Happy New Year!

T Minus 0

Zero as in the two zeroes in 2020, and here we are, in the last year of the 2010s. That’s right. It’s not the first year of the ‘20s. It’s the last year of the ‘10s. Don’t worry. A lot of people get this wrong, but it’s a simple fix.

What day does every month start on? That’s right… the 1st. Today is not January 0, 2020. It’s January 1. Same with February, March, April, etc., right on through the year. The ‘20s don’t start until one year from today, January 1, 2021.

So why the confusion? I think it’s for the simple reason that we count the ages of things like people, pets, or institutions from the zero. So, for example, a baby doesn’t celebrate their first birthday until twelve months after they flop out of the uterus, whether by the natural exit or with some creative way-making by a gyno with a scalpel.

In contrast, every month, year, decade, century, and millennium is born on the one. It’s even in our counting system. We count up from one to ten, which is the one that ends with zero.

On the other hand, a countdown goes the other direction and ends, as this one does, with Day Zero, New Year’s Day, the first day of the last year of the ‘10s.

Did I mention that today’s theme is famous bands? And to bring this countdown to a close, I bring you a very famous band called ABBA with a song all about the day. Here’s to new and good things happening. (And ignore the fact that part of the lyrics of this song obviously belong to a New Year’s Day on a year ending in 1!)

New Year’s Countdown, Tuesday

T Minus 1

Mariah Carey, who started this countdown and appeared throughout it, wasn’t the only one to write a perennial song that could be called their retirement plan. Somebody beat her to it by years, and that somebody was the late great artist forever known as Prince.

Even though it originally came out 37 years ago, you know the song, which is the title track from his album 1999. It seemed to get played every New Year’s ever in the last two decades of the 20th Century, and got played to death in December of 1998, then throughout all of 1999. It still makes regular New Year’s Eve comebacks, especially in years ending in 9, and since this is one of those, and the 20th anniversary of the song year, expect to hear it a lot if you happen to go out tonight anywhere that music is playing in public.

Even nearly 40 years later and for all of its glorious 80s synth-pop sound, the song still holds up today, and I dare you to not find yourself moving to this one as you listen, whether it’s full-on choreography on your feet or a bit of a chair dance. Happy New Year — it’s already happened for some of you, of course — and here’s to the last year of the 2010s being better than the last few!

Check out the previous post or go back to the beginning.

New Year’s Countdown, Monday

T Minus 2

Okay, it can be hard to continue a theme like «Navidad española» after Christmas is over, since that means “Spanish Christmas,” although in a lot of the Hispanic world, the Christmas season runs up until January 6, known as Epiphany in English but as El día de los Reyes Magos in Spanish — the day of the Three Wise Kings.

And yes, in no tradition do they actually visit Bethlehem (or Belén) on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. They may have even seen the sign about eight months before they set off on their journey. That’s right — Jesus was hardly a newborn infant when they showed up around the Winter Solstice and was probably actually born in the Spring, maybe in April. Well, relatively speaking. Since Passover (Last Supper, anyone?) also tended to be in April around the third decade of the second millennium, Jesus pulled the Shakespeare trick of being born and dying in the same month, although Shakespeare may have even managed to die on his birthday — no one knows that one for sure.

But that’s the long way ‘round of getting to the connection for this video. First, it’s in Spanish, although it’s not a Christmas carol. Second, it refers to another Hispanic tradition that was the day before yesterday anteayer, December 28th, which is El día de los inocentes. This commemorates the day that Herod had all of the newborn males in Bethlehem killed, just to make sure that the new King of the Jews wouldn’t make it to adulthood and cause any trouble. In a lot of the Spanish-speaking world, though, the day is celebrated with pranks and jokes, a lot like April Fool’s in the English-speaking world.

This song is called El día de los inocentes and it’s by the band Discordia, a now-defunct band from Brazil, although here they sing in Spanish. Either that, or I suddenly understand Portuguese! There are no subtitles, so enjoy song for its melody if you don’t understand. If you do understand, then you’ll see why the title of the song is totally apt, and how even though the band split up almost a decade ago, what they sing about is still relevant, as much in Brazil as in the U.S.

See the previous post or read the next.

New Year’s Countdown, Sunday

T Minus 3

Sure, it’s after Christmas, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t be the “It’s not Just Christmas” theme. I’ve covered Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali. Hell, even Festivus Now here’s a song that combines all of them, all of the Christmas carols, and provides a reminder of the annual madness we’ve all just survived.

I give you the group Straight No Chaser, which in some ways echoes another group seen here several times, Out of the Blue Oxford, performing both Santa Baby and All I Want for Christmas Is You. Both started as college a cappella groups, but the British version stayed with the university as an organization with an ever-evolving cast while the American version struck out on their own. As they describe their evolution, they went “from an undergraduate singing group at Indiana University to a beloved Atlantic Records act with a devoted international fanbase.”

Their first release was the holiday album Holiday Spirits from 2008. This song was the lead track from their 2009 holiday release Christmas Cheers.

Check out the previous post or the next, or start from the beginning.

New Year’s Countdown, Saturday

T Minus 4

Just because it’s past Christmas doesn’t mean the themes go away. Today’s theme is famous duets, and this one is a rather sweet homemade one featuring the countdown return of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who first appeared singing with Lady Gaga on Day 2. This time, his duet partner is Zooey Deschanel, who was his costar in (500) Days of Summer which came out, if you can believe it, over a decade ago — next month marks the 11th anniversary of its release.

Here, they’re just hanging out as friends and I’m pretty sure that she recorded this on her phone, so it also brings us a full 180 away from the big budget professional aesthetic of his duet with Gaga which, after all, appeared on The Muppet Show back in 2013. Sit back and enjoy this little New Year’s ditty.

Instant nostalgia: start from the beginning, see the previous post, or read the next.

New Year’s Countdown, Friday

T-Minus 5

I know Christmas is over, but it’s Friday again and I happened to run across one more very interesting variation on All I Want for Christmas Is You. No fancy visuals with this one. It’s all about the words and music, with a mash-up of Mariah’s hit and another unlikely hit of another decade that fits it surprisingly well.

Watch from the beginning, see the previous post, or read the next.

New Year’s Countdown, Thursday

T Minus 6

Christmas is over, but doing this countdown has been so much fun that I decided to reset the clock to bring us into New Year’s and the first day of 2020, which is also the last year of the decade of the 2010s. A lot of people don’t get this and think that the 20s start in a week, but time doesn’t work that way. Otherwise, the day after December 31 would be January 0.

I think the confusion comes from how humans count their own ages. Yes, on the day someone turns 20, they are no longer a teen, but that’s because we start counting at zero, and on their first birthday they turn one. Decades, centuries, and millennia all start on the first day of year one and you have to have all of the digits, so it runs 1 all the way to (1)0.

But forget that for the moment. Happy Boxing Day, everyone! This is more celebrated in the British Commonwealth than the U.S., but in honor of this most British of holidays I bring you the most Irish of bands, Dropkick Murphys, with The Season’s Upon Us. The song may be a day late for Christmas, but it’s probably a more honest depiction of how a lot of you celebrated yesterday. Plus it continues the Christmas Countdown theme of Funny Thursday. Enjoy!

Watch from the beginning, see the previous post, or experience the next.