New Year’s Eve Playlist From Around the World


Around the world, New Year’s Eve is going to look very different this year, but the applause and cheers at midnight might have a level of catharsis not seen for awhile. People will certainly be celebrating 2020’s passing.

And these celebrations, whether with a small group of friends, household members only or solo, need a soundtrack.

Even with so much put on hold, musicians still managed to put out music this year. This playlist draws from releases all over the world, demonstrating how a guitar-rock band from Mali, a dream-pop singer from South Korea, a reggae legend from Jamaica and more all managed to express little moments of joy in a universally difficult time. You will find beats to dance to, new genres to fall in love with and, hopefully, connections with different cultures that will make you feel a little closer to the rest of the world — even if you pop the cork of a champagne bottle and toast yourself.

The flashing lights, the thumping bass, the crush of dancing crowds … For most of us, nightclubs are such distant memories, they have retreated into the realm of make-believe. This track, from the French-Malian singer Aya Nakamura’s latest album, brings it all flooding back. The mid-tempo, rolling beat and glittering synth hook are full of barely contained energy and possibilities, much like the beginning of a night out.

Anchored by the guembri, a three-stringed bass lute that is traditionally used by the Gnawa people of North Africa, this transcontinental quartet creates rollicking, headbanging music. Somewhere in the mix, you will find the hypnotic loops of Gnawa religious music, poetry from the Sahara and the reckless abandon of fuzz rock and blues. And every listen reveals a little more.

Sexores, an Ecuadorean duo based in Mexico City, doesn’t exactly specialize in party music. But occasionally, in between the dark undercurrents of shoegaze, synth-pop and psychedelia, they hit upon something that feels jubilant. Propulsive and shimmeringly beautiful, “Volantia” is a song for shaking off the cobwebs of 2020.

Every party must come to an end, even this one. This dreamy, washed-out track from the South Korean producer and singer Aseul is the sound of last call at a bar. It drips with nostalgia, and the high-pitched whines of synthesizers cut through the mix like the first light of a new year after a long night. It invites you to take a breath and be hopeful for what is next.



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