The 50 best songs of 2023

If you were to whizz all of the following songs into a playlist – which we’ve handily done so below – you’d be in for quite the sonic journey. Between the dancefloor heaters, Barbie’s bangers, the return of old faces and the emergence of new ones, at any given moment this year, there was a scene, artist or song to hold tightly and treasure.

Perhaps it was the continued global ascent of amapiano; the technological advancements that allowed the Fab Four to perform together again; or, maybe, the countless collaborations between both nascent and established talents for the greater musical good. As these 50 songs – selected by NME’s global team of music writers – will prove, 2023’s output was anything but dull.

Thomas Smith, Commissioning Editor (Music)

Contributors: Alex Flood, Anagricel Duran, Andrew Trendell, Andy Brown, Ben Jolley, Emma Wilkes, Hannah Mylrea, Hollie Geraghty, Jenessa Williams, Jordan Bassett, Karen Gwee, Kyann-Sian Williams, Mia Hughes, Rhian Daly, Sophie Williams, Surej Singh, Thomas Smith, Will Richards, Zi Wei Puah

Ryan Gosling - ‘I’m Just Ken’

50. Ryan Gosling – ‘I’m Just Ken’

It wasn’t kenough for Barbie soundtrack producer Mark Ronson to make an ‘80s-style rock ballad complete with a Slash guitar solo. He had to add in a dancefloor-filling disco breakdown that kicks in about half-way through, prompting Ryan Gosling and his all-singing, all-dancing gang of real-life dolls to launch into the year’s most thrilling movie music moment. Given the stiff competition, Barbie’s perma-tanned boyf will have to make do with Number 50. Being spurned suits him, mind… AF

Idles - ‘Dancer’

49. Idles – ‘Dancer’

“I want people to feel the love that I need in my life,” IDLES’ Joe Talbot told NME of their return earlier this year. Moving on from the transformative rebirth of 2021’s ‘Crawler’, the band needed more than punk to lift themselves higher from the doldrums towards eclectic and expansive full-colour spectrum of upcoming fifth album ‘Tangk’. What better way to fight the misery than to hit the dancefloor with a little help from LCD Soundsystem on backing vocals? AT

AntsLive - ‘Number One Candidate’

48. AntsLive – ‘Number One Candidate’

Even in a genre that encourages bravado, north London rapper AntsLive’s confidence feels deliciously outsized. In the music video for his breakthrough single ‘Number One Candidate’, Ants galloped uphill on a horse and dangled from a fire truck before – phew! – enjoying a picnic in the Dolomite Alps. All thumping bass and trumpets, the track itself still feels equally as fresh, having introduced us to a distinctive new talent. SW

Chappell Roan - ‘Red Wine Supernova’

47. Chappell Roan – ‘Red Wine Supernova’

Chappell Roan’s debut album ‘The Rise And Fall Of A Midwest Princess’ was stuffed full of brilliant pop tunes, but it was ‘Red Wine Supernova’ that truly stood out. Three minutes of unadulterated joy, it came with killer hooks and lyrics ready-made for mass singalongs. Proof: did any pop song this year arrive with a better couplet than: “I heard you like magic / I got a wand and a rabbit”? HM

Flo - ‘Fly Girl’

46. Flo – ‘Fly Girl’

The British trio paid homage to the R&B girl groups who owned the early ‘00s by modernising the past with their own flair. Featuring crisp harmonies and a reworked refrain from Missy Elliott’s 2002 hit ‘Work It’, the vibes were so strong that the legendary rapper stuck around for a brand new verse. AD

NCT DoJaeJung - ‘Perfume’

45. NCT DoJaeJung – ‘Perfume’

K-pop’s NCT collective might be more readily associated with an experimental, all-but-the-kitchen-sink sound but, on ‘Perfume’, sub-unit DoJaeJung went down a far smoother route. Composed of three of the group’s strongest singers, Doyoung, Jaehyun and Jungwoo, the trio shared a tale of pure devotion over electro-tinged R&B grooves. “Putting the traces / Leaving ‘em on your wrist / On your collar / Gonna let ‘em hover,” they cooed of their love, echoing the song’s lingering power. RD

SIPHO. - ‘Sober’

44. SIPHO. – ‘Sober’

More than any other track on ‘Prayers & Paranoia’, SIPHO.’s stellar debut album, ‘Sober’ embodied this boundary-pushing artist’s clear sense of adventure. Buoyed by a beat that throws back to the pure, unhinged energy of late ‘90s speed garage, the chorus evoked simpler times and pleasures: sweat, togetherness and dancing into oblivion. Close your eyes and be free, the Brummie musician told us with this thoroughly joyful number. SW

Omar Apollo - ‘3 Boys’

43. Omar Apollo – ‘3 Boys’

Lyrically, ‘3 Boys’ pushed Omar Apollo to put everything on the table. Showcasing hushed conversations and unspoken thoughts, he detailed a situationship that sat between flaring into full-blown passion and asphyxiating into total dust. The track echoed the potency and wistfulness of Grease’s ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’, while maintaining the confrontation that has continued to make Apollo’s music so arresting. SW

Cautious Clay - ‘The Tide Is My Witness’

42. Cautious Clay – ‘The Tide Is My Witness’

This track from the jazz multi-instrumentalist’s second LP ‘Karpeh’ wasn’t the most streamed or the most talked-about, but it was the most indicative of his style. Diving into his family’s heritage the track burst into the kind of fiery saxophone that fellow Blue Note alumni John Coltrane would’ve been proud of. Complex storytelling paired with ferocious musical ability. AF

Madison Beer - ‘Home To Another One’

41. Madison Beer – ‘Home To Another One’

The highlight of Madison Beer’s new album ‘Silence Between Songs’ pushed the singer into intriguing new directions. In its verses, the track was a gently propulsive alt-pop song, bridging the gap between Lana Del Rey and Billie Eilish. Its chorus, though, burst out in psychedelic joy with a distinctly Tame Impala flavour, further proving Kevin Parker’s continued influence on the pop mainstream. More of that in a moment… WR

Scowl - ‘Psychic Dance Routine’

40. Scowl – ‘Psychic Dance Routine’

Earlier in the year, Scowl vocalist Kat Moss told NME there was something for everyone in California’s thriving hardcore punk scene. The proof of that lies in ‘Psychic Dance Routine’, which combines brain-bursting guitar riffs with relentlessly catchy hooks. The result is one of Scowl’s most radio-friendly tracks to date, and perhaps even their best. AB

Sexyy Red - ‘Pound Town 2’

39. Sexyy Red – ‘Pound Town 2’

Red’s explosive breakthrough track defied expectations, transcending the meme status its infamous opening lyrics conjured: “I’m outta town, thuggin’ with my rounds / My coochie pink, my bootyhole brown”. The club banger fused Tay Keith’s legendary trap beats with Red’s cool delivery to revel in debauched joy, and the Nicki Minaj-featuring sequel only upped the ante. KSW

Kelela - ‘Contact’

38. Kelela – ‘Contact’

This heady highlight from Kelela’s luminous second album ‘Raven’ shimmered with intent. “You tryna stall and delay, but I wanna play,” she sang on the chorus. Set to a drum’n’bass beat, it’s the sound of making a move on the dancefloor with the knowledge that music will bring you together. Music that’s hopefully as transcendent as ‘Contact’. NL

Aphex Twin - ‘Blackbox Life Recorder 21f’

37. Aphex Twin – ‘Blackbox Life Recorder 21f’

Predicting when, and indeed how, Richard D James will arrive with new music is a pointless endeavour. Even so, the legendary producer’s latest EP was something of a shocker: his most accessible material in almost a decade. Even the track title – conservative for him – would fit the creation: a bouncy, melodic slice of breakbeat-heavy electronica that commanded attention. TS

J Hus - ‘Who Told You’

36. J Hus – ‘Who Told You’

From its opening gambit, J Hus’ ‘Who Told You’ is as vibrant and knowing as they come: “Who told you bad man don’t dance? / Who told you gangsters don’t dance?” the London-based rapper and singer crooned amidst a hypnotic beat. It’s as irresistible as anything on his 2017 debut ‘Common Sense’ and even managed to put Drake to good use on his feature. TS

(G)-IDLE - ‘Queencard’

35. (G)I-DLE – ‘Queencard’

If there was one song this year that should have been on the Barbie soundtrack, it was ‘Queencard’. On the surface, it was a silly, frivolous mood-lifter that found (G)I-DLE complimenting themselves and “twerking on the runway”. If you dug deeper, though, you unearthed a celebration of self-empowerment that celebrated other women and delivered a tongue-in-cheek and powerful new affirmation to repeat in the mirror: “Queencard, I’m hot / My boob and booty is hot.” RD

Mannequin Pussy - ‘I Got Heaven’

34. Mannequin Pussy – ‘I Got Heaven’

If you’d been waiting for a song that asks the question, “What if Jesus himself ate my fucking snatch?”, well… the wait is over! But that’s not all this track, the lead single from Mannequin Pussy’s upcoming new album of the same name, had to offer. The verses were delivered with MP’s familiar punk fire, while the choruses delved into blissful dream-pop – a juxtaposition that made clear the connection between righteous anger and hard-won hope. MH

Fat Dog - ‘King Of The Slugs’

33. Fat Dog – ‘King Of The Slugs’

When this band played Reading Festival in August, in the crowd stood a teenager with a sign that read ‘Fat Dog are for the kids’. ‘King Of The Slugs’ spoke to that sentiment: this pummelling, seven minute-long debut single was ​​passionate and unselfconscious, dumb and clever all at once. It may sound like a glorious mess, but it captured the singular energy of an act responsible for a whole new underground youth movement. SW

LE SSERAFIM - ‘Eve, Psyche & The Bluebeard’s Wife’

32. LE SSERAFIM – ‘Eve, Psyche & The Bluebeard’s Wife’

Loosely inspired by the defiant folklore of three badass women, ‘Eve, Psyche and The Bluebeard’s Wife’ is the sound of a girl group throwing caution to the wind, and challenging cultural taboos via pulsing, futuristic EDM. Sleek and brash in equal measure, it also boasts one of the best pop lyrics of the year; “I’m a mess / mess / mess / in distress / but we’re still the best dressed”. With swag and synergy, we say they’re holding up pretty well. JW

Dua Lipa - ‘Houdini’

31. Dua Lipa – ‘Houdini’

The first glimpse of Dua Lipa’s upcoming third album arrived this year in the form of ‘Houdini’. With Danny L Harle and Kevin Parker on production duties, this floor-filler stepped away from the shimmering disco of 2020 record ‘Future Nostalgia’, instead opting for slinky, psychedelia-indebted sonics. The results are a more subdued – yet no less brilliant – earworm. HM

Peggy Gou - ‘(It Goes Like) Nanana’

30. Peggy Gou – ‘(It Goes Like) Nanana’

‘(It Goes Like) Nanana’ packed so much sunny energy into its retro rave and Eurodance stylings, it could serve as a Vitamin D supplement. Peggy Gou’s biggest hit so far was inspired by the indescribable feeling of love and warmth that comes when you’re with those most special to you, and every layer of the track – from bubbling synths to its “nanananana” chorus – coursed with that magical euphoria. RD

Skrillex, Fred Again, Flowdan - ‘Rumble’

29. Skrillex, Fred Again, Flowdan – ‘Rumble’

Skrillex’s comeback year kicked off with ‘Rumble’, the dubstep pioneer’s first major single since 2021. And what a return: you’d be hard pressed to find a bassline more earth-shattering than the one that judders at the core of this hypnotic jungle banger. Created with producer-du-jour Fred Again and grime MC Flowdan (the latter’s deep vocal added an ominous yet distinctive layer), it morphed into an unstoppable force. BJ

Dave & Central Cee - ‘Sprinter’

28. Dave & Central Cee – ‘Sprinter’

Well, of course it was going to be a hit. Dave and Central Cee’s summer smasher ‘Sprinter’ would rule the charts for a whopping 10 weeks in the UK, taking the record as the longest-running rap Number One single. It showcased the duo at their best: sharp wordplay, a bright beat and a blockbuster creative partnership. TS

Everything But The Girl - ‘Nothing Left To Lose’

27. Everything But The Girl – ‘Nothing Left To Lose’

“We wanted to come back with something modern-sounding,” Everything But The Girl’s Ben Watt told NME of the art-pop duo’s first new music in 24 years. With Tracey Thorn’s piercing vocals and a sophisticated trip-hop soundscape, it’s the band you remember but reimagined perfectly for 2023: “Kiss me while the world decays, kiss me while the music plays”, Thorn urged. AT

Confidence Man & DJ Seinfeld - ‘Now U Do’

26. Confidence Man & DJ Seinfeld – ‘Now U Do’

There was no fat to be trimmed on Confidence Man’s ecstatic team-up with DJ Seinfeld, and it was another sign of the Aussie duo’s gradual ascent from festival favourites towards the mainstream. Released in July, it became a staple of DJ sets, spawned its own dance (try it at home!) and still sounds as vital as ever now winter has set in. Fun, frivolous and with an endlessly catchy hook, this is pop as it should be done. WR

Militarie Gun - ‘Do It Faster’

25. Militarie Gun – ‘Do It Faster’

More melodic than many of their hardcore peers, Militarie Gun leaned into their strengths with this from-the-heart salvo. When the band tore up venues on their first UK tour, they proved that ‘Do It Faster’ is more than just a snappy title – it’s a call to action. AB

Nia Archives - ‘Bad Gyalz’

24. Nia Archives – ‘Bad Gyalz’

Nia Archives has become a bright voice in making the rave a more inclusive space for all, and on this banger she celebrated the raving femmes. A fun, free-flowing track to show “big love to all the rude gyalz” out there, Nia blended ‘00s nostalgia and her Jamaican heritage on this skankers’ anthem. KSW

Young Fathers - ‘I Saw’

23. Young Fathers – ‘I Saw’

Though first released as a single in October last year, ‘I Saw’ took on new life as the Scottish group brought their career-high record ‘Heavy Heavy’ to the festival fields this summer. This version recorded at Glastonbury in June 2023 leaps out of the screen: just look at the beaming faces in the crowd uniformly realising that they are witnessing a group of musicians at their very, very best. TS

Thundercat & Tame Impala - ‘No More Lies’

22. Thundercat & Tame Impala – ‘No More Lies’

Sometimes a team-up is such a good idea – and proves so fruitful – it’s unsettling to wonder why it hadn’t happened sooner. As Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker embraces the LA music scene, who better to get the lay of the land from than West Coast jazz-funk stalwart Thundercat? This standalone triumph realised the song’s potential, proving to be both hypnotic and strikingly silly. TS

Caroline Polachek - ‘Welcome To My Island (Charli XCX & George Daniel remix)’

21. Caroline Polachek – ‘Welcome To My Island (Charli XCX & George Daniel remix)’

As two near-overwhelmingly productive pop powerhouses, Caroline Polachek and Charli XCX already made an iconic duo – but it was this glorious remix of the former’s ‘Welcome To My Island’ that proved to be their finest team-up yet. Their chemistry could be felt in the interplay between Charli’s sing-speak cadence and Polachek’s warped, hyper-speed vocal, both surrounded by a club-pop groove muscular enough to tear down a dancefloor. SW

Raye - ‘Ice Cream Mean’

20. Raye – ‘Ice Cream Man’

Raye had to fight hard to create her own space to be vulnerable, and ‘Ice Cream Man’ only underlined why releasing debut album ‘My 21st Century Blues’ independently was so vital. The track – an honest account of sexual assault – found the artist opening up with devastating specificity. “I’m a very fucking brave, strong woman,” she declared, her voice rising up to reclaim her agency as the sombre instrumentals fell away and left only her powerful words lingering. HG

The Rolling Stones - ‘Sweet Sounds of Heaven’

19. The Rolling Stones – ‘Sweet Sounds of Heaven’

They took their flippin’ time about it, but when Mick, Keith and Ronnie finally got around to recording a first album of original songs since 2005’s ‘A Bigger Bang’, it came stuffed with late-career gems. The best of the lot was this slowly unspooling gospel jam, featuring Stevie Wonder on jazz organ and the church-ready pipes of Lady Gaga. AF

Sleep Token - ‘The Summoning’

18. Sleep Token – ‘The Summoning’

On paper, the sounds of gnashing black metal and caramel-smooth funk seem like they’d go together about as well as anchovies and ice cream, but on ‘The Summoning’ mysterious masked metallers Sleep Token did the unthinkable – and it was inspired. The quartet broke new ground for themselves and created a viral storm in the process, and with its lascivious lyrics, it boasted a sexiness that would make Deftones sound positively chaste in comparison. EW

Jorja Smith - ‘Little Things’

17. Jorja Smith – ‘Little Things’

It’s telling that the homegrown R&B star introduced this UK funky indebted floor-filler via an unannounced appearance in a Birmingham club. Ahead of second studio album ‘Falling or Flying’, Smith shrugged off the signifiers of pop stardom, quit London and returned to her native Midlands. The result: an uncompromising, eclectic collection that peaked with ‘Little Things’, a retro-futuristic party tune that was, as she vamped in its lyrics, “such a sweet escape”. JB

Troye Sivan - ‘Rush’

16. Troye Sivan – ‘Rush’

It’s no accident that Troye Sivan’s comeback single shares its name with a popular brand of poppers. ‘Rush’ was an exhilarating anthem that sounded like being caught between two rooms in a gay club: one spinning slinky ’90s house, the other blasting Village People deep cuts. NL

Boygenius - ‘Not Strong Enough’

15. Boygenius – ‘Not Strong Enough’

It’s hard to pick a favourite from Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus’ faultless debut album, but we’ll plump for this gorgeous singalong. Tinged with quiet sadness on record, the song’s soaring chorus (and punky outro) gets an extra zip of energy when played live – as anyone who was at their monster Gunnersbury Park gig in August can tell you. AF

Mitski - ‘My Love Mine All Mine’

14. Mitski – ‘My Love Mine All Mine’

‘My Love Mine All Mine’ – a slow and swaying track – topping the Billboard TikTok chart this year was another sign of the continued unknowability of internet virality. The strength of Mitski’s song was never in question though; swapping the ’80s synths of 2022’s ‘Laurel Hell’ for a sophisticated and classic slow dance, Mitski added another string to her impressive bow, and moved towards becoming a generational artist. WR

Depeche Mode - ‘Ghosts Again’

13. Depeche Mode – ‘Ghosts Again’

While Depeche Mode’s 15th album ‘Memento Mori’ was written prior to the death of bandmate Andy Fletcher, it proved profound as a reflection on mortality and connection – none-more-so than this existential anthem staring death in the face. Revisiting the melancholy-meets-euphoria lineage of ‘Enjoy The Silence’ and ‘Personal Jesus’, the electro legends honoured their late pal with another noir-pop classic. AT

Olivia Rodrigo - ‘Bad Idea, Right?’

12. Olivia Rodrigo – ‘Bad Idea, Right?’

No stranger to using her songs as a hilarious and spiky diary entry, the release of ‘Bad Idea, Right?’ in August only heightened the hype for Rodrigo’s second album ‘Guts’. Stuffed with a groovy bass line and the realisation that, even though being hung up on an ex will induce lapses in judgements, it can also be seriously dumb fun. AD

Tyla - ‘Water’

11. Tyla – ‘Water’

In October, rising star Tyla became the first South African solo artist in 55 years to crack the Billboard Hot 100. It’s easy to see why ‘Water’ crashed into the mainstream after making waves on TikTok: it was refreshing, suggestive and the latest celebration of amapiano’s burgeoning global success. NL

The Beatles - ‘Now and Then’

10. The Beatles – ‘Now and Then’

What a thrill to be writing about a new Beatles song in 2023. The band’s ‘final’ single, worked up from a demo John Lennon recorded in the late ‘70s, was originally planned for release in the ‘90s. Unfortunately, the heart-wrenching ballad seemed unworkable due to its murky sound – until AI wizard Peter Jackson galloped in with the tech to clean it up. With a little help from producer Giles Martin (son of the Beatles’ production guru George), this meant Paul and Ringo could blend in George Harrison’s guitar and finish the track. A gorgeous swansong for the Fab Four’s world-shaping friendship and creative genius. JB

English Teacher - ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’

9. English Teacher – ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’

It’s not unusual for an artist to rework or re-record material that hadn’t quite reached its potential, but few have mastered it quite like English Teacher. First penned by the Leeds group in 2018, and then released initially during the pandemic in woozy, lo-fi form, three years later, ‘The World’s Biggest Paving Slab’ totally levelled-up: the drivingguitar riff was sharpened, and Lily Fontaine’s vocals now flit between sprechgesang and that of a soaring rock hero with deftness. Released amidst a flurry of activity – huge festival slots, signing to Island Records and an appearance on NME’s The Cover – it only further affirmed their place as one of Britain’s most promising and entertaining young bands. TS

PinkPantheress - ‘Boy’s A Liar Pt.2’

8. PinkPantheress – ‘Boy’s A Liar Pt.2’

Two of this generation’s biggest viral sensations – PinkPantheress and Ice Spice – delivered the ultimate transatlantic link-up in January. Clocking in at a spritely two minutes, the Mura Masa-produced hit was inescapable; in July, their surprise live performance at Wireless was met with deafening screams. It’s easy to see how the infectious bop has since racked up more than 723 million streams on Spotify alone. BJ

Billie Eilish - ‘What Was I Made For?’

7. Billie Eilish – ‘What Was I Made For?’

Amidst the retina-burning pink and the glitzy dancefloor-directed bangers, Barbie’s most memorable musical offering was of a softer shade. Arriving at the film’s ‘a-ha’ moment, Eilish’s ruminations on self-worth, purpose and body image would prove potent both for its subject and creator. Eventually, they would prove one and the same: “When did it end? All the enjoyment / I’m sad again, don’t tell my boyfriend” she wondered atop a minimal melody. It proved so arresting that, by the time it hit the festival circuit and Reading & Leeds in late August, it was a mass whisper-along from all ages. TS

Blur - ‘The Narcissist’

6. Blur – ‘The Narcissist’

With its introspective lyrics and call-and-response style harmonies, you can see why ‘The Narcissist’ became a standout moment at Blur’s huge festival shows over the summer. The band’s first song in eight years felt emblematic of how raw feeling can overwhelm the senses: it was designed to be sung as loud as possible, eyes closed, from the heart of a massive crowd.

This heartfelt number revealed itself with unpacking Damon Albarn’s increasingly fractured relationship with fame: an examination of the way that global attention can breed isolation. “I looked in the mirror, so many people standing there,” he sang, allowing bleakness and euphoria to collide. SW

The Last Dinner Party - ‘Nothing Matters’

5. The Last Dinner Party – ‘Nothing Matters’

The replay power of ‘Nothing Matters’ can perhaps be drawn from how The Last Dinner Party managed to balance a big, swashbuckling melody with devastating realism. On their phenomenal debut single, the band sang of tortured relationships over a guitar arrangement that sounded as bright as a night sky full of fireflies – the juxtaposition felt almost comical.

And maybe that was the intention all along. Bedecked in Renaissance-period gowns, the five-piece proved themselves as a dynamic and often humorous live act at festivals over the summer: laughing as they played, suggesting almost anything could happen. SW

Olivia Rodrigo - ‘Vampire’

4. Olivia Rodrigo – ‘Vampire’

Has the f-word ever been enunciated so satisfyingly in a pop song? Songs like ‘Driver’s License’ and ‘Good 4 U’ already showed us that Olivia Rodrigo was capable of writing big, bitter breakup songs, but she was out for blood with her comeback single ‘Vampire’, which she described as a “heartbreak song you can dance to”. The quietly devious track seethed with stinging lyrics (“How’s the castle built off people you pretend to care about?”) but her simmering resentment reached fever pitch with the sensationally savage deathblow: “Bloodsucker, famefucker / Bleedin’ me dry, like a goddamn vampire.” HG

Kylie - ‘Padam Padam’

3. Kylie – ‘Padam Padam’

‘Padam’ (singular, as it became known) wasn’t just a song of the summer, but a cultural moment embraced by everyone from Kylie’s loyal gay fans to the staff at Hobbycraft Wimbledon. Because it’s so familiar now, it’s easy to overlook just what a unique pop confection it is: hypnotic electro crossed with a hint of Eastern European folk. Its globe-conquering success is also a welcome reminder that, 16 albums into her career, Minogue remains one of music’s most enduringly effervescent figures. It even returned her to the UK Top 10 for the first time in 12 years – would you Padam and Eve it? NL

NewJeans - ‘Super Shy’

2. NewJeans – ‘Super Shy’

With a near flawless run of singles (and iconic dance routines) to their name, picking a favourite NewJeans song of 2023 is akin to picking a favourite superhero, each possessing its own potent gift. Nonetheless, there’s a strong argument that Jersey Club-inspired ‘Super Shy’ is the most immediate of the bunch, a bouncy, longing look at a crush which feels light as air under the hyperpop tutelage of co-writer Erika de Casier.

Equal parts confident and self-effacing, it’s the perfect encapsulation of their sweet female attitude, making two and a half minutes feel like the giddiest pop ride of your life. JW

Lana Del Rey - ‘A&W’

1. Lana Del Rey – ‘A&W’

Each Lana Del Rey album has deepened the singer’s own cultish personal mythology. Having released music online as Lizzy Grant before adopting her stage name in the early 2010s, Del Rey’s artistry has unfurled itself through a series of nascent personas, beginning with the Hollywood-infatuated romantic of ‘Born To Die’ in 2012. She has continuously elevated this image cultivation with depth and tantalising mystique; the throughline here is that the lines between fantasy, truth and tragedy in her music are still almost nonexistent.

The seven-minute ‘A&W’ made for a masterful, devastatingly gorgeous summation of her career: it plumbed the loss of innocence and youth, while also speaking to societal expectations of what womanhood should look like. Elastic trap beats and quickening piano keys compounded a crackling, persistence of dread as Del Rey’s performance grew steadily in intensity. “I’m a princess / I’m divisive / Ask me why I’m like this,” she sang, drawing us close and holding us rapt. SW

Listen to the full list of our top 50 songs of 2023 below on Spotify, as well as Apple Music


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