09 Jan 10 Classic Songs to Ring in the New Year
Crank up our list of the best New Year’s Eve and New Year songs. Our New Years’ songs playlist will get you set to party and ring in 2023. Find your favorite New Years’ song!
New Year’s Eve is a time to rejoice, embrace friends and family, reflect on life’s significant changes, and perhaps make a few resolutions. All of the festivities necessitate the creation of the ideal New Year’s Eve playlist, whether you’re going out on the town or staying in with a glass of wine by the television.
Numerous New Year’s songs are available—there is truly something for everyone, regardless of genre preferences. For your NYE playlist, we’ve found some all-time classics by GRAMMY winner and pop idol Mariah Carey, ’70s disco queens Abba, blues legend Etta James, and more. These celebratory songs, believe us, never go out of style.
1. “Auld Lang Syne (The New Year’s Anthem),” Mariah Carey
It makes sense for Carey, the reigning Queen of Christmas-pop, to close out her Second holiday album, Merry Christmas II You (2010), with a whistling, dancefloor-ready rendition of Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns’ 18th century folk song.
For maximum effect, listen to this as soon as the clock strikes midnight.
2. Happy New Year,” ABBA
ABBA’s operatic 1980 gem might be pretty specific in terms of time period (the Swedish quartet bids farewell to the ‘70s while pondering “what lies waiting down the line/ In the end of eighty-nine”).
Still, its sentiment gets to the heart of what New Year’s Eve is all about: the hope of better things to come.
3. “It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve,” Barry Manilow
This ’70s classic, which Barry Manilow has performed numerous times at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, never goes out of style.
Atop a tinkling piano, the silky singer wisely advises his audience not to be depressed that another year has passed.
Instead, think about the possibilities that a new year can bring! “Tonight’s a new chance to start,” the GRAMMY winner croons. And how correct he is.
4. “Happy New Year,” Judy Garland
Don’t be fooled by the title of Judy Garland’s ’50s New Year’s staple: the lyrics, written by midcentury composer Gordon Jenkins, are rather melancholy, lamenting a New Year’s Eve spent alone.
As if that weren’t enough, while partygoers are “donning their silly paper hats,” the beloved standards singer and actress is reflecting on a time when the dawn of a new year wasn’t so solitary: “I love the days we spent together/ Before the old year lost its shine/ I’ll keep that memory locked within my heart/ That happy new year you were mine.” Garland’s New Year’s Eve tribute is wistful, but it’s genuine.
5. “Happy New Year,” Nat “King” Cole
Nat “King” Cole sang a beautiful rendition of Jenkins’ famous song a few years later, in 1963, adding strings and cooing background vocals.
6. “Let’s Start the New Year Right,” Bing Crosby
“How can we go wrong if we start the New Year right?” Bing Crosby wonders in his 1943 anthem. It’s the perfect follow-up, with an upbeat message to rival Crosby’s other holiday-season classic, “White Christmas.”
7. “Funky New Year,” Eagles
Eagles released their cover of Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home For Christmas” in 1978. When you flip that single around, you get the decade-appropriate B-side “Funky New Year.”
Don Henley and company encourage everyone to “party hardy” (don’t mind if we do) against a pop-funk bass line before asking, “What year is this, anyway?”
8. “Champagne & Wine,” Etta James
“Champagne & Wine,” recorded for Etta James’ 28th and final album, The Dreamer, was originally performed by the great Otis Redding in 1968.
When compiling your New Year’s Eve playlist, either version will suffice, but it never hurts to remember GRAMMY winner and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient James, who sang until the end of her life in 2014.
9. “New Year’s Resolution,” Otis Redding and Carla Thomas
While we’re talking about Otis Redding, don’t forget to include his and Carla Thomas’ horn-filled 1968 duet “New Year’s Resolution.”
The two exchange verses depict a couple who has gone through a difficult time but desperately wants to make amends and keep their promises in the New Year. At the very least, they’re on the same page!
10. “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” Ella Fitzgerald
The Orioles performed this standard in the 1940s, but jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald recorded her trilling, brass-led rendition a little more than a decade later. And a little Ella can never go wrong.