Top Ten Thursday: Back to School

School Music - Songs about College or High School

Fall is almost here; and with the fall comes a sense of dread among all kids, teens, and young adults alike: school has arrived. While the three of us at LxL are done with school (at least for now), that doesn’t mean we don’t like to reminisce a bit. This week we go with our ten favorite school songs with these two main criteria for the category: they couldn’t be about graduation (a list for another time), and they had to be about school or at least set in school with tons of references to it. This actually proved to be one of our most difficult lists to decide upon, as songs about school a lot more prominent in music history than we thought. So let’s take you back to school.

10. Adam Sandler – “Back to School”

I think it’s fair to say that Billy Madison is one of the most important films of our generation with “Back to School” being the film’s magnum opus…ok, so I’m overselling it a bit – but anyone with a sense of humor loves Billy Madison with this song inevitably hops into your head every August.

9. Young MC – “Principal’s Office”

I actually wasn’t familiar with this song before we decided upon this list but needless to say, the song and the video absolutely won me over. It’s your quintessential old school hip hop vibe and you have to at least get to 2:40 when you can see what hip hop recess looks like.

8. The Coasters – “Charlie Brown”

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No school is complete without the mischievous class clown. Cue “Charlie Brown”. I remember absolutely loving this song when I rode along in my Aunt’s car as she played Oldies radio when we were younger. We don’t often talk about early R&B/doo-wop, but the Coasters and others like them are a straight up blast.

7. Pink Floyd – “Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2”

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This maybe fell in our list because it has been burned into all our minds through classic rock radio, but this is probably the most famous and one of the greatest anti-school songs of all time, and the centerpiece of what I would call the best Pink Floyd record.

6. Aerosmith & Run DMC – “Walk This Way”

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What I originally didn’t think of as a great school song, the envelope-pushing “Walk This Way” is actually littered with school references. Peer pressure and trends are the name of the game in high school, and the freewheeling spirit of “Walk This Way” pretty clearly captures that.

5. Nada Surf – “Popular”

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In our high school days, a love of Nada Surf’s “Popular” actually didn’t make you popular, but it definitely make you cool. Speaking songs like “Popular” were all the rage in the 90’s, but I think Nada Surf no doubt takes Prom King in that category. Still all these years later, it’s still absolutely awesome.

4. Sam Cooke – “Wonderful World”

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Used pretty much in at least one scene in every high school movie since its release, “Wonderful World” says forget education and just fall in love – that’s at least what I got out of it. There is something about harmonizing “science book” and “biology” that just seems funny, but the song remains blissful no matter the harmonies.

3. Roxy Music – “Street Life”

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The first song on Stranded, Roxy Music’s “Street Life” is perfect for your college freshman – Bryan Ferry very frantically tells you to ditch school (degrees) for women and the street life. Lovely message and a phenomenal song.

2. Jackson 5 – “ABC”

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Pretty sure everyone in the world loves this song; if you don’t, you have a cold black heart. Like “Wonderful World”, these little known brothers from beautiful Gary, Indiana use everything you used and learned in elementary school to describe love.

1. Kanye West  – “School Spirit”

Did we just put Kanye over the King of Pop and his musically-inclined brothers? Sure did. Take away those goofy Bernie Mac skits, and this our introduction to Kanye West on College Dropout and his clear lack of “school spirit” about college. We have loved him through the good, bad and the boastful ever since.

Austin: Wheatus – “Teenage Dirtbag”

Fairly confident Austin picked this just so he can give the first (and last) Jason Biggs shout out of the blog through this video, since this song was the theme for Jason Bigg’s first post-American Pie flop, Loser. This also brings back some funny high school memories.

Todd: Vampire Weekend – “Campus”

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Todd loves life on the campus – even if he spent four years on the worst one in the country. Admittedly, this song is probably an appropriate picture of the college life Todd lived: studying romances, sleeping on the balcony of the mansion after class, and spilling kefir on his keffiyah (traditional India head-dress).

Wes: Chuck Berry – “School Days”

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I was going to go with indie choices here like Andrew Bird’s “Measuring Cups” or Hot Chip’s “And I Was A Boy From School”, but I did what Austin always makes fun of me for doing: sticking to the classics. It’s a travesty this school time classic didn’t make our list, and I had to give Chuck his proper due for singing about high schoolers (when he was about twice as old as them) better than anyone else.

So there is the list. Let us know what we unforgivably missed, or got right, but still feel free to just rip on us in general …

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Author: Wes

Hoosier. Writer. Music Buff. Media Man. Tourist. Polar Bear.

3 thoughts on “Top Ten Thursday: Back to School”

  1. First song that came into my head was “Back to Schooldays” by Graham Parker and the Rumour, off their brilliant first album ‘Howlin’ Wind”. Here’s a live version from 1978.

    The studio version has Dave Edmunds guesting on twangy guitar, and he did a good version of the song a bit later too.

  2. The song was first attributed to the pseudonym “Barbara Campbell” who was Sam Cooke’s high school sweetheart. It was first recorded by Cooke in 1959 for his 1960 album, The Wonderful World of Sam Cooke. The song was released as a single in the spring of 1960, reaching #12 in the US and #27 in the UK. A bouncy love song, the lyrics have the singer disavowing knowledge of academic subjects (the song is often referred to informally by its first line, “Don’t know much about history”), but affirming the object of his affection “but I do know that I love you”.

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