EARLY IN THE EVENIN
How to get that perfect party started? Well, everyone knows that while the opening cuts from your digital jukebox have got to be smart, quirky, and clever, they cant steal the show from what will come later: the gems of style and taste which you dont want those fashionable latecomers to miss.
So what does one start with on an occasion such as this? I usually opt to occupy that first hour with some of the classics. Holiday jazz from the 50s and 60s creates the perfect ambiance, but wont steal the show. Pull out your Nancy Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, Dean Martin, and Ella Fitzgerald and make sure one of them asks, What Are You Doing New Years Eve? Besides the classic versions, nearly every known artist has done some cover version of this song, so you have a variety to choose from, whether its the Carpenters, Brian Setzer, Patti Labelle, or even Clay Aiken. Personally, I have a hard time deciding between the ever-popular Nancy Sinatra cover and the so-good-the-record-crackles version by The Orioles.
As for jazz, there are a variety of Christmas-themed holiday jazz compilations out there spotted with New Years tributes, but if this isnt thematic enough for you, theres always instru-mental Vince Gauraldi, which somehow manages to fit the part no matter the season. And you cant go wrong with a track or two from Michigans own Sufjan Stevens excellent Christmas album, Songs for Christmas (and New Years). Pad this collection with New-Years-specific songs like It Was a Very Good Year and Happy New Years, Baby, which are sure to prep your audience I mean guests for transition time.
GET THIS PARTY STARTED
Yes, transition time. By now you might be feeling the need to really get the party started, but how do you shift from such a smooth sound to something a little more energetic without ruining the mood youve so carefully created? The answer is of course Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. With brassy 70s ensemble songs like Five Minutes More, Our Day Will Come, and Thanks for the Memory, you can keep the New Years spirit going while bringing up the tempo and probably inspiring a few brave dancers to take the first few steps onto the dance floor or onto your living room coffee table. Just move all the breakable knickknacks.
NOW WERE COOKIN
After Herb successfully starts your friends dancing, you will have your guests attention now its time to show your musical smarts from 2007, abandoning the lyrical theme of the New Year for a showcase of all that was great about the old one. Party hits, personal faves, and iconic sounds from the year gone by are all fair game. For me its an international line-up of new, emerging, and good old stand-by performers that remind me of the musical diversity of 2007. We saw music from all over the world give us something to sing about this year.
Some of my top picks include the smart pop/dance female singer-songwriters of the year, such as improper Englishwoman Lily Allens debut release, Alright, Still, Nellie McKays Broadway-style extravaganza, Obligatory Villagers, and the lady herself, Feist, who released the wonderful The Reminder this year.
Now its time to make your friends really sweat: for sheer musical bliss, turn to Arcade Fires action-packed Neon Bible, or the hipster Swedish trio, Peter Bjorn and John, who released Writers Block over the summer; throw in a little Franz Ferdinand for good measure. Give them a breather with the exceptional lounge-y release from Koop, Koop Islands, and the next fabulous batch of Eastern European waltzes from Beirut, The Flying Club Cup.
Dont forget about retro Motown lady groover Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who released 100 Days, 100 Nights. Then slide over to the Latin side of grooving with Pacha Massive, an explosive, multi-instrumental collective who hit the music scene this year with All Good Things. Mocean Workers energetic and eccentric Cinco de Mowo! and Mexican Institute of Sounds manic Piñata will continue to charge things up. And finally, before everyone gets too tired, throw some Brit-born Sri Lankan DJs at em: MIAs Kala will not disappoint; and a couple of Beastie Boys tracks (old or new-ish) will bring a little retro in for good measure.
THE GRAND FINALE
And now comes the most precarious part of the night. At the pinnacle of success, you must ditch 2007s greatest hits. Bring it down. Knock it off. Turn on the classics you know what your friends want to hear, and as party host and DJ, you aim to please
As the millions in New York stand freezing, waiting for the ball to drop, they should be listening to the same thing as you are right here in good ol Northern Michigan: the oldies, the goodies, those legendary New Years songs.
You might want to start your set by playing The Future by Leonard Cohen (or Diddys Future, if you prefer), Duran Durans What Happens Tomorrow, and Tomorrow Never Dies, be creative and apply some of your own favorites to the occasion! You might even find the Eagles Funky New Year appropriate. And of course, who can forget to include the U2 classic, New Years Day? But when Times Square erupts into cheers at the count of zero, there is really only one option.
One of the innumerable Auld Lang Syne covers is sure to please. Personally, Im kind of a sucker for the Brian Wilson version.
So now youve DJ-ed your way into the new year 2008, here you come! As a parting post-bash chill-out mix, head for the acts of 2007 that can be sweetly hummed all the way home: Jose Gonzalez, Eleni Mandell, Ed Harcourt, Cinematic Orchestra, and the excellent soundtrack to perhaps one of the (past) years best music-themed films, Once. If the new year offers anything as nice as these, weve got something to look forward to.
Filmmaker, theology student, and Petoskey native Emily Manthei is also one half of the L.A.-based underground DJ duo The Undertwins, hence her