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Songs For New Year's Eve and The New Year

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by Steven G (subscribe)
Too much tertiary education... Former performer/wrestler, teacher, scientist; Published author & Father... Want to be a writer if I grow up...
Published December 28th 2020
Songs to end your year
The end of the year looms nigh. And, with so many places still in lockdown, this means that most people will be partying in their own homes (if at all), and so, to help get into the mood, here is a short playlist of 12 songs about New Year's Eve and the start of a new year!
nye, new year, new year's eve, music
Image by nck_gsl from Pixabay

So these are songs very specifically about this night of the year and what it has come to mean in Western culture – a chance to start anew, rebirth, resolutions, etc. These are not songs just about midnight, or about general changes, or about countdowns or parties, but songs about the actual new year starting or the old year ending… with one exception, because it is the NYE song.

With that one exception, these are in chronological order. And, to regular readers – sorry. Half of these tracks are from the twenty-first century (2001 onwards). Why? Because maybe looking forward to better times is something that has become more prevalent as the world feels more like it slipping away from our control. Well, that's the way I see it.

The songs!

'New Year's Resolution' by Otis Redding & Carla Thomas (1967)

Take two wonderful singers, give them a soul classic and this duet is the result. A couple trying to convince themselves that they can be better for one another come the new year, the voices of Redding and Thomas make this song into something glorious.

'This Will Be Our Year' by The Zombies (1968)

The album Odessey and Oracle came out against so many other wonderful albums that it was overlooked, and very unfairly. It is as good as any from the late 60s period. And this song about a couple vowing to be together in the new year rings so true for so many. It is a wonderful song and, if you can, I would recommend tracking down the whole album.

'Funky New Year' by The Eagles (1978)

In 1978, The Eagles were taking too long to record their new album and the record company demanded some music. So they released a Christmas single and the B-Side was this track, done in a style that was so not like The Eagles. I first heard it live on The Millennium Concert album, and it is a groovy little track.

'Happy New Year' by Abba (1980)

Abba had a string of so many great songs that sometimes little gems just slipped through the cracks and people forgot about them over time, And I think that is the case with this track from the middle of their recording era. A song of hope with those magnificent harmonies Abba were renowned for. A song to bring a smile to the face.

'1999' by Prince (1982)

Very year specific, this song is about partying like it is the biggest new year of our time, the change of date from 19 to 20. And it still resonates, and people still play it at New Year's Eve parties even now, almost 40 years after its release and 20 years after its title year. Upbeat, funky and so good to dance to.

'New Year's Day' by U2 (1983)

Early U2, when they were still basically a band singing about injustice in the world, this song about how sometimes New Year's Day does not mean much in the long run might be a little depressing, but amongst a certain generation, this is as common to hear on New Year's Eve as any track. Edge's jangly guitars and Bono's voice just lift this song to some great heights.

'The New Year' by Death Cab For Cutie (2004)

And let's stick with the depressing "New Year means nothing" theme for this track from Death Cab For Cutie, an indy rock band I discovered through a student in my class the year before this. They have some great musicianship, and this track demonstrates that. I should go and see what I can find of their more recent stuff if there is any. Remembering this song has inspired that in me.

'Better Days' by Goo Goo Dolls (2005)

A man only wants better days for the new year. That is what this song is about. Though it sounds downbeat and some of the lyrics are a little depressing, on the whole, this is a song about looking forward and wanting things to improve. It is actually a really good song.

'New Year's Day' by Pentatonix (2015)

A song from one of my favourite acapella groups, this is an original from one of their albums, and with those soaring harmonies and wonderful voices, it is such a great track to listen to. Apart from some added percussion (reminiscent of Jared Halley's hybrid acapella), this is the five of them singing and beat-boxing. So cool.

'New Year's Day' by Bon Jovi (2016)

This is very Bon Jovi; you could recognise it without looking. That familiar and comfortable sound, rocking out on this track about starting anew. Richie Sambora had left two albums before, but here they had found themselves a permanent replacement on lead guitar, and this song is maybe a reflection on continuing on. It does not really matter, because it is still a strong track.

'New Year's Day' by Taylor Swift (2017)

While Swift's recent output has been stunning, in 2017 she took a radical departure with the Reputation album after 1989. I liked maybe four tracks from that CD, and this is one of them, a piano ballad that sounded actually out of place (and in a good way) on that, indicating where she would go with Lover a few years later. This song is one of hope, looking at what the new year could bring between a couple.

And, out of order, but I had to finish with this. So many artists have sung and recorded this track, but this is my favourite version.

'Auld Lang Syne' by Billy Joel (2000)

Billy Joel performed this classic song live at his many NYE concerts, but I enjoy this one from The Millennium Concert, a CD I own. Not sure why, but it sounds a little more full of joy. For those unaware, the original words were written by Robert Burns, an 18th-century poet. For some reason, more than two hundred years later, they still resonate with people and it is sung every NYE in many places across the world. Though, probably not as well as this.

And there we are – 12 songs about the end of one year and the start of another. Maybe not enough of the party anthems a New Year's Eve celebration cries out for, but for songs about the very specific time of year, these are all very solid. I hope you at least found something here to get into.

So… happy new year to everyone. I hope the new one gives you what you hope for. Enjoy and I'll see you (metaphorically speaking) in 2021.
nye, new year, new year's eve, music

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