Top 10 Graduation Songs for 2011

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10. KT Tunstall - "Suddenly I See"

KT Tunstall Suddenly I See
KT Tunstall - "Suddenly I See". Courtesy Virgin

KT Tunstall wrote this song about a specific person she found inspirational, punk legend Patti Smith. However, it easily conveys the general importance of mentors and role models in life. Graduation is a perfect time for this reminder. "Suddenly I See" became a hit in the US after being featured at the beginning of the hit movie The Devil Wears Prada. It ultimately climbed to #5 on the adult pop radio chart and broke into the top 25 on the overall singles chart. At home in the UK "Suddenly I See" won KT Tunstall the Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.

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9. Matisyahu - "One Day"

Matisyahu One Day
Matisyahu - "One Day". Courtesy Epic

Jewish reggae artist Matisyahu looks toward a special day when negativity and violence will come to an end. It is a message well worth hearing on any special day of life celebration. Matisyahu said in an interview that "One Day" is, "the song I've been wanting to make since I started my career." Following his breakthrough with "King Without a Crown," "One Day" broke into the Billboard Hot 100, hit #21 on the alternative radio chart and earned a gold certification for sales.

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8. Van Halen - "Right Now"

Van Halen For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
Van Halen - For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Courtesy Warner Bros.

Van Halen's classic 1990s hit is a call to grasp the moment and make progress toward your goals whatever they may be. The messages in the song and the accompanying video are just as relevant today as they were nearly 20 years ago. The accompanying music video received extensive praise. It gave visual depictions of many of the prominent issues of the day. The "Right Now" won an MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year. "Right Now" was a #2 chart hit at mainstream rock radio.

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7. The Beach Boys - "Graduation Day"

Beach Boys Today
The Beach Boys - The Beach Boys Today!. Courtesy Capitol

This Beach Boys song is somewhat rare. It was originally recorded by the Four Freshmen. However, it is well worth hearing and adding to the mix of songs played at the time of graduation. "Graduation Day" is included on the 2001 CD reissue of the Beach Boys' 1965 eighth studio album The Beach Boys Today! The Four Freshmen version was recorded in 1956 and was covered by artists such as Tommy Sands and The Lennon Sisters.

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6. Florence and the Machine - "Dog Days Are Over"

Florence and the Machine Dog Days Are Over
Florence and the Machine - "Dog Days Are Over". Courtesy Island

For those who have seen high school as something to be endured as much as enjoyed, this stirring hit from Florence and the Machine will provide an outstanding soundtrack for leaving high school behind and facing a brighter future. "Dog Days Are Over" was the breakthrough hit in the US for Florence and the Machine. It peaked at #21 on the pop singles chart following a well received live performance at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards. It has now sold four million copies in the US alone.

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5. Eminem - "Not Afraid"

Eminem Not Afraid
Eminem - "Not Afraid". Courtesy Interscope

There is rugged language in spots in this anthem from rapper Eminem. However, the centerpiece of the song is a rousing call to set aside fear and join together in forging a positive future moving away from violence and drugs. "Not Afraid" was released as the lead single from Eminem's seventh studio album Recovery. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. and also went to #1 on mainstream pop radio. "Not Afraid" earned a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance.

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4. Boston - "Don't Look Back"

Boston Don't Look Back
Boston - "Don't Look Back". Courtesy Epic

Boston's rousing pop-rock anthem from the 1970s is still a powerful song for helping celebrate the "new day breakin'" that is represented by graduation. It was the title song from Boston's blockbuster second studio album that was ultimately certified seven times platinum. The creation and release of the album began a cantankerous relationship between Boston and their label Epic that caused the group's third album to be delayed for eight years. The song "Don't Look Back" was a #4 pop hit single.

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3. The Weepies - "Can't Go Back Now"

Weepies Hideaway
The Weepies - Hideaway. Courtesy Nettwerk

This song by the Weepies was featured in the film Adam. The underlying tone of the words is that moving forward can be scary due to the possibility of being alone. However, the song provides encouragement for the importance of taking those steps. The Weepies are a celebrated indie folk pop duo made up of married couple Deb Talan and Steve Tannen. The album Hideaway, which includes the single "Can't Go Back Now," was the duo's chart breakthrough climbing to #31.

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2. Katy Perry - "Firework"

Katy Perry Firework
Katy Perry - "Firework". Courtesy Capitol

Katy Perry's #1 smash hit single is a clear call for positive self-esteem. It is a perfect upbeat song for graduation parties and ceremonies. "Firework" was the third consecutive #1 pop hit from Katy Perry's album Teenage Dream. Katy Perry has explained that "Firework" is her favorite song on the album thanks to its uplifting, inspirational message. The song has been certified for sales of seven million in the US. In addition to topping the mainstream pop chart, it went to #1 on the dance, adult contemporary, and adult pop charts. "Firework" earned a Grammy Award nomination for Record of the Year.

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1. My Chemical Romance - "Sing"

My Chemical Romance Sing
My Chemical Romance - "Sing". Courtesy Reprise

This song is an anthemic call to raising your voice and being heard even when you face opposition. My Chemical Romance have created a great new song for helping celebrate a point in life in which self-identity is of utmost importance. "Sing" was a single from My Chemical Romance's album Danger Days, a follow up to their big hit album The Black Parade. It was the group's first single to make an impact on the adult contemporary chart. It reached the top 10 on adult pop, rock, and alternative radio.