There is obviously an overabundance of music with a Christmas theme, but by comparison, there aren’t anywhere near as many songs devoted to a New Year theme. But even though they don’t carry the impact of Christmas standards, there are some good New Year-related songs out there.
For some, “Auld Lang Syne” may be one of the few songs that come to mind immediately, but there are plenty of tunes appropriate for ringing in the New Year.
This article takes a look at 10 songs that might augment the advent of 2016, and the selection includes pop music recordings from the ’30s to the ’80s. And to hear any of the songs, simply click on the title.
- “‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING NEW YEAR’S EVE” (Dante & The Evergreens, 1960): This classic New Year’s song was written by Frank Loesser, and this rendition is performed by a southern California quartet — consisting of lead singer Don “Dante” Drowty, Tony Moon, Bill Young and Frank Rosenthal — best known for their recording of “Alley Oop.” The song first charted for The Orioles (No. 9, 1949), and one of many covers was performed by Nancy Wilson (No. 27 on the Billboard Christmas Singles in 1965 and No. 24 on the same chart in 1967). This version bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 at No. 107.
- “AULD LANG SYNE” (Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians, 1939): Can it really officially be considered New Year’s Eve until this song is played? Many singers, orchestras and recording artists have set Scottish author Robert Burns’ 1788 poem to traditional music, and this song has been a New Year’s mainstay since Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians used it as a segue between two live radio programs on Dec. 31, 1929, as the clock struck midnight. Lombardo adopted this as his theme song, and he first recorded it as an instrumental in 1939 and with a vocal trio in 1947, and he performed it annually until his death in 1977.
- “BRINGING IN A BRAND NEW YEAR” (Charles Brown, 1961): This was written and performed by a blues singer and pianist from Texas who had a successful career beginning in the early 1940s. When Nat King Cole left Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers for a solo career, his place was taken by Brown, who handled the vocals and played piano. His 1960 single “Please Come Home For Christmas” (and cover versions thereof) has remained seasonally popular to this day. This song was recorded in 1961, but it wasn’t released by King Records until 1964.
- “LET’S START THE NEW YEAR RIGHT” (Bing Crosby, 1942): Written by Irving Berlin, this song was first sung by Bing Crosby in the 1942 movie Holiday Inn that also featured the timeless classic “White Christmas.” Born Harry Lillis Crosby in Tacoma, Wash., the legendary crooner had hit songs in every decade from the ’20s to the ’60s, including more than 150 hits in the ’30s alone. In addition, he starred in more than 150 films.
- “NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION” (Otis Redding & Carla Thomas, 1968): The male half of this duo was a famous Georgia-born soul singer who met an early death at age 26 in a Dec. 10, 1967 plane crash. His biggest hit (“Dock Of The Bay”) was recorded three days before his death, and amazingly, he had four posthumous Top 40 hits and eight Billboard Hot 100 items.The female half of the duo was the daughter of Memphis disc jockey and R&B vocalist Rufus Thomas, and Otis & Carla teamed on a number of singles.
- “CHRISTMAS AULD LANG SYNE” (Bobby Darin, 1960): Born Robert Cassotto in The Bronx, the talented singer — who was also proficient at playing drums, piano and guitar — charted 22 Billboard Top 40 hits, including “Mack The Knife” (No. 1 for nine week in 1959). He also charted 39 Billboard Hot 100 hits, including this one, which peaked at No. 51.
- “HAPPY NEW YEAR” (Nat King Cole, 1958): Nathaniel Adams Coles was born in Montgomery, Ala., before his parents moved to Chicago when he was age 4. He formed The Nat King Cole Trio in 1939, and as a solo artist beginning in 1948, he charted 87 Billboard Hot 100 singles, including three chart-toppers. In addition, he appeared in 28 movies, most of which included singing roles.
- “AFTER NEW YEAR’S EVE” (The Heartbeats, 1958): This doop-wop quartet from Queens, N.Y., fronted by James “Shep” Sheppard, is best known for the song “A Thousand Miles Away”, which charted in both 1956 and 1960. The group was formed as The Hearts in 1953, but they changed their name after finding out that there was already a girl group by the same name. The group disbanded in 1959. and Sheppard went on to form Shep & The Limelites. This recording was written, produced and orchestrated by Gordon Jenkins.
- “IT’S JUST ANOTHER NEW YEAR’S EVE” (Barry Manilow, 1977): This song, co-written by Manilow and Marty Manzer, charted at No. 33 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart. The singer-pianist-composer was born Barry Alan Pincus in Brooklyn, and he had three chart-topping singles among his 25 Billboard Top 40s.
- “NEW YEAR’S DAY” (U2, 1983): This heavy-hitting rock song, inspired by the changing Polish political landscape in the early ’80s, was the first international hit for a Dublin, Ireland, quartet fronted by Paul “Bono” Hewson. The group charted 11 Billboard Top 40 hits in the U.S., but this well-known single only made it to No. 53, although making it to No. 10 in the UK.
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