21 Top DJs Share Their Secrets for the Perfect New Year's Eve Party Playlist
By Jeremy Blacklow
While some people's idea of the perfect New Year's Eve is to stay in and watch the ball drop in Times Square on TV with Ryan Seacrest (or Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin), all cuddled up with a loved one and a bottle of Cabernet, many others will dance 'till the sun comes up.
DJs are the new rock stars -- and they're the tastemakers of the year's biggest party night. So what constitutes the perfect New Year's Eve playlist? ETonline reached out to the world's biggest DJs -- many of whom regularly play to crowds of tens of thousands -- to get their go-to tracks and tips for curating the soundtrack for the perfect New Year's party.
1. The Chainsmokers: This DJ duo had a huge 2014 - cracking DJ Mag's prestigious Top 100 list for the first time at No. 97 riding support of their huge single, which captured the zeitgeist of 2014, "#SELFIE."
They kick things off by pointing out how nailing the perfect playlist involves first figuring out your audience:
"It's important to think about the crowd you are playing to -- is it a house party? Dinner Party? Rave? You have to assume you are going to have all sorts of people with different tastes, so you want to be diverse in your range of music but make sure to maintain a consistent fun energy. No one likes sad, dark, brooding music EVER when you are ringing in the New Year. So make sure to pick fun songs, the more dynamic and engaging the better!"
1. The Chainsmokers - "Kanye"
2. Drake - "0-100"
3. Future - "Move that Dope"
4. What So Not RL Grime - "Tell Me"
5. Big Sean - "IDFWU"
6. Taylor Swift - "Blank Space"
7. Group Love - "Ways to go"
8. Galantis - "U and I (Kaskade Remix)"
9 . Tchami - "Promises"
10. Mark Ronson ft Bruno Mars - "Uptown Funk"
Catch The Chainsmokers at the Lights All Night music festival in Dallas on Dec. 27.
2. Steve Aoki: He's been a leader on the electronic scene for over two decades, and tells ETonline, "A New Years party is a reset. A celebration that marks a beginning. Almost like washing away the past to focus entirely on the future. So it's extremely about being optimistic and the songs need to be of that same breath. Songs that give life and energy!"
1. Steve Aoki with Chris Lake and Tujamo featuring Kid Ink - "Delirious (Boneless)"
2. Calvin Harris - "Blame"
3. Steve Aoki ft. Fall Out Boy - "Back To Earth"
4. Oasis = " Wonderwall"
5. Steve Aoki featuring Empire of the Sun - "Neon Future"
6. Skrillex - "Fck That"
7. Steve Aoki feat. will.i.am. - "Born To Get Wild"
8. Marnik - "Gladiators"
9. Steve Aoki feat. Afrojack and Bonnie McKee - "Afroki"
10. Garmiani - "Zaza"
Steve Aoki is performing at Solid NYE at Vancouver's Pacific Coliseum on Dec. 31.
3. Cazzette: The Swedish electronic music duo is currently dominating the year-end charts with their melodic masterpiece "Blind Heart."
"Given that NYE is one of the biggest party nights of the year, creating our playlist will actually be easier than usual," they explain. "You know that the crowd will be up for partying and it's a great opportunity to try out new songs, remixes and edits."
1. Cazzette - "Blind Heart" (Moogy Remix)
2. Lunde Bros. - "Just Move Along"
3. Sander Van Doorn and Oliver Helden - "This"
4. Alesso: The Swede has one of the biggest end of the year tracks in the world right now with "Heroes (We Could Be)" feat. Tove Lo. He says proper planning is key. "First, I think a NYE playlist should be upbeat, loud, and get your blood pumping! Pick some of your favorite tracks from the year combined with some classics and add layers. Don't leave it to the last minute, good things take time!"
1. RL Grime - "Tell Me"
2. Calvin Harris - "Blame"
3. Alesso - "Heroes (We Could Be)"
4. Disclosure - "F for You"
5. Axwell /\ Ingrosso - "Something New"
6. Dub Vision - "Turn it Around"
7. Daft Punk - "Voyager"
8. Coldplay - "Magic"
9. Phonat - "Set Me Free"
10. DJ Mehdi - "Signatune (Thomas Bangalter edit)"
5. Nicky Romero: The Dutch superstar recommends, "Hard beats that make you dance into the new year but also have an emotional feeling to it that makes you appreciate all those with whom you are celebrating the New Year."
1. Nicky Romero & Vicetone ft. When We Are Wild - "Let Me Feel"
2. Tom Swoon & Stadiumx ft. Rico & Miella - "Ghost"
3. Nicky Romero & Anouk - "Feet On The Ground (Arno Cost Remix)"
4. Tommy Trash & Wax Motif - "HEX"
5. Blinders - "Sirene"
6. Alesso ft. Tove Lo - "Heroes (We Could Be)"
7. John Christian - "Next Level (Nicky Romero Edit)"
8. Merk & Kremont ft. Martin Volt & Quentin State - "Black & White"
9. Ed Sheeran - "Don't (Don Diablo Remix)"
10. Lush & Simon - "Hunter"
6. A$AP Ferg: Most folks might not know that the NYC-based hip-hop star is also a top DJ. "The key to a good playlist is to provide people with the good roller coaster effect with the music that's being played," he advises.
"At my shows, I like to give them a big warm intro, kinda subtle then go into my song 'Dump Dump,' which is a really turnt up song. If I invite some girls on stage, I may play 'Express Yourself' by Diplo then go into some 'Doo Doo Brown' by Uncle Luke . I'll get the crowd's aggressive side with my song 'Let It Go' and 'Perfume,' then go into 'Wild for the Night' so everybody can wild out and release. 'Work' and 'Shabba' is how I usually finish the show and if they still want more I'll perform 'Hood Pope' which is a perfect come down song from all the turn up that went down."
A$AP Ferg will be at Madison Square Garden as the only hip-hop act performing with all EDM lineup that includes Diplo, Skrillex, Rudimental and Yellow Claw on New Year's Eve.
7. & 8.Borgeous & Brazzabelle: For these two, switching up the tracks is the key to success. "I think what makes the perfect New Year's Eve Playlist is having some a lot of diversity in it," Borgeous says. "If I were gonna go with a top five I would go with..."
1. The Magician - "Sunlight feat. Years & Years"
2. Borgeous ft. Whoo Kid, Waka Flocka, and Wiz Khalifa - "Toast"
3. ZHU - "Faded (Steve James Remix)"
4. Borgeous - "Invincible"
5. Borgeous & Tony Junior - "Break The House"
Brazzabelle says the key "is to keep the energy high and throw together the perfect mix of crowd favorites as well as some new tracks that will surprise the crowd and have them begging for your set list." Oh, and don't be afraid to play your own song. "I will definitely be including my new single 'Make It Roll' in my set this NYE it has such great energy and really unique sound!"
1. Valentine Khan (Feat DJ Kool) - "Make Some Noise"
2. Jack U feat. Kiesza - "Take U There"
3. Brazzabelle - "Make It Roll"
4. 4B - "Drop It Again"
5. Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Martin Garrix - "Tremor"
6. Destructo & YG - "Party Up (GTA Remix)"
7. The Partysquad & Dutch Movement - "Wake M' Up"
8. Autoerotique & Max Styler - "Badman"
9. Elliphant feat. Skrillex - "Only Getting Younger (Brazzabelle Remix)"
10. Torro Torro - "CA$HVILLE"
9. Galantis: The Swedish DJ duo -- Christian "Bloodshy" Karlsson of Miike Snow and Linus Eklöw, aka: Style of Eye) -- have ended up on many folks' "Best Of 2014" lists after releasing a string of hit singles and taking the Coachella music festival by storm. Their tip? "Always drop an undeniable classic. Don't forget to 'Party like it's 1999.'"
1. Duke Dumont - "I Got U"
2. Galantis - "Runaway (U & I)"
3. Disclosure - "You & Me ft. Eliza Doolittle (Flume Remix)"
10. Robin Shulz: The German DJ/producer just received his first GRAMMY nomination for his remix of "Waves" by Mr. Probz, and his remix of "Prayer in C" by Lilly Wood & the Prick was one of the biggest remixes of the year. He advises just making sure to kick things into overdrive. "For me, the perfect playlist for a NYE is pretty much the same like for any other night," Shulz shares. "I always try to bring the people together on the dancefloor for maximum partying!"
1. Oliver Heldens - "Gecko (Overdrive)"
2. David Guetta - "Dangerous (Robin Schulz Remix)"
3. Teemid - "Crazy"
11. Cash Cash: The world went crazy for Cash Cash in 2014, riding the success of hit single "Take Me Home" and "Surrender." The group's Sam Frisch shares his tips: "New Year's Eve is all about celebrating the biggest night of the year, and as the DJ you've got to set the proper soundtrack. Hook into the party's mood - play some crowd favorites, throw in a few nostalgic tunes, and get the place hyped!"
1. Cash Cash - "Surrender"
1. Magic - "Rude (Zedd Remix)"
3. Cash Cash - "Take Me Home (ft. Bebe Rexha)"
4. Michael Jackson - "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
12. Flux Pavilion: For this Brit, "New Year's Eve is a celebration, so I always keep it as 'up' as possible. Every track has a wave of energy. It's all about building those waves on top of each other until you have a tsunami on your hands. Only let the tracks breakdown when you need to catch some air."
1. Yellowclaw - "Lick Dat"
2. Flux Pavilion - "I Can't Stop"
3. Dillon Francis and DJ Snake - "Get Low"
13. Clean Bandit: The British group had a breakout year with "Rather Be," which crossed over to mainstream and also was GRAMMY nominated this year for Best Dance Recording. The group's handsome violinist Milan Neil Amin-Smith says, "I think New Year's Eve is a time when you can forget about trying to be current or relevant and whip out some old classics." His favorites:
1. Strike - "You Sure Do"
2. Janet Jackson - "All For You"
3. Missy Elliot - "Lose Control"
14. Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano: The Dutch duo drive crowds wild the world over with their high-energy performances. "We want to go out with a bang on NYE," they say. "That's why the perfect NYE playlist for us must consist of PARTY TRACKS! Deep, funky and sexy house and techno. Enjoy the last day of 2014 with your family and friends!"
1. Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano - "Red Moon"
2. Axwell & Ingrosso - "Something New"
3. Calvin Harris & Alesso - "Under Control (Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano Remix)"
4. Jaz von D - "Can You Guess"
5. Steve Angello - "Wasted Love (AN21 & Sebjak Remix)"
6. SikDuo - "Feel The Drums"
7. Kolsch - "All That Matters (Kryder Remix)"
8. DJ Chus & David Herrero - "Nicaragua"
9. Michael Calfan - "Treasured Soul"
10. Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano - "Salute"
15. Markus Schulz: The Miami-based DJ/producer advises that, "With any set, you want to build towards the peaks - those moments that deliver the emotional high. For NYE, you need all of those in your arsenal. Everyone is amped to party from the outset - because you are building to one massive defined moment already- the midnight countdown. One of my biggest musical inspirations is U2, and their track 'New Year's Day' is always an appropriate one to play for the midnight moment… New Year's Eve provides a greater opportunity to divulge on those special classic tracks that don't normally grace the regular sets."
1. London Grammar - "Hey Now (Arty Remix)"
2. Ten Walls - "Walking with Elephants"
3. Markus Schulz featuring Lady V - "Winter Kills Me"
16. Showtek: Dutch brothers Sjoerd and Wouter Jansse recommend exercising restraint in your set. "Making sure you keep a hold on your secret weapon in your DJ set. Don't fire it off right-away. Take the people on a journey, not just blast all kinds of stuff out and think you played a good show."
17. Destructo: Gary Richards, who's behind all of the HARD EVENT festivals, says that, "It really depends on the party you are playing. Make sure you pick fun festive music that's going to get people moving."
1. Zhu - "Faded"
2. Destructo - "Party Up"
3. Daft Punk - "Around The World"
4. Duke Dumont - "Need You 100%"
5. Giorgio Moroder - "Chase"
6. Route 94 - Tell You Why"
7 London Grammar - "Hey Now (Alex Metric remix)"
8. Destructo - "Higher"
9. DJ Falcon & Thomas Bangalter - "Together"
10. Justice - "We Are Your Friends"
Destructo is headlining Quebec City's Grand Allee Street party on Dec. 31.
18. Vicetone: The Dutch duo echo similar sentiments: "Everybody experiences NYE in a different way and it has a different meaning for everybody. Some want a whole new start in the new year, others simply want to continue with the path they have already chosen. To make the perfect playlist for NYE, it's all about choosing the right tracks that inspire and make you feel energized for the new year."
1. Vicetone - "What I've Waited For"
2. Duke Dumont - "I Got U"
3. Galantis - "Runaway"
4. Vicetone - "United We Dance"
5. Alesso - "Years"
6. Krewella - "Enjoy The Ride (Vicetone Remix)"
7. One Republic - "I Lived (Arty Remix)"
19. DJ Alle Farben: The German DJ also advises taking the "classics" route. "They work very well because the audience connects many memories, emotions and experiences to special songs. They recall the whole year. It's important that you try to hold the peak for many hours. My goal is to play a complete Prime-Time-Set until the morning hours. Techno instead of Firecracker!"
20. Cobra Effect: The up-and-coming producers say,"When it's New Year's Eve, it's a little about pleasing everyone!" Their recommendations:
1. "To get the girls dancing" - Bashment (Bun Dem) - "Ape Drums"
2. "To scare away any rodents from your party" - Deadmau5 - "Reward is cheese (Nom De Strip Remix)"
3. "Get the kids pumpin'" - Dallas K & KSHMR - "Burn"
4. "To get the lasers going" - Fatboy Slim & Riva Starr - "Eat. Sleep. Rave, Repeat (Calvin Harris Remix)"
5. "To please your dad" - Frank Sinatra - "New York, New York (Chew Fu Big Room Fix)"
Cobra Effect's new remixes of Deadmau5's "Maths" and Kaskade & John Dahlback's "A Little More" are out now on iTunes.