Top 10 Graduation Songs for 2012

of 10

10. Matchbox Twenty - "How Far We've Come"

Matchbox Twenty Exile on Mainstream
Matchbox Twenty - Exile on Mainstream. Courtesy Atlantic

Matchbox Twenty remind us that when it feels like everything is coming to an end, it is often the perfect time to look back at, "how far we've come." For some, graduation can be a time when it seems all of the safe construction of the personal world of the past is suddenly burning down. "How Far We've Come" provides reassurance that we really are in a perfect position to look toward the future. As the lead single from their greatest hits collection Exile on Mainstream, "How Far We've Come" became the biggest hit single by Matchbox Twenty in four years peaking at #11 on the pop chart and reaching the top 10 on the dance chart and at adult pop radio.

of 10

9. Lady Gaga - "Born This Way"

Lady Gaga Born This Way
Lady Gaga - "Born This Way". Courtesy Interscope

Lady Gaga's brilliant celebration of the unique in life is relevant for a wide range of occasions and graduation is one of them. It may seem highly theatrical for some to use at a graduation ceremony, but it is also the perfect self esteem boost for others. The song "Born This Way" kicked off the album of the same name. It debuted at #1 on the pop chart becoming Lady Gaga's third #1 pop hit and spent six weeks at the top. "Born This Way" was a #1 hit single around the world and sold more than four million digital copies in the US alone.

of 10

8. Pink - "F**kin' Perfect"

Pink F**kin' Perfect
Pink - "F**kin' Perfect". Courtesy LaFace

Self doubts can swirl like a major storm at a point of transition in life like graduation. Pink reminds us here in no uncertain terms that being yourself is indeed being perfect. The self doubts only make us run down. It is embracing the uniqueness which helps us all move forward. "F**kin' Perfect" was the second single released from Pink's compilation album Greatest Hits...So Far!!! She has stated her main inspiration in writing the song was her husband Carey Hart. The celebrated accompanying music video makes strong statements against self-destructive behavior including suicide. "F**kin' Perfect" peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 while hitting #1 at both mainstream and adult pop radio. "F**kin' Perfect" also earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance.

of 10

7. Jason Mraz - "Song For a Friend"

Jason Mraz Mr. A-Z
Jason Mraz - Mr. A-Z. Courtesy Atlantic

Jason Mraz reminds us all here that loving oneself is a very key ingredient to success in life. "Song For a Friend" is a pleasing downbeat contrast to the uptempo songs here in this list. It is meditative for much of the song then explodes in a beautiful choral section. The song closes Jason Mraz' second studio album Mr. A-Z. It was co-written by Dan Wilson of the band Semisonic. He is also known for co-writing the Dixie Chicks' Song of the Year Grammy Award winner "Not Ready To Make Nice" and Adele's celebrated #1 hit "Someone Like You."

of 10

6. Calvin Harris - "Feel So Close"

Calvin Harris Feel So Close
Calvin Harris - "Feel So Close". Courtesy Columbia

This dance-pop song from Calvin Harris became his breakthrough pop hit in the US peaking at #12. It is also a song with a simple and powerful sentiment. "Feel So Close" carries a feeling of intimacy that can relate to individual relationships, but it is also just as appropriate in explaining the massive feelings of collective closeness that comes with an event like graduation. This song is perfect for celebrating with friends. It is one of the few Calvin Harris songs to feature his own vocals.

of 10

5. Billy Joel - "Vienna"

Billy Joel Stranger
Billy Joel - The Stranger. Courtesy Columbia

Billy Joel first released "Vienna" as a an album track on his legendary 1977 album The Stranger 35 year ago. The words of "Vienna" are just as relevant now as then. They speak about casting off fears and doubts and realizing that if one just relaxes there are wonders that await. Graduation can be a time of huge emotional energy and trepidation. A reminder to slow down and take the future as it comes is a worthwhile sentiment for this transition in life. Billy Joel was inspired to write the song after a visit with his father in Vienna, Austria. He has mentioned it as one of his favorites among all of the songs he has written. 

of 10

4. Florence and the Machine - "Shake It Out"

Florence and the Machine Shake It Out
Florence and the Machine - "Shake It Out". Courtesy Universal

Graduation is often a time in which, among all of the other feelings, that the weight of the past is felt as real and present. That is what Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine sings about here. The past may indeed be dark, but if you shake off the past fear and pain, then you can dance in celebration of the future. Florence and the Machine followed up "Dog Days Are Over," their breakthrough pop hit in the US, with this first single from the album Ceremonials. It hit the top 10 on the dance chart and at rock radio. "Shake It Out" received strong critical acclaim and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Duo or Group Performance.

of 10

3. Flo Rida - "Good Feeling"

Flo Rida Good Feeling
Flo Rida - "Good Feeling". Courtesy Atlantic

Flo Rida has a good feeling, and hopefully for everyone some of the emotions associated with graduation will be some of the best feelings of life. This is an upbeat party song that has an irresistibly positive attitude. It is perfect for celebration of graduation at the ceremony or with parties afterward. "Good Feeling" became Flo Rida's sixth top 10 pop hit. It is also notable for featuring a sample from Etta James' "Something's Got a Hold On Me" that was also utilized as the hook from Avicii's big dance hit "Levels."

of 10

2. Grouplove - "Tongue Tied"

Grouplove Tongue Tied
Grouplove - "Tongue Tied". Courtesy Atlantic

Graduation is a time to celebrate friends and friendships. "Tongue Tied" will be instantly familiar due to its inclusion in television commercials. However, that takes nothing away from its upbeat celebration of good times with friends. The alternative pop sound here is instantly classic and durable. "Tongue Tied" became the breakthrough hit for Grouplove. It went to #1 at alternative radio and ultimately broke into the top 25 on both mainstream and adult pop radio. The song was notably covered on the hit TV series Glee.

of 10

1. Nicki Minaj - "Fly" featuring Rihanna

Nicki Minaj Fly
Nicki Minaj - "Fly" featuring Rihanna. Courtesy Cash Money

"Fly" is an upbeat, anthemic song about seeking something beyond mere survival. As Rihanna sings in the chorus, "I came to win, to survive, to prosper, to rise, to fly!" The smooth soaring sound of the chorus contrasts beautifully with Nicki Minaj rapping about a glorious future to come. "Fly" was released as the final single from Nicki Minaj's debut album Pink Friday and became the fourth top 20 pop hit from the project. It was also the last song added to the album. However, Nicki Minaj felt strongly about the inspirational power in "Fly."