Song Spotlight: “Let’s Start The New Year Right”

Blue fireworks on a night sky. Label reads Holiday/Show Tune


  • Mood: Hopeful 
  • Themes: New Year, Celebration
  • Tempo: Relaxed, Slow
  • Genre/Style: Holiday/Show Tune

Another year has zipped by and it is time to usher in the New Year. The time of resolutions and reflection has arrived, and whether you are a fan of setting a goal for the new year, this song beautifully states an intention to start the New Year right. 

Let’s Start the New Year Right” was written by Irving Berlin and first recorded in 1942. It was recorded for the musical Holiday Inn, which starred the two musical greats Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. This song reflects the feeling of the last minutes of the old year heading into the new year. This time can be full of reminisces of the old year and resolutions to start the New Year on the right foot. Although the song was released in the movie itself, it was not until 1979 that the complete soundtrack for Holiday Inn was released. 

Here are some of the lyrics:

One minute to midnight

One minute to go

One minute to say good-bye

Before we say hello

Let’s start the new year right

Twelve o’clock tonight

When they dim the light

Let’s begin

Kissing the old year out

Kissing the new year in

Let’s watch the old year die

With a fond good-bye

And our hopes as high

As a kite

By the way, did you know that the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions was started back in ancient Babylonian and Roman times? During this time of year, promises would be made to their gods to return borrowed objects or pay debts, or people would make other morally based promises. In modern times, resolutions frequently involve changing an undesired trait or behavior, accomplishing a personal goal, or otherwise improving one’s life.

This is a great song to use to start a discussion about New Year’s resolutions and would go well with a collection of songs about New Year themed tunes. It can also be used as a transition into reminiscence, an opportunity for musical engagement, movement and more! 

Try This:

Theme: This song would fit well into a New Year Celebration theme. Other complementary songs may include “Rock Around the Clock,” “Auld Lang Syne,” and,“This Will Be Our Year.

Encourage the group to reminisce by sharing their favorite thing about the past year.

Create a New Year’s resolution: With permission, write the group’s new year resolution on cards and allow the group members to either put them in a capsule for next year or keep them. 

Discussion: Talk about ways to keep resolutions, or discuss why people decided to create resolutions for the new year. Do your group members participate in setting resolutions? Why or Why not?

Musical Engagement: Play bells or light percussion instruments with a recording of this sweet tune.

Look at photos of the variations of the Times Square Ball over the years.  

Movement: You can do expressive movement to this song like slow side to side swaying or arm movement. Try adding white scarves to add visual flair.

Watch the movie Holiday Inn or the clip featuring the song.



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