School of Pop: 11 Music Videos With Classroom and Campus Scenes
August is over, September is halfway gone and many of us are knee-deep in back-to-school season. Whether that means being reunited with your friends after a long summer away or the end of your independence, there’s no denying that school is a kind of formative experience. More importantly, it's an excellent setting for pop music.
From the iconic music video that helped put pop princess Britney Spears on the charts to another that featured Gwen Stefani teaching us how to spell B-A-N-A-N-A-S, pop has taken us into the classroom and onto campus. Check out some of our favorite scholarly vids below.
“...Baby One More Time,” Britney Spears
The '90s earworm that helped launch Britney’s career as the unquestioned Princess of Pop also features some of her more iconic fashion moments. Before the jumpsuit from “Toxic” or the snake she carried across the stage at the MTV Video Music Awards, there was that schoolgirl outfit. The video itself is so steeped in high school — from the gym to the classroom to the hallways — that it even ends with a bell ringing and cuts to Britney daydreaming in class. We feel you, girl.
“Move Your Body," Beyoncé
This deep cut comes courtesy of two queens: Bey and Michelle Obama. A part of the famous First Lady’s "Let’s Move!" campaign to make schools healthier, the video finds Beyoncé invading a cafeteria and dancing with a group of students while rocking knee-length green socks. The Swizz Beatz-produced track ends with Beyoncé and the group waving small American flags, a nod to the campaign and the video’s roots.
“Best I Ever Had,” Drake
The beginning of Drizzy’s long career of soft-boy bedroom bangers shows him (respectfully) coaching a women’s high school basketball team. As tender as it is sexy, the Drake vid includes its hero rocking a varsity jacket makes us nostalgic for a time before he was wearing fur coats and confident enough to allegedly leave Rihanna for J-Lo. (The audacity!).
“Fancy (feat. Charli XCX),” by Iggy Azalea
There’s absolutely no denying that Iggy Azalea’s debut single was a banger. Maybe we like it because of the perfect, not-so-subtle recreations of iconic scenes from Clueless or the fact that Charli XCX was encouraging us to break the rules long before she grew into her own as a leader in pop, but one thing’s for sure: we wouldn’t want to mess with these two if we ran into either in the hallway.
“Hollaback Girl,” Gwen Stefani
Although we have a soft spot for No Doubt, Gwen Stefani’s early 2000s solo stuff was the Top 40 middle school soundtrack of your early-aughts dreams. The video for this unquestionable smash sees Stefani play the mean girl, outcast, band captain and head cheerleader, all while maintaining the kind of sleek, chic air of cool that only she could possibly muster. And, to top it all off, nobody will ever misspell the word bananas ever again. I-C-O-N-I-C.
“Don’t Let Me Get Me,” Pink
Icon of the underdogs, Pink’s early career and high school life as a troubled outsider are interwoven into what eventually becomes a story of triumph. Watching her get compared to “damn Britney Spears” and punching a mirror in the girl’s bathroom, one can’t help but think of her recently victorious turn and heartwarming speech as she accepted the Video Vanguard Award at the 2017 VMAs, which only makes the video’s happy ending that much sweeter.
“Break the Rules,” Charli XCX
In typical Charli XCX fashion, the British starlet turns school tropes on their heads by dancing on a school bus before riding it all the way to a thrift store. Then, of course, she heads straight to prom to stunt with her squad. A clever cameo from Rose McGowan as the prom chaperone paired with playful mayhem sets the stage for a Carrie-esque scenario, but the girls keep dancing despite dripping with pink goo. As for the lyrics, if “I don’t wanna go to school/I just wanna break the rules” isn’t the biggest mood indicator of the incoming fall season, we’re not sure what is.
“New Perspective,” Panic! At the Disco
A lesser known single from Pretty. Odd. used for high school horror film Jennifer’s Body, the video for "New Perspective" sees Brendon Urie and Spencer Smith walking through a school hallway in tuxedos as a fight breaks out. Featuring (violent) scenes from the movie, the video ends with the band beaten up and walking through a football field. Again, big mood.
“Misery Business,” Paramore
It would seem that a lot of bands from our childhood kick off their careers with songs about school, but Hayley Williams’ vision of high school is vastly different from Britney Spears’. Appropriately enough, Williams and the rest of Paramore put the mean girl in her place at the end. It’s just (misery) business.
“In the Sun,” She & Him
Pure to a fault, Zooey Deschanel-helmed duo She & Him unsurprisingly imagine high school to be full of big libraries, quirky vintage clothes and synchronized dancing. And honestly? It’s kind of great. An indie-pop video set in a high school is usually a recipe for angsty music, so it’s refreshing to see something a little unexpected.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana
Although it would be absolute sacrilege to call Nirvana pop, one can’t deny their uniquely iconoclastic influence on pop culture, or rock music’s own long-standing tradition of high school themed videos (Van Halen’s “Hot For Teacher” or the Ramones' “Rock N’ Roll High School," anyone?). In the video that would become their signature song, grunge’s most timeless trio turns a high school auditorium into a mosh pit worthy of one of their shows, and brings back memories of sneaking into rock shows when we were in high school. If anything captured youth and the high school experience by way of heavy guitar, it was Nirvana or bust.
15 Iconic High School Movie Mean Girls: