We recommend: The best global music of 2023
Editor’s note: Here’s the ultimate 2023 playlist—the big blockbusters and the down low hits you may have missed—pulled together by the splainer team. You find our 2023 playlist on our Spotify page, as well.
Here are the best tracks that released this year:
‘So Much (For) Stardust’ by Fall Out Boy: This is the title track from the punk rock band’s newest album—released after a gap of five years. It sure is a banger with its signature riffs and drums coupled with orchestral arrangement—that gives a larger than life feel and shows off the members’ more mature descent into songwriting and music.
‘On My Mama’ by Victoria Monét: This groovy number brings a sense of new-age self-love to classic RnB. Sweet harmonies, flamboyant horns and a tight bassline—the prolific songwriter delivers a lesson in self confidence.
‘(It Goes Like) Nanana’ by Peggy Gou: if you love bouncy 90’s house music, you’ll vibe with this electronic track by the Korean-origin Berlin-based DJ. It is simply impossible to stay put and not sing along to this hypnotic rhythm.
‘Rush’ by Troye Sivan: Be it a club favourite or a workout go to—this song is a fantastic mix between pop and disco that has kept us on our toes these past two months. We definitely “feel the rush” with this one:)
‘Boy's a Liar Pt. 2’ by PinkPantheress feat. Ice Spice: If you spent any time on the internet this year it was hard to escape Y2K revivalist PinkPantheress’ viral hit. The remix (Pt. 2) features rapper Ice Spice in feminine bonding over the ‘men are trash’ rhetoric. It’s a sneaky earworm and quite frankly, slaps.
‘Not Strong Enough’ by boygenius: Indie, folk and rock songstresses Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker’s supergroup was much talked about with the release of their record this year called… ‘the record’. This pining, angsty track from the album is a stomp-worthy listen that’ll make you want to learn the lyrics by heart.
‘Sprinter’ by Dave and Central Cee: The UK duo created an earworm of a track that was considered this year’s hot girl summer song. The rap is embedded on suave latino bass which makes us want to listen to the song on repeat.
‘A & W’ by Lana Del Rey: Fans of Lana would count this as a masterpiece and we can see why. The seven-minute song starts off as a half-folk half-rap accompanied by a melodic piano but at the four minute mark it switches up to dark synth-pop. Absolutely irresistible!
‘My House’ by Beyonce: As if dominating pop culture in 2023 with the ‘Renaissance’ album, tour and concert film wasn’t enough, Queen Bey blessed us with an additional single before the year ended. The electrifying track is a fast-talk rap number that was used in the closing credits for the ‘Renaissance’ movie.
‘Namesake’ by ‘NoName’: A true treat to the ear is this jazzy rap song—it is crisp, it is fresh and it makes us feel like we are on an important spy mission.
‘Flowers’ by Miley Cyrus: Not mentioning this track is just not possible. It reigned everywhere from Billboard #1 in January to TikTok and insta reels. The message of the song is strong, yes, but we are the most excited for the return of our pop diva Miley Cyrus!
‘Standing Next To You’ by Jungkook: This is a definite standout from the golden maknae’s (youngest member of Korean boy group BTS) debut album ‘Golden’. This song shows off his vocal talent and his popstar potential that the West better watch out for!
‘Angels in Tibet’ by Amaarae: We are ending this list with the song that brings out the party animals in us—it is sexy, sensual and funky in the best way possible! Very apt to set the tone for the New Year's, if you’d ask us!
2023’s best albums
It isn’t always about a single. Below are the album releases from this year that are worthy of your extended time and attention:
PS: Standout tracks from each album have been added to splainer’s 2023 playlist on Spotify!
‘10,000 gecs’ by 100 gecs: Discordant duo 100 Gecs doesn’t seem to give a damn about mellifluous melodies. The duo’s second album is a raucous riot of observations on Doritos, stalkers, Hollywood, dentist visits and plastic surgery. Expect pop punk, thrash metal riffs, hyperpop and talk-rap in the daftest dichotomy of clever production and absurd lyricism. The record was named one of the best albums of the year by the New York Times and Pitchfork.
‘My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross’ by ANOHNI and the Johnsons: Anohni Hegarty croons with soul and surrender on her sixth album—a righteous body of work on addiction, political change, the environment and activism. The album art is a photo of drag queen and activist Marsha P Johnson as the record pays tribute to past queer icons. The ten track album will steer you through uncertain times and despair with unwavering hope—and so much soul. The record was named one of the best albums of the year by the New Yorker and The Guardian.
‘Love in Exile’ by Arooj Aftab / Vijay Iyer / Shahzad Ismaily: This album comes from 2021 Grammy-winner—Pakistani artist Arooj Aftab, Indian-origin jazz pianist Vijay Iyer and Pakistani-origin synth player Shahzad Ismaily—a South Asian medley of musical genius. The trio formed in 2018 and made a distinct sound for themselves. The album has six tracks, in which Aftab fills the percussion-less soundscape with romantic Urdu verses in her raspy voice. The entire album feels like an improv between the three distinct voices that deliver the perfect harmony. It was named as one of the best new albums of the year by the New York Times and Pitchfork.
‘Tu Hai’ by Indian Ocean: This one is a precious, divine and spiritual album by one of the pioneers of fusion music in India. Their new album comes after nearly a decade of their absence—shiny with six new tracks that prove why they still dominate the folk-rock genre in the country. The album starts off with a powerful and heart-rending penning down of today’s state of affairs in ‘Jaadu Maya’, followed by jazz and jugalbandi on ‘Jungle’ in collaboration with American saxophonist George Brooks. The rest flows from a groovy banjara vibe to contemplative carnatic music on ‘Rebirth’.
‘The Propaganda Machine’ by Demonstealer: This one is strictly for the death metal heads. This is the fourth album by the Indian artist Sahil Makhija who delivers fast-paced melodeath scores by recruiting some of the best in the game. While his previous albums looked at failings of humanity, this one locks gaze at nationalist rhetoric—angry at politics and shady dealings. The eight-tracked album screams angst and cynicism but is catchy if you give it a chance.
‘Raat Rani’ by Kiss Nuka: Musician and actor Anushka Manchanda composes and performs electronic music under the moniker ‘Kiss Nuka’. A thumping 24 minutes of bass, tribal beats and distortion—it additionally features samples of incendiary speeches and Assamese vocals from singer Zublee Baruah. This one’s sure to tear up a dancefloor.