15 Best New Year’s Songs
The best new year’s songs are ones that feel reflective, celebratory, and make you excited for the year ahead. Whether you’re ushering in the new year in true party style with confetti ready to drop from the ceiling or a quieter countdown is more your style, music should always be part of it.
December 31st is a time to reminisce about favorite music hits released throughout the year as well as nostalgic tunes from times past. From the most influential albums of all time to slow, romantic ballads to upbeat, radio-friendly jams, there’s no shortage of songs to amp up the dawn of a new year.
#1 Auld Lang Syne (The New Year’s Anthem) - Mariah Carey
“Auld Lang Syne” is the ultimate New Year’s Eve song, and who better to sing it than Mariah Carey herself? No stranger to Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve special throughout the years, hearing her powerful vocals on one of the best new year’s eve songs is a must.
Continue playing her holiday album, Merry Christmas II You, throughout December and let it run until the last track, right in time for the end of the year. “Auld Lang Syne” is a song of farewell and one of the most prolific songs ever sung. Let her music set the scene for a truly joyful end to the year.
Despite the song’s age, it never gets old, and the sounds of Prince can always incite a feeling of excitement. Essentially, it could be any year, because “1999” wants you to party like there’s no tomorrow. Because as the clock strikes midnight, who knows what can change?
Likely it’ll still be a continuation of your NYE celebration with Prince’s soundtrack in the background. With a party-friendly chorus and an upbeat vibe, Prince and his classic song should be on everyone’s playlist, NYE or not
True Taylor Swift fans know that at the end of her Reputation album is an ode to the end of the year. “New Year’s Day” is a pretty, melodic tune pared down with little more than a piano and Swift’s beautiful voice and lyrics.
It’s a lesser known ballad off her best-selling album, which is known for its hits “End Game” and “Look What You Made Me Do,” but it’s worth an extra listen with a glass of champagne in hand. Cheers to the pop singer who knows how to create a song for all the big moments, a talent Taylor Swift has down pat.
Maybe it’s a little cheeky to deem it one of the best new year’s songs, but Queen’s classic hits seem appropriate for making it through the year. In addition to all the wonderful memories, there was likely a lot of hardship to overcome. The drama of one of Queen’s best-known songs off their Greatest Hits albums is a musical pat on the back for getting through it.
And once the melancholy of “We Are the Champions” wears off, you can always shift the record needle and put on their more upbeat songs like “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”
#5 Funky New Year - The Eagles
Though The Eagles are better known for their classic rock sound, they give a funky edge to this holiday song, which can be found on their Please Come Home for Christmas and Selected Works 1972-1999 albums. It’s also available in studio and live versions as part of their deluxe box set: Legacy.
“Funky New Year” is pretty far off the beaten path of the typical music you know and love from the band, but it’s an interesting interpretation of a new year’s song that deserves a spot on the NYE playlist. And if you’re listening to the box set, you have 15 vinyl LP’s worth of music to carry you well into the new year.
A sweet tune about moving on with grace and a touch of sass. “thank u, next” may not be an obvious choice, but that doesn’t keep it from being one of the best New Year’s songs of recent years. It reflects on Grande’s appreciation for boyfriends past and the ways she’s using what she’s learned to take into honoring herself.
December 31st is a time to say goodbye to the old and take all we’ve learned into the year. Whatever you’re moving on from, playing Ariana Grande is sure to put you in the right mindset for a new beginning.
As one of the most iconic songs ever recorded, “Celebration” keeps it simple in sound and lyrics. This musical “gang” is known for their funk soul energy and this jam is one of their most beloved. Add it to your best near year’s song playlist and keep it in regular rotation as you head into the new year.
Kool & The Gang know how to get the party going and look forward to the good times ahead. The group essentially demands it by singing, “We gonna celebrate and have a good time.” Come New Year’s Eve, who can say no to that?
Many have sung this iconic song, but few have the musical chops of the great Ella Fitzgerald. Her jazz take on “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” takes you back to another era of celebration. Originally recorded in 1947, this is one of the best New Year’s songs to have playing in the background, cozied up next to a roaring fire, and quietly welcoming in the new year with your sweetheart.
#9 Maybe Baby (New Year’s Day) - Sugarland
The sugary (pun intended) sound of “Maybe Baby (New Year’s Day)” gives a country welcome to the holiday season in preparation for the end of the year. Sugarland’s lead vocalist, Kristian Bush, has a calming quality that puts you in the right mood no matter how you decide to celebrate another year gone by and a new year on the horizon.
#10 New Year’s Day - Bon Jovi
Who doesn’t want some iconic ‘80s in their NYE mix? The up-tempo beat of “New Year’s Day” is the ultimate tune to listen to as you get ready for a night out or have an impromptu dance party at home. Bon Jovi said this particular song helped get the band through some troubling times, making it a true reflection of renewal.
On the track, Jon Bon Jovi sings about starting over again, “Let’s toast to a new beginning, raise up a glass and say, for all of our tomorrows, and what was yesterday.” We’ll cheers to that.
#11 Nothin’ New for New Year - Harry Connick, Jr.
Sung as a duet with country legend George Jones, “Nothing New for New Year” follows the lyrical formula of wishing for someone to love. The track is on his platinum record, Harry for the Holidays, and is supported by his 16-piece big band. It’s the perfect album to get in the festive spirit.
Another Harry Connick Jr. classic? The soundtrack for When Harry Met Sally. Match up the penultimate track, “It Had to Be You,” during the New Year’s Eve scene of the movie and be transported to one of the best movie moments in history.
On a less cheerful note, “New Year’s Day” by U2 includes the lyric, “Nothing changes on New Year’s Day.” Though technically true, if you can move beyond what the band is singing and listen to their iconic sound, then the classic rock hit will still have a place as one of the best New Year’s Eve songs to add to your party playlist.
This song is a single from their album, War, and is actually a reference to the band’s movement for solidarity in Poland and its abolishment of martial law, which occurred… on New Year’s Day.
#13 Celtic New Year - Van Morrison
Van Morrison songs always head straight to the core. And while he’s talking specifically about Celtic New Year, which marks the beginning of winter, the song still fits the theme of the turn from December 31st to January 1st. He wrote the song for his album Magic Time and is a must-add to the playlist for any Morrison fan.
#14 Raise Your Glass - Pink
If NYE is your time to party with friends, then Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” is your anthem for the new year. Her feel-good pop song is a sing-a-long classic that instantly puts you in the mood to toast the good times and usher in a fresh start with fanfare. It’s one of the most popular singles off her Greatest Hits… So Far!!! album and is one to help you get pumped up no matter where you end up come December 31st.
#15 New Year’s Prayer - Jeff Buckley
Part song, part prayer Jeff Buckley has a way to make us feel all the feels. New Year’s Prayer feels especially appropriate for the time as the countdown to midnight begins. Buckley wrote the lyrics based on a poem which he read at the New Year’s Day Poetry Marathon in New York City in 1995, and surprisingly, the song itself doesn’t mention New Year’s Eve at all.
However, it still honors a time to be reflective of what you’re thankful for, all you’ve experienced over the past months, and what your hopes are for the year to come. Feeling extra wistful? Buckley’s Grace album features some of his best work including the hauntingly beautiful “Hallelujah.” It may not be NYE-specific, but it’s definitely a perfect song to listen to for a night in.
Before the clock strikes midnight and the new year is official, put together a playlist that includes some of these popular songs and artists. You can even explore pop music history to understand why this genre boasts the perfect New Year’s Wve songs. Then, take a look through our record store and find other album favorites to make sure you welcome in the new year surrounded by music that makes you feel good. You'll be sure to find the perfect New Year’s Eve party song or even the final countdown song at Victrola to ring in the new year.