Jon Bon Jovi Sings During Rutgers Commencement Speech & He's Not The First Celeb To Give Grads Advice Through Song — VIDEO
Jon Bon Jovi is New Jersey's state hero, possibly its state flower, tree, and bird, AND is responsible for penning its unofficial state anthem ("Shot through the heart ..." Don't pretend you don't know the rest). With so much Jersey love in his heart and soul, it comes as no surprise that Bon Jovi didn't simply give Rutgers University graduates a dynamite commencement speech — he wrote them a song. Speaking with grads on Thursday, he sweetly said, "I tried to buy you all a gift, but I wasn't sure of sizes or favorite colors. I did what I do best. I was so inspired by this invitation that I sat down and I wrote you a song."
The new song is called "Reunion," and his lyrics speak directly to these young folks, encouraging them to "make memories" and "learn to laugh, dare to dance, touch the sky." The singer founded the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, which is working to end poverty and address homelessness. He was invited to speak at the commencement after being awarded an honorary doctorate in letters, and he is obviously humbled by the experience. Remember when Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, and Prince William gave the world the single greatest karaoke performance of all time and he was photographed looking all, hell yes, I'm the real king? Well, this is a completely different Bon Jovi, one that I dare say looks timid here, in the best possible way.
Bon Jovi wasn't the first, and I hope he won't be the last celeb to grace a stage during a commencement ceremony and break into song. Here are four more celebs who did the same.
Former Saturday Night Live star Maya Rudolph caused controversy by impersonating Beyoncé at Tulane University and singing a parody of the "National Anthem," which she managed to somehow magically morph into "Single Ladies" because she's a wizard. It was hilarious — and funny is what you want when you ask someone like Rudolph to speak at a commencement. If your intention is to make the crowd cry, don't pull a speaker from SNL's alum.
Billy Joel, who it seems is invited to no fewer than 40 commencement speeches each spring, wrote a lovely song to the tune of "Down in New Orleans" when he spoke at Syracuse University's 2006 commencement ceremony. He opted to make his song a little catchier and a little less schmaltzy that you'd probably think — and managed to get everyone to clap along and join in on the fun. Like, hey, look at us, we're at a cool sing-along and not at a long, boring commencement.
This one's my favorite. When you find out the speaker at your commencement is going to be '70s singer Gloria Gaynor ("I Will Survive"), I'm guessing you play her song for the millionth time since you started dating, breaking up with people, and having your heart broken, and that the tune sticks in your head, where it plays over and over again until commencement day. If you were lucky enough to be a graduate at Dowling College this year, you got to hear Gaynor perform "I Will Survive" and it took on a whole different meaning — you survived college and you will survive becoming part of the work force.
Every time I watch The Office's Ed Helms speak, I feel weirdly satisfied knowing he is either exactly like his character Andy Bernard is real life, or is (for my benefit) pretending to be Andy Bernard at all times. His commencement speech at the University of Virginia this year was beautiful and inspiring. He told grads (as a group of backup singers hum "This Little Light of Mine") that they have a "vibrant courageous soul" and a "light within" them. To prove his belief, he grabbed the mic and sang an odd, but totally enthusiastic, rendition of the song.