Thursday, June 20News For London

A year in review:Top songs of 2023

2023 was another incredible year for music, with phenomenal albums from artists new and old. It was a year where collaborations ruled, from the folk rock supergroup Boygenius, Tame Impala teaming up with Bass maestro Thundercat and Dave and Central Cee propelling British rap around the globe. Debut albums by Holly Humberstone and Hak Baker showed that the modern music scene is in good shape, while the first original album by The Rolling Stones in 18 years and the first release by The Beatles in 53 years showed that the old dogs can still do it. It’s hard to pick highlights in such a good year, but here is our selection of some of the best songs of 2023.

Ryan Gosling-I’m just Ken

The Barbie soundtrack threw up some great original tracks by massive artists, including Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Nicki Minaj, but it was this 80s style power ballad sung by Ryan Gosling and written by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt that really connected with fans of the film. The song that deals with Ken’s crisis in confidence and his unrequited love for Barbie, sees Ken question “is it it my destiny to live and die a life of blonde fragility”. With a rip roaring guitar solo, that it later emerged was provided by none other than Slash, the song much like many of the power ballads it is a pastiche of, is both silly, but also struck an emotional note, helping many to also believe that they are Kenough.

Thundercat and Tame Impala-No More Lies

“It just felt like we were definitely long lost bandmates from another era,” Thundercat told Rolling Stone about working with Tame Impala’s, Kevin Parker and one listen to this song it and you’ll be sure that the two of them were destined to make music together. Blending the psychedelia of Parker and the funky soul sound of Thundercat resulted in this wonderful tune that evokes 70s George Clinton in his Parliament/Funkadelic era, while also sounding incredibly fresh and modern. Thundercat’s beautiful and often underrated voice and Parker’s trademark danceable synth sound helps create one of the years slickest songs of the year and what hopefully is the first of many collaborations between these two artists.

Dave and Central Cee-Sprinter

If anyone ever doubted the global appeal of UK hip-hop, this collaboration between two of the scenes biggest stars well and truly quashed those doubts. With it’s stripped back style and Latin infused acoustic guitar, the chart topping tune by two of London’s finest, truly took over the globe. The song topped the charts in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Ireland and Luxembourg and in the UK broke the record for longest time at No 1 by a British rap song, spending 10 weeks at the top spot.

The Beatles-Now and Then

It came as a huge surprise to many when it was announced that the best selling band of all time were releasing a new single, just the mere 53 years after their last one and with two members of the band having passed away. Yet this John Lennon penned tune features all of the fab four and was brought to life by artifical intelligence, used to improve the quality of Lennon’s original recording. It can be a little strange hearing a 39 year old Lennon sing alongside and 81 year old McCartney, but you quickly become aware of what a beautiful thing that is, especially given the songs title. Of course a new release from The Beatles was always going to attract interest and sell well, but the greatest thing of all, is that it’s a wonderful song. A heartwarming, bittersweet piano ballad, with each member of the band doing what they did best and showing why they are the greatest band of all time.

Fifty Fifty-Cupid

K-Pop continued it’s global domination in 2023 with the genre expanding beyond recognition, blending 80s pop, psychedelia and hip hop, female quartet Fifty Fifty lead the way on their viral hit ‘Cupid’. The synth pop tale of unrequited love broke records as it became the first song by a K-pop girl group to reach the top 10 of the UK charts and garnered over 700 million streams on Spotify. Not bad for a group that only formed in 2022.

Lana Del Rey-A&W

Lana Del Rey continued her recent prolific period with her third album in as many years, with the special guest strewn ‘Did you know there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd’. Despite an array of featured artists, including Bleachers, Jon Batiste and Father John Misty, it was one of her solo songs that really stood out. The seven minute journey of a track ‘A&W’ saw Del Rey explore new ground, in one of her finest songs to date. Starting with the folkier acoustic sound that she has explored on recent albums, the song completely transforms around the 4 minute mark and takes on a psychedelic trap sound, it’s dizzying, strange, groundbreaking and absolutely brilliant.

The National-Laugh Track (ft Phoebe Bridgers)

The ‘Sad dads’ of modern indie rock returned this year with not one, but two new albums, the latter of which’s title track was one of the melancholy anthems of the year. Featuring the leading sad girl of modern music, Phoebe Bridgers, it was a match made in misery heaven. Lead singer Matt Berninger and Bridger’s voices match perfectly and you can feel their shared heartbreak as they sing “I think our hands are gonna shake, I think our eyes are gonna cry, I think our hearts are gonna break”.

Nicki Minaj-Everybody (feat Lil Uzi Verti)

Thirteen years after her debut album ‘Pink Friday’ propelled her to superstardom, Nicki Minaj released it’s sequel ‘Pink Friday 2’, in December 2023. Featuring samples from a plethora of classic songs, it was this song based around an expertly chopped sample of Junior Senior’s 2003 smash hit  ‘Move your feet’ that really showed Minaj was back to her best. Equally as danceable as the original song, with rapid bullet points of verse from Minaj, the song quickly made the rounds on TikTok, with endless dance routines accompanying the tune.

ODUMODUBLVCK-Blood on the Dancefloor

Nigerian artist ODUMODUBLVCK mixed grime, drill and afrobeat on his critically acclaimed album ‘EZIOKWU’ to create his self-defined genre that he calls Okporoko Rhythms. Album highlight ‘Blood on the Dancefloor’ is a psychy, groovy tune, somehow both mellow and dancey. Now starting to make a name for himself outside of his homeland, it surely won’t be long before he is star around the globe.

The Rolling Stones-Sweet Sounds of Heaven (feat Lady Gaga)

With new releases from the Stones and The Beatles just weeks apart you could be forgiven for thinking you had been transported back to the 1960s, but the new Stones album kept it 21st century with this wonderful collaboration with pop queen Lady Gaga. A classic sounding blues ballad, it is quintessential Stones and only further enhanced by the supreme voice of Gaga, pairing sublimely with 80 year old Mick Jagger. Piano contributions on the song from Stevie Wonder adds even more stardust on a track that proves the legends of rock’n’roll may be getting old but are certainly not slowing down.