Songs with January in the title are rarer than songs referencing other months. None have become smash hits destined to be remembered forever. But a few tunes that honor the first month of the year do stand out.
Here’s a rundown of the ten best January songs, presented in reverse order. Feel free to leave a comment with any that we’ve overlooked!
The Best January Songs
#10: “Miss January” by Pilot Around the Stars
This song by Pilot Around the Stars is emo-pop-punk in the same vein as the music recorded a few years earlier by Panic at the Disco and Fall Out Boy. Taken from the band’s 2009 self-titled release, “Miss January” is catchy and full of guitars. So although it has little to do with the actual month of January aside from the title, it’s one of the best January songs.
#9: “January” by Disclosure
UK duo Disclosure earned fans with a garage-influenced version of electronic music. Featuring guest vocals from British singer Jamie Woon, “January” appeared on their 2013 breakthrough album Settle.
Woon sings about a memory that someone important in his life has apparently forgotten: “22nd January / If baby you can’t recall it / I won’t forget that.” The chilled vocal style meshes well with the bouncy musical base.
#8: “January 28” by J. Cole
Rapper J. Cole named this track after his birthday. The song appears on Cole’s autobiographical album 2014 Forest Hills Drive, which takes the listener through the story of his entire life.
“Carolina’s finest, you knew that already / In terms of the greatest, I proved that already / And if you would like, I do it twice,” Cole raps. The album debuted at #1 and earned a Best Rap Album Grammy nomination.
#7: “June in January” by Bing Crosby
We’re going way back for this one. Taken from the MCA compilation His Legendary Years 1931 to 1957, “June in January” was a romantic love ballad with strings and horns. The song was written by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin, and Bing Crosby recorded it in 1934. Dean Martin notably recorded a version of the song as well.
#6: “January Rain” by David Gray
We recently named David Gray one of our Best One-Album Wonders of All-Time for White Ladder, but he did have a few tracks from other albums worth checking out. The beautiful “January Rain” appeared on Lost Songs 95-98, a collection of B-sides released in 2001, as well as the Serendipity soundtrack. As instrumental acoustic music goes, it’s quite good.
#5: “January” by Elton John
“January is the month that cares,” Elton sings on this track, which almost feels like an ’80s song at first with its weird intro synth line before opening into a more contemporary tune with strings and guitars, and then an explosive chorus.
The song is from Elton’s 1997 album The Big Picture, an album that was largely unremarkable except for the single “Something About the Way You Look Tonight.” Elton wrote the track with his longtime songwriting partner, Bernie Taupin.
#4: “Black-Dove (January)” by Tori Amos
“She was a January girl / She never let on how insane it was,” sings Tori Amos on this track from her 1998 album From the Choirgirl Hotel. Like much of Tori’s music, “Black Dove” has lyrics that can be a bit difficult to interpret, but its mysterious, moody piano vibe make it one of the best January songs.
#3: “January Friend” by Goo Goo Dolls
The Goo Goo Dolls left the underground years ago with their 1998 album Dizzy Up the Girl and its hit movie ballad “Iris.” One of the more punk-sounding tracks on that album was “January Friend,” a song written by bassist Robbie Takacs.
Takacs actually sings lead, marking a rare occasion in which frontman Johnny Rzeznik takes a backseat. Fittingly, the Goos performed the fun, upbeat number at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
#2: “January Wedding” by the Avett Brothers
Indie folkies the Avett Brothers seem to love songs with months in them – they appeared on our list of the Best November Songs as well with “November Blue.” “January Wedding” appears on their major-label debut I And Love And You, produced by industry giant Rick Rubin.
The lovely bluegrass-folk tune is a simple love story: “She knows which birds are singin / And the names of the trees where they’re performin’ in the morning / And in January we’re gettin’ married.”
#1: “January Hymn” by the Decemberists
The Decemberists debuted at #1 with their 2011 album The King is Dead. Right in the middle of that album was “January Hymn,” a gorgeous acoustic ballad. Singer and songwriter Colin Meloy begins by singing about the mundane task of shoveling snow, but it soon becomes clear his mind is elsewhere.
He laments, “What were the words I meant to say before you left? / When I could see your breath lead where you were going to / Maybe I should just let it be / And maybe it will all come back to me.” The cooing background vocals add to the solemn, stark nature of the track and make it our choice as the top song about January.
Other Songs We Considered
All Time Low’s “January Gloom” was a strong contender for this list. Owl City also merited a listen with “January 28, 1986,” a song about the Challenger space shuttle explosion.
What are your choices for the best January songs?
Last Updated on October 16, 2022