Y/NY/N is a guide to the week’s music releases based on our highly scientific, non-subjective Yes/No rating system.
Yes to a slow dance: “Afterglow”, Ed Sheeran – My partner’s favorite thing to do is get drunk and say “let’s just jam.” Jamming is what he calls putting on sadboi music as loud as possible and swaying back and forth, oftentimes by himself. This NYE as we sit at home there will no doubt be another call for jamming and Ed Sheeran is the only artist he and I can really agree on, our tastes are very different as he has actual music taste and I do not. Afterglow perfectly employs Sheeran’s ghost-on-an-English-cliff voice and none of his white guy rapper special sauce. I really can’t ask for more. —Shannon Melero
I mean, yes, if you’re feeling nostalgic: Death Cab for Cutie, “The New Year” – When I was a tweenager living in Germany, I romanticized returning to the U.S. and becoming involved in an American music scene. (Retrospectively, I was an entitled brat who gleaned so much more insight and curiosity about the world from living overseas, but that tidbit isn’t totally relevant to this contribution.) I would start all New Years’ Eves alone, hiding from my family and friends in the living room, listening to Death Cab for Cutie’s “The New Year,” allowing it to transport me into the new year. It still sounds lonely and hopeful to me—obsessed with distance, punctuated by percussion like fireworks—ideal who those who want to dance to a Coldplay-style pop-rock epic without, you know, listening to Coldplay. (For the record, Coldplay has a lot of hits, and I love them dearly, but DCFC has more street cred… somehow.) —Maria Sherman
Yes, for quiet rumination: Taylor Swift, “New Year’s Day” – Like many critics, I wasn’t enamored with Taylor Swift’s Reputation, especially when considering its place next to the gems that exist elsewhere in her repertoire, but “New Year’s Day” is worth a revisit. It is a solid Swiftian piano ballad up there with Red’s “All Too Well,” a sweet, soft ode to leaving the party with someone you’re seriously into, if even for the evening. Listening alone should have restorative effects. —MS
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Obviously, yes: Ella Fitzgerald, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” – It’s a cover—The Orioles’ doo-wop rendition is the original—but when I think “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?,” I think Ella. Always think Ella; it’s a lovely way to live. Only her intonation, her vibrato, her phrasing could overwhelm an entire brass section, but she does it with ease. Embrace the warm. —MS
Yes duh: Velferd, “Returning” – This is just a really nice space disco song from this year that I’ve danced to with my cat (he hasn’t danced back) and will gladly do again come NYE. —Rich Juzwiak
With all my heart: Anita Baker, “Sweet Love” – You may not consider this a party song, but I recently bought Baker’s 1986 breakthrough album Rapture on vinyl and it bangs way harder than I ever expected. If I’m not worried about moving a crowd, I’m happy to move myself and put on an Anita Baker record like a good, proper old person. How sweet it is! —RJ