School’s in session! Below are our choice of catchy songs that encompass every aspect of school life. Whether you loved school or hated it, at least one of these songs will touch on your own elementary or high school experience with teachers, homework, and stresses of youth.
So read on for our best songs about school life.
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“School’s Out” by Alice Cooper
Song year: 1972
Probably Alice Cooper’s greatest hit, this 1972 anthem to the end of school and beginning of summer perfectly captures the pure joy and delight of the beginning of summer vacation.
Although the song is actually saying that school is out because the school was blown up, Cooper’s rock-punk anthem has become the epitome for the best months of the year for school-aged children even nearly fifty years later.
“Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” by the Ramones
Song year: 1979
The Ramones were the kings of punk rock in the United States throughout the 1970s and 1980s, making their lyrics that much more effective against high school teachers and the principal.
This classic tune is a punk rock classic that visualizes high school as a grand party where guys would rather chase girls than learn from the establishment. It was pure punk at its finest.
“Fifteen” by Taylor Swift
Song year: 2008
Taylor Swift was still a teen herself when she sang this song about being fifteen, a freshman in high school, and the trials and tribulations young girls go through during this confusing time in school and in life.
This is a time when adolescents are just discovering who they are, and Swift’s country song embodies this wonder and fear of young love while searching for one’s identity throughout high school. It is the perfect reminder of teenage love and heartbreak.
“School Days” by Chuck Berry
Song year: 1957
From its first few well-known guitar licks, Chuck Berry’s classic rock anthem narrates how teens in the 1950s looked forward to hanging out with friends after the chore of going to school, arguing with teachers, dealing with bothersome guys in class, and taking stressful tests.
“School Days” would end up becoming a rock and roll hit for young listeners during that time who could relate to Berry’s description of a typical high school day.
“School Days” by the Runaways
Song year: 1977
This song bearing the same name as Berry’s classic debuted twenty years later by an all-girl punk rock band that would spawn numerous classic musical artists in the 1980s.
Lead singer Joan Jett rejoices what she describes as wasted youth from the outlook of an older and wiser eighteen-year-old. She shows signs of regret for never making the honor roll, despising homework, and basically not caring about school until it was too late.
“ABC” by The Jackson 5
Song year: 1970
This is the perfect song about the ins and outs of school. It narrates how a young girl who needs to focus on the importance of school, not just learning her ABC’s but also reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Having it sung by a young, adolescent Michael Jackson adds to the purity and youthfulness of this chart-topping R&B tune. He convinces the young girl that learning the alphabet and other much-needed subjects is as easy as counting to three.
“Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd
Song year: 1979
This song has the perfect chilling mixture of Roger Waters’ vocals and children singing in the background to form an unsettling protest against school and the educational system. The result is a powerful message that children do not need an education.
This anti-school anthem reflects Waters’ own issues with the school system by examining the control he believed teachers had over their students and that students in the long run were simply better off with them.
“We’re Going to be Friends” by The White Stripes
Song year: 2002
Jack White delivers a sensitive tune about the delight and innocence of elementary school through the eyes of a young boy coming back to school and the main priority in life was making friends.
It is a playful and good-natured tune that recounts the narrators walking with a new friend to school and knowing they would be friends and truly shows the simplicity of this special time in one’s childhood.
“(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” by the Beastie Boys
Song year: 1986
This party anthem probably reminds every Gen-Xer of their early high school years. The Beastie Boys became superstars with this hit about waking up late and not wanting to go to school.
This rebellious anthem is the perfect party song of the 1980s that explains perfectly why young teens would rather party with friends than going to class, doing homework, and listening to teachers drawl on and on about subjects they simply do not care about.
“Be True to Your School” by The Beach Boys
Song year: 1963
From the Beastie Boys to the Beach Boys, this lively pop song from the 1960s is the opposite of fighting for your right to party. Instead, the Beach Boys are encouraging students to show their school spirit and pride in their school.
This is one of the few songs that illustrate a positive take on being faithful to education as the Beach Boys sing about proudly wearing your school letter jackets and declaring your school as being the best in the state. It may not sing about academics, but it definitely recounts how high school carries with it a sense of identity and community.
“(What a) Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke
Song year: 1960
This song carried with it a distressing tale of a student who has trouble with every academic subject in school. From history and science to math and foreign languages, this poor soul is unable to master any of his school subjects.
When then is it a wonderful world? Because even with all of these academic shortcomings, this student still knows that the world is a wonderful place to live and that he has found that one special love of his life. If he tries harder in school, maybe she will love him in return.
“The Hard Way” by The Kinks
Song year: 1975
This was one song that contributed to an entire concept album the Kinks made about the education system. This song in particular stood out for its fast guitar and memorable lyrics that detailed a teacher’s thoughts on a student whose time was being wasted in school.
The narrator is actually a disillusioned teacher who feels time is wasted since the student probably will never make anything of himself. It is a story of disappointment and disenchantment of school days masked with rock and roll.
“Smokin’ in the Boys Room” by Motley Crue
Song year: 1989
Another song purely about teen rebellion, this story takes a look at teenage boys smoking in the high school bathroom. It was a heavy metal classic that helped make the band a top 40 hit during the days of MTV and music videos.
“Smokin’ in the Boys Room” takes a hilarious look at a song originally sung by Brownsville and how students in the late 1980s cared more about defying the establishment rather than learning their high school subjects.
“Getting Better” by The Beatles
Song year: 1967
No list is complete without The Beatles, who in this song reflect on their own school experiences. The song examines one young man’s conflicts with focusing on school and were not far from the real-life school days of Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
Both McCartney and Lennon were ones not to follow the rules, and this disobedience is reflected in the lyrics of “Getting Better” and the story behind the narrator being held down with the strict rules of his schooldays.
“School is Out” by Regina Spektor
Song year: 2007
The narrator of this unreleased song walks the vacant hallways of school, noticing the bathroom graffiti, things left behind by fellow classmates, and pennies that are scattered across the floor. This is a depressing yet melodic tune about school being over.
It is unclear whether the narrator is a student or a teacher, but one thing for sure is that she feels out of place and disconnected within the school’s walls when left alone without people around her.
“Hot for Teacher” by Van Halen
Song year: 1984
This Van Halen classic is probably more well known for its MTV music video than the song itself, yet it is also a definitive song about a young boy’s obsession (and possible affair) with his teacher.
The song was on the popular album named appropriately after the year the song was released and became a somewhat ill-fitting yet catchy anthem for all young boys of the 1980s.
“Don’t Stand so Close to Me” by The Police
Song year: 1980
Four years before Van Halen had young boys singing that they were hot for their female teacher, The Police were narrating another inappropriate situation of a young girl having a crush on her male teacher.
Sting expressively narrates how the student fantasizes about her teacher and how she should not stand too close to him. This song opened up the decade with a story of love and lust between a student and her teacher.
“Don’t be a Dropout” by James Brown
Song year: 1967
James Brown had a very important message through his 1967 classic, and it was simply to stay in school. The narrator of Brown’s tune is trying to convince the audience of the importance of education by talking about a friend who went to a failed job interview.
During the interview he was told that since he did not have an education he may as well be dead. A bit harsh, but gets the point across of the importance of school and getting an education.
“The Homecoming Queen’s Got a Gun” by Julie Brown
Song year: 1984
From a serious song about staying in school to a hilarious parody from the 80s mocking the tragedy songs of the 1950s, Julie Brown’s unique hit narrates the story of her best friend, Debi, and the killing spree she performs at the high school homecoming dance.
Debi commits the crime right after being crowned homecoming queen before being taken out by police. Could this song be done today? Probably not. But in 1984 it was a novelty only MTV kids could love.
“Beauty School Dropout” by Frankie Avalon
Song year: 1978
Another somewhat parody of the 1950s in that this classic was in the 1978 film Grease. Frankie Avalon sings to the character Frenchy, who had dropped out of high school to attend beauty school, which she would end up flunking out of.
The school is a hilarious take on the aspects of the film as the narrator, Avalon as her guardian angel, encourages her to return to high school (appropriately done in the sequel, Grease 2).
“(She’s) Sexy & 17” by the Stray Cats
Song year: 1983
The parody songs of the 1950s continue with this 1983 classic that details a schoolboy proclaiming how he will not go to school and does not care about reading, writing, math, or history.
The narrator would rather be with a girl named Marie who is, you guessed it, sexy and seventeen. Cutting class and hooking up takes precedent for this young man over learning from his teachers.
“Little Things” by Good Charlotte
Song year: 2001
Good Charlotte was known for their punk rock anthems during the early 2000s, and this classic was dedicated to all of the outcasts and misfits we all knew in high school.
The song itself hits on some pretty serious topics of high school bullying, but does finish with a positive outlook that the kids in high school who felt alone and abandoned will find a flicker of hope with the little things.
“Bad Boy” by Larry Williams
Song year: 1959
This song may not have gotten an audience until The Beatles recorded their version of Larry Williams R&B treasure, but Williams’ voice is perfect for narrating the story of a new kid who constantly gets in trouble in school.
A true “Bad Boy,” the mischievous pranks are pretty harmless, such as putting gum in a girl’s hair or a tack on his teacher’s chair, yet in 1959 he is still painted as a bad boy.
“My Old School” by Steely Dan
Song year: 1973
Co-founder and lead singer of Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, narrates why he will not go back to his old school, Bard College. This autobiographical tune explains how Fagen and his girlfriend, Dorothy White, were arrested in 1969.
Fagen, White, and around 50 other Bard College students were arrested in a raid, and this was the inspiration for this Steely Dan tune about getting in trouble in college.
“I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats
Song year: 1979
Written by Bob Geldof, of Live Aid fame, this song tells the story of a real life tragedy he had read about detailing a sixteen-year-old named Brenda Ann Spencer who had fired a gun at children at a San Diego playground.
The tragedy resulted in the killing two adults and the injuring of eight children and inspired Geldof to narrate a song about school being out, children going to the playground, only to be struck with violence.
“High School Confidential” by Jerry Lee Lewis
Song year: 1958
This song opened for a film of the same name and clearly praised the tradition of going to high school dances, somewhat of a staple during the 1950s and 1960s.
Jerry Lee Lewis was just one of many rock and roll singers who sang about high school traditions, but his is fun to listen to and makes you really believe he wants to be at the high school dance joining the kids and having fun.
“Walk this Way” by Aerosmith
Song year: 1975
Long before Aerosmith joined up with rappers Run-DMC to reclaim this tune, they were singing about a high school dance, a school gym locker, a cheerleader, and other schoolboy fantasies.
The original 1975 version of “Walk This Way” certainly stands on its own as an exciting and scandalous narrative about every young boy's fantasies about high school girls.
“Good Girls” by 5 Seconds of Summer
Song year: 2014
The star of this narrative is a good, smart, straight-A high school girl who is so intelligent she is headed to Harvard in the fall. Her parents are worried, however, that she has spent so much time with her nose buried in her textbooks that she has not had any fun.
The song acknowledges that, although she is a straight-A student going to one of the best schools in the country, a good girl may simply be a bad girl who just has never gotten caught.
“Teacher, Teacher” by Rockpile
Song year: 1980
Nick Lowe’s vocals are perfect for a swooning student who has a crush on his teacher in this 80s classic by his band Rockpile. During a decade of rock songs that end up sounding salacious and a bit crude, Lowe comes off as harmless and innocent.
The young boy begs for praise from his teacher while alluding to the relationship going towards the inappropriate after the school bell rings. The song ends up being the epitome of a lovestruck high school teen.
“Hollaback Girl” by Gwen Stefani
Song year: 2004
At first glance, “Hollaback Girl” may not seem like a song about school, but it is in fact a song about Gwen Stefani as the quintessential high school cheerleader leading the cheers, not the kids hollering back.
The song was in fact written in response to a comment by Hole singer, Courtney Love, who equated Stefani to a high school cheerleader and love to the bad high school girls smoking behind the shed. Stefani’s response was a hit 2004 song.
“Love’s Unkind” by Donna Summer
Song year: 1977
The high school crush is a nostalgic representation of those four defining school years, and Donna Summer’s 1977 hit exemplifies a young girl and how she feels seeing her crush every morning in the school yard.
The song becomes that much more relatable when Summer further explains that the boy has a crush on the narrator’s best friend, a story that is the essence of high school backed by a pounding disco beat.
“High School” by Kelsea Ballerini
Song year: 2017
Exactly forty years after Donna Summer belted about a high school crush, a young artist named Kelsa Ballerini narrated her own country song about the high school football star who, although older, still yearns for his days back in high school.
Ballerini’s song is also relatable for different reasons, whether it is the narrator longing for Friday night football games, still driving her beat-up truck, still wearing her football jersey, or still calling his high school girlfriend. This is a story of a man who may have graduated from high school five years before, but is stuck in the emotions of his old life.
“Charlie Brown” by The Coasters
Song year: 1959
Everyone probably knew that one class clown in school, that one typical funny guy who makes everyone laugh, sometimes at his own expense. This is the student named “Charlie Brown.”
No, this is not about the classic protagonist from The Peanuts, but a kid who called his teacher “Daddy-O” and jokes about smelling smoke in the auditorium during a rhyming session. And the low voice asking why everyone is always picking on him is still memorable today.
“Shameika” by Fiona Apple
Song year: 2020
This song meets the requirements of being a reminiscent song about school because it was literally named after Fiona Apple’s classmate who had consoled the songwriter after Apple was bullied by a group of high school girls.
The song is unfortunately a familiar scene for many girls in high school, with the “mean girls” bullying others and the constant grind of going to school and dealing with this unfortunate fate. Apple even admits that she was not afraid of the high school bullies, and that just made things worse for her during this difficult time of teen life.
“The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades” by Timbuk3
Song year: 1986
Before STEM was cool, there was Timbuk3 singing about a job in nuclear science after high school graduation. The song hails good grades and an excitement for a student to start his career in a field of study he has been planning for during high school.
Today there is a push for high school students to gain an interest in STEM, but in 1986 the narrator’s future was bright due to what was ready for him – a good-paying job in the field of science.
“No Such Thing” by John Mayer
Song year: 2002
John Mayer does not seem to like high school guidance counselors in this 2002 hit, as he speaks out against them and other figures of authority who advise high school students to go for sensible career paths instead of taking risks and following their dreams.
Many guidance counselors do warn high school students to be careful and go for the safe jobs, and Mayer narrates against this and instead advises his audience to consider a life less sensible. He followed his own dream, something that made him happy.
“Don’t Stay in School” by Boysinaband
Song year: 2015
The point of this song was to get people talking, and when you tell young adults to not stay in school it usually does just that. The narrator does make some great points about what we learn in high school versus what we should be learning in high school.
Why learn about physics and not how to vote? Shakespeare and not looking after one’s health? The solar system and not how to budget money? Isotopes but not how to be a good parent? He concludes that childhood is actually wasted inside the walls of school.
“School of Rock” by School of Rock
Song year: 2003
The film School of Rock is a classic, and the title song is a perfect anthem to life in both middle and high school. Jack Black belts out about being a teacher’s pet, getting to school on time, and finally the power of rock and roll.
The film itself is a hilarious look at private school, and the song backs up this memorable film by detailing the private school’s conformist mentality it teaches and how Jack Black’s character tries to break the students free with rock and roll.
“Too Cool for School” by Fountains of Wayne
Song year: 2000
A few years before School of Rock, Fountains of Wayne made this rock song for the horror comedy film Scary Movie.
Since the film it is in is a horror parody, the song also parodies a student who plays hooky in order to get rid of his enemies. This truant is too cool for school and is always looking out for himself, an instigator who does things his own way.
“Smarter than You” by The Undertones
Song year: 1979
As the title indicates, this narrator is a know-it-all intellectual who claims to be smarter than you and everyone else. This may not be directly related to school, but it is a typical know-it-all that you more than likely went to school with at some point.
The narrator declares how smart he is minutes after meeting a girl, and you can probably imagine from looking back at high school that anyone who needs to make this claim is usually hiding colossal insecurities.
“High School Never Ends” by Bowling for Soup
Song year: 2006
Everything you may remember from high school is encompassed in this song. The accompanying music video claims they are back in 1985, but the lyrics are relatable at any age.
From students gossiping about one another’s clothing, appearance and relationships, to dealing with emotional and addiction issues, the rock song reminds listeners of the truth about high school and how it is a miniature real world students all enter at one point.
“Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake
Song year: 2001
This rock song makes education look cool and sexy, since that is the type of woman the lead singer of Cake is looking for in this 2001 tune.
He may want a woman with a short skirt and a long jacket, but this woman better also have a mind behind the outfit. He details how an intelligent woman is what he really desires, beyond just the outside and the outfit.
“Dammit” by Blink 182
Song year: 1997
Before they were singing about all the small things in life, Blink 182 released their 1997 hit that detailed the uncertainties everyone has about high school, relationships, and growing up.
This punk rock tune sums up youth perfectly, having friends in high school, that one girl you crush on, and when you see her years later and she still looks at you as just a friend.
“Jeremy” by Pearl Jam
Song year: 1991
Pearl Jam’s classic grunge hit takes a serious look at bullying and teen suicide. When Eddie Vedder belts out how Jeremy spoke in class, he is expressing the mental anguish high school students go through when they are bullied.
This is one song that portrays the serious issues of high school and how kids can use their own actions to drive their classmates to take their own life. And this song came out before the dangers of social media and cyberbullying.
Pearl Jam was way ahead of the curve back in 1991 when they released this now-classic track raising awareness about teen suicide and bullying in schools. It’s a great song with an important message every kid can learn from.
“Don’t Forget to Remember Me”by Carrie Underwood
Song year: 2005
The American Idol winner tales a heart-wrenching tale about life after your high school graduation and what it is like to become an adult and the bond you still have with your parents.
Underwood’s tune is about a girl who moves away from home after she graduates from high school. She wants to start her own life, but soon realizes the bond she has with her mom will end up lasting much longer than her vital school years.
“Parents Just Don’t Understand” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
Song year: 1988
This final choice is the perfect anthem for all middle school and high school students in the 1980s. The Fresh Prince narrates how out of touch his parents are as he tries to get ready for the first day of school.
They give him the wrong sneakers and ugly clothes and the Fresh Prince desperately tries to teach his mother what kids in the 1980s actually wear to high school. It is a hilarious rap that put Will Smith on the map as a young rapper and won him a Grammy.
Best Songs About School Days, Final Thoughts
Whether your memories of school include your first crush, Friday night football, your favorite teachers and classes, or the struggles with bullying, these songs hit all of the important milestone moments in one’s life as a high school student trying to find his or her way in the world.