10 Bands Everyone Digs In High School
High school is a delicate time in every teenager’s life, from day one of freshman year all the way to homecoming dances, football games and, ultimately, graduation. These are formative and angst-ridden years, and more often than not, they’re accompanied by the discovery of music that eases the confusion and all those darn hormones. There are some bands that seem to pop up during the four-year tenures of high schoolers everywhere, and we have them here: 10 Bands Everyone Gets Into in High School — because they, like, get it, you know?
Nirvana is about as universal as it gets in terms of high school experiences. No matter how you came upon the ‘90s grunge rock band — their 1989 debut, ‘Bleach’; ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit'; the ‘MTV Unplugged in New York’ performance or otherwise — this band had and will continue to have staying power for generations to come.
It didn’t matter which crowd you associated with in high school -- songs like Weezer's ‘Buddy Holly’ and ‘El Scorcho’ have a nerd-cool vibe that seems to resonate with all teens. The catchy hooks offer universal appeal, which inevitably inspires high school bands playing the gymnasium and garage circuit (and lead singers hoping to be the next Rivers Cuomo).
Beck’s ‘90s breakout hit ‘Loser’ made little sense, and the music video even less, but that didn’t stop it from becoming the sensation that it continues to be today. “I’m a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me,” became an anthem for high schoolers everywhere, allowing them to embrace their awkwardness and ultimately creating lifelong fans of the singer-songwriter.
Green Day’s 1994 album ‘Dookie’ created a string of hits like ‘Basket Case’ and ‘Longview’ that spoke to the melodrama of high school and continue to be discovered by teens looking for music to describe the restlessness of those years. Of course, we would be mistaken to not mention ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),’ off the band’s 1997 album ‘Nimrod,’ which wormed its way on to the pages of senior yearbooks and into graduation mixes and the ceremonies themselves.
It wasn’t until their third album, ‘White Blood Cells,’ that the White Stripes garnered attention with the help of ‘Fell in Love With a Girl,’ which propelled them into their major label debut, 2003’s ‘Elephant. The rest was history. High schoolers continue to discover the band, and inevitably mourn the Stripes’ 2011 dissolution, at which time the band wrote on their website, “The White Stripes do not belong to Meg and Jack anymore. The White Stripes belong to you now and you can do with it whatever you want.” We’ll hazard the guess that teens hearing of the band for the first time will keep the memory alive for years to come.
‘Creep,’ the standout track on Radiohead’s 1993 debut album, ‘Pablo Honey,’ continues to be many high schoolers’ introduction to the band. Similar to Beck’s ‘Loser,’ ‘Creep’ exclaims the feeling of being an outcast or invisible to your peers -- feelings particular to that age. For all intents and purposes, ‘Creep’ could’ve been a beloved one-hit wonder, but that was hardly the last we heard from the group. Radiohead have gone on to create seven more albums that have carved out a place for them as one of those pinnacle bands you discover in high school.
Rebellion and angst are practically synonymous with high school, so when teens hear punk for the first time, it resonates. While teens rebelling against their parents and teachers are not quite on par with the Clash, who used their music to fire back at the English establishment, the band often serves as young listeners’ introduction to the genre. The Clash’s catalog is diverse in sound, ranging from traditional punk to songs infused with rockabilly and even reggae. No wonder tracks like ‘Rock the Casbah,’ ‘London Calling,’ and the pop-fueled ‘Train in Vain' are instant favorites during those formative high school years.
Whether you’re Team Oasis, Team Blur or a pacifist in terms of the ‘90s Britpop rivalries, you cannot deny the staying power of Oasis’ first two albums and mega-hit, ‘Wonderwall,’ which has captured many a high school-aged heart. ‘Wonderwall’ has appeared on numerous teen TV dramas and could easily replace Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’ on Lloyd Dobbler’s boombox in ‘Say Anything’ — if it were made six years later, or today for that matter.
Whatever your opinion of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ latest album, ‘Mosquito,' the New York band established themselves in the early 2000s with a couple of EPs and their breakthrough debut, ‘Fever to Tell.’ The two albums released between then and ‘Mosquito’ solidified the trio’s place in high school music discovery. After all, ‘Maps,’ the biggest Yeah Yeah Yeahs hit to date, still earns a place on high school break-up mixes. Nothing epitomizes young heartbreak as well as Karen O crying, “Wait, they don’t love you like I do.”
OK, so nothing quite captures the pain of being young and hopeless and the sting of unrequited love better than the Smiths catalog. The brilliant pairing of Morrissey and Johnny Marr produced countless terribly sad songs that will continue to be passed around by terribly sad teens ever-anticipating their high school graduation.