Songs for the Recent Graduate
Pity this season's graduating classes. Third Eye Blind's "Graduate" ringing in their ears, they leave behind Ugg-scuffed gymnasiums, trashed sorority houses and the familiar comforts of binge drinking, not for fame or fortune or stratospheric blog hits, but for the soul-crushing desolation of a static computer screen or a watched iPhone that won't ring. In the 1990s, pop group Cake made going "The Distance" sound epic and awesome. But anybody with a fresh degree or diploma to flaunt knows that's bunk -- the gauntlet of papers, exams and orals is torture unless you're some sort of sado-masochist. And to fight through all that just to discover that no one's hiring? Rough stuff, especially if the first call you got in weeks was from a TIME reporter researching a cover story on "the new, hyper-educated joblessness."
Reality bites, and the heydays of being guaranteed even a crap starter gig are long gone; it may be better to settle for an unpaid internship (Green Day, "No Pride") than to stew in your parents' attic (Fur, "Devil to the Lamb"), fantasize about making a mark via suicide (Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments, "My Mysterious Death"), or medicate yourself into a coma to the plangent, ironically calibrated tune of Switchfoot's "I Dare You to Move" or Jack Johnson's juvenile-cum-toke-friendly "Upside Down." Ultimately, the best position to assume is one that combines positivity with realism and pragmatism: Push yourself out of bed to Natasha Bedingfield's "Unwritten," suit up to The Chemical Brothers' "Galvanize," roll up to the interview on time rocking A Tribe Called Quest's "Award Tour." Remember: Everyone is special in a unique way, there's a place for you (Barbra Striesand, "Somewhere"), confidence is usually infectious, and even pop-culture icons fall prey to "The Fear" that Pulp delineated so well way back in Clinton's boom-economy '90s.