I don’t actually know what purpose a class song is supposed to serve, but if I had to guess I would say that it is intended to give that particular class a warm wave of nostalgia anytime they hear it, to serve as a reminder of their high school memories any time they happen to stumble upon it on the radio.
Most songs chosen to be class songs seem destined for the job. They are songs about saying goodbye, growing up, or moving on.
They are songs written to pick at our heartstrings, to make us feel nostalgic, to leave us teary-eyed but smiling as we look back fondly on our pasts. Sometimes they fulfill these goals, and sometimes they don’t.
But the songs that really do the job, at least for me, are those that have earned personal meaning by being a part of memories I cherish. I always thought Iron and Wine’s cover of “Such Great Heights” was a nice song, but it didn’t really begin to hold meaning to me until I sat on a living room floor with six friends, some old and some new, singing it softly, letting every note sink it and feeling closer to those six people than I had ever felt to anyone else.
If it hadn’t been for my best friend jumping on my bed singing to “Happy Boys and Girls,” by Aqua, I would never listen to it. If Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” didn’t immediately bring to mind memories of a close friend singing it almost daily throughout our middle school years, I probably wouldn’t turn up my radio and smile every time it came on. But it does, of course.
Because these songs have played a memorable, if minor, role in my life, they will always mean more to me than my class song. Everyone has songs with more meaning to them than others. It would be near impossible to pick just one song to represent the high school memories of 150 different kids. But that is exactly what a class song aims to do.
Almost everyone I know has complained about his or her class song. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, “We picked such a clich song. I wish we could’ve been just a little more original.” But in order to pick a song that at least somewhat equally represents the memories of the entire class, it needs to be a song that is applicable to everyone.
So year after year, seniors vote and the majority picks a song full of clichs in order to pick one that they feel is somewhat capable of leaving such a large group of people looking back, teary eyed but smiling every time they happen to chance by it on the radio.
It’s a difficult task, and it’s harder than it might seem. No matter what song is chosen, there is always going to be someone unhappy with it. But I bet you anything that when they do happen to hear that particular song, they’re going to be reminded of their senior year whether they want to or not, simply because it was chosen as their class song.
They might simply shake their head and turn their radio off, but by reminding that person of their senior year at all, the song will have served half its designated purpose anyway.
Jazzmine Freedom , a Robertson High School senior, is an intern with the Las Vegas Optic.