Home » Playlists » Top 20 Songs About School Life

Top 20 Songs About School Life

School is a very polarizing experience. Some love it, and some hate it. However, regardless of where you fit on the spectrum, it’s all something we have to go through, and we all have our own take and experiences.

Songs about school life are a good reflection of this contrast. Although, there appear to be slightly more negative rather than positive songs on the subject. Of course, this could be because the guys writing the songs were a lot more focused on their music than their studies.

Let’s get to it and take a look at the first song about school life.

Songs About School Life

Top 20 Songs About School Life

School’s Out by Alice Cooper

Released in the summer of 1972, and it honestly feels like it was yesterday. Its release date coincided with the ending of my first year at high school, and the lyrics and sentiment hit a huge chord. I can remember wishing that school was out forever and that there was no need to return. 

Schools Out” was released from the album of the same name. The single went to #7 in the US and #1 in the UK. No doubt, many of those sales were from the disaffected youth with a little bit more money in their pockets than I happened to have at the time. 

The album sold well…

It recorded more than a million sales in the US alone, achieving platinum status. “School’s Out” was to be one of Alice Cooper’s last studio albums as part of a band before he embarked on his solo career, which began in 1975 with the release of Welcome to My Nightmare.

Alice Cooper also marked a few firsts in my life that I can still remember. He was the first guy I’d ever seen wearing make-up. He was the first guy I can remember to sing songs about going to school. And, the first guy I can remember getting banned from the BBC.

It all seems a bit strange now, knowing that he’s a polite tee-total golf enthusiast.

I Don’t Like Mondays by The Boomtown Rats

The Boomtown Rats were a Punk/New Wave band from Ireland that formed in the 70s. So, some of you may not know them. If I tell you that Bob Geldof was the lead singer, does that help? No? The guy that organized the Live Aid concert in 1985. No?

Okay then, let’s move on…

I Don’t Like Mondays” was released in 1979 and taken from the album, The Fine Art of Surfacing. The single reached a lowly #73 in the US charts and went to #1 in the UK. The poor result in the US was hardly a surprise, given the lack of promotion and exposure.

The album saw similar lackluster figures. It couldn’t even break the Top 100 in the US and only made it to #7 in the UK. Record sales of just 100,000 copies in the UK were also a little disappointing.

So, what was the song about?

It was about school, but it was undoubtedly a little macabre. It was a commentary on school shootings in the US, specifically the school shooting in San Diego. 

Brenda Ann Spencer randomly opened fire in the school, and the process killed two teachers and injured a police officer and eight children. When she was asked why she did it, she replied it was because “I don’t like Mondays.” Hence the title of the song.

A bit of a depressing song… 

But, The Boomtown Rats had a bit of history for dark songs. Their best-selling single released a year previously, “Rat Trap,” was no ray of sunshine. That dealt with the crushing effect living in a poor town had on one’s spirit.

The Boomtown Rats split in 1986, taking their miserable music with them.

Don’t Stand So Close To Me by The Police

This is a song from another British band of around the same era. The Police were formed in 1977, and though Punk was in full swing, The Police gravitated to a less aggressive style that eventually was categorized as New Wave. 

They were always highly musical, which, given the lead singer’s Jazz background, is far from surprising.

The legend goes that “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” was inspired during Sting’s time as a teacher at the Northumbrian College of Education in Newcastle upon Tyne. The story goes that he wrote the song following a series of tempting encounters with some of his over-amorous female students.

It’s a great tale… 

But, according to subsequent interviews, ‘Don’t Stand Too Close To Me” was just a way to tap into the huge female following they had at the time. It wasn’t a song about teacher and student relationships.

The single was released in 1980 on the album Zenyatta Mondatta. It went to #1 in the UK and sold over a million copies. The album similarly got the top spot but achieved much greater international recognition. In the US, it went double-platinum, and it went single platinum in the UK.

Globally, the album sold over five million copies. The Police disbanded in 1986, so Sting could spend more time hugging trees.

Walk This Way by Aerosmith

Most of you are probably thinking, “Wasn’t this a song by Run DMC?” And you’d be right. The fact is that DMC did record and release it in 1986. 

However, “Walk This Way” was written by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry and recorded more than a decade earlier, in 1975. It was released in the same year as a single from their album, Toys in the Attic. The single was a huge success and sold more than two million copies in the US alone. 

The album went crazy and sold nine million copies in the US. It’s seen as one of the greatest Rock albums of all time. It was good enough to make it to The Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums list at a cool #228.

So, what about that Run DMC version?

It charted well and sold more than a million copies in the US. It was a superb cover, but it was the video that made it. This was at the time that MTV was popular. Do you remember? It was when they used to play videos. 

The music video that went with the Run DMC cover was killer. It featured Run DMC on one side of a wall and Steven Tyler on the other. During the video, Steven Tyler jumps through the wall, and they join forces in a singing and dance-off. 

The video was hugely popular and true to MTV; it was played every three seconds for 20 years. I’m not a huge fan of rap, but I preferred this song to the original. But what about the link to songs about school life? 

I’m sure you’re wondering…

That all has to do with a young guy going to a school dance and losing his virginity. Nice to have a school story with a happy ending.

Fifteen by Taylor Swift

Here’s one for all you “Swifties.” The song looks back to her high school time, which couldn’t have been that difficult since she was only there last week. It deals with the emotions and pain of teen romances and the difficulties of navigating relationships at a young age.

Like most of Taylor Swift’s songs, it’s a detailed analysis of her thoughts and feelings. It starts with a description of her very first day at high school and moves on from there. 

I can’t help thinking that she would have been better served knuckling down to her studies, I know I was. I went to an all-boys school.

That’s a different story…

Fifteen” was released in 2009, and it performed best on the US Country charts, where it reached #7. No surprise this is where it got the best results since it’s a Country song about school life through and through. It was even recorded in Nashville, Tennessee.

It was taken off the album, Fearless. The single did pretty well, selling two million in the US, but the album went meteoric. It reached #1 on the main US as well as Country charts. It also got to #5 on the UK Country charts, which surprised me because I didn’t even know the UK had one.

Record sales saw Fearless sell over seven million copies in the US, going diamond in the process. This was all over a decade ago, and she’s still singing about relationships.

ABC by The Jackson 5

It’s a little ironic that Michael Jackson was singing in 1970 about the importance of love as well as learning. Ironic, because he hardly ever went to school, and he wasn’t even a teenager when he was singing about a subject he couldn’t possibly have known anything about.

Still, this was something he’d been doing pretty much since he was old enough to first crawl onto the stage. A year later, he’d sing on the smash hit “I Want You Back.” Another romantic love song.

ABC” was released in the same year as the album of the same name. The single reached #1 in the US, and the album reached #4. The single was a big success and went platinum in the US.

During this period…

The Jackson 5 were prolific performers and writers. However, their popularity saw a bit of a decline, and it wasn’t until they changed their name to The Jacksons six years later that they began to write some of their best songs. 

These included “Blame it on the Boogie” and “Shake Your Body,” which were released in 1978 and 1979, respectively.

Michael Jackson never returned to the subject of schools specifically, which is no surprise since he had no real experience of it. However, he did pen songs in his later life about childhood with tracks like “Childhood” and “Gone to Soon.”

Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani

Following Gwen Stefani’s split from No Doubt, this was the third single from her debut album. Her solo debut single is “What You Waiting For,” which was released in 2004.

Hollaback Girl” was released a year later, in 2004, and was taken from, Love. Angel. Music. Baby. The single was huge. It got to #1 in the US and went five times platinum, selling over five million copies in the US.

The single also had historical significance, becoming the first to achieve over a million digital downloads. The album was equally popular, selling over seven million copies worldwide.

Back to the song…

Hollaback Girl” was a Hip Hop/Pop style track that very much split the music critics for its minimalist production. It was a departure for her musically; therefore, it was bound to challenge opinions. It didn’t stop it from being a big success, though, as I’ve already covered.

It’s a song about confronting school bullies rather than hiding behind other people, even when the bullying isn’t directed at you. She does this as a self-appointed cheerleader, that’s a running theme throughout the song.

She got the inspiration for the track following a remark from Courtney Love, who compared Gwen Stefani to a school cheerleader. Stefani picks this up and uses it in the song and video to demonstrate she would be the one leading cheers in a positive way and not one of the bullies hollering back.

Happy by Pharrell Williams

Why can’t all songs be like this? “Happy” describes it perfectly, and it frankly couldn’t be any more upbeat. This Dance/Soul track can’t be listened to without breaking out into a smile and possibly into a bit of a dance too. I challenge you to take a listen and see what happens.

The song was released as a single from the soundtrack “Despicable Me 2”. It’s such a great song for a children’s cartoon movie and fits so well. The song was also released in 2014 on Pharrell Williams’s studio album, Girl. That’s a great piece of double exposure for the song.

Happy” went to #1 in the US, the UK, and just about everywhere there was a chart, and they had electricity. It was a massive hit, and rightly so, selling over eleven million copies in the US alone. You see, we do like happy songs.

So, what’s it all about, and how does it relate to schools?

It is about embracing a positive mindset and embracing happiness. In the face of adversity and problems, we should just clap our hands, sing a song, and dance. Oh, what a great mind space to be in, and I love it.

The song is based around clapping and the kind of songs we’d sing at school. I think that Pharrell Williams is trying to get us to channel our happy childhood schooldays experiences to create more positive thinking and living.

It’s a very relatable concept and explains how it became so popular. 

(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!) by Beastie Boys

I’m sure a lot of us have been at the point where we would do anything rather than go to school. There are a high proportion of people who hated school and can identify with the simple message of the song.

Lyrically speaking, there’s not much to this one. The singer is steadfast in his view of not wanting to go to school and hence the line, “You’ve got to fight for your right to party.” It’s a song of rebellion, teenage angst, and fighting the controlling environment of teachers and parents.

(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)” is probably the Beastie Boy’s best-known song. And it remains one of the best songs about school life. It was released from their debut studio album, Licensed to ILL

So, how well did it do?

The single made it to #7, whereas the album got to #1. The album also enjoyed clocking sales totaling over 10 million, and that was just in the US.

The Beastie Boys, after numerous line-up changes, eventually called it a day in 2012. They left a catalog of ten albums behind them, but they were never able to replicate the success of Licensed to ILL.

Baby One More Time by Britney Spears

Who can forget 1998 and a teenage Britney Spears exploding onto the music scene? What an entrance, and what a video to accompany it. Even though it was played endlessly on MTV for a hundred years, it never got boring.

Although the song is not strictly about school, it would be churlish not to have included it on my songs about school life list. After all, the entire video is set around various areas of a high school. It’s an iconic song and video which deserves inclusion.

Baby One More Time” catapulted Britney Spears to international stardom. The single made it to #1 in the US, the UK, and a heap of other European countries. It sold insanely well and achieved over ten million sales worldwide.

Not bad for a debut single, eh?

The album it was taken from, also titled Baby One More Time, was even more successful. It sold 14 million copies, but that was just in the USA. Worldwide it ended up selling 25 million copies.

Both the single and album were also critically acclaimed. They won 22 awards between them. Most notably, the single won a Billboard Award for Best Female single of the year. All well-deserved.

(What A) Wonderful World by Sam Cooke

Sam Coke was born in 1931 and was well known as one of the pioneers of Soul. He had an incredibly successful career that sadly spanned just 13 years until 1964. This is when his life came to an end after being shot by a motel manager in Los Angeles.

His contribution to music was immense, and his inventive style allowed giants of the music industry, like Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and Stevie Wonder, to follow in his footsteps. He has rightly received a host of awards for his work.

(What A) Wonderful World” was written with the help of Lou Adler and the legendary Herb Albert. It was recorded in 1959 and released towards the end of his career in 1960. The song made it to #2 both in the US and the UK.

So, what’s the song about?

The singer is explaining that he isn’t well-educated. He wasn’t a very conscientious student, and he didn’t understand many of the lessons. As a consequence, he had rather large holes in his knowledge.

However, despite not being an academic, he understood more worldly aspects of life. What’s more, one thing he did understand well was love and the emotions that went with it.

Hot for Teacher by Van Halen

This was nowhere near the most successful Van Halen single, but it was one of the more memorable. Plus, because of the accompanying video, it was one of the more controversial too.

Why?

Because the video featured schools and female teachers who tore off their clothes to reveal bikinis. There was also a lot of male crotch-holding that proved to be a bit too much for some of the censors back in the 80s. It was initially banned, but the censors eventually relented. Given what you see on TV today, it has to be said that the music video was relatively tame.

As you may have guessed, this is a song about a schoolboy’s fantasy – having a physical relationship with his new teacher. He’s just a horny adolescent that has a lot more on his mind than boring lessons. Something we can all relate to, I’m sure. 

That’s not an endorsement of anything…

Hot For Teacher” was released in the same year as the album it is featured on, 1984. Unfortunately, record sales were much less to get excited about than the video. It only managed a lowly #56 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #23 on the Alternative Billboard Chart. 

Happily, the aptly named album 1984 was altogether much more successful.

How much so?

It sold 15.5 million copies and became their second best-selling album only after Van Halen. However, since both albums have sales of less than 100,000 separating them, I think it’s fair to say they are easily as successful as each other. 

Beauty School Dropout by Frankie Avalon

For any of you that have never watched the movie “Grease,” I recommend you do. It might be old, but it’s a wonderful classic with a great soundtrack, with songs like “Beauty School Dropout” included. 

What’s more, you also get to see John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John playing the lead roles in their prime.

Beauty School Dropout” was the sixth track on the smash hit “Grease Original Soundtrack.” It was released as a single but, compared to the album, had fairly muted sales.

So, how successful was the album?

It was huge, going to #1 in the US, the UK, and most European countries. It sold over 18 million copies in the US alone and sold more than 30 million copies worldwide.

Back to the single…

The lyrics describe a conversation between a girl, who dropped out of her beauty school, and her guardian angel. The girl lacks ambition and drive. The guardian angel tries to persuade her to go back to school and get an education so she can get a good job and improve her life. 

Unfortunately, the girl doesn’t listen, and the guardian angel leaves her to her fate and ascends to heaven. This, of course, is all accompanied by a wonderfully choreographed dance routine.

We’re Going to be Friends by The White Stripes

The White Stripes are an Alternative Rock band formed in America in 1997. They employed a fairly low-tech and stripped-back approach to their recording. 

They might be best described as embracing a combination of Blues and Garage Rock to create their alternative sound. “We’re Going to be Friends” is a good example of this.

It was released in 2002 and was taken from the album White Blood Cells. It was a simple recording with an electric guitar, played by Jack White, as the only instrument. Similarly, the video was nothing fancy, with only one shot of him singing to his friend outside whilst sitting on a sofa.

Both the single and album enjoyed solid sales… 

The album sold close to two million copies. It is a heartwarming song about school and friendships. It recounts the meeting of a boy and girl on their first day at school. Subsequently, they become best friends and are involved in each other’s lives both at school and outside.

Listening to this, you can’t help but feel that Jack White must have had one hell of a great childhood. If not, don’t worry because he’s had one hell of great adulthood. 

After he left the White Stripes, he went on to a hugely successful solo career. Very much deserved, as he’s currently one of the best guitarists there is on the Rock scene.

Getting Better by The Beatles

It was released in 1967 and today is probably not known to many, unless they are a Beatles fan, of course. The reason you may not have heard it is because it was featured in the 1967 massively successful Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, but it was never released as a single.

Outside of the 32 million fans who bought the album, it’s, therefore, an unknown song.

Getting Better” was a Lennon/McCartney arrangement. It’s a typical Beatles song that I must say has a distinct feeling of “Penny Lane” about it. For a song going back over 50 years, though, it’s aged a lot better than most of the music from this generation.

Despite the rather happy and upbeat feel…

The lyrics are altogether much darker. They deal with anger and physical violence at school. What is most surprising is that this was very much a part of John Lennon’s personal experience.

In interviews in the 80s, he confessed to having been violent and unruly. Not only was he always spoiling for a fight, but he was also violent and controlling with the women in his life. “I used to be cruel to my woman” is a clear reference to his past.

Lennon was quick to point out that he was ashamed of his past and had worked to change his life. He also explains that this was why he was so adamant about spreading the message of love and peace. I was honestly surprised to find this out and genuinely don’t know what to make of it. 

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School By The Ramones

It was released in 1979 as the lead single from the album of the same name. The album was the official soundtrack to the movie again named “Rock n’ Roll High School.”

The single, album, and movie did little in the charts and at the box office. In fairness, the movie was a very low-budget affair, with just $350,000 spent on it. Even accounting for inflation, that’s a super low number and goes a long way to explain its less than stellar box office receipts.

Let’s get back to the single…

Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” has the distinct sound of Punk in 70s America. It’s played fast and simple with nothing overly complicated in terms of musical arrangement. There are no epic bass lines or guitar solos here.

Lyrically, it’s also very simplistic. It’s a song about teenage rebellion with the line “Rock n’ Roll High School” badly sung in harmony a thousand times. It’s not my thing, but then again, The Ramones never were. However, there are plenty of big fans out there, so they have something.

I think the music was too simple, badly played, sung, and produced. The only positive for this particular song is that it was all over in just two and a half minutes.

My Old School by Steely Dan

Steely Dan was formed in 1971 by Donald Fagen and Walter Beck. They have been rocking for the past fifty years in one form or another and don’t look to stopping anytime soon. This Jazz/Pop/Rock outfit has released a huge number of singles and albums. 

They are probably best known for the 1973 Rock Classic, “Reelin’ in the Years.” However, “My Old School,” released in the same year as their album, Can’t Buy a Thrill, is no less of a great song.

It charted in the Top 10 in the US. The album peaked a little lower at #17, but after a slow start sold over a million copies. Though admittedly, it took them twenty years to reach this number.

So, what’s “My Old School” about?

The song tells of a rather sorry tale that happened to Donald Fagen during his time as a student at Annandale College in California. As we all know, the late 60s was the “summer of love” where peace and drugs seemed to pretty much go hand in hand. 

This was the case for Annandale College, where the use of drugs was commonplace. Unfortunately, one of Fagen’s fellow students wasn’t in a loving mood and grassed (I know… sorry) them up to the police.

So, what happened?

Forty-four students, including Fagen, were busted and put in jail. Even worse, Fagen had his long hair forcibly cut. Image the lawsuit these days? Big numbers, no doubt. 

To say the effect was negative would be a huge understatement. The song is clear about how he feels about his old school. He’s also very clear that he won’t return under any circumstances.

School Days by Chuck Berry

This is the oldest song on my songs about school life playlist. It was released in 1957 from the album, After School Session and has the unmistakable guitar riffs and signature sound we’ve come to expect from Chuck Berry.

Despite its age…

This song will probably be instantly recognizable to many of you. To a large extent, this is because it’s been covered extensively. Covers have some from bands and individuals such as Eddie Cochran, AC/DC, and Led Zeppelin.

The song explores a common theme of students feeling disconnected from school and the subject they are forced to study. Although this was written over sixty years ago, it still has relevance to this day. It also holds music as an escape from the drudgery and boredom of school life.

What is especially interesting about “Schooldays” is the nicely detailed glimpse of how things were for students back in the 50s. It’s a great insight into how our grandparents used to live.

Mark Me Absent by The Clash

The Clash is a band of my generation and was one of the many Punk bands I grew up with. They were formed in 1976, and over the next three years, their musical prowess would prove sufficient to get me to part with my cash.

Possibly the most famous single was “London Calling,” and their most famous album was of the same name. Both were released in 1979, and they achieved commercial success going platinum in the UK and selling over three million copies combined.

So, how did “Mark Me Absent” stack up?

This was one of the first songs ever written by the band and was never released either as a single or a track on an album. Mick Jones wrote the lyrics which lay out his feelings about school. 

He feels emotionally suffocated and trapped. It is a place he doesn’t want to be, and the chorus tells us that he ultimately escapes.

Incredibly, there are still recordings of the song knocking around. If you take a listen, it’s pure 70s UK Punk. Raw, fast, and simple. The antithesis of Prog Rock which is everything Punk in the 70s, was about. I love it, but probably most of you will hate it.

Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd

What a time the 70s were for music. A golden decade. “Another Brick in the Wall” was released in 1979 from the double album of the same name. It’s unusual in some ways as Pink Floyd released very few singles. They’re much better known as an album band. 

This is because they tended to release concept albums with a common theme that was best listened to and understood in their entirety.

In some ways, this is true for the single “Another Brick in the Wall.” Although there’s an obvious message in the lyrics, it’s all much clearer in the context of the entire album.

So, what is the song about?

It concerns the awful teaching and abuse at the hands of the singer’s schooling. The lyrics are written by Roger Waters and are an autobiographical account of his school days. It’s something I can relate to, as I had to endure a similar critical educational experience. 

Thankfully, things are very different now…

Another Brick in the Wall” contains a wonderful solo and is a musical masterpiece, as is the entire album, which came hot on the heels of three of the greatest albums of all time. 

Namely, Dark Side of the Moon in 1973, Wish You Were Here in 1975, and Animals in 1977. However, sadly, these were the last decent pieces of music they produced. 

In many ways, it would have been better if Pink Floyd had disbanded after “Another Brick in the Wall.” Instead, they continued on a little too long like a punch-drunk boxer who’d fought one fight too many.

Looking for More Great Music?

Well, take a look at our detailed articles on the Best Songs About the Weekend, the Top Songs About Home, the Best Songs About Life, the Best Songs About Depression, and the Best Songs About Rain for more incredible song selections.

Of course, you’ll need to listen to those tunes. So, check out our in-depth reviews of the Best Headphones For Rock & Metal Music, the Best Headphones for Music, the Most Comfortable Headphones, the Best Sound Quality Earbuds, and the Best Bass Earbuds you can buy in 2023.

Songs About School Life – Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. Songs about life at school have undoubtedly been a fertile ground for songs. I hope at least one of your personal favorites was included. If not, then apologies but the shortlist meant a lot of songs didn’t make the cut. So, that’s it, the bell has been rung, and it’s time to move on.

Until next time, happy listening.

5/5 - (38 votes)
Share:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About Corey Hoffman

Corey is a multi-instrumentalist who has played in numerous bands over the years, some good, some not so good. He has also written countless songs and recorded five albums in professional studios across America. Today he is a hobby musician but still loves the guitar after over 15 years of playing.

He considers his writing as a way to share what he has learned over the decades with younger generations ad always can't wait to get his hands on the latest gear.

He lives just outside New York with his wife Barbara and their two German Shepherds, Ziggy and Iggy.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top