New year, new batch of songs. In addition to being the birth month of 360°Sound editor-in-chief Chris Bisha (born Jan. 7, the same day and year as actor Nicolas Cage), January is the subject of many great songs. I scoured the internet for “January” songs and this list of 10 is what I came up with. The songs span the 1950s to today and virtually every popular genre is represented. All that was required for inclusion was the song had “January” in both its title and lyrics. We hope you enjoy these tunes, and let us know if your favorite January song was left out!
Julie London – “June in January”
Songwriters: Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin
Genre: Traditional pop
This pop standard made its debut in the 1934 film Here is My Heart starring Bing Crosby. Crosby’s recording with Georgie Stoll & His Orchestra went to #1 on the pop charts that year. Little Jack Little, Ted Fio Rito, and Guy Lombardo also recorded versions that charted in the 1930s. Many have cut it in the years since. For this list, I chose the version by the lovely Julie London. Her interpretation was the leadoff track of her 1956 album Calendar Girl, which featured songs for all the months.
Hank Snow – “January”
Songwriter: Boudleaux Bryant
Nova Scotia-born country legend Hank Snow’s singing style influenced countless artists in both his native Canada and the United States. “January” was written by Boudleaux Bryant, who, along with his wife Felice, penned numerous hits for The Everly Brothers. “January” appeared on Snow’s 1969 LP, Snow in All Seasons. It’s your stereotypical sad country song about lost love. January is when Snow is “blue,” and it makes him “want to die.”
Pilot – “January”
Songwriter: David Paton
Formed in 1973, the Scottish pop-rock band Pilot are one-hit wonders in the U.S. Their 1974 single “Magic” (You’ve heard it before, the one that goes, “Oh, ho, ho! It’s magic, ya know”) peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, internationally, their biggest hit was 1975’s “January.” The song, taken from their Alan Parsons-produced second LP, Second Flight, topped the charts in the UK, Ireland, and Australia, and cracked the top 10 in Norway and France. But it only made it to #87 stateside. Singer/songwriter David Paton once explained in an interview that the peppy song isn’t about the month but rather a woman named January. Paton got the name from a female character in a book that his wife was reading.
Sting – “January Stars”
“January Stars” is a version of the song “Everybody Laughed But You” with different lyrics. Both songs were B-sides of singles from Sting’s acclaimed fourth solo album Ten Summoner’s Tales. Sting sings that he hopes his lover he met in the summer will return this winter. “My horoscope said you’d come back/I have my doubts it’s true.” I wouldn’t put much stock in astrology either, Sting.
Elton John – “January”
Songwriters: Elton John and Bernie Taupin
For a stretch in the ‘90s, Elton John enjoyed huge success catering to the adult contemporary audience with sentimental pop songs and ballads. While “January,” a deep cut from his 1997 LP The Big Picture, follows the AC formula, it rises above the schlock due to Elton’s fine voice and sense of melody. Written with his longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin, “January” is about a romance that flourished at the start of the year. “Every month means a little something/But January is the month that cares.”
Bonnie McKee – “January”
Songwriter: Bonnie McKee
Pop singer Bonnie McKee released her only album, Trouble, in 2004. “January,” an album track from that record, expresses hope that her teenage love affair will continue into the new year. “January’s just around the corner/I know that you’ll be back by then.” The album was a commercial and critical flop and McKee was dropped by Reprise Records. However, she would go on to be an extremely successful songwriter for others, writing 10 #1 singles in the U.S. and the UK, among them “California Gurls” and “Roar” for Katy Perry and “Hold It Against Me” for Britney Spears.
Disclosure (feat. Jamie Woon) – “January”
Songwriters: Guy Lawrence, Howard Lawrence, and Jamie Woon
Settle, the debut album from British electronic duo Disclosure, garnered rave reviews and a 2013 Mercury Prize nomination. “January,” a deep cut from that record, features vocals from British singer/songwriter Jamie Woon.
“That’s just a song about stuff,” Guy Lawrence, one-half of the duo, told XLR8R. “‘Twenty-second of January’ is the main lyric, and it’s like, nothing actually happens on the 22 of January. It’s not a special day for us at all – it just sounded good in the song.”
The Twilight Sad – “Last January”
Songwriters: James Alexander Graham and Andy MacFarlane
The aptly named Scottish indie rock band The Twilight Sad is known for their brooding lyrics. The post-punk-influenced “Last January” was the first single from their well-received 2014 LP Nobody Wants to Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave. I broke my rule because “January” isn’t mentioned in the lyrics, which tell of unrequited love (I think), but it was too good of a song not to include.
J. Cole – “January 28th”
Songwriters: Jermaine Cole, Timothy Thomas, Andre Thomas, Yumi Arai, and Kunihiko Murai
January 28 is rapper J. Cole’s birthday, so that’s why this song from his 2014 autobiographical album 2014 Forest Hills Drive is titled as such. (2014 Forest Hills Drive was his childhood home in Fayetteville, North Carolina). Near the end of the song, Cole compares himself to hip-hop pioneer Rakim, who was also born on Jan. 28. Japanese musicians Yumi Arai and Kunihiko Murai of Hi-Fi Set received writing credits because their smooth 1975 song “Sky Restaurant” is sampled.
All Time Low – “January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1)”
Songwriters: Alex Gaskarth, Phil Gornell, and Zakk Cervini
Genre: Pop punk
All Time Low has been churning out Green Day and blink-182-influenced pop-punk since their 2007 debut. On “January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1)” from the band’s eighth LP, Wake Up, Sunshine, and the prequel to “Summer Daze (Seasons, Pt. 2),” Alex Gaskarth sings about his seasonal depression: “Save me from this January gloom.” This dreary yet melodic tune would fit right in on 360° contributor Kelly Kling’s list of essential emo songs from the aughts.
Hope you enjoyed this eclectic mix of January songs. Stay tuned to 360° for more great lists. Happy New Year!