WEven though the unbundling of albums in the streaming era further destroyed the idea of what a single could be, the best songs of the year all shook things up in their own way. Club-ready tracks from Beyoncé, Peggy Gou and Kylie Minogue got people moving; tracks by post-punkers and pop-punkers, newcomers and legends, amplified the atmosphere; and a collaboration between Mexican music stars Peso Pluma and Eslabon Armado showed that there are still new parts of the pop world for American listeners to discover.
Here are the best songs of 2023.
More: Read TIME’s lists of the best albums, movies, TV shows, podcasts And video games of 2023.
10. Peggy Gou, “(It Goes Like) Nanana”
The single from DJ and producer Peggy Gou is a throwback to the era of house music with stinging guitars and urgent pianos. It gets its status as an irresistible earworm from its wordless chorus, which sums up the indescribable feeling of being among loved ones in a few syllables arranged in a simple but unforgettable melody, like other notable moments through positive energy and good people.
9. Gina Birch, “I Play My Bass Loud”
Post-punk pioneer Gina Birch was a member of the Raincoats, Kurt Cobain’s beloved band who viewed punk’s anything-goes philosophy as a way to explore expressions of joy. The title track from his solo debut, which arrives 44 years after his former band’s debut album, channels that exuberance into a dizzying self-statement as well as a full-throated celebration of Birch’s instrument of choice; it’s also a compelling invitation for anyone listening to make, as she puts it, “notes fly around the room.”
8. Miranda Lambert and Leon Bridges, “If You Were Mine”
Texans Miranda Lambert and Leon Bridges come together in this sweet, nostalgic duet, which combines the country singer’s sharp wail with the soul Belter’s velvety vocals over pedal steel and droning organ. Hopefully this is the start of a fruitful partnership, as Lambert and Bridges have chemistry that is evident throughout the song, especially at the end of the song, when the two have a nice back and forth that shows how artistically in tune they are with each other.
7. English Teacher, “Almost Daffodils”
One of the most exciting new indie bands of the decade, this Leeds quartet perform sharp songs that focus on frontwoman Lily Fontaine’s sardonic observations about modern life. This fast-paced track about dashed expectations and pent-up frustrations has quivering verses, with Fontaine audibly gritting his teeth, but its chorus is hammering, with Fontaine dropping his singing voice to bellow, “you can drive water to the daffodils but you can” I don’t make them drink.
6. Fall Out Boy, “So Much for Stardust”
Fall Out Boy’s latest album finds the pop-punk quartet whose debut album Take this to your grave turned 20 this year – combining hungry, colossal pop with introspection that comes with the period of adulthood that can no longer be modified with the word “young”. It’s a fantastic ride, but its title track – which also closes the record – is a real barnburner, combining orchestral flourishes with expressions of disillusionment that feel as all-encompassing as the song’s wall-to-wall sounds.
5. Kylie Minogue, “Padam Padam”
Is turning heartbeats into club-ready beats the point of all dance-pop? Maybe, but few do it better than Kylie Minogue, whose long career has given DJs and boogiers plenty of opportunities to lip sync – and who delivered a signature song of the summer contender with this meandering track, which made this speaker-to-heart relationship explicit. Here, Minogue’s silvery soprano transforms her into an icy diva who’s invested in potentially melting alongside another dancefloor denizen.
4. Peso Pluma and Eslabon Armado, “Ella Baila Sola”
This duet between Mexican music heavyweight Peso Pluma and California band Eslabon Armado made chart history this year, peaking at No. 5 on the Hot 100 and becoming the first song of its kind to reach the top 10 of this ranking. It’s also a fantastic pop song. , opening with punchy horns and eventually settling into a distinctly upbeat beat, with Pluma and Elsabon Armado singer Pedro Tovar plotting dancefloor seduction as the band continues to play.
3. Beyoncé, “My House”
Surprise release alongside theatrical debut Renaissance: a Beyoncé film, this catchy track harnesses the fabulous energy and heavy beats of Beyoncé’s 2022 album and subsequent tour honoring the liberating potential of dance clubs; it’s split in two, with its raucous first half giving way to a still-raucous section where the singer-mogul slowly ignites, ultimately declaring her intention to “let love heal us all”.
2. Victoria Monét, “On my mom”
R&B singer-songwriter Victoria Monét’s ode to self-love brings together old-school vibes and new-school swagger, with Monét’s cool vocals boosting the confidence that makes her feel ” at the bottom of my bag/like a grandmother with a peppermint.” .” That turn of phrase alone would put “On My Mama” in the upper echelons of pop of the year; the song’s dry horns and gently gurgling bass put it at the top of the class.
1. Olivia Rodrigo, “bad idea, right?”
Channeling the edgier side of ’90s alt-rock, this single from next-gen pop force Olivia RodrigoGUT is enveloped in tension, from its sung verses to the dizzying guitars of its pre-chorus to the way Rodrigo tries to convince himself that seeing his ex “is a bad idea, isn’t it?” before throwing caution to the wind and giving in to his impulses. Its wild production echoes the swirl of feelings surrounding Rodrigo’s decision to visit a former love – and it sounds good too, making “a bad idea, isn’t it?” an engaging ear treat for even the most settled listeners.
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