New Year’s Eve Songs: Taylor Swift, Abba, and More

Who needs “Auld Lang Syne” when you’ve got Mariah Carey, ’NSync, and Taylor Swift?

December 31 is still awash in the echoes of Christmas music, but there are plenty of New Year’s Eve songs to blast as the final seconds of the year whittle down. Yes, there’s old standby “Auld Lang Syne” — a song written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1788 — but there are more contemporary New Year’s Eve songs to play as you pop champagne while rocking those novelty 2024 glasses.

There are classic tracks from Ella Fitzgerald, Nat “King” Cole, Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. Death Cab for Cutie has a fuzz-drenched anthem for the broke and brokenhearted. There’s even an excellent ska track from Montreal’s The Planet Smashers, something to play ahead of Carey’s club banger. There are even some slow tracks from Abba and Barry Manilow for those quieter moments.

In addition to the following suggestions for your NYE playlist, there are plenty of songs unrelated to the holiday that you could include. Prince’s “Kiss” always makes for a good song to blast when the clock strikes midnight and you’re supposed to kiss someone for good luck. Europe’s “The Final Countdown” is good if you’re in a hair-metal mood. R.E.M’s “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” began as an ironic song for New Year’s Eve, but in recent times of political and environmental upheaval, the 1987 track is more appropriate than ever.

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However grim the future may be, New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate the potential that lies before us all. So, to get you in the mood, here are a few songs to put on before the Times Square ball drops — and one to blast after it’s all said and done:

Taylor Swift, “New Year’s Day”

Swift has seemingly confirmed that her 2017 album, Reputation, will be the next entry in the Taylor’s Version series. This means Swift’s self-described “goth-punk moment” will be the penultimate release before she completes the rerecording series with a new edition of her 2006 self-titled album. So, with Reputation (Taylor’s Version) on tap for 2024, Swifties can play “New Year’s Day,” a somber and reflective cut from the album, in eager anticipation — and in celebration of the monster year that saw now-billionaire Swift conquer the world.

Artists to Rock on New Years Eve

Taylor Swift
Buda Mendes/TAS23/Getty Images for TAS Rights Management

Mariah Carey, “Auld Lang Syne (The New Year’s Anthem)”

Every December, Carey rules the world’s minds, hearts and charts with “All I Want for Christmas Is You.” But the iconic singer doubled down on her role as Queen of Christmas in 2010 with the release of her second holiday album, Merry Christmas II You. The album of mostly Christmas classics ends with her performing “Auld Lang Syne (The New Year’s Anthem).” She, of course, put her own spin on it, turning the song into a club banger.

Ella Fitzgerald, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve”

The timeless song from Fitzgerald is perfect for any cocktail hour before the full party. Or, if you’re throwing a classy soirée, this jazzy, romantic song is vital for your playlist — and if you’re scrambling for a way to ask your crush out on a date, this is a great icebreaker. “Ah, but in case I stand one little chance,” she sings. “Here comes the jackpot question in advance / What are you doing New Year’s / New Year’s Eve?”

Snoop Dogg featuring Marty James, “New Year’s Eve”

Every season has a Snoop Dogg, including “New Year’s Eve.” On this holiday track, the “Doggfather” romances his boo (“On New Year’s Eve, and I do believe / On New Year’s Eve, we can live forever”) while counting down the seconds to a new year. Helping the rap icon out is singer-songwriter/producer Marty James (who cowrote the Justin Bieber and Daddy Yankee–powered remix of Luis Fonsi’s “Despacito”). It’s a track full of charm, confidence and cool that only Snoop Dogg can bring.

Artists to Rock on New Years Eve

Snoop Dogg

Barry Manilow, “It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve”

Manilow’s “It’s Just Another New Year’s Eve” is a must if you plan to keep it mellow while greeting 2024. With a downtrodden piano melody and Manilow’s crooning, the song guides listeners to the other side of this holiday. “It’s just another New Year’s Eve / It’s just another Auld Lang Syne / But when we’re through this New Year / You’ll see we’ll be just fine,” he sings.

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Death Cab for Cutie, “The New Year”

“So this is the new year / And I don’t feel any different / The clanking of crystal / Explosions off in the distance,” sings Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie on “The New Year,” the opening track to the band’s critically acclaimed 2003 album, Transatlanticism. With its fuzzed-out guitars and pining vocals equally full of wonder and melancholy, it’s a good song for those entering January with mixed feelings.

‘NSync, “Kiss Me at Midnight”

While it is a bit on the nose, ‘NSync’s “Kiss Me at Midnight” — from Home for Christmas, the band’s 1998 holiday album — should scratch the itch for those who want to celebrate the new year with boy-band goodness. Starting with a countdown, the song kicks into that pre-millennium pop that will make you nostalgic for frosted tips and TRL (which is appropriate since NYE is all about remembering the good times).

Artists to Rock on New Years Eve

Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick and Justin Timberlake of NSYNC
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MTV

Otis Redding and Carla Thomas, “New Year’s Resolution”

If you want something to help you keep your resolution this year, play this song by Redding and Thomas. “New Year’s Resolution” makes turning over a new leaf seem plausible. The song is a duet about two lovers acknowledging their faults. “Oh, let’s try it again,” Redding and Thomas sing in the chorus. “Just you and me / And, baby, let’s see how happy honey / That we can be / And call it a New Year’s resolution.”

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Nat King Cole, “Happy New Year”

Forget the When We Were Young festival: Nat King Cole got emo on New Year’s Eve in 1966. While heartbroken and bitter about losing his love, Cole bitterly curses “the gay ones [who] don their silly paper hats / And blow their stupid little horns” while he’s sitting alone by the fire with a glass of wine in his hand.

From there, he sings, “I wish you a Happy New Year, darling / May your new love be bright and fair / I hope he’ll do those special things for you / That I would do if I were there.” While this might be a buzzkill for some, this is the song for you if you’re in a similar boat as Cole was.

The Planet Smashers, “Happy New Year’s”

With a jovial beat and tongues firmly in their cheeks, ska-punk legends The Planet Smashers show that “new year, new me” doesn’t apply to everyone. “Happy New Year’s, baby,” croons lead singer Matt Collyer. “Too bad this year I’m gonna make you crazy / I already messed up, and it’s minutes past midnight.” If you’re partying this New Year’s Eve with people who think resolutions are a joke, this is the tune to play.

Abba, “Happy New Year”

What makes New Year’s Eve a special holiday is that it can be so depressing — and it’s perfectly fine to celebrate this sad part of the night. If the prior 12 months have gone sideways and you’re ending the year worse for wear, celebrating can be a drag.

It even got joyous disco darlings Abba down in 1980. “No more champagne / And the fireworks are through / Here we are, me and you / Feeling lost and feeling blue,” sings Agnetha Fältskog. “It’s the end of the party / And the morning seems so gray / So unlike yesterday / Now’s the time for us to say.”

“Happy new year, happy new year,” Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad sing on the chorus. “May we all have our hopes, our will to try / If we don’t, we might as well lay down and die / You and I.”

Artists to Rock on New Years Eve

Gus Stewart/Redferns

Judas Priest, “Living After Midnight”

There are plenty of songs to play after the clock strikes 12, ushering in January 1. Pink’s “Raise Your Glass,” Prince’s “1999” or Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” might be good ways to kick off the actual New Year. But if you want to celebrate the spirit of appreciating the moment before it’s gone and how limited our time on this planet is, go with Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight.”

“Living after midnight / Rocking to the dawn / Loving till the morning / Then I’m gone, I’m gone,” sings Rob Halford, a.k.a. The Metal God. The heavy metal anthem will keep your party going well into the early hours. Isn’t that the best way to start the new year anyway?

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