Video posted by MusicProf78
According to the Songfacts blog, this is the second most popular song for the end of the year, and it is
the kind of ballad that is usually sung in a melancholy tone because the singer instinctively knows the answer (you're probably busy).
So let's undercut the lyrics with this playful version sung by Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt:
Video by HelloGiggles/Zooey Deschanel
Maybe it's that they're clearly having so much fun, or maybe it's that it's a duet, but one way or another they clearly expect the answer to be, "Spending it with you, you idiot!"
Deschanel's note is wrong about one thing, though--the original isn't by Nancy Wilson, whose recording of the song came out in 1965. "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve" was written by Frank Loesser in 1947 as a stand-alone song, and it was first recorded by The Orioles a couple of years later.
And Frank Loesser was Jewish. Loesser (pronounced "lesser"), the son of German-Jewish parents, is probably best known for writing the songs for the Broadway musicals Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (he won Tonys for music and lyrics for both shows), but that's just the tip of the iceberg. He also wrote the scores for over 60 films, winning an Oscar for Best Music (and picking up four more nominations along the way; he also wrote or co-wrote (as lyricist) over 700 songs, including the lyrics to Hoagy Carmichael's "Heart & Soul," which you will definitely recognize even if you do not know the lyrics:
Video from MusicOverYears
Despite his successes, the members of his immediate family were far more annoyed than pleased with Frank's success--his father was a piano teacher and his older brother was a well-known pianist and music critic, and they were, as Loesser's daughter put it, "very snobbish German lovers of classical music. They thought that popular music was trash." But, she hastened to add, they loved him anyway, and he them. They just didn't think much of his career--but how lucky we are that he chose to go his own way!
(Comments on my new blog, please!)