Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

A New Year’s Eve playlist

Compiled by Taylor Coe


After reflecting on music that they were thankful for a few weeks ago, we have now asked Oxford University Press staffers to share music that reminds them of the New Year. Whether that means a song that points towards a fresh start, one that is (more or less) literal, or one by a band whose very name proclaims newness (German krautrockers Neu!), we’ve pulled together a list of songs to capture that sense of in-between-ness, looking back and looking forward – and hopefully being happy while doing it.

“The New Year” – Death Cab for Cutie

This isn’t exactly a light-hearted, optimistic song about the New Year, but Transatlanticism is one of those albums I discovered in high school that will forever have a place in my heart. I still listen to this song every New Year’s Day.

– Lauren Hill, Associate Publicist

“Für Immer” – Neu!

Neu! is unbeatable for quality space-out music, but they also can put you in mind of the passage of time. The continuous drum pattern that holds up and buoys along the 11-minute “Für Immer” gradually makes you aware on a deep level of the seconds flowing by. It’s a comforting feeling.

– Owen Keiter, Associate Publicist

“You Can Get It If You Really Want” – Jimmy Cliff

Jimmy Cliff’s “You Can Get It If You Really Want” has always struck me as that that perfect song that balances both the inspiration and aspiration that I feel around New Year’s. And the horns in this song…who doesn’t hear the horns in this song, smile, and feel capable, invincible, that all things are possible? It is an optimistic song that reminds me that anything/everything is possible, “but you must try, try and try, try and try.”

– Christian Purdy, Director of Publicity

“This Will Be Our Year” – The Zombies

“This Will Be Our Year” has always been my favorite track from The Zombies’ Odessey and Oracle, an album that’s now critically acknowledged as one of the best to come out of Britain in the 1960s. On the surface, it sounds pretty characteristic of the vaguely corny ’60s sunshine pop you hear on oldies stations, but there’s a gravity (desperation?) in the lyrics about new hope and redemptive love that separates it from a chart topping credits-roller like “Happy Together.” At any rate, it’s a grand and beautifully triumphant song, and – from my perspective, at least – a strong candidate for the all-time anthem to new beginnings.

– Dan Poindexter, Assistant Marketing Manager, Journals

Denim Jesus” – Journalism

This song by Journalism, my friend and colleague Owen Keiter’s band (NOT on Spotify – neither are The Beatles) must have been one of the best new songs I heard this year, and I watched this video collage, which combines an anatomy film and a 1920’s French film, several times. The bridge at 3:51 is the best part!

– Jeremy Wang-Iverson, Senior Publicist

“Treat Me Like a Baby” – Night Engine

With all the focus on rebirth around this time and the bizarre personification “Baby New Year”, I oddly got stuck on Night Engine’s track for my NYE listening choice. While their song is about frequent comparisons young musicians are subject to – with the implication of unoriginality and inability – I’d like to crowbar a New Year’s appropriate meaning in: don’t let any apparent echoes of the past cloud your judgment — treat the night and the coming year as something entirely new. Plus you can dance around to it while waiting for the clock to chime midnight.

– Alice Northover, Social Media Manager

“Gassenhauer” – Carl Orff

Probably better known through Hans Zimmer’s rewritten version on the True Romance soundtrack, Orff’s gentle, marimba-driven ditty has appeared in scores of movies and television shows. One of those pieces that you recognize immediately once you hear it, this brief piece sounds old and new all at once, hitting that bittersweet spot between ending and beginning. Like the recognition that a sunset here is a sunrise somewhere else.

– Taylor Coe, Marketing Assistant

“Happy” – Pharrell Williams

This song makes me so…well, happy! It is a refreshing, joyous song that wakes me up and makes me feel ready to take on the new year! Also, the music video is just amazing. YouTube has a normal music video, but visit 24hoursofhappy.com for the interactive experience. There are some amazing dancers and funny moments in the video, but 4:32.30 pm is the cutest moment that I have found so far.

– Christie Walsh-Loew, Assistant Marketing Manager

“2080” – Yeasayer

This holiday is always a strange mix of retrospection and looking forward, evaluating and dreaming. “It’s a new year, I’m glad to be here,” reminds me that I can appreciate everything we have now and still aspire to a better future (hopefully one that I see before 2080).

– Kate Pais, Marketing Assistant

“Up, Up & Away” – Kid Cudi

It just has such a fresh beat and a sound that hits you like a baptism. Every time I hear this song I either want to run a marathon or take a quick drive in a fast car.

– Sarah Hansen, Publicity Assistant

Taylor Coe is a Marketing Assistant at Oxford University Press.

Subscribe to the OUPblog via email or RSS.
Subscribe to only music articles on the OUPblog via email or RSS.

Recent Comments

There are currently no comments.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *