High school graduates toss mortarboard caps high into the sky, jubilantly celebrating their commencement. Friends pen pithy sayings in high school yearbooks, promising to keep youthful friendships strong. Teens look to the future with eager anticipation and perhaps a bit of trepidation. And graduation parties fill adolescent calendars. What top tunes can best build the soundtrack for high school graduation this year?
Why not create a music mix for your high school graduation party, combining top American Idol alumni with your own favorite brand-new high school alums?
Here are our top ten American Idol finalist hits for high school graduation 2009, listed in alphabetical order (by artist). Not all of the artists listed here won American Idol, but they have all become American Idol finalists, and they have all proved to be winners.
“When You Believe”
Teen heartthrob David Archuleta finished second (to David Cook) on the seventh season of American Idol. During the American Idol season, David Archuleta sang “When You Believe.” Composed by Stephen Schwartz for the animated motion picture, The Prince of Egypt, the song won the 1998 Academy Award for Best Original Song. R&B and pop singers Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston released a popular duet of “When You Believe.”
David Archuleta’s youthful version of “When You Believe” is ideal for a high school graduation celebration, offering hope and promise for young people considering their futures after high school.
The song’s refrain reverberates with eager anticipation and positive affirmation, both appropriate for high school graduates:
“There can be miracles
When you believe.
Though hope is frail,
It’s hard to kill.
Who knows what miracles
You can achieve
When you believe?
Somehow you will –
You will when you believe.”
R&B singer Fantasia Barrino (known simply as Fantasia) was the third season winner of American Idol. Fantasia sealed her victory with the hit single, “I Believe,” written by Louis Biancaniello, Sam Watters and Tamyra Gray (a contestant on the first season of American Idol).
“I Believe” expresses the clear confidence a successful high school graduate may feel, regarding his or her future after commencement. With a high school diploma in hand, what ambitious adolescent might not echo the lines of this chorus?
“I believe in the impossible,
If I reach deep within my heart.
Overcome any obstacle –
Won’t let this dream fall apart.
See, I strive to be the very best,
Shine my light for all to see.
Cause anything is possible
When you believe, yeah.”
“A Moment Like This”
Kelly Clarkson, the first season winner of American Idol, belted out this song of victory. Penned by Jorgen Elofsson and John Reid, “A Moment Like This” showcases the exuberant and joyful attitude of a major milestone of life.
The chorus of “A Moment Like This” reveals just how appropriate this song is for a high school graduation celebration:
“Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.
Some people search forever for that one special kiss.
I can’t believe it’s happening to me.
Some people wait a lifetime for a moment like this.”
“Time of My Life”
David Cook, the seventh season winner American Idol, of hit the ground rocking with this hit single. Regie Hamm wrote the song to win the 2008 American Idol songwriting competition. (Regie Hamm has also written songs for Bob Carlisle, Clay Crosse, Kenny Loggins, Jaci Velasquez and other artists.)
“Time of My Life” is a super song for high school graduation celebrations, as the lyrics trumpet a promise of a bright future and the bold determination to seize all of the opportunities life may have to offer.
Check out the chorus of “Time of My Life”:
“I’ll taste every moment
And live it out loud.
I know this is the time,
This is the time
To be more than a name
Or a face in the crowd.
I know this is the time,
This is the time of my life.”
“What About Now?”
American Idol fans (and even the American Idol judges) were stunned when Chris Daughtry was eliminated from the show, placing fourth in the fifth season. Chris Daughtry’s rock band, tagged Daughtry, quickly outranked his competitors in popularity. Daughtry’s hit single, “What About Now,” is a must-have for a high school graduation celebration soundtrack.
Written by Josh Hartzler, David Hodges and Ben Moody, “What About Now” speaks of carpe deum, seizing the moment, as high school graduates are wont to do. The song’s bridge contains a spirit of confidence, comraderie and confirmation that graduating high school friends would surely sing to one another on commencement night.
“Now that we’re here,
Now that we’ve come this far,
Just hold on.
There is nothing to fear,
For I am right beside you.
For all my life,
I am yours.”
The eighth season of American Idol is still underway,at the time of this publication, but music pastor Danny Gokey is a forerunner. Danny Gokey sang “Hero,” by Walter Afanasieff and Mariah Carey, during the televised competition.
Many artists have performed “Hero,” including Mariah Carey, Alexandra Burke, Aretha Franklin, Sarah Geronimo, Il Divo, Regine Velasques and Brooke White (American Idol season 7 finalist). Still, American Idol finalist Danny Gokey’s cover of the song seems the most suitable for a high school graduation celebration. The song is current and inspiring, coming from the recently widowed singer, who still stands his ground, hones his artistic gift and reaches for all life has to offer.
“Hero” is a particularly apt song for a high school graduation celebration. After all, what graduating high school senior would not want to feel like a hero, at least for a moment?” Take a look at the chorus of “Hero.”
“And then hero comes along
With the strength to carry on.
And you cast your fears aside,
And you know you can survive.
So when you feel like hope is gone,
Look inside you and be strong,
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you.”
“I Am Changing”
Jennifer Hudson, a finalist in American Idol‘s third season, starred in the 2006 motion picture edition of the Broadway hit Dreamgirls. In the movie, Jennifer Hudson sang “I Am Changing,” written by Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger.
This song suits a high school graduation soundtrack well, even as a popular showtune. “I Am Changing” expresses potential and promise, along with a personal resolve to meet the future with both flexibility and fortitude. Jennifer Hudson croons the chorus with conviction:
“I am changing, gonna get my life together now.
I am changing, yes, I know how.
I’m gonna start again; I’m leaving my past behind.
I’ll change my life – I’ll make a vow.
And nothing’s gonna stop me now . . . hey.”
Katherine McPhee was the first runner-up in the fifth season of American Idol. She finished the season by singing “My Destiny,” written by Tim Baxter, Harry Sommerdahl and Hanne Sorvaag.
“My Destiny” is an ideal song for a high school graduation celebration, as the lyrics speak of conviction and confidence for anyone facing the future. The chorus contains a nostalgic gratitude, expressed towards a special friend, parent or other person of influence, who may have contributed to the fulfillment of a dream.
“With you, I can break free, yeah.
With you, I saw a changing in my destiny.
Dreams come true, it’s so funny now that I see
How different life turned out to be.”
“This Is My Now”
Jordin Sparks won the sixth season of American Idol. Celebrating the victory, Jordin Sparks belted out “This Is My Now.”
Written by Scott Krippayne and Jeff Peabody, “This Is My Now” marks a momentous moment with music. This song is appropriate for a high school graduation celebration, as graduating seniors earn their diplomas and contemplate college, careers and other goals for the future.
The chorus of “This Is My Now” displays determination and enthusiasm for boldly pursuing life.
“This is my now, and I am breathing in the moment.
As I look around, I can’t believe the love I see.
My fears behind me, gone are the shadows and doubt.
That was then, this is my now.”
“Don’t Forget to Remember Me”
American Idol‘s fourth season winner, country music singer Carrie Underwood captured the hearts of young adults and others with her hit single, “Don’t Forget to Remember Me.” The son was written by Ashley Gorley, Morgan Hayes and Kelley Lovelace.
Beginning with the line, “Eighteen years have come and gone,” the song expresses the familiar fear and homeward longing of newfound young adult independence. As high school graduates celebrate their brand-new alumni status, “Don’t Forget to Remember Me” is an apt reminder to cherish family and friends from the past.
Consider the chorus of “Don’t Forget to Remember Me”:
“Just one more thing before you leave
Don’t forget to remember me.”
High school alumni celebrate with American Idol alumni songs.
Crank up the volume at high school graduation celebrations this year with American Idol stars. Celebrate graduating seniors with hit singles from American Idol finalists, and watch the party fun begin. When it comes to commencement celebrations, the sky’s the limit.
Congratulations, high school graduates.