January is like a Monday. No one likes it. No one looks forward to it because it comes after a good month. Besides, it’s usually cold, wet, and gloomy. It seems to be the opposite of the jolly happenings the previous month.
Despite the associations of January with a rather depressing time, songwriters have come up with songs about this month.
Lucky you, we have found 10 of the best songs about January. We can’t promise you they’re all happy songs. But find out for yourself. You just might find something you’ll love.
1. “January Hymn” By The Decemberists
The American indie rock band, The Decemberists, have a reputation for their well-crafted baroque pop with folk leanings. “January Hymn,” from the group’s 2011 album The King is Dead, leans heavier into the folk elements.
This is a song about looking back on loss. Our singer seems to be coming up on the anniversary of losing his love. He spends many of his lyrics remembering what last January was like with her.
Frontman Colin Meloy does a terrific job of singing with the melancholy of someone whose heart is broken but has gotten past the abject grief stage. There’s a resignation in his voice that carries the genuine pain most of us can identify with.
2. “January Friend” By Goo Goo Dolls
The post-punk pop that Goo Goo Dolls brought to the world is on full display on “January Friend.” From 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl the song wasn’t a hit single, but it became a fan favorite.
The January friend in question seems to be a woman the singer sees. But only on her terms and on her timeline.
In this case, January doesn’t refer specifically and exclusively to the month. Rather, it is the rare time that seems to come around only now and then when she wants to see him. We’ve all dated that kind of person.
3. “June In January” By Bing Crosby
If we’re talking about songs with “January” in the title, Bing Crosby‘s “June in January” must be included. The song appeared on the soundtrack of Cosby’s 1934 film, Here is My Heart. It peaked at #1 on Decca Records.
The song quickly became a number-one hit as it pulled on our associations with love and summer (June brides, anyone?). The idea of the lyrics is that even though it’s January, there’s snow, and it’s freezing, it still feels like it’s June because the singer is in love.
That feeling carries him through the dreary month of January. It’s still winter, but he feels like it’s spring already, and the snow “is just white blossoms.”
4. “Fire In The Belly” By Van Morrison And Steve Winwood
A song with “January” in the lyrics is Van Morrison and Steve Winwood‘s “Fire in the Belly.” The song dropped in 1997 as part of Morrison’s The Healing Game album.
It’s distinctly a Van Morrison song for a lot of reasons. First and most obvious, it’s got his singular voice. Second, there’s the wailing organ in the back most of us have come to expect. Lastly, there’s the lilting swing rhythm.
“Fire in the Belly” is an ode for a loved one. Here, the singer talks about his love and passion for this woman who stirs the fire in him. He’s looking forward to “getting through” January and February and to spring.
5. “January 28th” By J. Cole
It’s hard to argue that J. Cole‘s “January 28th” isn’t autobiographical. First, it’s his birthdate. Second, the album is 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the street address of Cole’s childhood home.
In the song, Cole raps about things that have happened to him along the way to rap stardom. It mostly focuses on loss. Then it keeps coming back to the idea of trying to stay true to oneself in the face of violence, capitalism, and injustice.
Notably, Cole compares himself to “the great Rakim,” an American rapper sharing his birthday but was born 17 years earlier.
6. “January” By Pilot
Coming up next is “January,” which Pilot‘s lead singer David Paton wrote in October following the success of their “Magic” single.
This one is a song that mentions “January’ to refer to a person. Paton recalls that his wife was reading a book where the main character was named January. The chorus of the song was based on that, but it’s also about Paton’s feelings following the success of “Magic.”
In the lyrics, the singer is sad that his loved one is leaving. He implores her not to go and “don’t be cold.” Surprisingly, he still wants her to stick around even if she lies to him and makes him sad.
7. “January” By Elton John
In his 25th album, The Big Picture, Elton John spent a lot of time looking back and looking at, well, the big picture. “January” runs along those lines, with the singer thinking back over each month of a long relationship.
“January” paints a picture of longing, giving the impression that the relationship has ended. But in the song, the singer outlines why he thinks “January is the month that cares.”
In the song, the singer takes notes of even the small things he did or learned. He recounts nights he sits on the field, appreciating the environment. He reminisces about kissing his lover and spending the night with her.
8. “January Stars” By Sting
A little history lesson for Gen Z: When songs came in the form of CD singles, they came with bonus tracks. Sting‘s “January Stars” was a bonus track for his top ten hit “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You.”
Listening to the song, we find out that the singer and his love interest meet in the summer. But the days go fast, and the girl has to leave for an unspecified reason. Though he relies on his horoscope saying that she will be back, doubt still exists.
Near the end of the song, the singer complains that it’s getting warmer, which tells us that the months are rolling by away from January. Still, the girl has not come back.
9. “January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1)” By All Time Low
When All Time Low released Wake Up, Sunshine in 2020, the world was on the precipice of going through something huge. A period of isolation that would test the mental health of everyone hunkering down at home.
“January Gloom (Seasons, Pt. 1)” touches on the mental health issues many people face in the winter months. Frontman Alex Gaskarth paints an effective picture as he sings about the January gloom so many people know too well.
In the song, we discover that the singer is going through depression. He gets ready for the cold and wet winter days. Still, he falls victim to the season, which for him is gloomy.
10. “Black-Dove (January)” By Tori Amos
By Tori Amos‘ admission, “Black-Dove (January)” is a murky song at best when it comes to discerning what it’s about. From her 1988 From the Choirgirl Hotel album, the song is more of a collection of imagery than a narrative with a cohesive story.
The recurring black dove is an image from a nightmare Amos said she had. She seems to be trying to paint an aural picture instead of telling a story with words.
Even if it’s unconventional, it works. The black dove could be a symbol of innocence gone. For we find in the story about a “January girl” who remains mum about what’s going on “in that tiny kinda scary house.”
Summing Up Our List Of January Songs
When we look at it, January can symbolize new beginnings and opportunities. But surprisingly, there are only a handful of songs about this particular month.
And songwriters have differing opinions about January, perhaps because they pull from their own experiences or observations.
Hopefully, our list of songs satisfied your cravings for January. They can help you remember the month, forget about it, or escape from it. The choice is yours.