Top 12 Best Songs to Start Your New Year

The New Year is all about new beginnings. And because music inspires and motivates, a list of the best songs for the New Year can provide the soundtrack we need to start our year off right.

Happy dance music is a good start, but including music that inspires and invigorates is essential for the upcoming year. Some songs inspire and remind us of what’s most important in our lives. You’ll find some of the best songs from 2023 and earlier eras, all of it sure to keep you motivated and in good spirits.

1. “Golden” by Harry Styles

We’re going to start the New Year off with a healthy dose of positivity, and this dance-pop charmer from Harry Styles is just what the doctor ordered. “You’re so golden / I don’t wanna be alone / You’re so golden, ” the former One Direction standout croons. It’s a song drenched in the joy of being with someone you love, while hints of trepidation give shade to the sunny optimism: “You’re so golden / I’m out of my head, and I know that you’re scared / Because hearts get broken.” Lush harmonies and a driving bassline lend the production a rich, infectious sound, complementing the sureness of the lyrics. We’re feeling good already.

2. “Therefore I Am” by Billie Eilish

After all that love-drunk cheeriness, remembering that you can succeed alone and on your own is important for proper balance in the New Year. Few can bring a dark edge to melodic hooks quite like Billie Eilish, and this mesmerizing song is a perfect example. Behind a steady, simple beat, a swirling synth track lends a kaleidoscopic effect, while Eilish’s ghostly vocals are almost more spoken than sung as she asserts her independence: “I’m not your friend or anything, damn / You think that you’re the man / I think, therefore, I am.” The song hit number two on the US and UK charts in 2020, and its sly self-confidence sounds better than ever.

3. “How I Roll” by Britney Spears

This danceable confection from the pop princess puts a free-spirited lifestyle front and center. It’s infused with the self-confidence you need to hit the new year head-on, dripping with attitude and verve. It starts slow, with a couple of breaths and a preamble of sorts before the bass and percussion in the form of handclaps kick in, and Spears finds an earworm of a melody as she sings about hanging with her posse and having fun. The song was included on her 2011 album, Femme Fatale, but never released as a single.

4. “Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves

Musgraves bluegrass-tinged ode to living your best life, no matter what other people might say, won the 2014 Country Music Awards’ Song of the Year despite the controversy generated by some of the lyrics. “Make lots of noise / Kiss lots of boys / Or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into,” she sings, lamenting that no matter what you do, someone, somewhere, will find a way to criticize it. It’s a good reminder for us to live our best life in the upcoming year.

5. “Say So” by Doja Cat

Combining 70’s funk with disco and rap, Doja Cat‘s groovy track is a good reminder that if we don’t say what we want, we’ll never get it. “If you want it, scream it, shout it, babe / Before I leave you dry,” she sings in her smooth, inviting voice as a funky bass line urges the chorus along. The song originally peaked at number two on the US charts before a remix featuring Niki Minaj sent it rocketing to number one. Put this song on your playlist and get what you want from the new year, especially when you “scream it, shout it, babe.”

6. “Royals” by Lorde

While we might have ambitious dreams for what we want out of the New Year, it’s also good to keep a handle on reality while still dreaming of bigger things. That’s what New Zealander Lorde‘s electropop smash does, with its lyrics telling us that “we’ll never be royals (royals) / It don’t run in our blood /That kind of lux just ain’t for us.” But it’s okay because “we don’t care, we’re driving Cadillacs in our dreams.” Recorded when she was only fifteen, “Royals” won the Grammy for Song of the Year and hit number one on the US charts.

7. “One Thing at a Time” by Morgan Wallen

Of course, the New Year often comes with a list of resolutions and ways to improve ourselves over the coming months. Tennessee native Wallen‘s country wailer — off the album of the same name, which sat at number one on the US charts for sixteen weeks — reminds us not to bite off more than we can chew. “I got a lot of habits I gotta kick / Weigh out all your options and take your pick,” he advises before cautioning, “I can either burn the bar down / Or I can take your number out my phone.” While we wouldn’t necessarily recommend his proclivities, it’s the thought that counts.

8. “Summer Feelings” by Lennon Stella feat. Charlie Puth

The New Year is a great holiday full of festivities, socializing, and fresh optimism. But it does lead us to the depths of winter, with freezing temperatures and unpredictable weather. This song from Canadian singer-songwriter Lennon Stella, also featuring American producer and singer Charlie Puth, should warm you up nicely. It starts with a ’70s-style funky bass and synthesizer before Stella’s dulcet tones chime in: “I hear the rhythm of waves hittin’ on the shore / And I can swear they’re speaking, speaking, speaking.” She’s dreaming of sun and fun, and we can’t help but dream along.

9. “Let It Go” by Idina Menzel

The musical showstopper from Disney’s 2013 animated box office crusher Frozen, written by Kirsten Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, offers a timely message for us at the turn of the year: learning to leave the past behind is essential to move forward. As the song says, “It’s funny how some distance / Makes everything seem small.” The Lopezes won the Academy Award for Best Song (which they won again a few years later for the song “Remember Me” from Disney’s Coco), and the tune has gone on to join the Disney canon of musical classics.

10. “Leave the Door Open” by Silk Sonic

Silk Sonic — the superduo consisting of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak — dropped this debut single in March of 2021. Four weeks later, the soul and funk-fed banger hit number one on the US charts. The lyrics show the importance of leaving your door open to possibilities, here of the romantic type, though it’s no less true in many life areas. The song won the Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Record of the Year, among other accolades.

11. “Best of You” by Foo Fighters

This rocker from Foo Fighters is the perfect tonic when you feel like you’re hitting a wall, as is inevitable at some point in the new year. With its charging rhythm and drummer Dave Grohl’s forceful vocals, it’s just the thing to give you the drive and motivation to go the extra mile. “Were you born to resist or be abused?” asks Grohl in a moment of silence in the song before guitars and drums burst again, and he continues, “I swear I’ll never give in. I refuse.” The song was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Song back in 2005 and is consistently ranked among the band’s best.

12. “Budapest” by George Ezra

Finally, when beginning a new year, remembering what’s most important in life is essential. In this melodic folk-pop hit from 2014, England’s George Ezra puts it well: “My house in Budapest / My hidden treasure chest… I’d leave it all / My acres of a land / I have achieved / But for you, ooh, you, ooh / I’d leave it all.” A lilting acoustic guitar line is backed by organ and percussion, with a simple bass line holding it all together. The song was a hit across Europe and a sneaky surprise in North America, where it ultimately cracked the Top 40 in the US and Canada. “Give me one good reason / Why I should never make a change,” sings Ezra in the chorus, and that strikes us as the perfect thought for New Year’s.

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