“New Year’s Day” is a song by rock band U2. It is on their 1983 album War and it was released as the album’s lead single in January 1983. Written about the Polish Solidarity movement, “New Year’s Day” is driven by Adam Clayton’s distinctive bassline and The Edge’s keyboard playing. It was the band’s first UK hit single, peaking at #10 on the singles chart, #11 on the Dutch Top 40 and charting on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time in their career. In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine placed the single at #427 on their list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
The video was one of their first to see heavy rotation on MTV. It was filmed in Sälen, Sweden in December 1982 and directed by Meiert Avis. The band only appeared in the performance scenes of the video as it was filmed in the dead of the Swedish winter. U2 guitarist Edge revealed in the official U2 biography that the four people riding on horseback in the video that appeared to be the four U2 members were in fact four Swedish teenage girls disguised as the members of U2 riding on horseback with masks over their faces. This was done as the band were frozen from shooting the video in sub-freezing temperatures the day before. Their biography states that Bono refused to wear any headgear despite the cold weather and had a lot of trouble mouthing the lyrics. The video also features footage of Soviet troops advancing in winter during World War II.
U2 allowed free-of-charge use of this song in a spot prepared by the European Commission. This clip published on YouTube shows a transformation of Poland in last 20 years mixed with short scenes from today’s Warsaw seen from a perspective of a 20-year-old woman.
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