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The best New Year’s songs to countdown to 2022

Ring in 2022 with this list of the best New Year’s songs, from dance music classics to German punk rock

Edited by
Nick Levine
Christopher Tarantino

New Year’s Eve is one of the most joyous celebrations of the year, but that comes with a lot of pressure. Somehow, NYE needs to feel more ‘special’ – whatever that means – than other nights, and one of the keys to achieving this hallowed party nirvana is playing the absolute best New Year’s songs, all night long. Just ask Lionel Richie.

So, while you’re loading up the confetti crackers and chilling the fizz, outfit the night’s playlist with these hits. You’ll need tunes to cover every atmosphere the night may have: the best drinking songs for the lead-up, party songs for the stroke of midnight, and the best love songs for all the New Year’s kisses to come. Whatever the genre, we have you covered, because spinning the top tracks means your soiree should be one of the best parties yet, right? Let’s ring in 2022 the way we mean to go on with these New Year’s songs.

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Best New Year’s songs, ranked

‘New Year’s Resolution’ by Camera Obscura

1. ‘New Year’s Resolution’ by Camera Obscura

Tired of Belle & Sebastian, but still looking for something Scottish and twee? Well, look no further than 4AD’s Camera Obscura, who’ve released five lovely albums of indie pop with names like ‘Let’s Get Out of This Country’ and ‘Underachievers Please Try Harder’, and this 2013 tune from ‘Desire Lines’.

‘1999’ by Prince

2. ‘1999’ by Prince

Prince’s party anthem hits hard every year, even two decades after Millennium Eve, but in 2021 there’s something kind of wistful about it. Most of us won’t be able to ‘party like it’s 1999’ this NYE, not really, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a bash anyway. Just try not to listen too closely to the Purple One’s rather fatalistic lyrics about ‘judgement day’ and dancing ‘my life away’.

‘New Year’s Resolution’ by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas

3. ‘New Year’s Resolution’ by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas

Looking to replicate the success of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (and Kim Weston and more), Stax Records combined two of their biggest stars to knock an album together. The result, 1967’s minor soul classic ‘King & Queen’, was recorded in six days with Thomas and Redding backed by Isaac Hayes and Booker T & the MGs. The LP helped turn Redding into a major star a year before his tragic plane crash.

‘Let’s Start the New Year Right’ by Bing Crosby

4. ‘Let’s Start the New Year Right’ by Bing Crosby

Bing Crosby—Mr. Holiday himself—sang this Irving Berlin-penned tune in the 1942 film Holiday Inn, co-starring Marjorie Reynolds and his pal Fred Astaire. The film also contained the Academy Award-winning ‘White Christmas’ for which this song was the b-side to when it was released on vinyl in 78 RPM (RIP).

‘Happy New Year’ by Abba

5. ‘Happy New Year’ by Abba

The legendary Swedish hitmakers included this paean to the new year on their turn-of-the-decade 1980 album, ‘Super Trouper’. A retrospective of-sorts on the close of the ‘70s, the Euro megastars croon, ‘It's the end of a decade / In another 10 year's time, who can say what we'll find?’ Sadly, the answer turned out to be just one more Abba album before this year’s unexpected comeback.

‘Bringing In A Brand New Year’ by Charles Brown

6. ‘Bringing In A Brand New Year’ by Charles Brown

Texas-blues man and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Tony ‘Charles’ Brown was an apprentice electrician, a high school chemistry teacher and a mustard gas worker in the 1940s before he got discovered. This is just one of his numerous holiday songs—and over 100 singles on a variety of labels—from a ridiculously prolific career both as a solo artist and a member of the Three Blazers.

‘Funky New Year’ by The Eagles

7. ‘Funky New Year’ by The Eagles

A non-album nugget that from the L.A.’s 1970s lords of white-funk, this song was the b-side of the band’s ‘Please Come Home For Christmas.’ The band recorded both seasonal tunes during the two-year sessions for their commercially successful 1979 album ‘The Long Run’.

‘Gonna Make it Through This Year’ by Great Lake Swimmers

8. ‘Gonna Make it Through This Year’ by Great Lake Swimmers

Americana for people who hate Americana is a good way to describe Tony Dekker’s Great Lake Swimmers. The ironic part about that, though, is that the decade–running pastoral band is from Ontario, Canada, and yet here they are showing us the best part of our great country.

‘New Year’s Eve’ by Tom Waits

9. ‘New Year’s Eve’ by Tom Waits

Sounding exactly how you would expect a Tom Waits New Years Eve song to sound, this one even incorporates ‘Auld Lang Syne’ into the chorus. Waits has said the song was incredibly long but had to be cut down to ‘a pony. That's an alcoholic term for a small bottle.’ Classic Tom!

‘This Will Be Our Year’ by The Zombies

10. ‘This Will Be Our Year’ by The Zombies

For anyone who’s had kind of a rough 2021 – and come on, who hasn’t? – this comforting ‘60s pop tune should act as a salve. ‘And this will be our year,’ sings frontman Colin Blunstone over poignant but purposeful guitar chords, ‘Took a long time to come.’ It’s a universal sentiment, world-weary but still fundamental, that many of us will relate to.

‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve’ by Ella Fitzgerald

11. ‘What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve’ by Ella Fitzgerald

Probably the most covered New Year’s song, Frank Loesser’s 1947 hit has been recorded by artists as varied as Bette Midler, Donny Osmond, Lena Horne, the Carpenters, Johnny Mathis, Harry Connick Jr. and the Stylistics. The Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt video version alone has 16 million views on YouTube.

‘Happy New Year’ by The McGuire Sisters

12. ‘Happy New Year’ by The McGuire Sisters

Fun fact: Phyllis, Christine and Dorothy McGuire became massive song and dance stars in the ‘40s with multiple million-selling records, but they permanently retired from public performance in 1968 when Phyllis’s rumored-relationship with famed mobster Sam Giancana got them blacklisted. Luckily, they managed to released this tune in 1957 first.

‘In the New Year’ by The Walkmen

13. ‘In the New Year’ by The Walkmen

The indie rockers’ boozy warbled tales of nostalgia are a perfect match for a holiday that’s about looking forward as much as it is looking back. The band may have gone on an “extreme hiatus” in 2013, but this track, from 2008’s underrated You & Me, is a gem that easily still stands.

‘My Dear Acquaintance (Happy New Year)’ by Regina Spektor

14. ‘My Dear Acquaintance (Happy New Year)’ by Regina Spektor

Classically trained Russian pianist and formidable singer-songwriter Regina Spektor hangs with the Strokes, performed at the White House for President Obama and, according to Tom Petty, is one of the most talented musicians alive. Here she makes a gorgeous Peggy Lee classic even more gorgeous.

‘New Year’s Eve’ by MØ

15. ‘New Year’s Eve’ by MØ

You’ll probably know Danish singer-songwriter MØ for her feature on the inescapable Major Hit ‘Lean On’, one of the most streamed songs of all time. This NYE-themed electro gem is more pensive and reflective, but also a song about forgetting all your cares for a night. ‘Got a problem, baby let it be, hop up on my back, have a happy New Year’s Eve,’ she sings yearningly. We’ll certainly raise a glass to that. 

‘11:59 (It’s January)’ by Scrawl

16. ‘11:59 (It’s January)’ by Scrawl

How come so many New Years songs are so damn depressing? Maybe it’s the possibility of looking back at a long year of regrets, maybe it’s the thought of everyone making out at the exact moment when you’re alone or maybe, as Scrawl put it, “Tonight ‘Auld Lang Syne’ means leave before the kissing starts.” And snag a bottle of champagne on the way out.

‘Auld Lang Syne’ by Die Toten Hosen

17. ‘Auld Lang Syne’ by Die Toten Hosen

These German punk rockers, whose name translates to ‘the Dead Trousers’, apparently a reference to erectile dysfunction, have been huge in their homeland for 40 years.  Their clattering cover of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is a lot of fun, though for a more sedate take you might want to try Susan Boyle’s version. 

‘New Year’s Day’ by Act As If

18. ‘New Year’s Day’ by Act As If

When people think of New Year’s tunes, U2’s anthemic 1983 original version comes up before this one. The group does a complete overhaul of the very recognizable tune, which is about more than just partying—the lyrics were inspired by the Polish Solidarity movement, and the bassline accidentally written while Adam Clayton was trying to learn the chords to Visage’s ‘Fade to Grey.’

‘Will 2k’ by Will Smith

19. ‘Will 2k’ by Will Smith

‘It’s here and I like it,’ opens K-Ci, the singer whose soulful exhortations are all over Big Will’s joyful millennial ode. Released on September 9, 1999, there wasn’t really much time for this song to take flight before the ball actually dropped on the new century. But thankfully its exuberant party thrust has no expiration date.

‘New Year’s Eve’ by Mal Blum

20. ‘New Year’s Eve’ by Mal Blum

New York-based folk singer Mat Blum hits the jackpot with this end-of-year tune from their 2010 album ‘Every Time You Go Somewhere’. Equal parts cynical, optimistic, and whimsical, it's a song that encapsulates our mixed feelings about NYE. ‘You are discombobulated when you show up at my door,’ they sing on the final verse. ‘Leaving glitter on my floor, but I don’t like you anymore.’ If your New Year’s Eve tends to get messy, this one’s for you.

‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone

21. ‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone

Miss Simone’s deeply felt rendition of this golden oldie is arguably the definitive version – sorry, Muse. It also feels like a booming paeon to hard-fought victories and new beginnings, which makes it perfect New Year’s listening. Here’s to a stellar 2022!


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