#HolidaySurvival: How to Make a New Year’s Eve Playlist

This holiday season, consider me your mixtape therapist. Every week throughout December, I’ll be posting five songs to help you soundtrack various holiday season scenarios. And while you get your mixtapes ready, you can catch up on the insane abundance of quality music from this year, since all featured songs are from 2013.    –Claire

We did it! The holiday season is over, 2013 is over—-lets send them off properly with a big fun party playlist worth toasting.

New Year’s Eve has ample potential to be weird. You’re on the cusp of a new year, expectations are high, and everyone is doing that thing where they make impossible demands of themselves that they’ll abandon in three weeks.

This New Year’s Eve, lets pass on stress and expectations that guarantee letdowns. Lets just throw on something sparkly, dance our feet off, and eat something awesome. And for all of those occasions, extremely fun splashy music is required. Mix these 2013 gems into a batter made of your favorite classic hits, guilty pleasures, and tried-and-true floor fillers.

“Is This How You Feel?” by The Preatures

“Is This How You Feel?” is pure bliss. It’s a bolt of energy with a tight rhythm, the kind of song that makes you feel like you’re in the upbeat sequence in a movie, the part where you dance and sparkle and love. If you take my advice and get ready while blasting “You’re In Love” by Betty Who, this is the ideal playlist chaser for when the party starts. Aussies are the 2013 masters of joyful 80’s inspired pop.

“Summer Skin” by Teen Girl Scientist Monthly

It’s always wise to have a rowdy song on hand. It can set the mood if that’s what you’re going for, or reset the tempo if things have gotten to mellow (i.e. Once you spot, or contract, the dreaded “I might not be that fun anymore” post-midnight yawns). Wake everyone up with “Summer Skin,” the sonic equivalent of a tray of espresso shots. Every New Year’s party could use a jolt of smash ‘em up, jump around, thrash and dance rock delivered at an insane speed.

“My Number” by Foals

What if disco was awesome? What if you stripped out the 70’s cheese and reduced it to it’s potential floor-filling, shimmying, absurdly catchy essence? What if it was released in 2013? You would have “My Number” by Foals, an obscenely fun song that’s easy to love and hard to stop replaying. It’s disco and Britpop in a blender, full of explosive hopeful moments and adrenaline rushes.

“We Were Rock And Roll” by Janelle Monae

It’s a big night made for big songs, and sound-wise it doesn’t get much bigger than Janelle Monae. Layer upon layer of sound builds into something that sounds like a funk orchestra. The results are  exhilarating breathless funk with a sick beat, call and response chorus, and Monae’s luscious vocals.

“Hold On (We’re Going Home)” by Drake

Nothing Was The Same sounds better on second listen but, like most Drake albums, makes you wonder how he so frequently comes out with hits since he’s kind of morose and full of feelings, infrequently in a “lets dance and forget the lyrics!” way. But! In the theme of delicious 80’s sounding tracks, “Hold On (We’re Going Home)” is one of my favorite songs this year. It is an ideal pop song: playful, a little retro, instantly recognizable, and it’s got that twinkle. It seems like everyone has covered “Hold On” in 2013; my favorite is this version by The Arctic Monkeys.

 **Artwork by Ashley Jones. Check out more of her work at The Vainglory or catch her on Twitter @theRealAshleyJ

Top 5 Songs Your New Year’s Eve Party Desperately Needs


1. Parliament – “Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off)”

It’s pretty impossible to have a party without George Clinton. I mean, seriously, can you remember the last time you went to a party and a Parliament/Funkadelic/George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic didn’t make an appearance on the playlist? You can? I’ll bet that party sucked. No? You’re lying to me now. It was so good you got blackout drunk and you met your future husband/wife? Just stop. You’re embarrassing yourself. Everyone knows no party is complete without some interplanetary funk.

2. Queen – “Don’t Stop Me Now”

It’s a party rock anthem before anyone called them party rock anthems. Everyone knows this song whether they know they know it. It comes on all slow and lures you in, and when it hits, it not only brings recognition but that sense of it’s. Motherfucking. On. It also benefits from having one of the best zombie-killing scenes in the history of zombie movies. I mean, who doesn’t like zombie-killing choreographed beat-to-beat, blow-for-blow to Queen?

3. MC Chris – “Fett’s Vette”

A song introduced to the world by Sealab 2021. It’s a rap song about Boba Fett. Quite honestly, there’s not much else to be said, save that it’s ba-nay-nay good. I mean, really. Fat-ass beats and Star Wars? How can it get any better?

4. The Lonely Island – “I’m On A Boat”

If you’ve watched SNL in the last 5 years or so, you probably know of the Lonely Island. No? Please. You know who Andy Samberg is, right? No? Come on, he’s totally huge. I Just Had Sex? Throw It To Ground? No? Really? Ok, then you have seen Dick in a Box, correct? Finally. If you liked Dick in a Box, you’ll love I’m On A Boat. Plus, it has T-Pain and a mermaid. Which he fucked, apparently. And for the record, everyone I know has heard and seen I Just Had Sex and Throw It To Ground. You gotta get with it. You haven’t seen I Just Had Sex and you go to parties where they don’t play George Clinton? Something’s wrong with you my friend.

5. Nappy Roots – “Aw Naw”

A classic song in the “Fuck, I remember that song!” genre. The beat is big drums and what seems like a Rhodes playing the hook. I love this song, and you do too. And you’ll love it even more when it comes on at party when you’re many, many drinks in and you’ve crossed that line of no return into ghostfaced wasted. And that’s exactly the kind of party I hope you’re at this New Year’s Eve. But no. You’re gonna be at party where there’s no George Clinton, where nobody has heard of Andy Samberg, and I’ll bet you’ll be able to drive home after the ball drops. If you are this person, I doubt you’re reading this blagablag. But if you aren’t, Nappy Roots is perfect for your party. Trust me.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jamiroquai- “Virtual Insanity”: Claire and I both have a thing for this song and we’ll put it on just about any party mix.
  • Rare Earth – “I Just Want to Celebrate”: A little on the nose, I know. But it’s pretty sweet to play drinking games to this song.
  • DJ Danger Mouse and Jay Z – “99 Problems”: This is 99 problems mixed to The Beatles “Helter Skelter.” I feel like Jay Z should, but will never, recognize that this version is way, way better than his.


1. Friends– “I’m His Girl”

Brooklyn hipster funk, but funky nonetheless, with a rare happy relationship message. Friends extols the virtues of independence and supportiveness, all to the tune of a very sexy, pseudo-dance-worthy beat. Check out their cover of “My Boo,” but be warned:  “If your game is on, give me a call boo” will be running through your head for weeks. Consider it a New Years present from me.

2. Xaphoon Jones (Mash up of B.I.G., Beyonce, & Passion Pit)- “Swimming in the Sky”

Xaphoon Jones has turned the mashup genre, which I strictly associated with crappy late night radio musical calisthenics, into an art form. For your party mix, I see this as a “Some people are here and this will get crazy in about 40 minutes” song and a “I’m drinking a glass of wine pre-party, taking one last long look at my clean house before these loveable idiots come over and trash it” song.

3. Phoenix– “Too Young”

A few weeks ago, I watched “Lost in Translation” on a plane. It was a last ditch attempt to get my boyfriend to like a movie that had been embarrassingly meaningful to a seventeen year old me (Not only did I steal ScarJo’s muted preppy wardrobe and shaggy haircut, but stole her standard greeting, a low-voiced weirdly drawn out “Helllloooo”) We had just been to Tokyo, had even slurped overpriced cocktails at the bar where most of the film takes place, so I was sure he would like the movie much more this time around. He did. But in a turn of events that won’t surprise anyone who has revisited movies they slavishly adored as teens, I didn’t like it nearly as much, except for one scene. Everyone is dancing in a little apartment in Tokyo, drinking champagne and laughing at nothing, with this song playing. No matter how disappointing the rest of the movie was, that scene made me think “I want to be at that party.” Which means this song should be at your party. And, fingers crossed, Scarlet Johanson and Bill Murray should be there too (It could happen.)

4. Talking Heads– Life During Wartime

I think in the world of dance-worthy Talking Heads songs, “Life During Wartime” doesn’t get a fair shake. We get it, “Burning Down the House.” You’re awesome. But you’ve been overplayed at every bar with half-decent music, and every bar mitzvah hosted by aging hippie parents, and enough is enough. I say in 2012, we bid adieu to “Burning Down the House” and kick off a more varied Talking Heads diet, starting with this song. For a primer on the Talking Heads diet, go watch “Stop Making Sense” and pick up a giant grey suit. Jump roping back up singers help too.

5. James Brown– “Get Up Offa That Thing”

You know those people who show up at your party and don’t dance? Even when shit gets started, even when the champagne is flowing and and things are officially fun, not forced party merriment fun, but plain old fun? Even when the music is awesome, the room is crowded and appropriately sweaty? Don’t worry about those too-mellow-party-poopers hovering in the corners. Turn this song on and TRY not to dance.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Etta James– “Tell Mama”: That voice! That beat! Those eyebrows! We all need a little more Etta in our lives. Start the year off right (and depending on how your night goes, start it off right later in the night with “I Just Want to Make Love To You.” You can wake up the next morning with a hangover and “Sunday Kind of Love.” I’m rooting for you.)
  • Janelle Monae– “Tightrope”: Her silky voice, the drums, the beat: This is party song perfection, complete with tuxedos, bouffants, and Big Boi.
  • Outkast– “Bombs Over Baghdad”: This is a quality rowdy, lets-take-this-party-to-the-next-level, “OMG I REMEMBER THIS SONG” track.