While you're loading up the confetti crackers and noisemakers, outfit the night's playlist with the best New Year’s songs. You'll need tunes to cover every atmosphere the night takes: the best indie rock bands for the lead-up, party songs for the stroke of midnight, and the best jazz artists for all the New Years kisses to come. Whatever your genre needs, we have you covered—Because spinning the top tracks means your soiree should be one of the best parties yet, right?
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Listen to the best New Year’s Eve songs
Best New Year’s Eve songs
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
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.
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.
Classically trained Russian pianist and professional eccentric Regina Spektor hangs with the Strokes, has 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.