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10 Classic Songs To Ring In The New Year
New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate, to embrace friends and family, reflect on life’s big changes and perhaps set a few resolutions. All the celebration calls for the perfect New Year’s Eve playlist, whether you’re heading out on the town or chilling at home by the television with a glass of wine.
There are plenty of New Year’s tunes out there—really there’s something for everybody, no matter what your genre tastes. 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 for your NYE playlist. Trust us, these celebratory songs never go out of style.
1. "Auld Lang Syne (The New Year's Anthem)," Mariah Carey
For the reigning Queen of Christmas-pop, it makes perfect sense that, to close out her second holiday record, Merry Christmas II You (2010), Carey would do a whistling, dancefloor-ready take on Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns’ 18th century folk song. Listen to this one as soon as the clock strikes midnight for maximum effect.
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”), but 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 chestnut, which Barry Manilow has performed at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve numerous times, never goes out of style. Atop tinkling piano, the silky singer wisely encourages his audience not to be bummed out that another year is over. Instead, imagine the possibilities a new year can bring! “Tonight’s another chance to start again,” the GRAMMY winner warbles. And how right he is.
4. "Happy New Year," Judy Garland
Don’t be fooled by the title to Judy Garland’s '50s New Years’ staple: The lyrics within, written by midcentury composer Gordon Jenkins, are actually rather forlorn, bemoaning a New Year’s evening spent all by her lonesome.
And as if that weren’t enough, while partygoers are “donning their silly paper hats,” the beloved standards singer and actress is spending the night looking back to 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 NYE tribute might be wistful, but it's real.
5. “Happy New Year," Nat "King" Cole
A few years later, in 1963, Nat “King" Cole sang a gorgeous rendition of Jenkins’ famous track, 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?" wonders Bing Crosby in his 1943 anthem. It’s the ideal follow-up and optimistic sentiment to rival Crosby’s other holiday-season classic, “White Christmas.”
7. "Funky New Year," Eagles
In 1978, soft-rock greats Eagles released their cover of Charles Brown’s "Please Come Home For Christmas." Turn that single around, though, and you get the decade-appropriate B-side “Funky New Year.” Against a pop-funk bass line, Don Henley & Co. encourage every partygoer to “party hardy” (don’t mind if we do), before asking, "What year is this, anyway?”
8. "Champagne & Wine," Etta James
Recorded for Etta James' 28th and final record, The Dreamer, “Champagne & Wine” was originally done in 1968 by the great Otis Redding. Either version will do, when you’re building that New Year’s Eve playlist, but it never hurts to honor GRAMMY winner and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient James, who kept singing right up to the end of her life in 2014.
9. "New Year's Resolution," Otis Redding and Carla Thomas
While we’re on the topic of Otis Redding, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to include his and Carla Thomas’ horn-filled 1968 duet “New Year’s Resolution.” The two trade verses, portraying a couple who has experienced tough times but very badly want to make amends and keep their promises in the New Year. At least they’re both on the same page!
10. "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" Ella Fitzgerald
1940s doo-wop troupe The Orioles originally sang this standard, but a little more than a decade later, jazz icon Ella Fitzgerald recorded her trilling, brass-led rendition. And you can never go wrong with a little Ella.