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Music That Rocks: Back-to-School Songs

This article is a little belated, but it’s never too late to enjoy some back-to-school classics. If you’re having trouble readjusting to the craziness that is college as September comes to a close, perhaps these songs will get you in the mood for school… or maybe not. We don’t guarantee anything.


“If It Wasn’t True” – Shamir

“Shamir’s only 19 years old, his songs approach topics in a manner that’s probably relatable to most college students. ‘If It Wasn’t True’ chronicles a crumbling relationship, but not in a serious and depressing kind of way. The light, funky, and totally danceable beat belies the more moody lyrical content. It’s the type of song you can jam out to whenever — even if you’re still recovering from a breakup.” – Ciaran Dillon-Davidson ‘18

“Tarzan Boy” – Baltimora

“I stumbled upon this quintessential 80’s one-hit-wonder while trying to find music my parents may have listened to during their twenties. Dubbed ‘Italio Disco,’ this song stuck out to me for its use of Tarzan’s signature cry in the melody. The catchy tune transports you back to another era, one with much more neon and synth. New music is great, and I enjoy all of the other choices on this list, but sometimes its just better to listen to work from before our time. Without the innovations made in music during the 80’s, who knows what today’s songs would sound like?”  – Christian Petro ‘15

“Good Day” – Greg Street feat. Nappy Roots

“It’s an incontrovertible truth: put this song on during your walk to class and you can’t not have an awesome day. The upbeat rhythm and often-hilarious lyrics always put me in the best mood (don’t forget: orange Kool-Aid does, in fact, go good with Patron). Oh, also, it was featured on an episode of Gossip Girl, so you know it has to be good. Save that drama for another day. Heeeey.” – Kate Lewis ‘15

“Robbers” – The 1975

“I just went to Boston Calling and saw The 1975 live which was totally nuts. They are unbelievably talented. ‘Robbers’ was definitely the best song from their set. The electric guitar complemented with Matty Healy’s silky smooth vocals will melt your heart. It’s the perfect song to play while studying or relaxing after a long day of class. Inspired by a 1990’s heist film, True Romance, the stunning soft-grunge music video tells the song’s story perfectly.” – Alexa Kilroy ‘18

“The Times They are A-Changin’” – Bob Dylan

“Going deep into the archives for this one.  It’s the perfect second week of school song; one that forces you to think, yet is also enjoyable.  The mix of harmonica, guitar, and lyrics help you ignore his voice.  Despite being written in a tumultuous time in our country (1964), it still has a deep meaning that both calms and motivates.  ‘If your time to you is worth savin’ then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone’” – Jake Maestas ‘16

“Can’t Find My Way Home” – Blind Faith

“If any of you are fans of Eric Clapton, this is his infamous one-album band with Steve Winwood (vocals), Ginger Baker (drums), and Rick Grech (bass). This a great song, and it’s definitely a great piece of late-60s psychedelic classical rock. And if anything, these lyrics will be understandable to some when they miss the Comm Ave bus late Friday night and need to walk back to campus. Enjoy.” – Jack Donovan ‘17

“Lie In Our Graves” (Live at Radio City Music Hall) – Dave Matthews Band & Tim Reynolds

“I could not be more honest when I say there isn’t a happier song out there than this. The acoustic melody and upbeat lyrics give it that windows-rolled-down feel that makes you want it to sing it at the top of lungs driving to the lake, the Cape, the Shore, or even just the grocery store.The band gets some help from Tim Reynolds, renowned guitarist, which basically means double talent and double the length (nine minutes of pretty awesome vocals and solos from Dave and Tim). If you’ve heard the song before, let’s be friends. If not, check this version out ASAP as possible.” – Edward Byrne ‘18

“Break Free” – Ariana Grande & Zedd

“I love me some Zedd. The Grammy award-winning European DJ is responsible for some great sing-along bangers like “Clarity” and “Stay the Night,” and “Break Free” is bound to become a welcome addition to college parties. The powerful vocals of Ariana Grande make for a good companion to the pounding bass and electronic melodies that Zedd crafts. This song pumps me up for a night of revelry like no other.” – Danielle Dybbro ‘15

“You Oughta Know” – Alanis Morissette

With its infamous lyrics, this quintessential ‘angry girl’ song is the kind of song you want to have in your back pocket, and be able to bust out during those late impromptu Karaoke nights–abundant.  What’s more, you oughta know, if you get the Alanis impression down, this performance is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Have fun!” – Marianne Sevilla ‘18 

“Iron Sky” – Paolo Nutini

“Did I just drop a lot of euro to go see this boy sing live in Milan in November? Why yes, yes I did. When in Europe, right? I have a feeling I’m going to regret nothing. I first heard Paolo covered by a co-counselor at summer camp, singing this gem around our opening campfire; now, three years after that moment, this Scottish songwriter remains one of my favorites. This particular track is pensive, definition of; it’s got a moody bass line, gritty vocals, a bridge sampling Charlie Chaplin’s film The Dictator, and a save-the-world-by-saving-yourself kinda message. Paolo’s style fluctuates album to album, and you’ve got to give the whole discography a try to get a feel, but what doesn’t change is the quality of his production.” – Melissa Warten ‘16

Check out all of our staff’s favorite hits by subscribing to the Music That Rocks Spotify playlist!

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