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Best New Year’s Songs: 10 Tracks To Ring In The New Year
Alhad Barbade / Alamy Stock Photo
List & Guides

Best New Year’s Songs: 10 Tracks To Ring In The New Year

At a time for celebration and self-reflection, the best New Year’s songs help us to bid farewell to the old and embrace the new.

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As the clock ticks down to the final moments of the year, music always soundtracks our turning the page from one chapter to the next. From anthems that ignite the dancefloor to introspective tunes that accompany moments of reflection, the best New Year’s songs offer us to a chance sing together as we reflect upon the past year and plan resolutions to usher change into our lives. Here, then, is a countdown of timeless classics that address universal themes of hope, joy and the promise of new beginnings.

Best New Year’s Songs: 10 Tracks To Ring A New Era

10: Rod Stewart: Auld Lang Syne (2012)

A timeless classic among the best New Year’s songs, Auld Lang Syne has inspired many a boozy singalong of at the stroke of midnight. Dating back to a traditional Scottish folk song from the late 1700s and set to words penned by the poet Robert Burns, this song has been covered numerous times across the generations, most notably by Scotland’s very own Rod Stewart, in 2012, for a bagpipe-filled rendition perfectly suited to the moving tones of the legendary rock’n’roller’s iconic voice.

9: Otis Redding And Carla Thomas: New Year’s Resolution (1967)

This 1967 duet between Stax soul legends Otis Redding and Carla Thomas is a smooth ballad featuring a tête-à-tête between two lovers who acknowledge each other’s wrongdoings and promise to start anew (“Let’s turn over a new leaf/And, baby, let’s make promises/That we can keep/And call it a New Year’s resolution”). Charming and sultry, New Year’s Resolution was originally released on the duo’s King & Queen album, and it earns a place among the best New Year’s songs for reminding us that, no matter what mistakes we have made in the past, a new year is the perfect time for forgiving and making amends.

8: Death Cab For Cutie: The New Year (2003)

As you’d expect from the Washington-based indie-rock band Death Cab For Cutie, The New Year presents a bittersweet take on the end-of-year festivities. Amid discordant guitar stabs, singer Ben Gibbard pointedly dresses down New Year optimism by confessing that he feels no different than he did the year before (“So this is the new year/And I have no resolutions/Or self-assigned penance/For problems with easy solutions”). By providing us with a more alternative view of post-countdown angst, The New Year ranks among the best New Year’s songs for capturing the reality of many post-party hangovers.

7: Aaliyah: We Need A Resolution (2001)

Produced by Timbaland, We Need A Resolution, a 2001 hit for the late R&B icon Aaliyah, simmers with both sexiness and passive aggression, and explores the clash of differences between a dysfunctional couple. It may not be standard fare for the best New Year’s songs, but the track’s resolution-seeking sentiment drapes itself lugubriously around Timbaland’s Middle Eastern-inspired groove with a palpable tension everyone can relate to, its lyrics addressing doubts about whether people really can change for the better (“Am I supposed to change? Are you supposed to change?/Who should be hurt? Will we remain?/We need a resolution, we need a resolution”).

6: The Zombies: This Will Be Our Year (1968)

As one of the most masterful compositions on The Zombies’ 1968 studio album, Odessey And Oracle, This Will Be Our Year is a touchingly wistful piano ballad expressing nothing but optimism for the year ahead. Singer Colin Blunstone’s voice positively glows with innocence and youthfulness as he tells his lover that his future will be brighter with her by his side (“Now we’re there and we’ve only just begun/This will be our year/Took a long time to come”), making This Will Be Our Year one of the best New Year’s songs to soundtrack our yearning for a better tomorrow.

5: Goo Goo Dolls: Better Days (2005)

Though many regard it as a Christmas song, Better Days, by Goo Goo Dolls, contains a heartfelt and relatable message about humanity’s hope for making the world a better place – something that more than earns it a spot on our list of the best New Year’s songs. Released after the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the song was written by Goo Goo Dolls songwriter and frontman John Rzeznik following his divorce, but it expresses universally relatable hopes that we can find forgiveness in our hearts and appeal to our better natures (“So take these words and sing out loud/’Cause everyone is forgiven now/’Cause tonight’s the night the world begins again”).

4: Fleetwood Mac: Don’t Stop (1977)

It’s no secret that the recording of Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 studio album, Rumours, was rife with tension as each band member struggled to come to terms with their romantic relationships breaking down. In the end, it fell to keyboardist Christine McVie to put a more positive spin on all the drama with Don’t Stop, an upbeat slice of pop-rock optimism that tells us to forget what happened yesterday and look forward to the good things yet to come (“If your life was bad to you/Just think what tomorrow will do”). With many words of wisdom to impart, Don’t Stop earns itself a place among the best New Year’s songs for reminding us to embrace whatever the future holds.

3: Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons: December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) (1975)

With its jaunty piano groove, Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons’ mid-70s hit, December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night), takes us back in time to when singer Gerry Polci met the girl of his dreams at an end-of-year party. Though it’s not explicitly stated to have been at a New Year’s Eve bash, it’s highly likely it was (“Oh, what a night/Late December, back in ’63/What a very special time for me”), and December, 1963 (Oh, What A Night) remains a true party favourite that is bound to get feet moving as the clock ticks down to the new year.

2: ABBA: Happy New Year (1980)

A blissfully melodic gem that captures the bittersweet reverie that comes with bidding farewell to a year gone by, Happy New Year, by ABBA, ranks highly among the best New Year songs for expressing our hopes for a fresh start. With a poignant message of unity (“May we all have a vision now and then/Of a world where every neighbour is a friend”), Happy New Year is a poignant and contemplative secular hymn perfect for those quieter moments amid the festivities.

1: Prince: 1999 (1982)

Despite being written about apocalyptic fears at the height of the Cold War, Prince’s career-changing 1982 song 1999 is the ultimate New Year’s anthem. Of course, the 21st century has long since arrived, thankfully without any nuclear bombs being dropped, but that won’t stop anyone from enjoying this intoxicating blast of synth-funk, as Prince sings about hedonistic revelry in the face of seemingly impending doom (“But before I’ll let that happen/I’ll dance my life away”). Topping this list of the best New Year’s songs, 1999’s true meaning may fly over some people’s heads, but it’s still the perfect crowd-pleaser for any New Year’s party.

Help fulfil your New Year’s resolutions with the best inspirational songs.

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