What’s the worst that could happen tonight, the most loaded night of the year? You could have no one to kiss or no one to get drunk with, or worse — you could have both and still not have a good time. It’s so much pressure and even the nicest things you can think of will likely involve so much “walking outside” and “being in a crowd” and “money,” that it couldn’t possibly be worth it. A new year? I’ve seen 940 of them already. An alternate plan that I believe is very good is to sit at home and watch a warm, non-challenging movie about love and friendship and wearing turtlenecks under blazers. For example: the best New Year’s Eve movie of all time, Nora Ephron’s When Harry Met Sally, which features an unhelpful explanation of the song “Auld Lang Syne.”
HARRY: My whole life I have never known what this song means.
SALLY: I know exactly what you mean.
HARRY: I mean, should old acquaintance be forgot. Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we do happen to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we forgot them —
SALLY: Maybe you’re just supposed to remember you forgot them, or something — anyway, it’s about old friends.
Okay! Sure, you two.
And when that’s all over and you’re crying like a baby, go ahead and make yourself some coconut cake with chocolate sauce on the side, snuggle under a quilt with your babe or by your lonesome, and queue up a New Year’s Eve playlist that I made just for you.
1. “Champagne Year” by St. Vincent: For the moment on New Year’s Eve where you’re thinking, “Is it even possible that the coming year is going to be better than the last? I suspect it will just be worse and worse forever?” And then you have another glass of champagne.
2. “A Song to Pass the Time” by Bright Eyes: A song for the moment just before you call your mom.
3. “Auld Lang Syne” - the Sex in the City arrangement: This is for when you’re walking down the sidewalk during a light snowfall thinking, “I can’t believe I get to live in New York City, and that I am still alive.” If you don’t live in New York, or if you’re a ghost, skip this one.
4.“Top to Toe” by Fenne Lily: I have allotted you three minutes and thirty-six seconds for dwelling on any romantic mistakes you made this year, and that is all you will be getting. You tried your best.
5. “Melt Your Heart” by Jenny Lewis: New Year’s Eve may be a stressful ritual and the dawn of January 2018 may not look promising and the person you’re smooching may not be your one true love but, according to Jenny, “it's bound to melt your heart, one way or another.”
6. “Forget About Life” by Alvvays: Do whatever you want, it’s New Year’s Eve, which was already a meaningless phrase but now sounds like total gibberish to me. You deserve a night of acting like a frivolous person anyway. Don’t you think?
7. “Slow Dance” by Kelly Clarkson: Dancing is legal in New York now. Start with a waltz!
8. “Happy New Year” by ABBA: Okay, I like a classic, expected pick once in a while, and I can’t stop thinking about this tweet:
#1 question about Mamma Mia! is, do they all know they're singing ABBA songs? Like, when they actively perform as the girl group (vs. musical singing) do they know....it's an ABBA song? I'm not sure this matters, but— LW (@lindseyweber) December 26, 2017
9. “Die Tonight” by Charli XCX: Please don’t say anything as idiotic as “Oh, I could die tonight,” because even though I know you only mean to say “I am so happy, I don’t know how to describe it,” I don’t want to think about your mortality. You are precious to me and moreso to the people who actually know and love you. Please do indulge in doing something nearly as stupid as writing this song.
10. “Nights With You” by MØ: This is for the getting-ready part of the night, or for the part of the night where your best friend gets a text that’s ultimately too rude and cruel for her to have to deal with right now, so you must perk her up. It’s a song about female friendship, is what I’m saying, and it’s stunning. You will jump and bob.
11. “Waves” by Kanye West: Of course, this is for the part of the night when you most badly want to cry — not from being sad, just from being a person.
12. “Child Music 1: Coming of Age” by Jim Williams: This is from the soundtrack of Raw, the best movie of 2017. Perhaps it will remind you that it is okay if you still have some growing up to do. At least your coming-of-age hasn’t involved any cannibalism!
13. “True Love Will Find You In The End” by Daniel Johnston: Let’s hope so.
14. “Demi Moore” by Phoebe Bridgers: I hate to be crass but this is a gorgeous song about sexting. If you’re spending New Year’s Eve far away from someone you love, who is comfortable sending you some nude photos, this is a good way to get in the mood to ask.
15. “Unchained Melody” by Lykke Li: Ah, yes.
16. “Lived in Bars” by Cat Power: A song about trumpets and dancing on tables, and for some reason feeling sad about it. It’s okay if your feelings are not matching up with your environment or the Instagram tableau you’ve been included in. This song is for the part of New Year’s Eve where you sneak away to the bathroom and stare at your own face for four minutes and think “Gosh, I like hanging out with myself more than I like hanging out with anyone else.”
17. “Liability (Reprise)” by Lorde: The year was sloppy. You behaved badly. You hurt feelings and you let people hurt your feelings. But Lorde, who is a genius and the most important person of my generation, says “...Maybe all this is the party?” And it’s like, maybe she’s right!
18. “Polymorphing” by Chairlift: According to Caroline Polachek, one half of the now-dispersed musical duo Chairlift, “There’s something better than what you’re asking for, kid.” What a fantastic promise, and I’m sure she wouldn’t lie to you on New Year’s Eve, when we are all being our most sincere, kind selves, hoping against hope that we will be able to do so for the next 365 days.
19. “New Year’s Day” by Taylor Swift: For the part of the evening when your buzz wears off, your lipstick is just some colorful chunks of dead skin hanging off of your chapped, gross, winter mouth, and you suddenly remember that tomorrow you will have to run a vacuum cleaner. Hopefully there is someone nearby you like enough that you can muster a smile anyway.
20. “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper: Look, it is what it is.
I’ll never forget you, because I’m not sure who you are to begin with. Happy New Year!