My Favorite Albums of 2023


2023 was such a great year for music! This is always my favorite post to write every year, I love looking back at all of the great art that was released in the past year and sharing some of the highlights with you. This is loosely ranked, featuring many of my all-time favorite artists, as well as some new artists I discovered this year. I have covered many of these albums in-depth throughout the year, so if you are interested in reading more about any of these, be sure to check out the links throughout the post & at the end.

Enjoy! ✨

Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd // Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey's ninth album, Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd, is an intimate, diaristic portrait of her life and journey so far. In the year that she released this masterpiece of an albumI had no other option but to put it first on this list. 

In many ways, it is her most personal release yet, as if she is writing these songs for nobody but herself and her own healing. When talking about the process of writing the album in 2022, she told W Magazine, "I’ve been practicing meditative automatic singing, where I don’t filter anything. I’ll just sing whatever comes to mind into my Voice Notes app. It’s not perfect, obviously," she said. "For this new music ... It’s more just like: I’m angry. The songs are very conversational ... It’s a very wordy album. ... It’s almost like I’m typing in my mind." That method is present throughout the entire album, many of the songs are long and often with heavy subject matter at hand, in which she doesn't hold back at all. There is a lot of symbolism and depth in every single track. While all of her albums have been deeply personal, Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd feels like her most autobiographical, telling her complete story unfiltered. 

Her music really dominated my year in 2023, she ranked as my top artist and top song of the year on my Spotify Wrapped too. With full transparency and no creative boundaries holding her back, she has managed to create yet another stunning album. I love to see her continually evolve with each new release. She is such an incredible talent, one that I am so happy to be alive at the same time as to get to experience her artistry in real-time. 


My favorite songs:

A&W

Paris, Texas (feat SYML)

Let The Light In (feat. Father John Misty)

Maragret (feat. Bleachers)

Fishtail 


Check out my full review of Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd!

This Is Why // Paramore

This Is Why is the sixth album by Paramore, their first in almost six years. It incorporates pop-punk elements reminiscent of their early work, but at the same time feels so modern and fresh - a dichotomy that many of their peers from that era haven't been able to achieve themselves. They pull off the post-punk alternative rock sound perfectly and the elements of new-wave and dream-pop are so well done too. This album has so many strong moments, from Hayley Williams' incredible vocals to the lyricism and the instrumentals. I was only a casual listener of Paramore before This Is Why was released, but the three singles they put out leading up to this album really caught my attention and made me look forward to hearing the rest of the record. 

This album is so introspective, with themes focusing on self-doubts, fears and regrets. The backdrop of it being written in the time of a pandemic, along with all of the historical and political events we have collectively gone through in the past three years, also factors into many of the emotions explored throughout This Is Why. It is politically and socially relevant to the times we are living through, and they expressed those feelings in such a powerful way.

Even though this song came out pretty early in 2023, I knew immediately when I first heard it that it would make it to the top of this list at the end of the year. I played this album countless times throughout the year and with each listen, I am still so blown away by how incredible it is. 


My favorite songs:

The News

Big Man, Little Dignity

You First

Figure 8

Thick Skull

the record // boygenius

the record is the debut album by boygenius, the indie-rock group made up of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus. It is the follow-up to their 2018 self-titled EP and during the five years since, the three of them have gone on to release several solo projects to much acclaim. Before this year, I was only familiar with Phoebe's music, but I have since fallen in love with Lucy and Julien's music too. An aspect that immediately stood out to me about the record is the vivid and intriguing storytelling through the lyrics. the record is written solely by Julien, Phoebe, and Lucy - it feels so true to who they are as artists individually and collectively. It is so cleverly written and emotionally intense, every time I listen there is always a new lyric that stands out to me. This album finds a way to balance who they are as established solo artists, as well as their identity as a band and collaborators. The magic they have created together with this music is incredible, the listener can really hear the pure friendship and artistic chemistry on every song on the record


My favorite songs:

$20

Cool About It

Not Strong Enough

We're In Love

Anti-Curse


Check out my full review of the record!

GUTS // Olivia Rodrigo

At it's core, GUTS feels so representative of every facet of a young woman's life. Even if the truth may be messy at times, Olivia is so honest in sharing her highs and lows. It is so evident when listening to this album that she is sharing her genuine, inner-most feelings, which makes this music feel so authentic - even in it's flaws. It is a celebration of girlhood in all of it's beauty and pain. It is fun and playful at times, but also deeply vulnerable and honest as well. She really does put herself out there and is so honest as a songwriter on this album, which takes a lot of guts to do!

Her up-tempo, pop-punk inspired tracks are absolutely where her talents shine the most throughout this album. Her delivery is top-tier and it is really obvious as the listener that she is having the most fun when making and performing songs like that. She has the perfect amount of attitude in her voice to be able to pull off so many of these funny and ironic one-liners.

In a lot of ways she explores every part of her life from where SOUR left off two years ago and builds upon the foundation she and her producer, Dan Nigro, set in place with her first album. While I like SOUR, I love GUTS and I am really looking forward to where she goes next. She knows her place and this is it!!


My favorite songs:

bad idea right?

lacy

love is embarrassing

pretty isn't pretty

teenage dream


Check out my full review of GUTS & GUTS: the secret tracks!

Endless Summer Vacation // Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus' long-awaited eighth album, Endless Summer Vacation, is what she described to be her love letter to Los Angeles, which serves as the backdrop to these twelve tracks. This album feels like some of her strongest, most cohesive work yet, which she credited to the mental and physical transformation she went through during it's creation. As an artist, Miley is known to always reinvent her sound and style with each new album cycle, she is someone who never shies away from experimenting or pushing the boundaries of what is expected of her. She is a multi-faceted artist and has explored so many different genres, all of which she has truly excelled in. "I think Endless Summer Vacation, to me, represents my fearlessness when it comes to experimenting. Not just with my sound, but with my identity and the way that I want to be seen," Miley said in her Disney+ Backyard Sessions special, released alongside the album. "This album feels like it's kind of a concoction of the best of those sounds that I've tried out. I've been calling this album 'the Cinderella shoe' because it's just a perfect fit and it feels like it's only mine and could only be mine." 

The majority of the album is produced by Kid Harpoon and Tyler Johnson - when I first found out they were collaborating with Miley on Endless Summer Vacation, I knew immediately it was going to be one of my favorite albums she has released yet. Milke WiLL Made-It, her long-time collaborator that she worked with on Bangerz and Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, also features as a co-producer of three tracks. I love hearing the return of the experimental and psychedelic influences that were so present on both of those projects return on Endless Summer Vacation in a more mature and polished way. 

To quote "Wonder Woman", Miley is "a million moments" and has lived "a thousand lives". Her authenticity and unwavering pursuit of absolute creative freedom are qualities that shines through in every album she creates, but especially Endless Summer Vacation. This album feels like a testament to her own resilience and a celebration of her creative journey so far. I have been a huge fan of Miley from the very beginning and I have always loved following her artistic evolution with each new release. This was such a monumental year for her and it is so well deserved. Being almost two decades into her career, is so great (and rare) to see Miley have this kind of massive success. 


My favorite songs:

Flowers

Jaded

Rose Colored Lenses

River

Violet Chemistry


Check out my full review of Endless Summer Vacation!

1989 (Taylor's Version) // Taylor Swift

There is a popular saying that lightning doesn't strike in the same place twice, but Taylor Swift has proven that wrong with the release of 1989 (Taylor's Version). Nine years to the day after she released her career-defining pop record, 1989, she has done it yet again in the process of reclaiming the ownership of her first six albums. 1989 was a major turning point for Taylor that would go on to define the rest of her career from that point forward. Anyone that knows me knows how much I adore 1989, it has always been one of the most important albums for me, made up of sixteen songs that I have listened to probably more times than any other in my life. I have found endless inspiration in it at every stage of my life throughout the past nine years, whether it is through the lyrics, visual aesthetics or the messages of this music. Getting to relive an album like this for the second time is such a wonderful and rare experience to be able to have.

In addition to the original track list, she also released five new songs From The Vault, which are always a great bonus at the end of the re-recorded albums. After the amazing Red (Taylor's Version) vault tracks, I never thought she would be able to rival it with any other releases, but 1989 (Taylor's Version) is immaculate from start to finish. As always, the tracks From The Vault also get new life with updated, modern production - which is often closer to her current sound. For the first time all five of the vault tracks are produced with Jack Antonoff, who was perfect to bring these songs to life in such a fresh way. I am also the biggest fan of both of them, so I am always happy to hear anything they worked on together too.

For 1989 to have been this successful not once, but twice, is a testament to how incredible this entire album is and the long-lasting impact and relevance it holds in pop music.  I know that I will be getting down to this sick beat forevermore!


My favorite songs:

Style (Taylor's Version)

Out Of The Woods (Taylor's Version)

Clean (Taylor's Version)

Now That We Don't Talk (From The Vault) (Taylor's Version)

Is It Over Now? (From The Vault) (Taylor's Version)


Check out my full review of 1989 (Taylor's Version)!

Speak Now (Taylor's Version) // Taylor Swift

It is so special being able to relive these memories through the Taylor's Version releases and get to experience them for the first time all over again. Speak Now has always been an album that has meant so much to me. When it was released thirteen years ago, it became one of the first albums that I really discovered my love for music through. What Taylor did with Speak Now has always been so inspiring to me and changed my life in so many ways that I didn't even realize at the time. Looking back on the music that shaped my life from a young age, this album is at the top of my list. So many of these songs have become a symbol of strength and resilience for her continued artistic journey and the origins for the artist she went on to become. With hindsight, the meaning of so many of these songs has completely transformed from the first time she released them. The lyric "32 and still growing up now" from "Innocent" especially feels representative of that sentiment, as she was 32 at the time she re-recorded this album. This process of her looking back and re-recording her first six albums is such a powerful statement to make, one that encapsulates the entire message of Speak Now. This album is a timeless masterpiece and having the opportunity to relive is all again and hear these songs in a new light is so special. May these memories break our fall!


My favorite songs:

Back To December (Taylor's Version)

Dear John (Taylor's Version)

The Story Of Us (Taylor's Version)

Long Live (Taylor's Version)

I Can See You (From The Vault) (Taylor's Version)


Check out my full review of Speak Now (Taylor's Version)!

Come June // Mitch Rowland


I was so happy to hear that Mitch was embarking on a solo career earlier this year! He is such a talented musician who has played a part in the creation of so many of my favorite songs ever and some of the best concert experiences of my life. Mitch is best known for his work with Harry Styles, who he has collaborated with as a co-writer and guitarist since 2016 and worked on all three of Harry's solo albums. He has also been the lead guitarist on all of his tours since then, as well. Mitch is such a talented songwriter; I love how introspective and honest he is in his writing. I love the soft sound of his music, it feels very reminiscent of the singer-songwriter folk artists of Laurel Canyon in the 1970's. Mitch's debut album was one of my most anticipated of the entire year and it was such a memorable experience getting to not only see him perform in such a special setting earlier this year, but also to meet him and his wife Sarah too! I am absolutely looking forward to hearing more from him hopefully soon! 


My favorite songs:

Bluebells

Illusionist

When It All Falls Down

Here Comes The Comeback

Come June


Check out my experience meeting Mitch Rowland & seeing him perform in Philadelphia! 

Barbie: The Album


2023 was absolutely the year of Barbie! The soundtrack is just as amazing as the film. It was produced by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt and included seventeen original songs that captured the essence and layers to Barbie's character in such a beautiful way. I was so moved by this movie and absolutely loved the way the music played such a big role in that. Many of these songs ended up on my favorite songs of 2023 list, it had so many memorable moments that I haven't been able to get enough of.

There is so much depth and emotion behind these glittering pop tracks that tells the story of Barbie in such a stunning way. Many of my favorite artists of all time were included on this album and wrote songs that served a crucial role in the movie. I loved the way this music played such a big role in the film itself. "You're hearing lyrics that are responding to what's happening onscreen, so the music became more than just music," Margot Robbie told Rolling Stone, "It became a device to enhance what the audience was watching and experiencing, and got to be the voice of the audience." This year, Barbie became my favorite movie ever and now my favorite soundtrack ever too! 💗


My favorite songs:

Dance The Night // Dua Lipa

Speed Drive // Charli XCX

Journey To The Real World // Tame Impala

I'm Just Ken // Ryan Gosling

What Was I Made For? // Billie Eilish


AR // Addison Rae

Addison Rae is such a promising voice in pop music and one that has so much potential to bring back pure, fun pop music in a big way. I have been loving this short little collection of songs and am very happy she finally officially released them this year. She is the pop star we deserve! Addison really does have all of the tools to be on a trajectory that can fill that space in the 2020s pop music landscape. AR takes a lot of the principles of what makes early 2000s and 2010s pop music so great, all of the sugar, spice and everything nice - with a boom boom bass 2 die 4! I hope this is only the start of Addison Rae's music career, I am definitely looking forward to hearing what she will release next! 


My favorite songs:

I got it bad

2 die 4 (feat. Charli XCX)

Nothing On (But The Radio)

it could've been u


Check out my full review of AR!

the rest // boygenius

the rest is a four-song companion piece to the record, perfect for those that were craving just a little bit more from the trio. I was happy to hear more from them so soon. Much like their full-length album, this EP feels very rooted in their personal musical influences and style of their solo music, but crafted in a way that creates the unique collective sound of boygenius.

the rest is only about 12 minutes long and is overall a much looser and less-refined approach to music than we have heard from them so far, whether it is their self-titled EP from 2018 or the record from earlier this year. While I don't think the rest necessarily breaks any new ground for them, these four songs are still really beautiful pieces of music with moments of deep introspection through the lyrics. Parts of this EP deal with heavier topics and meditations on the meaning of life. It is very existential and thought-provoking lyrically. Topics of facing your fears and the pursuit to live a vibrant life are also explored in a really moving way.


My favorite songs:

Black Hole

Afraid of Heights

Voyager

Powers


Check out my full review of the rest!

Re: This Is Why // Paramore


Paramore released Re: This Is Why, which is not quite a remix album, but more so serves as a reimagining of This Is Why by a variety of different artists. Alonside the album's announcement the band wrote, "We’ve long wanted to recognize the connection we have with some of the artists who’ve influenced us as a band and/or who have cited our band as an influence. Re: This Is Why is almost a remix album. Some of the songs have been remixed sort of classically, while others were reworked or rewritten. It’s incredible to hear all our worlds colliding." This Is Why is one of my favorite albums of the year and I loved hearing artists like Remi Wolf, Julien Baker, Zane Lowe, Claud, and Wet Leg interpret this album into something so different from the original. 

My favorite songs: 

C'est Comme Ça (Re: Wet Leg)

Figure 8 (Re: Bartees Strange)

Liar (Re: Romy)

Crave (Re: Claud

Thick Skull (Re: Julien Baker)


Check out my full review of This Is Why!

Austin // Post Malone

Post Malone's latest album, Austin, is among his most confessional and personal releases yet. I absolutely love the entire album and was blown away by so much of the songs and how different it is for him. Austin has such a fresh sound, I have loved seeing the way he has evolved over the years in his artistry. Austin feels like it the start of a new era for him in his artistic journey. This is the album I always hoped he would make and I can't wait to see him continue to go down this path with future releases. 


My favorite songs:

Something Real

Too Cool To Die

Overdrive

Speedometer

Texas Tea


First Two Pages of Frankenstein // The National

First Two Pages of Frankenstein is my first time listening to a full album by The National and I loved it. After Aaron Dessner's incredible collaborations with Taylor Swift for her 2020 albums, Folklore and Evermore, I couldn't wait to hear more of his work with The National. Taylor is also featured on one of my favorites, "The Alcott", as well as Phoebe Bridgers and Sufjan Stevens. They are among my favorites on this record. I also started diving into a lot of their previous releases this year and I have been really enjoying their music. This entire album is beautiful and there were so many songs that I loved and stood out to me right away. 


My favorite songs:

Once Upon A Poolside

New Order T-Shirt

This Isn't Helping (featuring Phoebe Bridgers)

Tropic Morning News

The Alcott (featuring Taylor Swift)


The Album // The Jonas Brothers


I enjoyed so much of the Jonas Brothers latest release, The Album, which features some of their best work yet. It feels so mature and modern, while still incorporating their signature sound. Can you believe it's been almost 20 years of them being a band!? 


My favorite songs:

Montana Sky

Sail Away

Summer in the Hamptons

Little Bird

Walls (featuing Jon Bellion)


Aurora // Daisy Jones & The Six

The once fictional band that lived in the pages of Taylor Jenkins Reid's bestselling 2019 novel, Daisy Jones & the Six, came to life this year through the Amazon mini-series of the same name. Aurora was the fictional album that was featured in the novel, which was the first and last they released. While the entire soundtrack is great and I loved the series, the shining star of this film is absolutely Riley Keough's portrayal of Daisy Jones. She really made the show what it is and put on such a captivating performance. Daisy Jones & The Six is highly inspired by the story of Fleetwood Mac and shares a lot of similarities to their classic sound. If you haven't already, definitely check out the book and series, it's great!

My favorite songs:

Two Against Three

Look At Us Now (Honeycomb)

Kill You To Try

Regret Me

The River


Cuts & Bruises // Inhaler

Inhaler is such an exciting new voice in rock music, I have been loving their debut album It Won't Always Be Like This ever since I discovered it early last year and couldn't wait to hear what they were going to do next. Their sophomore album, Cuts and Bruises, turned out to be even better than their first! Their sound is a unique blend of a lot of other bands that they are clearly inspired by, from classic rock of the 70's and 80's to alternative bands of the 90's and 2000's. Of course, U2 sounds like a major influence for them too, but with a more modern twist. I can't recommend checking out Inhaler's music enough!


My favorite songs:

If You're Gonna Break My Heart

Dublin In Ecstacy

When I Have Her On My Mind

Valentine

Now That You Got Me


Silence Between Songs // Madison Beer

Silence Between Songs is the stunning sophomore album by Madison Beer that incorporates pop and jazz music with a wistful orchestration. It sounds so grand and cinematic, much like Lana Del Rey's signature style, which is an artist that she cited as an inspiration many times. Madison has such a beautifully lush voice, which is on full display throughout this record. Madison is such a talented and underrated artist in pop music right now. Silence Between Songs is such a meaningful reflection of her past and present self, opening the listener up to a different side of her journey. 


My favorite songs:

Spinnin

Sweet Relief

Envy The Leaves

I Wonder

Home To Another One


Check out my full review of Silence Between Songs!



Thanks for reading! I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below! Many of these artists and more appeared on my 23 favorite songs of 2023 list, which I would love for you to check out too!

Since this is my last post of 2023, I want to thank you all for your support this year. I am so thankful for everyone that has taken the time to read my work year after year. I'm looking forward to all that's to come in 2024 and beyond, I hope to see you back again here soon for more! Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy new year!

-Melissa ♡


All photo credit to owners - header designed by Melissa Kacar



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