NOTHING FEELS GOOD: A Graduation Playlist
by Meridith Carroll on May 21, 2015
Posted in: Music, Pop Punk
Is there anything I love more than a man-boy whining about growing up over a catchy riff? Probably not! Are you graduating? Do you need a whiny boy to sing about it so you know it’s real?? Don’t Worry! I’m here with the whiniest grad day playlist ever made to serve all of your senior week pre-game needs! The lyrics on most of these songs don’t make much sense and at least two of them talk about shoes! Let’s get started:
Third Eye Blind – “Graduate”
Can I graduate?
Recently (like today?) Pitchfork published a piece on nostalgia that focused on Third Eye Blind and Dashboard Confessional and it was a bunch of gibberish that used the word “millennial” so many times I wanted to barf. Generations are confusing, but I often think of myself as being on the tail end of one who could appreciate these bands. I remember hearing Third Eye Blind on the radio and I definitely learned a bunch of Dashboard Confessional songs when I was a “teen,” but I was thirteen and in middle school not eighteen and crying over mixtapes that I made for my sensitive boyfriend who was going off to college or whatever. I think the discussion is supposed to be about taste, what’s cool and uncool, and how nostalgia colors that considering that millennials are nostalgic about everything, amirite? For six years, I’ve held the steadfast belief that one day I will woo a boy by being able to recite all of the lyrics to “Semi-Charmed Life” so I’m not about to give up on that dream. Anyway, this song is really catchy and it might make you feel some vague nostalgia if you were around a radio station in 1997, even if you were only five years old at the time. If you’re super fed up and begging the institution to just hand over the diploma already, this song is for you.
Head Automatica – “Graduation Day”
Graduation Day / We take back everything we said about you
Right before 8th grade graduation from Catholic school, a girl showed my entire class the music video for this song. It’s totally 2006 and kind of offensive, showing a bunch of college “stereotypes” graduating and then flashing forward to see how radically different they become after graduation– and you should definitely watch it. My class was scandalized because it showed a gay couple but now I can barely walk past an institution of higher education without barking things like “QUEER THEORY” and “GAY SHAME” so, really, the conceit of the video is pretty accurate. If you know that 8th grade angst never dies and/or you believe in the transformative magic of the future, this song is for you.
Modest Mouse – “Bankrupt on Selling”
I’ll go to college and I’ll learn some big words /and I’ll talk real loud / goddamn right I’ll be heard
This is definitely the saddest song of the mix. Most of it has nothing to do with college at all, focusing more on the existential dread of selling out and realizing that everyone you know is a phony (which you, college graduate, probably knew already because you read Catcher in the Rye in high school, c’mon now.) Even in the afterlife everyone’s a sell out! Who knew angels were so caught up in the latest footwear trends? Guess there’s no shame in taking that media analyst consultant position, even if you don’t know what any of those words mean! If you are a girl who likes to drink whiskey named Meridith James Carroll/a white boy who took an English lit class, this song is for you.
Kanye West – “Good Morning”
I guess this is my dissertation / Homie, this shit is basic / Welcome to graduation
Can you call a synth line a riff? Does Kanye West really “whine?” I’m not sure, but I’ll make some exceptions and let this track onto the list. I’d surmise that, while 90% of Middlebury graduates cannot relate to the lyrical content of this song, many will play this when they wake up on graduation day. Regardless, we’re #blessed to graduate in the same year as Mr. West himself (and on the day of his one-year wedding anniversary to Kim!) If you told your mama you’d go back to school and you actually did it, this one is for you.
The Promise Ring – “Nothing Feels Good”
I don’t own any albums / I don’t know anything / I don’t go to college anymore
Back to the emo. As much as you learn, there’s still so much you don’t know. Like how to tell the difference between Billy Ocean and the ocean floor. Or God. Or Anything! And when you think about it that way, nothing feels good, indeed. There’s another mention of heaven and shoes. Is your liberal arts degree any good at figuring out what angel shoes have to do with graduating? Intertextuality, people. Quick! 5000 words on the use of angel shoe imagery in 1990s alt-rock staples or: I Didn’t Need to Go to College to Learn How to Write Thinkpieces on Emo Music. If you need a humbling moment to reflect on all of the things you don’t know despite your $240,000 degree, this is for you! Play it as you drive away from campus for maximum effect.
The Wonder Years- “All My Friends Are in Bar Bands”
I’m not sad anymore / I’m just tired of this place / And if this year would just end, I think we’d all be okay
This song uses a lot of specific names and situations which make it tricky to pull off as a “Graduation Song” because it is NOT universal. How many of us are from West Philly? And who would lie about their major when it’s something as useful as International Sociology with a concentration in Environmental French Creative Writing? But for those among us moving back home, there’s probably a lot that rings true. “I’ve spent twenty-two years just wading through bullshit and hey, it’s worked so far.” Amen to that. If you decided to buy a happy light this winter / are confused by your newfound adult angst, this one is for you! Time to move out of this dismal state!
Modern Baseball- “Your Graduation”
It’s been three whole years of me thinking about you every day
The hardest thing about graduation isn’t the actual graduation: the wearing of robes, grabbing of diploma, or posing for pictures. It’s thinking about all of the things that happened or, worse, didn’t happen in your four (or more or less) years here. And there’s nothing like an Important Life Event to make you reflect upon all of your romantic failures, flounders, and falters. This is the best graduation song in the entire world because it has nothing to do with actually graduating while still perfectly capturing that nostalgia that starts hitting you like a ton of bricks the second you realized that you’re never going to do any of this stuff ever again. You start to fear that, to quote Modern Baseball, “you’re gonna miss it all.” For every one of us rebuffed by a Proctor crush, dumped in the Ross B11 classroom at midnight, left alone and heartbroken on the Mill dance floor: this is for you. For those of you with romantic success: this is NOT for you and you aren’t allowed to listen to emo music ANYWAY. GO AHEAD AND WALK AWAY (to get your diploma, to blast off into the future!)
P.S. Don’t forget about that song by Green Day. That’s a good one too.
P.P.S. Sadie Dupuis is the opposite of a whiny boy, but Speedy Ortiz’s “The Graduates” is a very good song that deserves some recognition. Those of you with romantic success can get this one (she wrote it about her now-boyfriend Dylan Baldi of Cloud Nothings!) Those of you who fell into stable academic mediocrity during college can get it too.