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PLAYLIST INSPIRATION: SONGS YOU CAN PLAY ON NEW YEAR’S DAY

by Thomas Giger of www.radioiloveit.com

Don’t feel like playing Happy New Year and New Year’s Day all day long? We’ve got you covered with 8 more ideas for your music scheduling of January, 1st.

Almost everyone spins ABBA and U2 on the first day of the year, so you might want to include additional songs (on a lower rotation) for more variety. Helping you stand out as different and refreshing, this arbitrary Top 10 features a couple of less familiar (yet high quality, and mostly contemporary) songs for your New Year’s Day playlist!

A TRADITIONAL AND OFTEN-COVERED NEW YEAR’S DAY TUNE

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Lea Michele’s variant of Auld Lang Syne was recorded for this 2011 movie (image: Warner Bros.)

10. A GREAT BIG WORLD – THIS IS THE NEW YEAR

Feel like you’ve got too many older songs in your New Year’s Day music library? Then you might consider playing This Is The New Year by A Great Big World, a singer-songwriter duo consisting of Ian Axel and Chad King. After being chosen as MTV’s I Used To Be Fat theme song in 2011, the happy-sounding pop composition became their big break. This Is The New Year was also featured in an episode of the musical comedy/drama Glee, where it was performed by the show’s cast, and on the soundtrack of the movie New Year’s Eve.

9. KATE YORK – NEW YEAR

The New Year’s Eve soundtrack album also includes other suitable songs for your playlist on the (31st of December and) 1st of January. One of the most touching tracks, in our view, is New Year by Kate York. She worked in film post-production and audio engineering, before realising that she rather wanted to write & perform her own songs instead of co-creating those of others. She pursued a career in Nashville, and performed live as an opening act to renown artists. Although it’s not a very well-known song, New Year can be a nice playlist extension.

8. LEA MICHELE – AULD LANG SYNE*

Another song on the same soundtrack is actress & singer Lea Michele’s version of a traditional and often-covered New Year’s Day tune — based on a Robert Burns’ 1788 poem and a classic Irish folk song, both of which are now in the public domain — proves that standards sometimes can sound fresh again. If you’re looking to play something else at the stroke of midnight than ABBA’s Happy New Year, this interpretation of the famous farewell-to-the-old-year tune could be a good option. Michele’s friendly voice and the fine production turn this ‘auld’ ballad into a contemporary song.

AN EMOTIONAL, BUT BEAUTIFUL SONG FOR NEW YEAR’S DAY

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What’s Another Year was Johnny Logan’s first of two Eurovision Song Contest victories (image: RTÉ)

7. GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS – GONNA MAKE IT THROUGH THIS YEAR

For this position on the New Year’s Day Top 10, we were considering Our New Year by Tori Amos, mainly because it’s a different song from most seasonal music. However, our list already includes several ballads, and this one has a pretty sad mood. Same goes for another alternative track, The New Year by Death Cab for Cutie. So we have chosen for Gonna Make It Through This Year by the Great Lake Swimmers. Not a super optimistic song either, but it has a melodic folk-rock sound that feels like some earlier R.E.M. material. (Just play an uptempo, feel good song next.)

6. EAGLES – FUNKY NEW YEAR

Sometimes, B-sides of a single achieves a status of their own. That’s the case with the flip side of Please Come Home For Christmas, a 1978 holiday tune from the Eagles, originally written by blues singer and pianist Charles Brown together with music producer Gene Redd back in 1960. Especially when your station plays some Eagles or similar Classic Rock / Classic Hits format music as part of the usual output, Funky New Year — indeed, a nice & funky 70’s song — could be added to your music playlist for New Year’s Day.

5. JOHNNY LOGAN – WHAT’S ANOTHER YEAR

Fun fact about Johnny Logan: he’s the only artist who has won the Eurovision Song Contest twice so far. In 1987 with Hold Me Now, which he wrote himself, and in 1980 with What’s Another Year, penned by Shay Healy. While one would assume that “What’s another year… to someone who is getting used to being alone?” refers to a man realising that he will never be with the woman of his dreams, this song is actually about Shay Healy’s father, dealing with the death of his wife Mairin. We think it’s an emotional, but beautiful song for New Year’s Day.

AN EXCELLENT CHOICE FOR A FIRST-DAY-OF-JANUARY PLAYLIST

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Taylor Swift’s New Years Day is a minimalistic, acoustic pop song (image: TAS Rights Management)

4. U2 – NEW YEAR’S DAY

A Top 10 of songs about New Year’s Day wouldn’t be complete without this U2 monument of the same name, even when its underlying message is grim. Originating from their 1983 album War — a political statement against global conflicts like the Cold War between East and West at the time — singer Bono’s lyrics refer to the Polish communist government who installed martial law and persecuted the leader of the country’s Solidarity union, Lech Walesa. New Year’s Day has been covered many times over the years, sometimes including Adam Clayton’s baseline (as in Gigi D’Agostino’s 1995 dance remix), and sometimes without it (as in Karen Souza’s 2011 jazz version). Despite its (partly dated) political message, it remains a timeless classic.

3. GOO GOO DOLLS – BETTER DAYS

Another musical statement comes from another rock band, which had its breakthrough with Iris in 1998. It’s lyrics don’t speak of ‘New Year’s Day’, it’s clearly about the beginning of a new year with words that are speaking for themselves: ‘And you ask me what I want this year… And I try to make this kind and clear… Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days… Cause I don’t need boxes wrapped in strings… And designer love and empty things… Just a chance that maybe we’ll find better days’. The theme of making the world a better place fits into this period of evaluating life and making resolutions, which makes this lead single from the 2016 (20th anniversary) album Let Love In a great song to play on New Year’s Day.

2. TAYLOR SWIFT – NEW YEAR’S DAY

Are you looking for a very recent song about New Year’s Day, because you’re programming a Top 40, Adult Top 40 or Hot AC format ? Look no further! Taylor Swift’s fourth single of her 2017 album Reputation is, we feel, an excellent choice for a first-day-of-January playlist. Compared to most Taylor Swift hits, this one is (in a good way) underproduced, as her voice is only backed by guitar and piano. And a contributor of the lyrics database Genius.com observes that her story about a New Year’s party is actually ‘a metaphor to discuss holding on to people, and memories from both good and bad times. Taylor recognises that when the ‘parties’ in her life are over and the ‘new year’ begins, such memories are all she will have left to hold on to and learn from.

ITS SELF-EMPOWERMENT THEME MAY INSPIRE PEOPLE

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Katy Perry’s Firework from her 2010 album Teenage Dream is uplifting (image: Capitol Records)

1. ABBA – HAPPY NEW YEAR

We think it still deserves a #1 position, as it feels like the perfect opening of the music log on January, 1st, when the clock strikes twelve, and because several generations can still sing along with it. A more modern version of the 1980 song was released in ‘99 by the A-Teens, which might be worthwhile to include in your New Year’s Day playlist as well. Speaking of new interpretations: why not re-record this song with your entire staff as a choir, and play this re-sing version now and then — well-branded as a New Year’s Day greeting from your radio station’s entire team? Or what about including pre-recorded New Year’s wishes (voiced by your audience or your staff) on a self-made edit of Happy New Year with a few instrumental gaps for your VO and quotes? It might add some fun creativity to a familiar song.

BONUS: KATY PERRY – FIREWORK

Let’s call this the hidden track on our New Year’s Day compilation, because some songs are not officially related to the end or beginning of the year, but feel more like a generic party anthem that you can play during other festivities as well. Even though P!nk’s Raise Your Glass has been featured on the soundtrack of New Year’s Eve, and therefore could relate to New Year’s in the mind of listeners who’ve seen the movie, we’ve chosen Katy Perry’s Firework as the bonus track for this New Year’s Day music list, because fireworks feel more closely related new year’s celebrations. Furthermore, the song’s self-empowerment theme may inspire people to stick to their new year’s resolutions :-). That makes Firework a nice completion of our New Year’s Day Top 10 (or actually Top 11).

* Should Lea Michele’s ballad version feel like a bit too soft for your format, you can consider Mariah Carey’s dance adaptation. The second single of her second Christmas album Merry Christmas II You from 2010 is a re-written variant of Robert Burns’ poem, and also a re-arrangement of the original folk music. As new lyrics had been added, it was re-titled into Auld Lang Syne (The New Year’s Anthem). In addition to a radio edit, the record label released no less than 9 remixes of extended duration. Music critics were not positive about transforming a traditional poem into a house track. We would agree that there are better versions of Auld Lang Syne, unless this one fits your music format, like when you would be playing a lot of dance on a regular basis.

31a8ca497da06282eb497b8005c82431Thomas Giger is a European radio broadcasting specialist and publisher of Radio))) ILOVEIT, based in the Netherlands, and serving the radio industry worldwide.