Playlist: Music for a new year

Dec 24, 2014 at 1:00 am
The holidays can be so relentlessly and overpoweringly cheesy, especially when it comes to the music we’re all forced to endure in checkout lines, doctor’s offices, and even at the paint store. Here we are and the holidays are almost over. And what, you’ve got “Auld Lang Syne,” which isn’t even in English -- and people try to get you to enjoy this terrible U2 song, or some marketing ploy by Snoop Dogg, and accept that they are New Year’s songs? With the exceptions of Otis Redding and Carla Thomas’ “New Year’s Resolution” and that one by Jeff Buckley, there are no songs specifically written for this day of partying and starting over that are up to the task. Here are five we believe fit the bill a bit better:

Husker Du, "New Day Rising"

Monumental, wall of sound, drums pumping, guitars flailing, tuneful punk rock — this song of resurrection is not only a proto-grunge primer for how to mix melody and noise with aplomb, it's a dangerously strong anthem. It has the power to make you feel like anything is a good idea at the time. So use the song carefully, OK!

Carl Craig, "Butterfly"

Really, you can just loop this song over and over again on New Year's Day if you need help getting out of bed and starting the day. Taken from his second full-length, 1997's about-to-be-reissued More Songs About Food And Revolutionary Art, the house anthem sounds as great today as ever.

Egyptian Lover, "Egypt Egypt"

This song has nothing to do with New Year's Eve or Day, or any other part of it. But if you play this thing, anyone within a thousand yards will dance involuntarily. The 1983 song is composed of sick beats with a vocodered voice saying "Egypt! Egypt!" in between some old school raps and lots of keyboard washes. There is serious, booty-shaking power here; it's basically a good-luck charm.

Jay Z, "Hard Knock Life"

We're not sure it'll be remembered for eternity, but when Jay Z and Beyonce took over Barclays Center two years ago, that was a pretty big deal. It's easy to see this song about hustling one's way to the top as a life-affirming anthem.

Zombies, "This Will Be Our Year"

I realize that I derided holiday music for being cheesy, and then here's this cheesy-sounding classic rock number. But this piano-driven pure pop song was never a radio staple. And if you are even remotely close to being in love, this is perfect to play for your love while you make road trip plans together.