My Favorite Songs of 2023

To celebrate what was another great year of music, I compiled a list of my 23 favorite songs of 2023. This is a glimpse into some of my most-played songs that served as the soundtrack of my year through it all. Earlier this year, I started a monthly New Music Friday series where I highlighted some of the best releases of each month. This list includes the best of the best from all of those posts, as well as some new finds from throughout the year. To keep this list succinct and varied, I only chose one song from each artist. I have written in depth about many of these artists and their new releases throughout the year, which will be linked throughout if you are interested in reading more. I will be sharing even more in my post about my favorite albums of the year too! This is loosely ranked, featuring many of my all-time favorite artists, as well as some new artists I discovered this year. 

Enjoy! ✨

"A&W" // Lana Del Rey

"A&W" is one of the greatest songs Lana Del Rey has ever written. Not only was it my top favorite song of the year, it was also most played of the year too (109 times according to Spotify Wrapped!)  It is a seven minute rollercoaster that takes the listener on such an emotional journey, the first half being some of her most raw and confessional lyrics of her discography. It kind of feels like she is taking back the narrative of what people have called her throughout her career, in the media or otherwise, and telling her side of the story - "Do you really think I give a damn what I do after years of just hearing them talking?" she sings. In the chorus Lana continues, "It's not about having someone to love me anymore, this is the experience of being an American whore". In each verse, she opens up about some of the darkest moments she has experienced in her life, from tumultuous, abusive relationships, to her often being portrayed negatively in the media. It sparks an important conversation around the way women are far too often negatively perceived and scrutinized, especially looking at it through the lens of her experience in the music industry. 

A song like "A&W" showcases the strength she has an artist to be able to write lyrics that are so thought-provoking and poetic, while also being brutally honest with the reality she has faced. No one else is on her level in that regard. Unexpectedly, "A&W" turns into a completely different song for the second half. It has one of the most iconic transitions since Lorde's "Hard Feelings / Loveless" (thanks to Jack Antonoff for producing both!) After the emotional first part of the song, it was so unexpected to hear the turn it takes - which is something that happens more than once throughout her latest album, Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd. Jack talked about that "...weird whiplash of not knowing what you’re supposed to feel," in an interview with Rolling Stone UK. "That sensation is across the album: you could dissect the tone of whether it’s hints of gospel or bringing back some of the 808s and the fucked-up side of things. But in the studio, it was just about finding what is shocking in the moment.". He recently talked about how the "Jimmy" part of "A&W" was originally written during the Norman Fucking Rockwell! writing sessions, but was reworked to be a part of Ocean Blvd in such a cool and unexpected way. 

2023 was such an amazing year for new Lana music and "A&W" is one of the many reasons as to why she is one of the greatest living songwriters and a once in a generation talent. 

favorite lyrics: "I'm a princess, I'm divisive, ask me why, why, why I'm like this" // "It's not about havin' someone to love me anymore, no, this is the experience of bein' an American whore" // "Your mom called, I told her, you're fucking up big time!"

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

"What Was I Made For?" // Billie Eilish

"What Was I Made For?" is truly such a heart-wrenching and emotional song and I can't help but tear up every time I hear it. Without giving any spoilers for Barbie, this song had incredible placement in the film and literally every single person in the theater was crying during that scene. No one else could have written a better song than Billie and Finneas for that moment. Billie was the perfect vessel to translate those deep-rooted, heavy emotions into a song. Not only does it work so well in the context of Barbie, it also fits in so beautifully into Billie's personal life too. She said in an interview that the process of writing this song for the Barbie character in the movie was "like I'm writing for myself and I don't even know it." It bridges the gap between the Happier Than Ever era and whatever the next chapter may be for her in such a beautiful way with the lyric, "Think I forgot how to be happy, somethin' I'm not, but somethin' I can be, somethin' I wait for, somethin' I'm made for". The music video, as well as all of the live performances she did of this song are amazing too. Her SNL performance is particularly a stunning representation of what makes this song so special.

It captures the essence of girlhood in such a powerful and unique way. I connected so deeply to "What Was I Made For" and the entire film, I absolutely adore everything about it. I don't think I'll ever be the same after hearing this song, that's the power of music! 

favorite lyric: "Takin' a drive, I was an ideal, looked so alive, turns out I'm not real, just somethin' you paid for, what was I made for?"

"Not Strong Enough" // boygenius

"Not Strong Enough" is the best song boygenius has released yet and represents who they are as a collective so perfectly. I immediately connected so much to the message of it ever since the first listen. Throughout so much of their debut album it feels like they are trying to make sense of themselves and why they are the way they are. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Phoebe Bridgers talked about the feelings that inspired this song, "Being like, 'I'm not strong enough to show up for you.' ... Self-hatred is a god complex sometimes, where you think you're the most fucked-up person who's ever lived. Straight up, you're not. And it can make people behave really selfishly, and I love each of our interpretations of that concept." The climax of the song comes with the repetition of the phrase "always an angel, never a god". There are so many layers to that lyric with the dichotomy and complexity that is within us all. The build up to the final verse is so moving and one of the best moments of the entire album. 

favorite lyric: "Always an angel, never a god"

Check out my full review of the record!

"bad idea, right?" // Olivia Rodrigo

"bad idea, right?" may actually be my favorite song by Olivia yet, it's just so good and addictive to listen to. It was my second most-played song of the year, so clearly I couldn't get enough of it! The lyrics are very tongue-and-cheek, written as if it's a conversation between friends, which in a way is what the song actually started as between her and her collaborator Dan Nigro. "Yes, I know that he's my ex, but can't two people reconnect? I only see him as a friend, the biggest lie I ever said, oh, yes, I know that he's my ex, but can't two people reconnect? I only see him as a friend, I just tripped and fell into his bed" she sings in the chorus. "I wrote it in New York. Me and my friend, Dan, were at Electric Lady Studios, and I was telling him about one of my fun escapades. I sent this guy a text: 'seeing you tonight, it's a bad idea, right?,' and I was, like, 'Ooh, that rhymes.'  And so I told Dan about it the next day..." she said in an interview with Rolling Stone. "The refrain started as a joke, he was just making fun of me, he was just going, 'My brain goes, 'Ah'.' And we were like, 'Wait, maybe we're onto something there, maybe there's something in there...'"

favorite lyric: "And I pull up to your place on the second floor and you're standing, smiling at the door, and I'm sure I've seen much hotter men, but I really can't remember when"

Check out my full review of GUTS!

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

Unless you've been living under a rock, Taylor Swift was everywhere this year... and for good reason! She has been on a roll of releasing so much incredible music over the past few years, including two albums in 2023 alone. There was so much new music by her that I debated putting on here, but in an effort to not make this list half Taylor Swift songs, I had to draw the line somewhere! "I Can See You" and "Now That We Don't Talk" were both very close contenders to being listed as my favorites of the year. Ultimately, I went with "Is It Over Now?" the final song of the incredible 1989 (Taylor's Version)It details the ups and downs she experienced at this time in her life as she wonders if her relationship is really done. It is so catchy, brutally honest and fits so well with the rest of the album. It draws many parallels to songs like "Style", "Out Of The Woods", and "I Wish You Would" - three of my favorites from the original track list. It actually feels like an alternate version of "Out Of The Woods", recalling many of the same specific memories of their time together. I can see the reason why many of the vault tracks weren't included on the original album for that reason, but getting to finally hear them now and seeing the whole picture is such a cool experience.

 She is just so honest on this song, I was blown away by the level of specificity and unfiltered thoughts that she included on it. Plus, she's so real for threatening to jump off a building over a certain British boybander - iykyk. "If she's got blue eyes, I will surmise that you'll probably date her, you dream of my mouth before it called you a lying traitor, you search in every model's bed for somethin' greater, baby" she sings. Hearing these lyrics now almost ten years removed is so iconic to look back on. It was the absolutely best song to end 1989 (Taylor's Version) on. Personally she's been my Person of the Year every year, so I have been loving all of the new content we've been getting from her lately. Surely there is so much more to come for 2024 and beyond and I can't wait to see what's next! 🩵

favorite lyric: "Let's fast forward to three hundred takeout coffees later, I see your profile and your smile on unsuspecting waiters"

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

"You First" // Paramore

This Is Why is such an incredible album from top to bottom and there was so many songs I wanted to include on this list, but from the start, "You First" has always been my favorite. I really can't get enough of this song. Like much of the album, this song focuses on battling the two sides of yourself and having to consciously choose good over evil. "Can't shake the devil sitting on my shoulder", Hayley sings. Everyone is at constant battle with themselves to not feed into the negative energies that we all face on a daily basis - whether it is on a personal level or through the media. "Everyone is a bad guy, and there's no way, no way to know, who's the worst", she sings, "Karma's gonna come for all of us, and I hope, well, I hope, I just hope, that she comes, comes for you first". This song also has my favorite ever on it - "Turns out I'm living in a horror film, where I'm both the killer and the final girl, so, who, who are you?", I love all of the imagery that line conveys.

favorite lyric: "Turns out I'm livin' in a horror film, whеre I'm both the killer and the final girl, so who, who are you?"

Check out my full review of This Is Why!

"Dance The Night" // Dua Lipa

When it comes to Dua Lipa, I debated choosing between "Dance The Night" and "Houdini" for this list because I love both so much. 2023 was absolutely the year of Barbie, so it only felt right to go with "Dance The Night" as the best! This song, along with the rest of the Barbie soundtrack, was co-produced by Mark Ronson, which I was so happy about because he has helped make so many of my favorite songs ever. A collab between him and Dua never disappoints either. Behind the dazzling glittery disco instrumentals, the song lyrically deals with a lot of the main themes of Barbie in such a beautiful way - the perception of reality vs. perfection. With this song, Dua captured that inner struggle of Barbie in such a perfectly imperfect way. "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 song also fits in sonically with a lot of the music Dua made for Future Nostalgia, a sound which she will be straying from with her next album. With that, "Dance The Night" is which is what she called her "farewell to disco". She has truly never made a song that I don't absolutely love and I know that she is going to dominate 2024 with her upcoming third album! 

"Dance The Night" is the perfect bespoke song to play at any giant blowout party with all of the Barbies and planned choreography! 💗 Just come along for the ride!

favorite lyric: "Even when the tears are flowin', they're diamonds on my face"

"Modern Girl" // Bleachers

New Jersey's finest New Yorker is back and better than ever with "Modern Girl", the first song off of Bleachers' upcoming self-titled album. This song is pure joy and encapsulates all of the things I have always loved about the band. It is so high-energy with lyrics like, "all the modern girls shakin' their ass tonight". The line about being a "pop music hoarder" is so great too! I can only imagine how incredible this song is going to be to hear live, as it feels like such a celebration of the band, their fans and the incredible atmosphere their shows create. I am seeing them perform at Shadow of the City next year in New Jersey and I couldn't be more excited - there is nothing like the magic of a Bleachers show! 🍅

favorite lyric: "I guess I'm New Jersey's finest New Yorker, unreliable reporter, pop music hoarder, some guy playing quarters"

"Flowers" // Miley Cyrus

"Flowers" is the opening track of Endless Summer Vacation, which is a powerful anthem of self-love and empowerment. While I absolutely loved so many of the songs off of her latest album, it was only right for me to include "Flowers" on this list as the very best. This song was inescapable for the entire year and for good reason, too. Its release marked a new era of her career with the tagline of the promotion being "New Year, New Miley". It quickly became the biggest song she has ever released, as well as the highest selling song of the entire year. It was also the first big song that was released in early 2023 and that was such a smart move for her because the entire year felt like it was shaped around the success of this song. 

Being almost two decades into her career, is so great (and rare) to see Miley have this kind of massive success. To celebrate it's success, she also released the demo version of "Flowers", which is featured as a bonus track on the album. Both versions represent the duality that this song holds, it gives a whole new perspective to the journey that got her to this moment. While the official version feels so uplifting and empowering, the demo starts off so much more melancholic as a stripped-back ballad. In instances like this, it is so cool to see what production can do to completely transform a song and bring new life into it. In the first verses of the demo, it sounds like she is trying to convince herself that she can buy herself flowers, hold her own hand, etc. - but as the song progresses, you can really hear the confidence in her voice start to grow and that she is really meaning what she is saying by the end of the third verse. The best songs, especially in the pop genre, are the ones that hold a level of dichotomy between the instrumental and lyrical content. If you dig deeper into the lyrics, there is so much symbolism within this song, "built a home and watched it burn", being one of the stand-out moments. It is so subtle but if you know about the lore behind this song, you'll know how much of an impact that line holds. 

Flowers are also a recurring motif throughout so much of Endless Summer Vacation, which makes this being the first single to introduce the album such a perfect choice. With lyrics like "you'vе watered the weeds and you killed all the roses", on "Muddy Feet" and "pillows on the floor and the flowers dead", on "Wildcard" - it feels like an important underlying concept that threads this album together.

It's about time Miley gets her flowers! 🌼🌻🌷

favorite lyric: "Paint my nails cherry-red, match the roses that you left"

Check out my full review of Endless Summer Vacation!

"Princess Diana" // Ice Spice & Nicki Minaj

The queen of rap and the people's princess of rap collaborated for the first time this year on the remix of "Princess Diana". This song's sharp lyricism paired with Ice's laidback charisma makes this song the hit that it is. Nicki also sounds great too, it is one of the best songs she has put out in years and a reminder of the insane skill she has. Ice Spice has had such a massive breakout year, she is such a fresh voice in rap and I am looking forward to hearing where she goes next! 

favorite lyric: "Nowadays, I be duckin' them cameras and they hype that I'm up on them banners, callin' my phone, but they know I don't answer, in the hood I'm like Princess Diana"

"Rush" // Troye Sivan

"Rush" was the lead single from Troye Sivan's latest album, Something to Give Each Other and I haven't been able to get it out of my head since I first heard it. I have loved seeing his artist evolution since his early career, even before his Blue Neighborhood days. He has really come into his own and it's amazing that 2023 was such a massive mainstream breakout year for him. "Rush" is such an electric summer club anthem. The chorus is one of the most infectious of the year. I also love the compression and his range of vocals on this track. "Rush" is so addictive. It's so good! It's so good!

favorite lyric: "You got my heartbeat racin', my body blazin'"

"Here Comes The Comeback" // Mitch Rowland

I love so many songs off of Mitch's debut album, Come Junebut one of my favorites is the sunny "Here Comes The Comeback". Mitch and his wife Sarah wrote this song together, during a time that he didn't expect to be writing music for himself to perform. Up to that point, he was best known for being Harry Styles' guitarist and frequent collaborator. I have always loved his work with Harry and have seen him perform many times, so when this album was announced, I was so excited to hear it. In an interview with NME, Mitch talked about how this song came together, "I was strumming something and she was playing a synthesizer and tapping out an electronic drumbeat. We made a quick arrangement with all the parts we were playing. Sarah was engineering, so we dumped it into her laptop. Then I walked out of the room and the lyrics came all at once, in one breath. Never happens like that," he said. Mitch continued, "When I made it, I was kind of embarrassed by it and I didn’t think it was something for me. I didn't hear the strengths in it at the time. Sarah said, 'Play it for Harry' and I was like, 'No!' Then about 24 hours later, I sent it to him and immediately, he loved it." It was almost a part of Harry Styles' third album, Harry's House, but it ultimately didn't make the cut. Mitch ended up asking for the song back and it found a place on his own debut album this year. Harry is actually still featured as background vocals of this version, which is a cool Easter egg in the song. Mitch is such a talented songwriter; I love how introspective and honest he is in his writing. Mitch's debut album was one of my most anticipated of the entire year and it was such a memorable experience getting 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!

favorite lyric: "I can feel the impossible, believe it when you see it, things comin'"

Check out my experience meeting Mitch Rowland in Philadelphia!

"The Bend" // King Princess

"The Bend" quickly became one of my favorite songs from King Princess when it was released as a part of NME x Bose's collaboration mixtape back in March. "When I get over the bend I'm overwhelmed again, again, again, I'm seeing red and they say, 'You don't have to take it hard', You should tell that to my head again", they sing in the chorus. King Princess is such a distinct songwriter in the way the songs are so introspective, emotional and so clever at the same time, there is rarely a song from them that I don't love. 

favorite lyric: "Everybody condescends, they don’t wanna understand, I just wanna feel again, I just wanna be the man, I just wanna feel again" 

"Die 4 Me" // Halsey

This is a song that I have been waiting years to finally hear! The original version was first released on Post Malone's 2019 album, Hollywood's Bleeding, with Halsey and Future as featuring artists. It has always been one of my favorite Post Malone songs, but Halsey's verse was always the highlight of it for me. On her tour last summer, she performed a new version of the song solo and now has finally released the original demo version of it. There are so many great one-liners, but the updated "I sold 40 million copies of our breakup note" is a lyric that will never not be iconic. This was in the top 5 of my most played songs of the year, I can never get enough of it! I had the most incredible experience seeing Halsey live for the first time this year and I will never recover from how amazing that entire night was! I am looking forward to hearing new music from her in the new year!🕸️

favorite lyric: I know it's been a while since the last time you heard from me, grew into a savage, you can hear it in this verse, honey, turns out it shows 'cause they turn out at shows, I sold forty million copies of our break-up note"

"I got it bad" // Addison Rae

Addison Rae has the recipe for pop perfection with this song and I'm so obsessed with it! The production and vocals are both stellar, this style of music suits her so well. No one in this new generation of artists has really leaned into the sugary 2000's bubblegum pop sound in the way that Addison has and I absolutely love it. If Britney Spears were to have put out this song in 2003, it would have been a huge hit and I say that in the best way possible. She has the potential to fill an empty space in the 2020's music landscape if she continues making music like this!

favorite lyric: "He looks like the boy next door from my boy band poster"

Check out my full review of AR!

"Dublin In Ecstacy" // Inhaler

Inhaler is such an exciting new voice in rock music, there were so many songs that I was torn between to include on this list from their latest album, but "Dublin In Ecstasy" is one that I keep coming back to as my top favorite. The melody and guitar riff are infectious, and the lyrical imagery of Ireland is stunning, especially the lyric "I can see the city in the glass of your eye". 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! I can't recommend checking out Inhaler's music enough!

favorite lyric: "I can see the city in the glass of your eye"

"Feather" // Sabrina Carpenter

I don't know where I have been all this time, but this year I have become so obsessed with Sabrina Carpenter's music! She is such a fresh voice in pop music and has been putting out really great work over the past year especially. "Feather" is one of the new deluxe tracks off of her 2022 album emails i can't send, which I listened to this year in full for the first time and I haven't been able to get enough of it since. "Feather" is such a cute, light and breezy pop song that encapsulates all of the ways she really shines as an artist. I have also been loving all of her performances of this song and the music video was iconic too. "Feather" is a smash hit and can't wait to see where she goes next with her sound. 

favorite lyric: "Floatin' through the memories like whatever, you're a waste of time, your signals are mixed, you act like a bitch"

"Spinnin" // Madison Beer

Silence Between Songs had so many great moments on it, I was so close to including "Home To Another One" on this list, but ultimately, I went with the album's opener, "Spinnin" as my favorite. Lyrically and vocally, it is one of Madison's strongest, I love the way it keeps building and building up to the end of the song. It is such a vulnerable depiction of her mental health, feeling like she is spiraling mentally as the world is also spinning around her. It reminds me of Ariana Grande's "get well soon" and St. Vincent's "Live In The Dream" which are two of my favorite songs by both of them. It is such a powerful and emotional opening to the album that gives me chills every time I hear it. Toward the mid-point of the album, she shows herself on the other side of this mental spiral that inspired "Spinnin" on track seven, "I Wonder". It is one of the more optimistic songs on the album, with an upbeat jazzy sound to it. "And now each breath of air is sweeter, birds are singin', grass is greener, suddenly, the world is bright again", she sings in the chorus. 

favorite lyric: "I woke up, fell back to sleep, 'cause I'd rather live in my dreams, I lay here wondering why"

Check out my full review of Silence Between Songs!

"Speed Drive" // Charli XCX

"Speed Drive" is such a high-energy summer hyperpop anthem written for the car chase sequence from Barbie. Charli interpolates "Hey Mickey" by Toni Basil with the chorus, "Barbie, you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, jump into the driver's seat and put it into speed drive". Even though it is a relatively short song, it is so much fun and such a bop. The shoutout to the iconic Devon Lee Carlson with the line "Devon Lee smile" is one of my favorite moments of the song too, it's such a cute lyric! On the mood board, Charli is always the inspo! 💗

favorite lyric: "Devon Lee smile, teeth a white row, got a classic, real deep, Van Gogh, she got loyalty, she says, 'I love you, girl', I love her more"

"Own My Mind" // Måneskin

The opening track of Måneskin's latest album, RUSH!, is the best song I have heard from them yet. This is one of the stand-out moments from the album where they seem to be at their most confident in what they want the sound of the band to be. "OWN MY MIND" is one of the tracks I have continuously returned to since I first heard it. It reminds me so much of "R U Mine?" by Arctic Monkeys, which is one of my favorite songs ever and probably why I gravitate to this one so much too. This song showcases the best version of the band and all of the potential they have. 

favorite lyric: "Do you wanna know what the good good bad things all feel like?

"Something Real" // 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. "Something Real" is a prime example of that growth. It features stunning vocals and even interpolates "Für Elise" by Beethoven. The message is so powerful and one of the best vocal performances of his career! 

favorite lyric: "And no matter what car is sittin' outside, it's a lonely road" // "I would trade my life just to be at peace"

"I'm Just Ken" // Ryan Gosling

I know she's everything and he's just Ken, but I would be remiss to not include one of the biggest songs from Barbie on this list. "I'm Just Ken" is such a funny 80's power-ballad that is so cleverly written and full of hilarious one-liners. Ryan Gosling was the perfect Ken and I loved the entire Barbie movie so much! 

This was one of the first songs Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt wrote for the Barbie soundtrack. When recalling the process of writing this song, Mark said, "I instantly had this idea for this lyric: 'I'm just Ken / Anywhere else I'd be a 10.' It just seemed funny. It felt a little bit emo, like, this poor guy. He’s so hot, but can’t get the time of day." After Greta Gerwig heard the song and shared it with Ryan, who had such an enthusiastic response to it, she ended up re-writing a pivotal scene so he could perform it in the film. That was such a memorable scene and truly no one else could have played that part to the level he did. Can you feel the Kenergy? 💗

favorite lyric: "Is it my destiny to live and die a life of blond fragility?"

"Two Against Three" // 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. 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. "Two Against Three" is such a beautiful, subdued moment of this soundtrack compared to the rest of the music from the show. This is such a stunning solo vocal performance from Riley, clearly musical talent runs in the family!

favorite lyric: "It seems you have a choice to make, the shell is white and yours to break, either way it's just as well, all I need's a promise I can keep to myself"

Thanks for reading! I would love to hear what some of your favorite songs of the year were in the comment section below! This is one of my last posts of 2023, so I wanted to take a moment to thank you for supporting my writing this year. I have written so much new content that I am so proud of and really appreciate everyone who took the time to read it. 

If you're interested in reading about more great music that didn't quite make it to this top 23 list, I would love for you to check out my New Music Friday series! Every month I compiled a list of my favorite new releases and I have loved putting those posts together throughout the year. 

Wishing you all the best in 2024 and beyond! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season! ✨

-Melissa ♡

All photo credit to owners - header designed by Melissa Kacar

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