Songs that captured my high school experience


Aug. 15, 2019: nothing could have possibly prepared me for the journey that I would begin on this date. It was my first day of high school and my first day at a public school. Coming from a private school, I quickly realized that this new environment was a lot bigger than I was used to, making it hard to adjust at first. A few months later, just as I began to grow familiar with my surroundings, make new friends and balance schoolwork, life took the most unexpected turn.

COVID-19 completely turned everyone’s lives upside down, but listening to music felt like I was still making connections without seeing anyone face-to-face. It was a therapist, a friend and a motivator all in one in a time when I didn’t have physical contact with any of those. As life began resuming to normalcy, my relationship with music only continued to grow. I felt like the music I listened to was one of the few things that I had full control over due to losing nearly all other important aspects of my life to the pandemic. 

As a senior in high school looking back at all of the memories, hardships and successes I experienced throughout the past four years, it’s clear to me that music amplified every moment of my high school journey. Ranging from sentimental songs to high-energy beats, these are the songs that defined my unique four years.

“Tongue Tied” – GROUPLOVE

At my first home game at NNHS, I vividly remember looking up at the stands and seeing the entire Dawg Pound having the time of their life to this song. I could feel the school spirit that everyone embodied and I never wanted that moment to end. Three years later, I looked up at the stands as a senior, witnessing the crowd go wild to this song yet again. The beat never fails to put everyone in a good mood. It reminds me of how precious these high school days are, so when I hear this song in the years ahead, I’ll be reminded of my time on the sidelines. 

“lovely” – Billie Eilish & Khalid

This song understood me the most when the rest of the world shut down. With lyrics such as “Oh I hope someday I’ll make it out of here,” and “Isn’t it lovely? All alone,” it almost seems like this song was made in anticipation of the pandemic. Although this emotional piece supported me throughout nearly a year, it also brings back vivid memories of feeling helpless that I overcame.

“Glorious” – Macklemore & Skylar Grey

One of the hardest parts of the lockdown was being away from cheerleading and my teammates. I lost both a football season and a traditional competition season in my sophomore year. When I heard this song during our first in-person tryout process for my junior year, it could not have been at a more perfect time. I felt like Macklemore wrote this song about my experience when he says “You know I’m back like I never left,” and when Skylar Grey sings “I feel glorious, glorious / Got a chance to start again.” Listening to this song made me realize how fortunate I was to return to the sport I loved, making it a pre-competition must-listen.

“The Way Life Goes” – Lil Uzi Vert & Oh Wonder

The title speaks for the song itself, reminding listeners that good and bad events are all a part of the process. I always ran to this song when it felt like there was no way out of the darkness that I was living in, only to be reminded that this is only temporary and the challenge I am dealing with will give me a new perspective on life. Hearing the words “I know it hurts sometimes, but you’ll get over it / You’ll find another life to live / I swear that you’ll get over it,” coming from a successful artist showed me that everyone struggles at some point, but we can all make it through.

“Where’d All the Time Go?” – Dr. Dog

Finding its fame through TikTok, this song found me at the end of my junior year, as I was anticipating all of the senior year excitement. I realized how accurate the title of the song was because it was at that moment I realized how quickly time flew. I made sure to cherish every moment because I knew that one day I’d look back and wish I could relive it. Now, entering my final month of high school, I am unable to get through this song without shedding a tear or feeling a pit in my stomach. To me, this song symbolizes the nerves, sadness, excitement, and bittersweetness of change. However, it’s a beautiful piece to recognize all of the moments that I experienced in my childhood as graduation draws near.

“love.” – Kid Cudi

If I could recommend any song in the never ending universe of music to a teenager, it would be this one. Following in the footsteps of one of Kid Cudi’s most popular songs, “Pursuit of Happiness,” this song has the same electric, surreal twist to it. Only “love.” has lyrics that were powerful enough to carry me through the most difficult season of my life, an honor that no other song is worthy of receiving. Cudi has a way of connecting to younger audiences with his lyricism. If I thought that every lyric of this song was applicable to my life, I can’t even imagine how many other teenagers think the same way. The most beautiful part is the way that I can both sympathize with the emotions and thoughts that he portrays throughout the verses, but I’m also able to find inspiration in his lyrics such as, “All of the stories the hero gets lonely / Now is the time to show what you’re made of.” I believe that all words fall short of accurately depicting this piece.

A few more of my favorite songs throughout high school that did not make this list include: Sundress (A$AP Rocky), Runaway (Kanye West), Happier Than Ever (Billie Eilish), We Are Young (fun.), Getaway Car (Taylor Swift), Time of Our Lives (Pitbull), and The Spins (Mac Miller).

These songs certainly amplified each of the ups and downs that I experienced in high school. I highly recommend giving these songs a listen as they may do the same for you. I will always appreciate the moments that I experienced as a student at Naperville North High School and I will listen to each of these songs going forward as a reminder of my high school journey. I am forever thankful that I discovered each of these songs at perfect times and that I found a passion and a friend in music. Each of these tunes work together to form the biggest lessons I took away from my years as a student: live each opportunity to its fullest extent and never take any moment for granted.