Re-Purposing: Pop Songs for Grad School

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I like to go up and down the radio dial whenever Prairie Home Companion is playing on our NPR affiliate, or sometimes during the California Report, too. There's at least one, possibly two, Christian rock stations that I've happened upon a few times. I'll stop and listen to a really catchy song or two before I realize that the incredibly vague lyrics aren't love songs for a person, they're love songs for Jesus. Whoops!

I started playing a game with myself where I started trying to re-imagine regular pop songs as being Christian Rock. It doesn't work at all for most rap songs, which have really specific lyrics. "Your booty don't need explaining" can really only work for one situation. Pop love songs are easier to interpret in multiple ways.

Lately, I've had grad school on the brain. This past week has been a particularly mind-numbing experience. It's so consuming that I stopped thinking about songs as being about love, and started thinking of them as being about grad school. I'm relating to them a lot better than I was before!

Here are some songs that I've re-purposed with this in mind:

Pink's "Please Don't Leave Me"



This is a song about a school that rejected a student last year, and put them on the waitlist this year. "How many times have I kicked you out of here/ Or said something insulting" refers to this fact. They also lost some transcripts, or were slow with correspondence. But actually they're going to really want this student from the waitlist because a lot of accepted students are going to decline and the student is very good!

I can be so mean when I wanna be,
I am capable of really anything,
I can cut you into pieces,


So true! That school can be mean. 

Please, don't leave me [2x]
I always say how I don't need you
But it's always gonna come right back to this
Please, don't leave me

See? The student is going to get in, they just have to be patient. 

You're my perfect little punching bag,
And I need you.
I'm sorry.

Well, at least the school is apologizing.

Katy Perry's "Dark Horse"


This is about a school that's good, but they have a really big tuition deposit. If you accept this school and pay the deposit, but then you get a spot off the waitlist of another school and you take that place instead, you're going to be sorry because you lost a lot of money. 

I knew you were
You were gonna come to me
And here you are
But you better choose carefully
‘Cause I, I’m capable of anything
Of anything and everything

They know their deposit is insane! That's why they're saying they're capable of "anything and everything."

Cause once you’re mine, once you’re mine
There’s no going back

This University isn't messing around!

Aloe Blacc's "The Man"


This song is about a guy asking people for letters of recommendation. He gave his recommenders a page with a list of his accomplishments and some talking points, namely, that he's the man. 

Well you can tell everybody
Yeah you can tell everybody
Go ahead and tell everybody
I'm the man, I'm the man, I'm the man
Yes I am, yes I am, yes I am
I'm the man, I'm the man, I'm the man

He's asking for LORs from his teacher and his priest, and he jokes around with them:

I got all the answers to your questions
I'll be the teacher you can be the lesson
I'll be the preacher you be the confession
I'll be the quick relief to all your stressin' (this is my world)

A Great Big World's "Say Something"


This song was written by a student who keeps checking thegradcafe.com, so he knows that other people have been accepted into the program he really wants to get into. 

Say something, I'm giving up on you
I'll be the one, if you want me to
Anywhere I would've followed you
Say something, I'm giving up on you

The school's in a boring town, that's why he says "Anywhere I would've followed you." 

And I am feeling so small...

And I will swallow my pride
You're the one that I love
And I'm saying goodbye

Duuuude, I feel you. This is my jam right now. 

Marina Gafni

Marina Gafni is a 28-year-old speech pathology student. She lives with her husband in San Jose, CA.

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