The Top 10 Best New Year's Eve Songs

December 20, 2010

Another year is about to disappear into dust and in order to properly celebrate this annual occurrence of man’s tragic mortality, you need the right music to accompany it. Try simply popping one of these classic end-of-time tunes in your electronic music spitter to get the party started right.

By Danny Gallagher

10. Prince - “1999”

Source: Warner Bros.

The high-pitched squeals of the artist formerly known as “the artist formally known as” have long been a clutch catch for parties of all varieties (bar mitzvahs, graduation dances, pre-funeral wakes).

New Year's Eve, however, has carved out a special part of itself for this party ballad that calls for every celebration to celebrate like it's the end of an era. That just makes it twice as special and poignant on the actual New Year's Eve night that celebrates the end of an old decade or the start of a new one.

Who’s It For At Your Party?: The 40-plus cougars who pray for the days of “Partying like it’s 1999” because they actually wish it was “1999.”

You can get it here.

9. KISS - "Rock and Roll All Nite"

Source: Casablanca

Remember when you were young and dumb and so full of life (or whatever coy euphemism you had for it back then) that you could literally spend an entire night celebrating the recklessness of human life? Me neither. I was usually so toasted that I could never remember why my hair kept smelling of raw chicken.

The only group that looks better with their goth punk makeup on can help transform any dull and calm soiree into a raucous, headbanging bash by breathing the life of uncaring youth in them once again. This pounding classic rock rhythms of this party staple seem to slow the fast treadmill of time by reminding them of an era when music didn’t require a 30-piece orchestra and a vocoder to make it sound good, but lots of whiskey and headbanging helped.

Who’s It For At Your Party?: The aging hipsters who thank God their time didn’t have Facebook so the world could see what they look like in glitter glam rock makeup or the bitching unicorn they spray-painted on their van.

You can get it here.

8. Journey - “Don’t Stop Believin'”

Source: Columbia

Sure, Journey still holds the reigning title of “Whitest Anything Loved By the Whitest of the Whitest People Ever,” but this particular tune in the band’s discography can make the most multi-ethnic person in your crowd tap their horrified toes to the beat.

It’s bellowing notes of hope for peace and new opportunities implore, nay, demand that all of humanity sing along in a chorus of unrepentant optimism. It’s like a tolerable, heavier version of “We Are the World.” It’s also the perfect way to celebrate the New Year, especially this year since dread and despair seem to hide around every corner of our lives. But at least dread and despair have jobs and are keeping our unemployment rate from bleeding into double digits.

Who’s It For At Your Party?: The party sad sack who needs something to bring his or her spirits up, other than actual spirits.

You can get it here.

7. Black Eyed Peas - “Let’s Get It Started”

Source: A&M

Dance tunes aren’t designed with guys in mind. Our bodies just aren’t designed to dig into any dance floor. If God meant for man to dance, he wouldn’t have given us pride.

Women, however, were built to “cut a rug” by more than a few yards. Even the worst female dancer on the floor gets more drooling looks from guys than a pack of wild dogs looking at a tin of Spam. The best song, by far, to get the ladies showing the world what their mothers made for them is this party anthem from the Black Eyed Peas that tells women what to do right in the title, long before the track skips over to it on your CD player. It’s the Pied Piper’s call for party chicks and skanks, only the rats probably carried less undiagnosed diseases.

Who’s It For At Your Party?: Guys who want to watch sexy women dancing without having to dance themselves or don’t have enough money for the strip club.

You can get it here.

6. Any Andrew W.K. Song

Source: Island Records

It’s hard to name a single best song from Andrew WK’s library of party tunes, mainly because no one can understand the lyrics. If you even try to get a title off the album jacket, it just reads “(musical gibberish, loud screaming, banging piano) Party (something).”

It still works in a party setting, especially at that point when everyone is just about to reach the peak of their party buzz and explode all over the room in a volcanic joy-gasm. They’re all loud, raucous, and contain the word “Party” in the title or the chorus. You can’t ask for more than that at any end-of-year celebration, if you exclude naked chicks, free catering, and a special appearance by the entire starting line-up of the Lingerie Football League, but we’re trying to keep the party small. The building’s super is already mad at us for starting that fire during our last Oscars brunch.

Who’s It For At Your Party?: The long-haired punk who either needs an excuse to headbang or is trying to get a lit cigarette ember out of one of the knots in his long locks.

You can get his stuff here.


5. AC/DC’s - "Back in Black”

Source: Albert/Atlantic Records

AC/DC might be the “Break Glass in Case of Emergency” choice for just about every suburban frat party on the southern side of the Mason-Dixon line, but they earned that for a reason. They f***ing rock.

Sure all you indie-loving pop haters out there are probably trying to use your mind’s will to crush my skull right now, but that doesn’t make it any less true (or my head flatter, because there’s no such thing as telepathic skull-crushing). Just take a mix tape (or if you don’t live in 1986, a burned CD) that includes this life-affirming anthem of rejuvenation and rebirth to any party and watch the crowd turn into a group of headbashing, high voice singing dunderheads as they count down the final minutes of the year. Afterwards, you can still go back to listening to The Apples in Stereo or The Decemberists on your iPod and think about how much better you are than everyone else in the room as they enjoy themselves.

Who’s It For At Your Party?: The beered-up bikers whose favorite game is “Find the Wall Stud With Your Fist.”

You can get it here.

4. The Rolling Stones - “Start Me Up”

Source: Rolling Stones/Virgin

Maybe you’re not the heavy metal type who likes to get his crowd whipped up into a whiplash-inducing headbang orgy because you have a congenitally weak spine or ear drums that bleed at the sound of dog whistles.

The Stones are hard enough to get even the shyest member of your party clan off the bean bag chair and into the toasting crowd but soft enough to keep the riot police from knocking on your door. Their blues-borrowed riffs can help kick off the New Year with just the right balance of optimism and wild recklessness that have become the hallmark of a good New Year's Eve party, right up until the hangover kicks in.

Who’s It For At Your Party?: People who want to “strut” to something without looking stupid or having to endure the Bee Gees.

You can get it here.

3. The Beastie Boys - “Fight for Your Right”

Source: Def Jam/Columbia

Nothing screams "party" like these Brooklyn bomb droppers. If they can’t turn your New Year's Eve party from a casual soiree into an explosion of joyous mayhem, you might want to call a doctor.

No other song in the boys’ bag of tricks represents the spirit of just about any out-of-control party better than this hip-hop pledge of destruction and wanton chaos. It’ll hearken your crowd back to a time when time meant nothing to them and everyone was immortal until they realized they could buy their own beer and cops don’t have a sense of humor.

Who’s It For At Your Party?: The old who want to feel young without injecting hormones or bending the laws of time and space.

You can get it here.

2. REM - “It’s The End of the World As We Know It”

Source: I.R.S.

Of course, not every song in your playlist should be about how the good times are just around the corner or better days are just ahead of us. You’re throwing a party, not an Oprah Winfrey empowerment seminar.

This anti-happy anthem might be about the destruction of the known universe and the punishment man must pay for his crimes against time. However, it still knows that when the world does end, at least there will be a bitching party to go out with it.

Who’s It For At Your Party?: The angry guy who wants to watch the world burn but also loves S’mores.

You can get it here.

1. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes - “Auld Lang Syne”

Source: Fat Wreck Chords

Robert Burns’ poetic anthem of the passing of time may be a classic for the square party-throwers, but that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. After all, we are talking about a song made famous by the Scots who also brought the world the ear-piercing beauty of the bagpipes.

This punk rendition of the timeless New Year's Eye party staple will help you bring down the ball in style and will shut up the one person in the group who wants to sing it but sounds like a stuck porpoise from the first note to the last.

Who’s It For At Your Party?: The smartass who keeps remarking, “What's a guy gotta do to get some ‘Auld Lang Syne’ around here?”

You can get it here.