Jan. 1 is a date that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. For some, it signifies a clean slate: a chance to abandon your regrets and move past your losses. For others, it’s the first day of a journey toward self-improvement and discovery. And for the rest, it’s just another regular day… with an exceptionally painful hangover.
Whatever the case, it’s as perfect a time as any to kickstart your personal reinvention. As with any major life change, you’ll need a killer playlist to guide you, which is why we’ve assembled the following 13 tried-and-true songs about starting over, breaking out and taking on the world. Hit play and go get ‘em — you got this.
“In The New Year” - The Walkmen
The mood: Total, unrestrained joy. You have no idea what’s about to happen, but you know there are better things ahead. There have to be. If Walkmen frontman Hamilton Leithauser’s confident howling isn’t enough to convince you, then nothing is.
Essential lyric: “I know that it’s true/ It’s gonna be a good year/ Out of the darkness/ And into the fire.”
“Born Again” - DIANA
The mood: For when you want to dance your way into spiritual purification (with a sax solo to boot).
Essential lyric: “Born again and born to survive/ Born again and learning to thrive/ We were born guilty, try to make it out alive/ I’ve got you, you’ve got me, that’s something right.”
“This Is The First Day Of My Life” - Bright Eyes
The mood: Confessional, sincere and universally affecting. A simple song about important possibilities, with an underlying bittersweetness (I mean, duh, it’s Bright Eyes).
Essential lyric: “Now I don’t know where I am/ I don’t know where I’ve been/ But I know where I want to go.”
“Get By” - Talib Kweli
The mood: For when you need some inspiration to curb those bad habits once and for all. Because maybe one day you, too, will score a magnum opus hit produced by a then-still-up-and-coming Kanye West.
Essential lyric: “This morning I woke up/ Feeling brand new, I jumped up/ Feeling my highs and my lows/ In my soul and my goals.”
“Brand New Sun” - Jason Lytle
The mood: Sweetness with a hint of sadness. Reinvention doesn’t have to be done alone, so if you’re tired and you have someone whose strength you can borrow, do it.
Essential lyric: “So you should hold my hand/ While everything blows away/ And we’ll run, to a brand new sun.”
“Better Things” - The Kinks
The mood: Perfectly positive. This might be one of The Kinks’ most uplifting tunes ever, so use it for when you want to “rock out, have fun, and live life like you just begun.”
Essential lyric: “I know you’ve got a lot of good things happening up ahead/ The past is gone it’s all been said/ So here’s to what the future brings/ I know tomorrow you’ll find better things.”
“This Year” - The Mountain Goats
The mood: This one’s for the pessimists. It’s not exactly an uplifting song… there’s urgency and a warning of “bad things to come” here. But there’s just something cathartic about latching onto its determined-as-all-hell central lyric. You know the one…
Essential lyric: “I am going to make it through this year, if it kills me.” Repeat as many times as necessary.
“Fresh Feeling” - Eels
The mood: A swaying celebration of the “pure and free” things in life that somehow combines string loops with hip-hop beats. Just roll with it.
Essential lyric: “Try to forget what’s in the past/ Tomorrow is here/ Love, orange sky above lighting your way/ There’s nothing to fear.”
“Silhouettes” - Colony House
The mood: A poppy reminder that bad things happen, but you shouldn’t let them overshadow the good things. Beautiful things flourish even in the darkest places.
Essential lyric: “It’s hard to catch the light when you’re running from the day/ So wait for it, wait for it, wait!”
“Step Outside” - Jose Gonzalez
The mood: Beckoning and epic. It has moments of quiet intimacy (true to Gonzalez’s style), mixed with a rousing, Arcade Fire-esque climax. It’ll basically make you want to scale a mountain or jump out of a plane or something.
Essential lyric: “House on fire, leave it all behind you/ Dark as night, let the lightning guide you/ Step outside, time to step outside, time to step outside.”
“Everything I Am” - Kanye West
The mood: An unapologetic vow to tune out the haters.
Essential lyric: “Damn, here we go again/ People talk sh-t but when sh-t hits the fan/ Everything I’m not, made me everything I am.”
“There Goes The Fear” - Doves
The mood: This is for the person who’s running, leaving things behind, and not looking back… but still needs that reassurance that they’re doing the right thing. It’s a long track, but you need all seven minutes of it. Don’t skip that outro!
Essential lyric: “There goes the fear again, let it go/ There goes the fear, let it go.”
“Waking Light” - Beck
The mood: An introspective tune about finding clarity and waking up to a new world, this one’s perfect for morning meditation, if that’s your thing. If not, don't worry: count on the guitar solo at the end to give you new life.
Essential lyric: ”When the morning comes to meet you/ Open your eyes with waking light.”