Who originally sang the song, New York, New York?

New York, New York remains one of the most popular songs ever written about the Big Apple. Many people think the original singer of this iconic anthem was Frank Sinatra. But it was actually Liza Minnelli! Read on to learn more about this famous theme song and the star who sang it.

New York, New York

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It’s not Frank Sinatra.

Many people assume New York, New York was originally sung by Frank Sinatra. That’s because Sinatra’s version became so popular.

In fact, his version of this song would go on to become Sinatra’s fifth most popular single of all time, according to record sales. He recorded the ballad in 1979 for his album Trilogy: Past, Present, Future. Sinatra also recorded New York, New York a second time for his 1993 album Duets with Tony Bennett.

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Liza Minnelli is the original singer of New York, New York.

However, the correct answer is Liza Minnelli. She was the original singer of New York, New York. Minnelli recorded the song in 1977 as the theme for the Martin Scorsese film of the same name, New York, New York. This first release of the song was two years prior to Sinatra’s recording.

New York, New York was written for Liza Minnelli.

The title song was written specifically for Minnelli. It was composed by John Kander with lyrics by Fred Ebb. The writing duo also created such hits as All That Jazz from the musical Chicago and Cabaret from Cabaret.

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Sinatra and Minnelli performed New York, New York together.

Causing additional confusion as to who is the original singer of New York, New York, Sinatra and Minnelli performed the song live as a duet many times. They were joined by Sammy Davis Jr. in 1989 for a multicity tour dubbed The Ultimate Event.

(Scandalously, Sinatra had romantic affairs with Minnelli’s famous mother, Judy Garland, off and on in the 1940s and 1950s!)

It’s one of the most famous songs about New York City.

Many songs have been written about New York City. Theme from New York, New York, though, has become almost synonymous with the city.

It represents the grit and ambition of New Yorkers with its line, “If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.” The song also coined the well-known nickname for New York as “The City that Never Sleeps.”

Jay-Z references the theme song in his duet with Alicia Keys, Empire State of Mind, when he says, “I’m the new Sinatra, And since I made it here, I can make it anywhere.”

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Other popular songs about New York City include N.Y. State of Mind by Billy Joel, Autumn in New York by Billie Holiday, The Only Living Boy in New York by Simon & Garfunkel, and Taylor Swift’s pop hit Welcome to New York.

The anthem has been featured in multiple films, such as My Funny Valentine (1983), Madagascar (2005), and Gone Girl (2014). The song was also played in numerous TV shows like The Simpsons (1997) and The Sopranos (2001).

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Other renowned singers have performed this anthem.

Celebrity singers who have performed New York, New York include Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Adams, and Michael Bublé.

Liza Minnelli at the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival Gala Screening of Cabaret at Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood in 2012
Liza Minelli at the 2012 TCM Classic Film Festival Gala Screening of Cabaret at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood in 2012 (Photo credit: Lumeimages.com, Depositphotos.com)

Why is Liza Minnelli famous?

Daughter of Hollywood icon, Judy Garland, Minnelli achieved star status based on her own talents as a singer, dancer, actress, and choreographer.

Minnelli is among an elite list of performers who have earned an EGOT for receiving an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony award. She is considered a non-competitive recipient since her Grammy Legend Award was given in 1990 as a special award of merit.

Appearing in over 20 movies during her career, Minnelli is perhaps most well known for her portrayal of Sally Bowles in the 1972 film Cabaret, for which she won an Academy Award for Best Leading Actress. Her concert TV film Liza with a “Z” was released the same year and earned her critical and popular acclaim. Many also appreciated her comedic timing in the 1981 movie Arthur with Dudley Moore.

New York City skyline from Central Park
New York City skyline from Central Park (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

Learn more.

If you enjoyed learning about Liza Minnelli and the Theme from New York, New York, test your knowledge with additional travel trivia questions!

Want to explore NYC? Discover fun things to do in Central Park.

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Enjoy a musical rainbow with these inspiring songs about colors.

Who originally sang the song New York, New York?

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  1. If Sinatra sang New York, New York in 1959, it wasn’t this song, but the song of the same name from the Broadway Show “On the Town”. In fact, he did sing that song in the movie version of the show, along with Gene Kelly and Jules Munshin. But it was in 1949, not 1959. The song this article describes was indeed written for Liza Minelli to sing in the movie of the same name. Which she did, two years before Sinatra. Beautifully, I might add.

  2. Frank Sinatra sang New York New York in 1957 which makes Frank Sinatra is the original singer of New York New York.

      1. Didn’t Tony Bennett have an interest in the song New York New York? I heard he was paid off and or bullied to turn over any interest he had in the song. That Frank Sinatra wanted that song desperately, and offered a serious amount of money for the rights? What say you?

    1. There is a song called “Lonely Town” from the movie “on the town”….it’s first words are “ New York New York or a village and Iowa, The only difference is the name.” Sinatra sang it in 1957. But this thread is concerning the theme from New York New York and Liza Minnelli sang it first it wasn’t even written until the 1970s.