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Best Songs Of 2023: 40 Bangers That Define The Year
List & Guides

Best Songs Of 2023: 40 Bangers That Define The Year

From hypFrom hyper-pop breakout anthems to emo-punk comeback hits, the best songs of 2023 prove that the year has been an exciting one for music fans.


Music fans have been spoilt for choice among the many incredible new songs released throughout 2023. From rising stars such as PinkPantheress and Ice Spice to seasoned emo-punk stalwarts Fall Out Boy and Paramore, artists across all genres have been delivering exceptional music that has burrowed its way into the ears of listeners across the world. Whether you’re a fan of dance-pop, indie rock or lo-fi R&B, the best songs of 2023 stand out from the pack and shine extra brightly…

Listen to our Charts playlist here, and check out our best songs of 2023, below.

40: KSI: Voices (featuring Oliver Tree)

Bringing together the worlds of YouTuber KSI and eccentric alt-pop icon Oliver Tree, the delightfully wacky collaboration Voices is a catchy emo-pop banger aided by a quirky music video in which KSI’s afro grows into Marge Simpson-esque proportions. Despite all its eccentricities, the song’s lyrics are a refreshingly poignant exploration of KSI’s mental health, delving deep into his psyche. “This is a big song for me because it marked a big chapter in my life,” KSI said in an interview with Voice Online. “After my breakup, I thought I was fine, but I had these voices in my head telling me I wasn’t as happy as I thought I was.” Helping him to move on by peaking at No.11 on the UK, Voices has doubtless given KSI more than enough reason to smile.

39: Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice: Barbie World

While production was underway on the Barbie movie, many wondered whether Aqua’s late-90s dance hit Barbie Girl would be included on the soundtrack. The answer, of course, was no, not exactly, but Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice did sample it on their UK Top 5 hyperpop hit Barbie World. Taking a Europop guilty pleasure and re-contextualising it as a neon-pink trap marvel, Minaj and Ice Spice come across like kids let loose in a toy shop (“I’m bad like the Barbie/I’m a doll, but I still wanna party”), mixing street cred and child-like absurdity with giddy-headed aplomb.

38: Royal Blood: Mountains At Midnight

As the lead single from Royal Blood’s fourth studio album, Back To The Water Below, Mountains At Midnight is a hard rock tour de force among the best songs of 2023, full of Mike Kerr’s breakneck guitar riffs and Ben Thatcher’s earth-shattering drums. With lyrics reportedly born out of a place of despair, it finds Royal Blood returning to the fast and furious sound on which they have built their empire. “I think fast songs are hard to write because they’re over quicker,” Kerr admitted in an interview with BBC Radio 1’s Clara Amfo. “We came up with this riff during soundcheck on the last tour and it feels like something that should have been part of our catalogue a long time ago.” With its parent album peaking at No.1 in the UK, songs like Mountains At Midnight amply demonstrate why Royal Blood are one of the best British rock acts of the past decade.

37: Tate McRae: Greedy

Released in September 2023 and peaking at No.7 in the US and No.3 in the UK, Greedy became a breakout hit for Canadian pop singer Tate McRae. As one of the best songs of 2023, its tongue-in-cheek lyrics find McRae admonishing a would-be lover for selfishly expecting her to maintain his false illusions. “We started writing this really sassy song about the feeling of having utter confidence,” the singer told People magazine. “It ended up feeling like this really cool female empowerment song, which I loved.”

36: Zara Larsson: Can’t Tame Her

Swedish singer Zara Larsson returned in January 2023 with Can’t Tame Her, an 80s-inspired slice of synth-pop about female empowerment that peaked at No.25 in the UK. “People want to put girls in a box of what you should do or not,” Larsson said when speaking about the song’s lyrics with Billboard magazine. “I’m out there, I’m very loud and I try to stay true to myself.” Boasting impeccable production from Swedish duo MTHR (Ivert and Sang), Can’t Tame Her takes Larsson beyond her dance-oriented comfort zone and into chorus-heavy retro-pop terrain, a move that fits her like a glove. Only time will tell if this song will define her as much as Blinding Lights did The Weeknd, but for now, Can’t Tame Her more than earns its spot among the best songs of 2023.

35: Kylie Minogue: Tension

Wowing fans with a nu-disco sound on her 16th album, Tension, Kylie Minogue crafted a fun and flirty dance-pop anthem for the record’s title track, gesturing towards 90s house classics courtesy of its heart-pounding keyboard hooks. Fully embracing her club diva status, the Australian pop icon issues a set of sexed-up instructions like an AI program gone awry (“Touch me right there/Don’t be shy/Boy, I don’t bite/You know where”), spinning listeners around and leaving no doubt of her ability to musically reinvent herself once again. Peaking at No.9 in the UK, Tension sits among the best Kylie Minogue songs of recent years, and comes at a time when the likes of Dua Lipa and Jessie Ware – both of whom owe Kylie a great deal – are upping the ante. This entry among the best songs of 2023 is a welcome reminder of how the “Princess Of Pop” is without a doubt the godmother of the nu-disco resurgence.

34: Nothing But Thieves: Welcome To The DCC

Announced as Clara Amfo’s Hottest Record In The World on BBC Radio 1 upon its release, in March 2023, Nothing But Thieves’ single Welcome To The DCC added a touch of conceptual art-pop to the Essex band’s breed of alternative rock. A daring departure from their usual sound into the dystopic nightclub vibes The Weeknd specialises in, the song serves as a gateway to Nothing But Thieves’ intriguing new album, Dead Club City, which is said to explore themes such as advertising, internet culture and politics. With its fusion of rock, experimental funk elements and nostalgic 80s influences, Welcome To The DCC grabs the listener right from its tension-filled opening and through its gradual build into one of the best songs of 2023.

33: Leigh-Anne: Don’t Say Love

With UK girl group Little Mix is now on an extended hiatus, Leigh-Anne Pittock confidently decided to go it alone with her debut single, Don’t Say Love, in June 2023. Displaying a nostalgia-laced mix of 2-step garage and dance-pop, the song entered the UK singles chart at No.11, with Leigh-Anne telling Vogue that its lyrics are about “owning who I am and stepping into my solo career”. A promising debut among the best songs of 2023, it’s exciting to see Leigh-Anne embark on this new chapter in her musical journey, leaving Little Mix fans eagerly anticipating what lies ahead.

32: Lovejoy: Call Me What You Like

Mixing power-pop melodies with the angular guitars of the post-punk revival era, Lovejoy’s hook-filled single Call Me What You Like has been one of indie rock’s biggest this year. Peaking at No.32 in both the UK and on the US Alternative Airplay chart, the song could put the Brighton-based band on the verge of a commercial breakthrough across the pond. “We’ve really struggled with getting our sound down over this year, and to finally be able to have something to show for it is exciting and humbling,” Lovejoy lead vocalist and YouTuber Wilbur Soot told BBC Radio 1’s Jack Saunders.

31: Foo Fighters: Under You

Following the death of drummer Taylor Hawkins and Dave Grohl’s mother, Foo Fighters’ 11th studio album, But Here We Are, saw the band’s frontman and chief songwriter grappling with grief and opting to surge ahead with fierce rockers instead of maudlin ballads. The album’s second single, Under You, storms its way into this list of the best songs of 2023 with a melodic yet raucous blast of pop-rock and thought-provoking lyrics that see Grohl come to terms with the passing of his close friend (“There are days I can’t remember/There are days that last forever/Someday I’ll come out from under you/Out from under you”). A testament to the healing power of rock’n’roll, Under You topped the US Rock & Alternative Airplay chart and deserves to be embraced as the sincerest and most urgent piece of songwriting Foo Fighters have delivered in years.

30: Dave and Central Cee: Sprinter

Offering further proof of UK rap’s ever-growing commercial impact, London-based rappers Dave and Central Cee released their collaborative single, Splinter, in June 2023 and broke a number of records when it peaked at No.1 in the UK. A shoo-in among the best songs of 2023, after racking up 13.4 million plays in just seven days, Splinter set the record for the highest-ever number of streams for a rap single, and within its first week of release it became the most-streamed song on Spotify since Adele’s Easy On Me, back in 2021. With lyrics that seemingly revel in the duo’s rags-to-riches tale (“We ain’t got generational wealth/It’s only a year that I’ve had these millions”), it’s a playful team-up that is as joyfully immediate as it is historic.

29: Hozier: Eat Your Young

Drawing lyrical inspiration from the nine circles of Hell in Dante’s Inferno, Hozier’s Eat Your Young was released in March 2023 as the lead single from his third album, Unreal Unearth. Peaking at No.22 in the UK, the song fuses the swagger of 90s R&B with a contemporary indie-rock groove, with intelligent lyrics that muse on the depravity of war (“Puttin’ food on the table sellin’ bombs and guns/It’s quicker and easier to eat your young”). With a voice as angelic as Jeff Buckley’s and poetic aspirations as potent as Leonard Cohen’s, it’s a song that finds Hozier on typically fiery form. It’s quite rare for hit songs to be as deep and insightful as this, so Eat Your Young is remarkable among the best songs of 2023 for serving up a literate banquet of ideas for us to savour.

28: Calvin Harris and Ellie Goulding: Miracle

In a refreshing change of musical direction for Calvin Harris, Miracle sees the legendary EDM DJ abandon his house stylings in favour of a more trance-influenced sound. In conversation with The Sun, Ellie Goulding revealed how she and Calvin set about crafting a follow-up to their previous collaborations, I Need Your Love (2012) and Outside (2014). “I didn’t feel any pressure,” Goulding admitted, “because both of us are at a point in our careers where we can put out stuff that we love, and is authentic to us.” Topping the UK charts, Miracle has already racked up more than 322 million streams on Spotify, proving that Harris’ decision to go beyond his comfort zone was well worth the risk, yielding one of the best songs of 2023.

27: Fred Again.. and Obongjayar: Adore U

Built upon an otherworldly vocal sample from I Wish It Was Me by Obongjayar, Adore U sees Fred Again.. weave a semi-ambient spell out of the Nigerian-born, London-based artist’s lilting tones to craft a fearlessly experimental progressive-house anthem. With anxiety-inducing blips and synths giving way to the pulse of a deep house groove, Adore U peaked at No.4 in the UK following its release in August, instantly taking its place among the best songs of 2023. Highly original and eclectic in equal measure, Fred Again.. is pushing the limits of dance-pop in new and exciting ways.

26: beabadoobee: Glue Song

Known for her gnarly dalliances in 90s-style slacker rock, Bea Kristi (aka beabadoobee) surprised her fanbase by dropping Glue Song, a charming slice of heartwarming chamber pop, on Valentine’s Day. “It’s a heartfelt song that means a lot to me,” Kristi revealed to Clash magazine. “A love song and the first one I’ve written in my new relationship. For the first time this is just me being really happy.” As one of the best songs of 2023, Glue Song offers proof that beabadoobee’s talents are coming into full flower as she starts to showcase a more vibrant and colourful side to her impressive songwriting skills.

25: Gorillaz: Silent Running (featuring Adeleye Omotayo)

When Gorillaz songwriter Damon Albarn teamed up with Greg Kurstin, one of the biggest pop producers in the world, even he thought it could have gone either way, as he admitted to Zane Lowe. Thankfully, the duo’s first collaboration, the soothing piano ballad Silent Running, proved to be a tranquillity-inducing masterstroke that led the way for what would become one of the best albums of 2023. “It just started the whole process for us,” Kurstin said of Silent Running, during an interview with Apple Music. A highlight of Gorillaz’s sixth album, Cracker Island, with soul-stirring backing vocals from Adeleye Omotayo, plus Albarn’s ear for catchy synth-pop melody lines and Kurstin’s sprinkling of radio-friendly magic dust, Silent Running leads the pack among the best songs of 2023.

24: Tyla: Water

As the first South African singer to grace the pop charts since 1968, Tyla has earned her place in the history books this year. An unmistakable summer anthem, Water is a game-changing release among the best songs of 2023, its steamy combination of Afrobeats and R&B peaking at No.4 in the UK and No.15 in the US. “I need it to have African influence,” Tyla said told Billboard magazine of her approach to writing the song. “It needs to sound like ‘popiano’, Afrobeats, amapiano, R&B all in one.” Judging by how Water turned out, she succeeded – and then some.

23: Jack Harlow: Lovin On Me

Scoring his first-ever UK No.1, Jack Harlow hit a home run with Lovin On Me, a tongue-in-cheek foray into the rapper’s self-professed “vanilla” bedroom antics. Sampling the hook from Cadillac Dale’s 1995 R&B hit, Whatever, Harlow has a great deal of fun hinting at BDSM in his lyrics (“I don’t like no whips and chains and you can’t tie me down/But you can whip your lovin’ on me, baby”) while flaunting his undeniably playful blend of charisma and braggadocio. An instant commercial success, Lovin On Me has made its mark among the best songs of 2023.

22: Skrillex, Fred Again.. and Flowdan: Rumble

Returning to the EDM scene after a nine-year hiatus, Skrillex teamed up with fellow DJ Fred Again.. and grime MC Flowdan for the wildly eclectic single Rumble – one of the year’s most surprising releases. Peaking at No.19 in the UK, the song is a skittering mélange of experimental electronica, dubstep and even jungle, conjuring an ominous atmosphere that proves why Skrillex is one of dance music’s most daring and innovative producers. Easily one of the best songs of 2023, the sheer originality and sonic ingenuity of Rumble is like nothing else issued this year.

21: Depeche Mode: Ghosts Again

In a year which saw Depeche Mode’s 1987 hit Never Let Me Down Again go viral after featuring in HBO’s post-apocalyptic drama The Last Of Us, it’s a pleasant surprise to see the veteran synth-pop group experience a return to form with Ghosts Again. The song’s black-and-white video features singer Dave Gahan and guitarist Martin Gore recreating the chess-playing scene from Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 film The Seventh Seal. As a haunting meditation on mortality, Ghosts Again feels even more poignant following the death of Depeche Mode keyboardist Andy Fletcher, at age 60, last year.

19: Fall Out Boy: Love From The Other Side

Having re-signed with the label Fueled by Ramen and reunited with From Under The Cork Tree and Infinity On High producer Neal Avron, Fall Out Boy return to their hard-edged emo-punk roots with the prickly and uptempo rocker Love From The Other Side. As the lead single from the band’s eighth album, So Much (For) Stardust, the song eschews the teenage angst of Fall Out Boy’s early work in favour of world-weary disillusionment, with frontman Patrick Stump telling NME that the track “definitely has this very mature bitterness to it”. Peaking at No.1 on the US Alternative Airplay chart, Love From The Other Side emerges from emo’s welcome renaissance to take its place among the best songs of 2023.

19: Charli XCX: Speed Drive

A fun, exuberant and playful entry among the best songs of 2023, Charli XCX’s Speed Drive is yet another piston-pumping gem released from the Barbie soundtrack, proving the movie’s cultural impact was no hit-and-run. Stealing the spotlight from such heavyweights as Dua Lipa, PinkPantheress, Karol G, and Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice, Charli XCX brings her own unique design to the dollhouse, soundtracking the movie’s high-speed car chase with joyous energy over an upbeat groove that is as sweet as candyfloss. By incorporating a sample of Toni Basil’s Hey Mickey, Speed Drive uses the lighthearted charm of new-wave pop as fuel to transport listeners straight to the heart to Barbie’s neon-pink world.

18: Post Malone: Chemical

In recent years, Utah-based rapper Post Malone has proved that he’s growing keener than ever to venture beyond the world of hip-hop. Released in April 2023, Chemical saw him try his hand at an upbeat synth-pop hit, with lyrics describing the oxytocin highs of love as he reflects upon a toxic relationship (“Tell you that I’m sorry, tell me what I gotta do/’Cause I can’t let go, it’s chemical”). Peaking at No.13 in the US and No.11 in the UK, Chemical is not just one of the best songs of 2023, but it’s also arguably one of Post Malone’s most accessible releases yet.

17: Ed Sheeran: Eyes Closed

Ed Sheeran’s 14th UK No.1, Eyes Closed continued the singer-songwriter’s seemingly unstoppable reign as Britain’s biggest pop sensation. Originally written as a breakup song but re-worked as a tribute to the passing of his close friend, SBTV founder Jamal Edwards, it sees Sheeran hark back to the folk-pop formula that made him a household name, with a suitably poignant chorus (“So I’m dancin’ with my eyes closed/’Cause everywhere I look, I still see you”). “This song is about losing someone,” Sheeran wrote in an Instagram post, “feeling like every time you go out and you expect to just bump into them, and every thing just reminds you of them and things you did together.” As yet another addition to the best Ed Sheeran songs, Eyes Closed set the right tone for his poignant sixth album, – (aka “Subtract”), perfectly mixing melancholic introspection with uplifting melodicism.

16: Kenya Grace: Strangers

Taking her unique style of dance-pop to the top of the UK charts in September 2023, Kenya Grace’s breakout hit, Strangers, mixes elements of drum’n’bass and acoustic guitar with cutting lyrics that cast an eye over her experiences with online dating apps. “It’s so easy to just give up and swipe on to the next person,” Grace told Billboard. “It’s basically about that. It’s happened to me. It’s happened to all my friends.” Fully deserving a spot among the best songs of 2023, Strangers is a sombre and magical moment that’s just as captivating after repeat listens as it is on its first spin.

15: Billie Eilish: What Was I Made For?

A standout gem from the Barbie movie, Billie Eilish’s delicate piano ballad What Was I Made For? poignantly showcases her signature sombre tones and tender-hearted inflections. Co-written with her brother, Finneas, the song transcends its soundtrack origins to become a universally resonant tearjerker, expressing Barbie’s existential ponderings with a resonance that spoke to millions worldwide. Surprisingly, Eilish was struggling with writer’s block when she penned the song, and only later realised she had mirrored herself in its sentiments. “I’m writing for myself and I don’t even know it,” Eilish confessed in an interview with Billboard magazine. Topping the UK singles chart and peaking at No.14 on the Billboard Hot 100, What Was I Made For? offers further proof that Barbie: The Album was for 2023 what Saturday Night Fever was for 1977.

14: Jessie Ware: Pearls

Seamlessly blending soul, funk and disco, Jessie Ware transforms herself into a true pop diva on her mesmerising single Pearls. Inviting us into a world of freedom and liberation, Pearls urges listeners to let go of the constraints of everyday life and embrace the joy of dancing and celebration (“Shake it till the Pearls fall”), Ware’s outstanding vocals taking centre-stage throughout. You can practically envisage a mirrorball descending from your ceiling, thanks to the song’s sparkling synths and irresistible nu-disco groove, its sound that transporting listeners to a euphoric dancefloor filled with glimmering lights and carefree spirits. A lush and immersive tour de force, Pearls breathed life into contemporary pop music like nothing else this year, and that’s why it ranks highly among the best songs of 2023.

13: Kali Uchis: Moonlight

Produced by Benny Blanco and Cashmere Cat, Kali Uchis’ slow jam Moonlight is one of the standouts among the best songs of 2023. Fans of Childish Gambino’s Redbone and Silk Sonic’s Leave The Door Open will undoubtedly lap this up, as Uchis delivers a beguiling vocal performance that oozes with sensuality and retro charm (“I just wanna ride, get high in the moonlight”). Peaking at No.80 on the US Billboard Hot 100, Moonlight fuses the momentum of contemporary R&B with a touch of 70s-era psychedelic soul, adding sonic nuances that never fail to impress, no matter how many times you hear that undulating funky bass. One of the highlights of Kali Uchis’ third studio album, Red Moon In Venus, Moonlight is a touch of class from one of the best R&B singers of her generation.

12: Doja Cat: Paint The Town Red

Upon its release in August 2023, Paint The Town Red saw Doja Cat shatter multiple streaming records on Spotify, not only making history by becoming the first female rapper to top the platform’s Global and US Top 50 chart but also clocking up 100 million streams in record time for a female rap artist. Built around a catchy sample of Dionne Warwick’s Walk On By, the song anchors Doja Cat’s braggadocious rhymes (“Bitch, I said what I said/I’d rather be famous instead”) to producer Earl On The Beat’s trap-influenced groove, dragging Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s jazzy composition into the 21st century. A No.1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, Paint The Town Red deserves its place among the best songs of 2023 for historically breaking the drought rap music has experienced at the top of the streaming charts in recent years.

11: Linkin Park: Lost

A long-forgotten outtake dating back to 2002, Lost was belatedly released in February 2023 to promote the 20th-anniversary reissue of Linkin Park’s classic second album, Meteora. “We didn’t know what we were gonna do with Lost, so we just shelved it and forgot about it,” Linkin Park rapper and guitarist Mike Shinoda said in an interview with The FADER. “Finding it was like, ‘Oh my God, the song got all the way to the finish line. Fans are gonna love to hear this.’” The tragic passing of Linkin Park’s lead singer, Chester Bennington, in 2017, makes hearing his voice on Lost even more impactful, serving as a powerful reminder of how the best Linkin Park songs have the ability to uplift and heal, even during the darkest of times. Lost has resonated deeply with fans, whose support sent the song to No.18 in the UK and No.38 on the US Hot 100.

10: Olivia Rodrigo: Vampire

From Disney princess to the new queen of pop-punk, Olivia Rodrigo’s rise to international stardom has been refreshing to witness. Unlike most squeaky-clean High School Musical starlets, Rodrigo is inspired by the likes of Paramore’s Hayley Williams and Avril Lavigne, turning out teen-pop rockers full of potty-mouthed angst and palpable heartbreak. Vampire, the lead single from Rodriguez’s second album, Guts, falls into the latter camp, a slow-burning and impeccably arranged piano ballad that quickly erupts into a euphoric blast of cathartic melodrama (“Bloodsucker, fame-fucker/Bleedin’ me dry like a goddamn vampire). Released in June 2023, Vampire peaked at No.1 in both the UK and the US – not only asserting itself as one of the best songs of 2023, but also proving that Olivia Rodrigo is at the forefront of Gen Z’s pop-punk renaissance.

9: Dua Lipa: Dance The Night

You can always trust Dua Lipa to serve up an infectious dance anthem – and that’s especially so in the case of Dance The Night, the lead single from the soundtrack to the Greta Gerwig-Noah Baumbach Barbie movie. Released in May 2023, the song reached No.13 in the UK, thanks to a disco-inspired sound reminiscent of Dua Lipa’s hit second album, Future Nostalgia. Co-written by Lipa, Caroline Ailin, Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt, Dance The Night is full of infectious pop hooks and captivating vocals that’ll have you smiling from ear to ear. The Barbie-inspired music video adds an extra layer of charm, featuring a dazzling pink set and appearances by Margot Robbie, Emma Mackey, Issa Rae and Gerwig herself. Thanks to its irresistible groove and empowering message, Dance The Night is easily one of the best songs of 2023, demonstrating Dua Lipa’s continued ability to dazzle us with pop gems.

8: Morgan Wallen: Last Night

2023 has been an incredibly good year for fans of country music. Proving that a touch of rustic charm can cross over into the pop realm, the country-pop ballad Last Night, by Tennessee-born singer-songwriter Morgan Wallen, became the first song in history to gain a billion streams stateside within a single year. By occupying the US No.1 spot for 16 non-consecutive weeks, Last Night will be remembered for years to come as one of the best songs of 2023, proving beyond a doubt that country music is undergoing a commercial renaissance that’s bringing a much-needed breath of fresh air into the digital streaming era.

7: Blur: The Narcissist

The first single released from Blur’s comeback album, The Ballad Of Darren, The Narcissist is a ballad that harks back to the group’s Britpop days in the most perfect way possible. With references to Pierrot clowns and psychedelic epiphanies, Damon Albarn’s trademark doses of melancholia grow on you with repeat listens, his self-reflective lyrics pondering obsession and longing for profound connection (“I’ma shine a light in your eyes/You’ll probably shine it back on me”). As the group’s first single in eight years, The Narcissist instantly asserts itself as one of the best songs of 2023 while also proving that the melodic ingenuity of the best Blur songs remains undimmed.

6: David Kushner: Daylight

Owing much of its success to the power of TikTok as a means of music discovery, David Kushner’s viral smash Daylight peaked at No.2 in the UK and No.40 on the US Billboard Hot 100 following its release in April 2023. Its commercial success is remarkable as, despite its orchestral pop ambitions, the song’s tone is dark and gothic, with lyrics full of biblical allusions to the teachings of Paul The Apostle (“Oh I love it and I hate it at the same time/You and I drink the poison from the same vine”). Easily one of the best songs of 2023, Daylight has an extraordinary power of its own that fashioned the gloomy balladeering of Bon Iver and Hozier into a haunting and infectious anthem for the ages.


5: Paramore: Running Out Of Time

When introducing Running Out Of Time to a live audience at Grand Ole Opry House, in Nashville, Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams said the song is about her lack of punctuality. Quickly finding favour among the best Paramore songs, the lyrics, delivered with wry humour and self-awareness, find the emo-punk icon emerging from COVID-19 lockdowns, criticising her own time management skills and rattling off a list of comical excuses (“There was traffic, spilled my coffee, crashed my car, otherwise/Would’ve been here on time”). Daydreaming her way down an Alice In Wonderland-style rabbit-hole of imagination in the song’s video, Hayley ensures her witty and highly relatable lyrics make Running Out Of Time a standout entry among the best songs of 2023.

4: SZA: Kill Bill

With a music video inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s two-part revenge saga, Kill Bill, starring Uma Thurman, alt-pop singer SZA’s psychedelia-tinged soul ballad of the same name sees its creator fantasise about visiting violence upon an ex-lover (“I might kill my ex, not the best idea/His new girlfriend’s next, how’d I get here?”). Kill Bill has quickly become not just one of the best songs of 2023, but also one of SZA’s biggest chart successes, peaking at No.1 in the UK and No.2 in the US, largely thanks to the way it simmers with pent-up aggression. “I’ve never raged the way that I should have,” SZA admitted to Glamour magazine. “This is my villain era, and I’m very comfortable with that.”

3: Zach Bryan: I Remember Everything (featuring Kacey Musgraves)

Topping the US Hot 100 upon its release in August 2023, Zach Bryan’s deeply affecting duet with Kacey Musgraves, I Remember Everything, ranks among the best songs of 2023 for being one of country music’s biggest success stories in years. A melancholic acoustic ballad in which two ex-lovers engage in a dialogue to reflect upon their past romance, the song fuses the sepia-tinged sounds of Americana with the indie-folk shimmer of The Lumineers to bring a new flavour of country-pop into the mainstream. I Remember Everything’s phenomenal success is made even more remarkable given the fact that Kacey Musgraves was reportedly suffering from a throat infection when it was recorded. “Fun fact, y’all,” Musgraves posted on Instagram. “I had full blown strep when I recorded this song but somehow I pushed through!”

2: Miley Cyrus: Flowers

Written in the aftermath of Miley Cyrus’ divorce from actor Liam Hemsworth just eight months after her California home burnt down during the Woolsey Fire of 2018 (“We were right ’til we weren’t/Built a home and watched it burn”), the success of Flowers is nothing short of phenomenal. Peaking at No.1 in over 36 countries, including the UK and the US, Flowers broke the record for most-streamed song in a week on Spotify and racked up over 300 million views on YouTube in just two months. Embraced for its optimistic message of self-empowerment and female independence, Flowers is an unstoppable force of nature among the best songs of 2023.

1: PinkPantheress (featuring Ice Spice): Boy’s a liar Pt.2

Though Boy’s a liar gained some traction on TikTok in late 2022, it wasn’t until UK songwriter PinkPantheress invited US rapper Ice Spice to feature in the remix, Boy’s a liar Pt.2, in February 2023, that the song truly blew up. Becoming PinkPantheress’ first single to crack the US Top 100, peaking at No.3, the Mura Masa-produced Jersey-club groove is a perfect match for Ice Spice’s attitude-laden bars. “Even though Ice Spice does drill, her flows are super unique and the beats she chooses are different,” PinkPantheress told NME. “A lot of people would struggle with the beats I choose, but I knew she’d be good for it.” One of the best songs of 2023, Boy’s a liar Pt.2 proves that PinkPantheress’ unique hyperpop style not only has hit potential, it also has what it takes to revolutionise dance-pop forever.

Original article: 4 April 2023

Updated: 5 July 2023, 30 October 2023, 27 December 2023

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