The Playlist: 10 Songs About New Beginnings to Kick Off the New Year
There’s no better time to make a fresh start, and these tunes provide the perfect soundtrack.
1. For your first dance
Sometimes you need an exercise in literalism to lead you through the steps (pun!) of the task at hand. This twinkly slow jam by the pride of Stratford is a play-by-play of a perfect prom night-complete with Cinderella references, absent chaperones and more than a few double-entendres.
2. For your first kiss
A swooping, schmaltzy whirlwind from the Eurovision-approved baroque popster, in which he effectively captures the dizzy, heart-skipping rollercoaster that accompanies intense infatuation.
3. For your first fight
It was so painfully true when Cat Stevens sang it, but it hurts so good when Sheryl belts it. This understated tune is more about first love gone belly-up than an inaugural squabble, but the message is still relevant: heartache and betrayal are the pits, and all we can do is try to rebuild the trust and love we’ve lost.
4. For your first exam
Trying to memorize the verses in this lyric-packed, jazzy track by the now-defunct L.A. hip-hop crew Jurassic 5 is a brain-busting workout worthy of at least a dozen flashcards. But actually parsing the dense couplets (to wit: “Turning rap into sport, I’ve mastered the part / ‘Cause the trash on the charts leaves you gasping for art”) is great prep for any literary-leaning course.
5. For your first hangover
This fast and furious punk-rock anthem will remind you that a) you are responsible for your own misery, and b) others have gone through the same thing and lived to fight (or drink) another day.
6. For your first speeding ticket
Like a reimagined version of Harry Chapin’s haunting “30,000 Pounds of Bananas,” this deceptively peppy acoustic number opens with a cargo truck barrelling down a freeway from Florida, carrying the stuff that nightmares are made of. Guaranteed to ensure you never go over the limit again-you don’t want to collide with this shipment.
7. For the first day after a big breakup
Even the most depressing sentiments are more palatable when they’re buoyed by waves of ukulele. And so it is with this heartbreaker of a tune, which maps out the immediate stages of grief, from insomnia to numbness to obsessive thoughts.
8. For your first house
To borrow a line from this roadhouse classic, “Open up the door, won’t you open up the door?” It’s your house! Crank it up to 11 and rock out.
9. For your first baby
The McGarrigle-Wainwright clan has become a de facto dynasty in Canadian music, and in addition to being superb songwriters, they’re known for using their art to sort out family dynamics. While there’s more than a little insider knowledge in this lovely and rather prescient tune, the tone is less dirty laundry than dirty diapers: the sisters describe a certain precocious first-born son, a kid who “just hates to walk, just loves to run…as fast as he can / With life held tight in the palm of his hand.” Plus ça change, Rufus?
10. For first steps
Technically, this ’80s-style disco-pop tune is about falling head-over-heels for someone who’s almost out of reach, but it also works well for parents bearing witness to real-life heels-over-head tumbles by little beings.