days? ​Check out these songs about the end of school — they never go out of style.

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"School Day" by Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry Portrait

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Sometimes listed as "School Days," this little slice of teenage life helped solidify Chuck's status for the ages as one of the great American songwriters. It mainly describes school as a drudgery, but that's how teens of all ages have viewed it. The message here remains as classic and enduring as the lyrics.

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"High School Confidential" by Jerry Lee Lewis

Jerry Lee Lewis performing live in London


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This single uses high school as a setting, not so much as a storyline. But who cares...this may be the world's greatest sock hop record, one that sounds more like a backwoods barrelhouse. Is it any wonder the parents complained? 

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"Charlie Brown" by The Coasters

The Coasters performing live


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Not to be confused with the Peanuts character, this delinquent refused to take to authority in any degree, making him a hero or a menace depending on which side of the equation you were on. You didn't have to love Charlie to love the song; Leiber and Stoller were just as good as Chuck Berry at detailing the teenage experience. And The Coasters were, in a way, their house band.

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"School's Out" by Alice Cooper

Alice Cooper with a snake around him

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Some purists will grumble that this isn't a real rock and roll oldie, coming as it did in the beginning of the second Nixon administration. Still, it's hard to imagine a greater celebration of juvenile delinquency. This being '72, it was a rather more sinister celebration, however, Cooper declares that the school's been destroyed and no one's coming back. 

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"Smokin' in the Boys Room" by Brownsville Station

Brownsville Station performing live


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Cutting class and smoking are two facts of life for many teenagers, like it or not. The hit is complete with an iconic spoken-word intro that explains why even adolescents need to release some of that pressure from time to time. Working at the school bookstore...who wouldn't get bored? 

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"School Is Out" by Gary U.S. Bonds

Gary US Bonds with Bruce Springstein performing


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Gary would eventually do a sequel called "School Is In," but it wouldn't chart nearly as well. (Which makes sense...who wants to party about going back to school?) Bonds' wonderfully strange, multitracked records, drowning in echo and catcalls, were some of the greatest party records of all time. Besides, as Gary proves, half the fun of school was dreaming about what you'd do when you got out.

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"Graduation Day" by Stark Whiteman and the Crowns

The Crowns performing during Son of Stiff Tour


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Certainly the rarest of the items on this list, this classic 45 isn't available on CD anywhere. Recorded by an obscure New Orleans outfit, this sad '50s ballad was a hit in the region but never made the charts. It's one of the best odes to the day in question, expressing a tangible sadness at the idea of leaving your friends behind forever.

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"School Girl" by The Five Royales

The 5 Royals band


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This song went largely unnoticed at the time of release, like a lot of The Royales' 45s. And like most of their output, this lost doo-wop classic deserved better. It is one of many rock songs to use the schoolgirl as an idealized picture of early womanhood.

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"Be True To Your School" by The Beach Boys

Beach Boys

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In such a conservative era as the early '60s, it's odd that more school spirit anthems didn't surface. It's only appropriate that the best of the ones that did was by the Beach Boys, who always projected a clean-cut, scholastic image. The production hints that the lads were soon to be leaving surf music for more Spectorian pastures.

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"High School U.S.A." by Tommy Facenda

High School USA cd cover by Tommy Facenda

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Facenda was a one-hit wonder, but his single came with a truly ingenious marketing gimmick: record a quasi-rockabilly song about high schools, make one national version, and then make 28 local versions for release in the country's biggest radio markets. The national version's hard to find, and the local ones are even more obscure. Have you heard the one for your area?