In 2023, it was harder than ever to capture the attention of the world with an individual song. With people often looking to the past — creating steaming and social sensations with old material — new music often felt like it was taking a backseat in the public consciousness. As this is being written, the No. 1 song in America is older than every single artist on the following list.
But that doesn’t mean that 2023 wasn’t full of fantastic offerings across genres, keeping fans fed if they weren’t looking to revisit the past. The following songs cover the worlds of hip-hop, afrobeats, indie, pop, and much more, portraying a new music landscape that is full of ideas and personalities. Great new music is still all around us, you just need to be a little curious.
Check out the best songs of 2023 below.
100 Gecs – “Dumbest Girl Alive”
Just as the Ramones surveyed the trash culture of their youth and paid homage to it over genius-idiot music, 100 Gecs take everything that is annoying about the internet and elevate it by leaning into every guilty pleasure of our very, very insipid modern culture. There is no better example than this brilliantly stupid electro-rock anthem. – Steven Hyden
Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar — “The Hillbillies”
If there’s one thing to appreciate about Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar’s collaborations, it’s how their records cause the latter to have some fun on the mic. Whether it’s the “smoking on top five” chants of “Family Ties” or the odder “top of the morning” chants on “Range Brothers,” Keem and Lamar are not more than two fun cousins having a blast when they’re in the booth. “The Hillibillies” is another example of that as the rappers go back and forth while adlibing each other’s verses that go from being best dressed and a “sexy mood” leading to giving a girl $10,000 to being immersed in the world of PlayStation and hoping that woman will end her celibacy for them. It’s the free and fun raps that we’d love to hear more of from Kendrick and Baby Keem seems to be the perfect right-hand man to make that happen. – Wongo Okon
Bad Bunny – “Monaco”
Bad Bunny came in swinging with his fifth studio album, Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana. Though he only announced the album days before its official release, a song called “Monaco” proved to be an instant hit. Driven by triumphant, cinematic strings, Bunny reflects on his career as a global superstar, looking back on winning Grammys, popping champagne overseas, and evolving into a fashion icon. All things considered, Bad Bunny has earned the right to celebrate. – Alex Gonzalez
Becky G, Peso Pluma – “Chanel”
In her decade-plus long career, Becky G has experimented with pop, hip-hop, and reggaeton. But with her Peso Pluma collab “Chanel,” — and her third album, Esquinas — Becky took a turn at regional Mexican music, inspired by the sounds she grew up on through her grandparents. On “Chanel,” Becky remains principled, as she refuses the efforts of an ex trying to win her back. The song offered a reintroduction to Becky, who has proven versatile in a multitude of sounds, as well as an introduction to Pluma to a new landscape. – A.G.
Big Thief – “Vampire Empire”
Big Thief only released two tracks this year, which is pretty unusual for a band who is no stranger to doubling up LPs in the span of a few months. In fact, the group may have gone without releasing any new songs this year if not for TikTok. A live recording of “Vampire Empire” found its way onto the app, and users quickly made it go viral. But thankfully, the song finally hit streaming services in July. With sprawling instrumentals and chilling lyricism about the emotional whirlwind of a relationship, the song is overall an example of why Big Thief is one of the best contemporary bands. Plus, it also includes a Prince reference — what more could you need in a song? – Carolyn Droke
Boygenius – “Not Strong Enough”
“Always an angel, never a God” became the breakout line from Boygenius’ “Not Strong Enough” this year. However, the song is so much more than that repeatable sentiment. The lead single serves as an admission of the band’s own faults, recognizing that they both cannot be there for everyone’s burdens and realizing that they’re not bad people for that fact. While Phoebe Bridgers and Julien Baker carry the majority of the verses, their trio is not complete without Lucy Dacus, who ties the song together in the end with that closing mantra hits, taking the song through the stratosphere. – Lexi Lane
Burna Boy – “City Boys”
On his sixth album, I Told Them…, Burna Boy pushed the afro-fusion genre to a different corner than his past weeks by supplying a blend that leaned more on hip-hop- and R&B-inspired sounds than ever before. A perfect example of that on I Told Them… lives in “City Boys.” The album standout takes production from Jeremih’s bedroom record “Birthday Sex” to create a bass-thumper whose sole purpose is to portray the life of a superstar who captures the eye of ladies near and far. It’s one of the many records on I Told Them…, and in Burna Boy’s discography overall, that embodies his towering status that exists far from his home continent. – W.O.
Coi Leray – “Players”
Today’s rap fans are experiencing sample fatigue, and rightfully so. There aren’t many commercial hits that present no creative concepts. But when it comes to Uproxx cover star Coi Leray’s standout track “Players” you can’t help but to rock your hips. Although the track isn’t a hearty helping, the crossover appeal makes up for its short runtime. Producer Johnny Goldstein’s hyperfocus on paying homage to the track’s sample of Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five’s 1982 classic “The Message” is so meticulously executed that it reshaped what Coi’s career could look like moving forward. – Flisadam Pointer
Dave, Central Cee – “Sprinter”
“Sprinter” is exactly the type of song hip-hop fans have long clamored for, a combination of exciting voices that magnetize and a push against each other in equal measure, generating skin-tingling surges of energy. Dave and Cee’s yin-yang chemistry, combined with a pulsating, Spanish guitar-laden beat and their scintillating wordplay, makes this a pairing like peanut butter and jelly — or maybe like fish and chips. – Aaron Williams
Davido – “Unavailable” Feat. Musa Keys
Davido’s fingerprints are all over the modern-day rise of the afrobeats and you won’t have to look too far back in history to see why that’s the case. Still, it had been a while since Davido made his presence felt in the genre. All of that changed with the first quarter release of “Unavailable” through his Timeless. The track quickly positioned itself as an entry in summer playlists near and far thanks to lively production born from the rising amapiano world. Furthermore, it preaches individualism and living for oneself rather than others, something that’s relatable to both entertainment stars and everyday people. – W.O.
Doja Cat – “Paint The Town Red”
Doja Cat cannot beat allegations being hurled at her of being “demonic” and a “Satan worshipper,” so she instead leaned into them on her Scarlet lead single “Paint The Town Red.” The widly catchy song features a remixed sample of Dionne Warwick’s 1964 track “Walk On By,” infused with Doja’s unmatched swagger. The song suavely responds to the number of controversies the rapper has had since her rise to fame, putting them all to rest with the assertion, “B*tch I said what I said, I’d rather be famous instead.” People clearly resonated with the song, as it quickly became Doja’s first-ever No. 1 solo single. – C.D.
Drake – “Evil Ways” Feat. J. Cole
Drake’s best material in 2023 came from his collaborations. While his guest turn on Travis Scott’s “Meltdown” brought out the rapper’s rapper within him that he usually goes out of his way to suppress, “First Person Shooter” with J. Cole restored long-dormant chemistry between the two rappers that put a battery in Drake’s back and gave J. Cole his first-ever Billboard No. 1. However, fans could generously be described as disappointed that only one of the two rappers viewed the collab as anything more than a scrimmage (less generously, Drake phoned it in). Fortunately, it seems Drake got the memo; he linked up with J. Cole again on “Evil Ways,” a much more focused outing that found the two rap titans going toe-to-toe and bringing out each others’ best. – A.W.
Dua Lipa – “Dance The Night”
Although there are many wonderful songs to choose from on the Barbie soundtrack, Dua Lipa’s disco-inspired “Dance The Night” is among the catchiest, feeling like a perfect bridge between the end of her Future Nostalgia era into her next album cycle. The track is a bubbly pop hit that is all about radiating positivity, especially on the dancefloor — making it the ideal choice to play during the film’s party scene. It even resulted in some hilarious choreography from Ryan Gosling. – L.L.
Earthgang – “Die Today”
As Earthgang’s album concepts somehow get even more heady (from Mirrorland to Earthgang Vs. The Algorithm, these guys aren’t afraid to swing for the metaphorical fences), they also get even more clever and polished. This song could make it onto the Best of 2023 list from its cheeky video alone, but the sentiment of their new single speaks to relatable anxiety — how will we be remembered when we’re gone? And just what does “’til death do us part” really entail? They don’t have the answer, but it sure is fun listening to them try to hash it out. – A.W.
Flyana Boss – “You Wish”
Social media’s appetite for fresh content makes achieving virality easier than ever. However, when it comes to rap newbies Flyana Boss and their online smash single “You Wish,” which was quickly co-signed by Missy Elliott, the duo simultaneously feeds the system while pushing the culture towards the future. From the track’s quick one-liners to the cardio-heavy promotional videos, these new kids prove to have the capability to run into the future with rap’s torch. “You Wish,” breaking big on the heels of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, is a reassuring look at what the second half of the century has to offer. – F.P.
Fred Again.., Skrillex, and Four Tet — “Baby Again..”
Who would have thought that a trio of electronic artists, two of whom most casual music consumers have probably never heard of, would be the surprise hit of Coachella 2023? (Well, those who saw them own Madison Square Garden together not long before might have entertained the idea). They pulled it off, and it’s because these three kick absolute ass together. While they all work under the so-broad-it’s-kind-of-useless “electronic” genre umbrella, their styles are relatively different from each other. They brought it all together, though, on “Baby Again..,” which flips a Lil Baby sample into a thumping party-starter that is the sound of three greats getting the best out of each other. – Derrick Rossignol
Gunna – “Fukumean”
So in the wake of Gunna’s release from a long and tortuous stint in Fulton County Jail at the whim of an ambitious District Attorney looking to make a name behind a creative interpretation of Georgia’s RICO law, you’d have thought Gunna would be wearing cement shoes at the bottom of the Gulf Coast by now. But good music apparently trumps accusations of snitching, no matter what the other “studio gangsters” in Gunna’s mentor Young Thug’s circle would have you believe. “Fukumean” is everything a good party rap song should be: upbeat, catchy as all hell, and a little bit defiant. Consider that last bit Gunna’s only needed response to those threats being typed with thumbs. – A.W.
Hovvdy – “Jean”
Austin duo Hovvdy had a quiet 2023, but their standalone single “Jean” arrived as a reminder of just how special these guys can be when everything clicks. The song picks up where their best True Love offerings left off, hitting on dudes-rock vibes for a ’90s-tinged, airy bit of indie-rock bliss. If they can sustain this majesty for the length of their next album, they might be ready for the level-up that True Love hinted at. – Philip Cosores
Jordan Ward – “White Crocs” with Ryan Trey
Who knew that a record about white Crocs would be the breakout hit that Jordan Ward has been seeking for over a half-decade? Ward’s collaboration with fellow St. Louis artist Ryan Trey has a bit more meaning to it as it uses white Crocs to address materialism, relationships, and personal success, but even with the deeper meaning, the carefree and comfortable fun that exists in a pair of Crocs (especially if you style them with jibits). For Ward, this record is proof that success will reach the due recipient in due time as long as they stay true to themselves and let the process go at its own pace. Ward found comfort in those white Crocs and it helped him deliver an irresistible jam to the world and an equally enjoyable album with Forward. – W.O.
Jung Kook – “Seven” Feat. Latto
BTS member Jung Kook is a simple man. This past summer, the K-Pop superstar kicked off his solo era with “Seven,” a punchy, pop anthem celebrating the simple joys in life — nights stacked with affections and good sex. Joined by Latto, who contributed a fiery verse on the song’s bridge, Jung Kook demonstrates his versatility, channeling the JTs and the Ushers who came before him, while flawlessly riding fresh new beats. Jung Kook and the other BTS members are serving in the Korean military through 2025, but “Seven” will certainly hold up while the boys are away. – A.G.
Kali Uchis – I Wish You Roses”
There’s a lot of breakup songs out there. Some are deeply sad and mournful (think: Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License”). Others are angry and at times violent (think: Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”). But Kali Uchis’ “I Wish You Roses” is neither. Instead, it’s actually very amicable. Arriving on this year’s LP Red Moon In Venus, “I Wish You Roses” is Uchis at her best. The song, which she described as about “being able to release people with love,” has her dreamy vocals melting over an equally lulling beat as she wishes well to a past lover, sending them off with closure and no ill will. – C.D.
Kaliii – “Area Codes”
Whether or not you believe Kaliii’s insistence that she never heard her song’s namesake from fellow Atlantan Ludacris, you can’t deny that her spin on the iconic phrase is just as catchy as the original’s. The Uproxx cover star had an early candidate for the song of the summer on her hands, and capitalized in a big way, making sure there was a version for just about anyone, no matter where they came from. Remixing it with Luh Tyler, Mello Buckzz, and more, Kallii ensured that “Area Codes’ would be a banger no matter with three-digit identifier you claimed. – A.W.
Kaytraminé – “4Eva” Feat. Pharrell Williams
Through an unexpected collaboration, producer Kaytranada and rapper Aminé delivered one of the grooviest hip-hop tracks of the year. Driven by a bubbly, house-inspired instrumental, “4Eva” is pure fun, with Kaytranada infusing the beat with club-ready joy, and Aminé spitting clever and humorous bars. While “4Eva” wasn’t a big radio hit, the song and its home album, the collaborative Kaytraminé, gifted hip-hop fans with fresh, house-driven fusion sounds, which will stand the test of time for years to come. – A.G.
Kenya Grace – “Strangers”
After hanging with an annoyingly perfect couple, blast Kenya Grace’s synthy earworm “Strangers” in the car to feel understood. The South African-born, UK-raised artist’s voice is ethereal, but her lyricism is visceral as she captures the fickle nature of dating in 2023: “Then one random night / When everything changes / You won’t reply / And we’ll go back to strangers.” To whoever ghosted Grace: Loser behavior, but thanks for inspiring the first-ever No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart solely written, produced, and sung by a woman (per Billboard) — a rallying cry for well-intentioned, hopeless romantics. – Megan Armstrong
Killer Mike – “Scientists & Engineers” Feat. André 3000, Eryn Allen Kane, Future
Michael, Killer Mike’s first solo album since the first Obama administration, is arguably headlined by “Scientists & Engineers.” The methodical, melodic track doubles as a partial Dungeon Family reunion, which André 3000 would have skipped if not for Eryn Allen Kane. For this vintage André 3000 verse, we are forever indebted to Kane. Atop beautiful soundscapes from No ID and James Blake, 3 Stacks, Mike, and Future accept misguided societal pressures as a byproduct of eternal greatness. “I do not wish for no regular life,” Mike succinctly spits before Kane soulfully sings, “I’ma live forever / They don’t make ’em like this.” – M.A.
Lana Del Rey – “A&W”
Lana Del Rey’s “A&W” has become an instant standout across her career. At seven minutes long, the first half finds her softly musing about personal life moments, starting with her childhood. Del Rey then considers the impact a woman’s sexuality and image has on being believed, or whether they would just continue to be seen as an “American Whore” — which is what the title stands for, despite also taking after the chain restaurant. The second half then changes tone completely by interpolating 1959’s “Shimmy Shimmy KO KO Bop” to craft a catchy hook. Del Rey ends the track with a caption-ready warning, “Your mom called, I told her, you’re f*ckin’ up big time.” – L.L.
Latto – “Put In On Da Floor”
Since last year, rumors have swirled around whether Latto has beef with Coi Leray, Ice Spice, or Nicki Minaj. Who knows, and who cares? Latto doesn’t. She has an eternal retort readymade in the opening line of “Put It On Da Floor,” rapping, “Rip me out the plastic, I been actin’ brand-new / B*tches actin’ like they runnin’ sh*t, they really ran through.” And Latto’s 2023 run speaks for itself — going viral and establishing staying power. Related: Her “Put It On Da Floor Again” remix with Cardi B peaked at No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. – M.A.
Mannequin Pussy – “I Got Heaven”
Mannequin Pussy is a band who has made a name for themselves with their raucous energy and biting social commentaries. And that’s exactly what they gave with their upcoming album’s title track “I Got Heaven.” With lyrics about growling at strangers and getting eaten out by Jesus, the song moves fluidly between a soft, fluttering chorus and all-out raging. Of what’s to expect on their upcoming release, lead singer Marisa Dabice teased “the longing for something new and exciting.” And if it sounds anything like “I Got Heaven,” it’s sure to make our next year-end list. – C.D.
Megan Thee Stallion – “Cobra”
Having emerged from endless media fodder and issues with her record label, Megan Thee Stallion came back with a vengeance. Newly independent, Meg set the groundwork for a new era with “Cobra.” On her comeback single, Meg doesn’t tiptoe around how the past few years have affected her mental health. But she’s not taking anything sitting down. Over the past few weeks, Meg has been teasing on social media “Act One” of what seems to be a new project. She hasn’t teased much else, but if “Cobra” is an indication of what’s to come next, we’re definitely staying tuned in on Meg through 2024. – A.G.
Militarie Gun – “Do It Faster”
Some songs just have it. “Do It Faster” by Militarie Gun is one of them. It has the adrenaline, the post-hardcore invigoration, the catchy hook to scream wherever you are in the mosh pit: “I don’t care what you do / Just do it faster,” Ian Shelton shouts. It has their signature barks to be emitted in unison; it has a less-than-two-minute run time that leaves no room for messing around. It’s an all-in ripper for anarchy, a call to immediate fervor. – Danielle Chelosky
Mitski – “My Love Is Mine All Mine”
Mitski has never been one to shy away from raw emotion, and her buzzy single “My Love Mine All Mine” is no different. Taken from her seventh studio album, The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We, “My Love Mine All Mine” features Mitski looking back fondly on her time on earth, inviting in feelings of love, seeking to return them through the moon after she’s passed on. The minimalistic piano-and-pedal-steel-guitar-driven instrumental allow for Mitski’s poetic lyricism to shine through — and resonate with listeners by way of many a TikTok. – A.G.
Monaleo – “Crying On Your Birthday”
Coming out of Houston, Texas, Monaleo broke out in 2021 with the TikTok-trending “Beating Down Yo Block,” but she established herself as a hit-making force with her latest single. As she explained on Uproxx Bar Stories, the theme of the song is shaking off your cares and doing what you want to do. It’s a sentiment that appears to be resonating with her growing audience, giving her another potential hit. If there is any justice in the world, Monaleo’s latest will be a club staple — especially for those celebrating their birthdays. – A.W.
NewJeans – “Super Shy”
NewJeans continued to hook listeners this year with the bubbly energy that is present on “Super Shy.” While it is a bit calmer of an instrumental compared to their 2022 hit “OMG,” it also gives the girls a chance to show off their softer side. Shifting between Korean and English, it captures the concept of chasing a relationship, with the anxiety of actually telling the object of their affection always getting in the way. – L.L.
Offset, Don Toliver – “Worth It”
If all eight featured artists on Offset’s Set It Off album were competing for the Best Chemistry With Offset Award, Cardi B would win. Duh. But Don Toliver is a worthy challenger. “Worth It” is smooth as hell. Toliver’s one-of-one tone butters up Offset’s biting bars about a lover wasting time with someone lame. “You ain’t never gotta ask me, ‘What you plan for?’” Offset raps. “Private jet, we’re puttin’ stamps all on your passport / I got plans for it, leave your man for it.” Yup, sounds worth it! – M.A.
Olivia Rodrigo – “Get Him Back”
Drawing inspiration from the cadence of Beck’s “Loser,” Olivia Rodrigo’s “Get Him Back” slyly plays on the duality of a relationship mixed with youthful emotions — wanting to be in love and get revenge at the same time. Her lyricism never drops from brilliantly shifting between the two poles of feeling, especially on the bridge where she wants to “kiss his face with an uppercut” and “meet his mom just to tell her, her son sucks.” – L.L.
Omar Apollo – “3 Boys”
Even Omar Apollo gets jealous sometimes. Never one to play coy about his sexuality, Apollo’s “3 Boys” hammers home that while he loves to indulge in various pleasures, he is purely a monogamist at the end of the day. While the past few years have proven fruitful for queer artists, as the likes of Sam Smith and Lil Nas X have climbed charts with anthems celebrating their sexuality, “3 Boys” touches upon the messiness and confusion that often comes with queer love. Representing a more fluid generation, Apollo’s “3 Boys” is painfully relatable to queer adults navigating these dynamics. – A.G.
PinkPantheress & Ice Spice – “Boy’s A Liar, Pt. 2”
Breakout stars PinkPantheress and Ice Spice kicked off the year proving they were the ones to watch in 2023. With PinkPantheress’ painfully relatable account of a dishonest ex, and Ice’s punchy bars reminding us why she stays on his mind, the song has proven inescapable. Whether you’ve heard the song in the club or discovered it on one of many viral TikToks, you can’t help but shake your “duh-duh-duh” when “Boy’s A Liar, Pt. 2” comes on. – A.G.
Selena Gomez – “Single Soon”
In November 2022, Selena Gomez released My Mind & Me, her unflinching Apple TV+ documentary, and subsequently swore she was “ “ready to have some fun” with her next batch of music. She meant it, guys. Single Soon,” a shimmering pop banger, begs you to dance embarrassingly in front of the mirror. It’s a breakup anthem so liberating that the breakup itself becomes irrelevant. Gomez’s cadence when delivering, “I know I’m a little high / Maintenance, but I’m worth a try” had me in shambles — almost as much as Gomez and Miley Cyrus simultaneously announcing singles on August 17. – M.A.
Sexyy Red – “Pound Town”
From Lil Kim and Trina to Cardi and Megan Thee Stallion, women’s sexual expression in rap is nothing new. No matter what political pundits or men entertainers say, “pussy rap” is here to stay. Currently leading the libido movement is Sexyy Red, thanks to her breakout single “Pound Town.” The record is a screw you to the mounting pressures for women to return to respectability politics and outdated roles of demurity. With “Pound Town,” Sexyy Red argues that there’s no longer a need to toe the line. You can be a freak in the sheets and in the streets. – F.P.
Sexyy Red – “Skeeyee”
Sexyy Red’s massive 2023 year is chronicled by her bass-knocking records that erred on the side of being outright raunchy or wild and brazen fun with your friends, and in some cases, the two sides overlapped. Though “Pound Town” launched her into the national spotlight, “SkeeYee” became the rallying cry for her rapidly growing fan base. Released in the spring, Sexyy Red cruised into the summer with her fans hollering “skeeyee” just as she calls them to do on the Hood Hottest Princess track. If “Pound Town” marks the destination, “SkeeYee” marks the journey and it’s a fun one that prompts you to let your wild side run free. – W.O.
Sufjan Stevens – “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?”
It’s kind of hard to believe that there hasn’t been a Sufjan Stevens song called “Will Anybody Ever Love Me?” before now. In fact, if you were to ask me what Sufjan Stevens whole deal is, this might be the most succinct way of responding (without getting into an annoying discussion about American geographical mythology). The song somehow manages to exist as an emblem of more than just Stevens’ lyrical vibe, going from gentle and spare to soaring and cathartic in just a few minutes. It’s quintessential Sufjan that could win over a skeptic, and stands up to the best things he’s ever written. – P.C.
SZA – “Snooze”
For those critics who say SZA only writes breakup songs, I’d like to please direct your attention to her SOS track “Snooze.” The loved-up song shows SZA at her best: masterful vocal delivery and catchy hooks accompanied by a lush and dreamy beat. It’s a feel-good tune that’s a certified R&B hit that became somewhat of a sleeper hit (pun intended). The song peaked at No.2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart ten months after its release. On top of that, “Snooze” was nominated for a 2024 Grammy for Best R&B Song, and SZA herself earned 8 other nominations, making her the most-nominated artist at the award show. – C.D.
Tate McRae – “Greedy”
Tate McRae’s blastoff to pop stardom happened slowly, then all at once. Her steady coming-of-age is documented via introspective, self-deprecating Billboard Hot 100 entries like “You Broke Me First” or “She’s All I Wanna Be.” “Greedy,” her most prolific smash yet, reaps the rewards of hard-earned confidence. “Obvious that you want me, but I said / I would want myself,” McRae sings, bursting with apex sass atop delicious beat drops co-produced by Ryan Tedder and Jasper Harris. And who doesn’t want more Tate McRae right now? (PS: The video showcases McRae’s dance acumen in a hockey rink. Need I say more?) – M.A.
Travis Scott – “MELTDOWN” Feat. Drake
Easily the best song on Travis’ new album Utopia, “Meltdown” recaptures the chemistry of its principals from their prior collaboration on “Sicko Mode” — albeit with much more bite and one more beat switch. Drake especially sounds reenergized, if a little bitter, taking fresh potshots at his old foe Pusha T (according to social media, at least), while Scott allegedly takes a page from his mentor Kanye’s playbook, menacing his girlfriend’s new beau. Yes, it’s petty and more than a little corny. But paired with the hypnotic beat(s), it’s curiously compelling. – A.W.
Troye Sivan – “Rush”
Troye Sivan, the biggest Australian pop sensation since Kylie Minogue, made a return to music this summer with his catchy single, “Rush.” The sexy, unapologetically queer floor-filler was a hit among the LGBTQ+ community, channeling the feeling of bumping and grinding with a hot stranger on the dancefloor, and celebrating the joy of queer sex. Whether you heard the song at your favorite gay haunt, or through TikTok — on which, the song had gone viral a month before its proper release — “Rush” took over your neural pathways quicker than its namesake popp— err…video head cleaner. – A.G.
Tyla – “Water”
The increasing popularity of African music over the past 15 years has pushed genres like afrobeats and afro-fusion to the mainstream spotlight. This popularity has also unearthed sub-genres, like amapiano, that are now a favorite from the Afro-music world. Tenured acts like Wizkid and Davido have showcased their own offerings of the genre, but in 2023, amapiano birthed a new star in the making with South Africa’s own Tyla. With her breakout hit “Water,” Tyla skyrocketed into the conversation as music’s next pop star thanks to her sweet and soft vocals, undeniable dance skills, and readiness for the spotlight. With a TikTok challenge behind the song in full gear, Tyla has plenty of momentum to continue a run into and through 2024. We’ll just have to wait and see what her next steps are. – W.O.
Victoria Monét – “On My Mama”
When Victoria Monét released her album Jaguar II earlier this year, one track stood out in particular. “On My Mama” arrived as a confident and powerful anthem for women everywhere to hype themselves up when they’re feeling down. In fact, Monét wrote the song as her own confidence-booster. “I wrote it postpartum when I wasn’t feeling my best, but spoke to how I wanted to feel,” she said in a statement. With classic lines like “I’m so deep in my bag like a grandma with a peppermint,” Monét proves her clever lyricism. Plus, the song racked up two Grammy nominations, including one for Record Of The Year. – C.D.
Wednesday – “Chosen To Deserve”
Part rock anthem and part teenaged dirtbag confessional, this is Karly Hartzman looking back on every bad decision she made in adolescence and concluding that she still deserves the world. But the words aren’t pushed to the forefront — it’s the crunching power chords borrowed from Southern rock gods Drive-By Truckers and that lifesaving pedal steel lick wafting throughout like a breeze on a sticky summer afternoon that immediately commands your attention. And, then on the 20th listen, Hartzman’s memoir finally lands a devastating blow. – Steven Hyden
Young Thug — “Jonesboro”
While more attention was likely lavished on the incarcerated Young Thug’s Drake collaborations from Business Is Business, it was this song which set the tone for the Thugger album, which was understandably more forceful and moody than his most recent efforts. It was for this reason that I recommended the Metro Boomin-sequenced version of the project, which opens with the haunting “Jonesboro” establishing the defiant mindset of a Young Thug who was set to begin the biggest fight of his life so far. But hey, he grew up in Jonesboro South… he’s been fighting all his life. – A.W.
Zach Bryan – “Dawns” Feat. Maggie Rogers
The meteoric rise of Zach Bryan during the pandemic era has been impressive to witness, especially as he operates far outside the normal country playbook. He generally eschews interviews, has licensed about 7000 songs to Yellowstone, and has hit both the top 10 on the Hot 100 and the top line of multi-genre festival lineups. But while his sound veers closer to the outlaw lane, this one-off collaboration with Maggie Rogers isn’t really a country song at all, showing the range and possibility for a young artist that doesn’t have expectations yet to defy. But while the male-female vocal tradeoffs and driving string section underscore the song’s emotional pull, it’s in Bryan’s words that he demonstrates his power, evoking his mother’s death, his relationship’s disillusion, religion, and the passing of time. Bryan is turning out great songs by the dozen these days, but “Dawns” is one of his best yet. – P.C.
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.