Here’s To You: A Graduation Playlist In Two Parts

I picked up my cap and gown on Friday, went home, and watched two Wes Anderson films back-to-back: The Darjeeling Limited and The Life Aquatic. I listened to “So Far Gone” and gave my dog a bath. My mother got to my apartment as I was tying my honor cord around my doorknob and putting the processional schedule on the fridge.

I’m graduating from college today.

Graduation is a mixture of a few things: a dash of the future and what’s yet to come, a heaping spoonful of good memories, five unsolicited calls from relatives in varying amounts, and a large serving of Parental Overkill. I couldn’t bottle graduation up into one playlist. It is composed itself of two parts: the part where you sit back, pop bottles, and drink like an undergraduate for the last time with your iPod in the surround sound and the part where you go to your apartment, pack up the past, and put on the record player. Both parts are happening because graduation is this big, impending thing where you could lose everything you’ve held onto so tightly in an instant, and you have no control, and suddenly you also have to be in pictures and with family and at the end, you have to be alone. Graduating is bewildering, terrifying, wonderful, honorable, overwhelming, scary, and necessary. How could I possible attempt to capture it all in one piece?

To my fellow graduates: may this guide you well through your final house parties and UPS boxes, and let me know what I forgot. May you go places far and wide, and none like you imagined. May you end up somewhere you’re happy, or at least, may you be happier than you ever expected. May you never lose touch, and may you never forget what it was like to be 18, 19, 20, 21, and drunk. And may you never, ever have to wear an oversized gown in public ever again.

Here’s to you, graduate.

Here’s To You: A Graduation Playlist In Two Parts

I: Have A Party (with Friends)*


2012 – Jay Sean
Good Morning – Kanye West
Young Forever – Jay-Z
The Show Goes On – Lupe Fiasco
Make Me Proud – Drake
Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems – Notorious B.I.G. (duh)
We R Who We R – Ke$ha
Champion – Nicki Minaj
Celebration – Kanye West
Beautiful, Dirty, Rich – Lady Gaga
Up Up & Away – Kid Cudi
Run The World (Girls) – Beyoncé
Hate It Or Love It – 50 Cent
I Love College – Asher Roth
Lift Off – Jay-Z & Kanye West ft. Beyonce
Live Your Life – T.I.
Pretty Girl Rock – Keri Hilson (Kanye West Remix)

Graduation Part I from Autostraddle on 8tracks.

II: Have Emotions (with Yourself)


Take Care – Beach House
First Day of My Life – Bright Eyes
Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
Closing Time – Semisonic
Expo ’86 – Death Cab for Cutie
Strangers – The Kinks
Someday – Tegan & Sara
All The Wine – The National
With Arms Outstretched – Rilo Kiley
Front Row – Metric
Cheated Hearts – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Everybody’s Changing – Lily Allen

Graduation Part II from Autostraddle on 8tracks.

*Kanye West is the most proud of his accomplishments out of everyone in life.
Sorry he’s on here about a zillion times.

Want to suggest a playlist theme? Hit Crystal up on Formspring and someone on the team will make it for you. And obvs be on the lookout for future camp announcements!

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Carmen spent six years at Autostraddle, ultimately serving as Straddleverse Director, Feminism Editor and Social Media Co-Director. She is now the Consulting Digital Editor at Ms. and writes regularly for DAME, the Women’s Media Center, the National Women’s History Museum and other prominent feminist platforms; her work has also been published in print and online by outlets like BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic and SIGNS, and she is a co-founder of Argot Magazine. You can find Carmen on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr or in the drive-thru line at the nearest In-N-Out.

Carmen has written 919 articles for us.


    • No! They use Pachlebel’s Canon and I can’t bear hearing it again!

      A cello player

      • I KNOW RIGHT!

        pretty sure I fell asleep playing that once. and then quit cello a year later.

      • every time i hear anything that has anything remotely to do with pachelbel’s canon a piece of my soul dies.

        cellist 4 lyf.

  1. i graduated a year ago and i refuse to confront my feelings about this until i’m back at my alma mater next weekend for this year’s graduation. this page bookmarked for that moment.

  2. I kinda wish we had graduation ceremonies in France. We don’t have the gowns and the pretty diplomas, we just get wasted and get sad/relieved/over it.
    But yeah. FEELINGS.

  3. I’m really into this! I graduated yesterday (wat) and this is just yes.

  4. That second playlist is wonderful. I’ll be graduating from high school in a few weeks, and I’m just so scared to start college in the fall.

  5. Already crying. Thank you Carmen. Everything is going to be rough from now on and I’m terrified, and I worry that graduation is going to render all that I worked for in the last four years null and void.

    Can’t even handle this playlist right now, but I’ll come back to it.

  6. This. Is. Awesome.

    I’ve been playing a lot of “Swagger” by Flogging Molly (Whiskey On A Sunday version) just because I feel it really hits home the fact I’m getting a BFA in Classical Animation in two weeks and then ignoring my degree altogether and launching a career as a freelance comic book writer.

  7. I don’t graduate until December. :G Year round school with weird academic terms is ugly.

  8. A few of us in the Troubletones cabin listened to Closing Time in our bunkfort and many feelings were had. (I cried and it wasn’t even time to leave camp yet).

    It is a perfect good-bye song.

  9. Autostraddle always manages to have impeccable timing. I’m graduating high school in two weeks (!!!!!!) and heading off to college, and I’m currently simultaneously experiencing the most terrifying and most exciting feelings I’ve ever felt.

  10. CARMER RIOS, YOU THE SHITTT. pretty girl rock. take care by beach house. so many great memories. omg having a moment.

  11. Oh man, just looking at this playlist gives me feelings. My girl is graduating this weekend (a year before me), and I’m so, so proud of her…but I’m going to miss her like all sorts of crazy.

  12. Expo ’86. Damn. That whole second playlist. Damn.
    I’m graduating with my master’s on Saturday. Parents flying in. Boss throwing me a BBQ. And all I want to do is crawl under the covers and forget that I’m surrounded by boxes.

  13. I have tested and approved this playlist for law school graduation. Side note: being done with school forever is weird.

  14. I was about to look up songs to cry to (I graduate tomorrow), and then I remembered this post.

  15. I just want you to know that when I first read the post my snobby-Indie-rockish self was all like “nah, I’m gonna skip that first one and go and love beach house some more.” but nuh-uh! I’m having a party ON REPEAT!

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