About this Playlist
When Ben posted the idea about a musicto Best of 2023 playlist it was greeted enthusiastically by the community. While 70 of the 81 tracks come from 2023, curators are always discovering or falling back in love with older tracks, so you’ll see some gems from previous years in the list. Organized in reverse release date order we’re starting with Anna Calvi’s Black Tuesday, released on the 30th of November, 2023 and going all the way back to ABBA’s 1979 release of Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).
While the master list is a great listen we’ve added the individual playlists below, along with write ups to accompany the tracks and give some insight into why the curators selected those tracks for the year. Enjoy!
- Bernice’s Top 10
- Ben’s Top 10
- Jane’s Top 10
- Ivan’s Top 10
- Matt’s Top 10
- Jon’s Top 10
- Andrew’s Top 10
- Bonus 100 from The Hoof
Best of 2023
This playlist is literally all I had on repeat it was tricky to compile it in to a top 10 but I truly am obsessed with each song. I didn’t really do much digging for new music this year unlike previous years but all of these artists have definitely produced great bodies of work this year.
Jalen Ngonda – If You Don’t Want My Love
If you enjoy the sound of Thee Sacred Souls, this song will not disappoint.
Billie Eilish – What Was I Made For
This song blew me away from the first listen, Billie’s vocal range and versatility really makes this ballad a really emotional song. Her ability to connect with the audience and convey whatever you’re feeling in that moment is what makes her such a great songwriter.
Cleo Sol – Things Will Get Better :
Introducing one of my favourites from the UK- Cleo Sol, an RnB / neo- soul artist who released two albums this year which were both really solid projects. The song titled above is from her ‘Gold’ album which was a gospel album and was literally therapy for me, her soft and layered vocals on this track make this an easy standout from the album. This song reassures that even in difficult times, one should have faith and trust in God, as things will eventually get better.
Tems – Me & U
Tems rarely disappoints and this song is a testament to how good she is. This song literally exudes ease and I really resonate with the messaging of the song.
Sipho – Paranoia
Sipho is definitely one to watch, he just debuted his first album ‘Prayers and Paranoia’ including short films for each single. Paranoia for me is a stand out song and is full of sonic exploration, his raspy yet powerful vocals develop nicely over the duration of the song.
Victoria Monet – Stop
Initially I was going to put ‘On My Mama’ but I’ve enjoyed that song far too much this year (definitely check that song out) however, Victoria released a sequel to her previous album Jaguar. Overall, Victoria released one of the most refined and cohesive projects this year and ‘Stop’ has a refreshing RnB, soulful edge to it.
Jorja Smith – Backwards
Another UK act I listen to who released a great project with melodic sounds and some inspiration from garage and house music.
Ama Lou – Bad Weather
This is my absolute favourite track from Ama Lou’s debut album ‘I Came Home Late’, she’s released many EPs so this project definitely felt special.
Burna Boy – Sitting On Top the World
This song for me is party starter, I enjoyed it when it first came out, its a nice blend between Afrobeats and RnB. Burna nicely samples RnB singer Brandy’s ‘Top of the World’ which you hear in the reverberation of the chorus.
Mariah the Scientist – From a Woman
Ben’s Top 10 Hip Hop Songs of 2023
When December rolls around, and I start compiling my list of my favorite songs of the year, the open question is, “do I make it genre specific or nah?” Rock has been dead for a while, but there are always a handful of releases each year that get me excited. I let Billboard and Rolling Stone decide the top pop songs, and I still prefer my country music made in the 70’s with a side of outlaw. So that leaves hip-hop, which is appropriate, considering 2023 is the 50th anniversary of the genre. This year’s list is a combination of veterans, rookies, well known names and artists who are truly underground. Presented in order of increasing energy.n
1. Wish Me Well – Little Brother
One of the most respected groups from the Golden Age is still at it, no drop-off detected. Takes me back to when I fell in love with hip hop. Peep their documentary as well.
2. Sprinter – Central Cee ft. Dave
Dave has been a top tier lyricist for years. If that sentence is not an obvious statement to you, allow this banger to be the gateway drug that addicts you to his discography. The first of two UK tracks on the list; the UK rap scene is riding the still-high Afrobeats wave, with dope lyrics and that British accent to provide a strong pathway to help us escape the trap of…Trap.
3. Back In Office – Saba
When you see No I.D. as the producer, you know the beat will be high quality. When you see Saba as the rapper, you know the lyrics will be high quality. A + A = A+
4. Johnny Dang – That Mexican OT ft. Paul Wall & DRODi
I’ll be honest: the video hooked me and perhaps elevated the song above what it deserves. Not the official music video. This one. Anyone who can spit like this, trill those R’s, whilst holding a rooster is automatic top ten. I don’t make the rules.
5. MORE DOLLARS, MORE SENSE 2014 – JasonMartin ft. Childish Gambino
So a version of this was first released as a freestyle in 2014, from a flipped DJ Quik beat (the MC Eiht diss-track “Dollaz + Sense”). It was re-released on the soundtrack to JasonMartin’s Tubi flick, A Compton Story (it was actually pretty good) with new lyrics. In 2014, he was known as Problem. So technically this is a new song from a new artist. Featuring a Because The Internet-era Gambino that makes me pray he starts to listen to the Big Boi on his right shoulder and stop paying mind to the Andre 3000 on his left.
6. Grow Through It – Conway The Machine ft. Young Noble & K-Salaam
The thing I love about Griselda is they keep Boom Bap alive. Respect to the Golden Age. This track makes the list simply because of the scratching. Scratching on songs, a la DJ Premier and DJ Jazzy Jeff, has been largely absent in the current landscape. Call me old school, but these cuts are more impressive than most raps I’ve heard this year. Here’s a behind the scenes video of K-Salaam doing his thing on the 1’s and 2’s.
7. Doomsday – Cordae ft. Juice WRLD
Normally I don’t like when beats are copied and pasted from another rap song. Flip the sample in a creative way or at least take it from another genre. And normally I don’t like to put songs that were made years ago in my top ten. But this track isn’t normal. Cordae rides this Eminem/Dr. Dre beat so effortlessly, and I didn’t know Juice WRLD could spit like this (RIP). The video is fun too.
8. Massacre – J Hus
The 2nd UK track on the list. This is a solid album, and while I hooked onto this song from my first listen, it was when I saw him perform this on the Colors Show series that I decided this was a top 10 song. His inflections on the hook are perfect.
9. Too Fast (Pull Over) – Jay Rock ft. Anderson .Paak & Latto
2023 continued the trend of Pornocore, the hypersexualized rap from the female side of rap. As a DJ, it is the closest thing to “party rap” being produced. That’s why tracks like this deserve top ten status. Call it party music for hip-hop heads. DJ Mustard is in his bag on this one.
10. Burfict! – JPEGMAFIA & Danny Brown
This list is not ranked, but “Burfict!” may be the best song of the year. Made by representatives of “old school” and “new school” hip-hop, the theme of 2023. The instrumental befriends the celebratory horns style of “Too Fast” and gets it high. Danny Brown’s voice was made for beats like this, but as this live concert video shows, it’s Peggy’s verse that takes the song to GOAT status. May hip-hop continue to bounce thousands of concertgoers for the next 50 years.
Jane’s Asylum’s Best of 2023
I didn’t do as much music listening as usual this year — certainly not as much as I did during the Covid years — but that’s not to say I didn’t hear a hell of a lot of music, new and old. I’m concentrating on the new, here. After all, the musicto community challenge is to pick my top 10 songs of 2023.
Tall order. I can definitely list more than 10 best songs released in 2023, in which case honorable mentions should be dispersed. However, I’m the kind of person who wants to acknowledge everyone, which is an impossible task, so I’ll show some restraint and dispense with my usual long windedness and just get to it:
Ghost Rider – The Legendary Tigerman
The album Zeitgeist retains blues and rock elements I most often associate with Portuguese artist Paulo Furtado, better known as The Legendary Tigerman. This time around he adds an electronic touch to much of the album, which gives his sound a new flavor. “Ghost Rider” is my favorite song, and if I envision future rock as a track playing in sci-fi thriller night club drenched in smoggy blue and candy apple red neon — which of course I do — this is the song I hear.
Love and Tenderness – The Kills
It’s been a few years (several in fact) since Allison Mosshart and Jamie Hince of The Kills released an album, but I’m always happy to hear a new one. And this one? Well, it kills! “Love and Tenderness” is my top pick from the album. I love others too, but it doesn’t hurt that the track has a trip hop vibe reminiscent of the likes of Tricky and Portishead in the 90s, which I also happen to love.
Thrill Me. – Unloved
If I had to pick one TV series in which every song is an absolute perfect choice, then it’d be Killing Eve. As it happens, this is how I came to discover the LA trio Unloved (Jade Vincent, Keefus Ciancia and David Holmes). “Thrill Me.” is one of nine tracks of their 2023 LP Polychrome. It makes me feel primal — in a 60s noir-pop (is that a thing?) erotic-thriller kind of way.
I Inside the Old I Dying – PJ Harvey
Eerie. Fantastical. Intoxicating. Inspired. And based on Harvey’s epic poem “Orlam.” You probably want to hear the entire album to hear this track in context, possibly with Harvey’s book of verse on hand. However, “I Inside the Old Dying” was released as a single, and beyond the previously mentioned eerie, fantastical, intoxicating and inspired, all I can say is: it’s PJ Harvey, so I was bound to pick something from this album.
Prahok In My Suitcase – Dengue Fever
I don’t know what a Prahok is, but vocalist Chhom Nimol makes me want it in my suitcase — I think. Seriously though, I’d been hoping for and waiting to hear an album from this band for several years. It doesn’t disappoint, and neither does this track.
Time & Place – Queens of the Stone Age
Josh Homme has the sexiest vocals in rock — I’ve been convinced of this for a long time now — and the band Queens of the Stone Age isn’t bad either. I’ve had this track on repeat since their album In Times New Roman… was released.
Black Tuesday – Anna Calvi
I’m almost embarrassed to admit (but not so embarrassed that I’m not admitting it) that I didn’t discover Anna Calvi until 2023. On the topic of smoldering vocals, I’m convinced that she’s my female equivalent to Josh Homme, which is funny to say as I introduce a track without any lyrics at all to showcase this fact. Nevertheless, this breathy track from the “Peaky Blinders” series is the only song Calvi released in 2023, which definitely isn’t the only reason I’m adding it to my 10 best songs playlist, but it is certainly one of them.
Gorilla Guerilla – Mantra of the Cosmos
Every year there is at least one song that burrows into my ear and won’t let go. This is that song.
Hëłlœ Kįttÿ – Alice Longyu Gao
Alice Longyu Gao is best when whimsical and experimental. Gao isn’t always whimsical, but never ceases to be experimental and as a result produces music that’s infinitely exciting and adventurous to me. Pretty much anything and everything goes on the track Hëłlœ Kįttÿ (a little punk, a little polka, anyone?) and well, it’s just a lot of fun to listen to.
Fin du Monde – Pascale Comelade, The Limiñanas
Lionel and Maria Limiñana paired up with Pascale Comelade in 2015 and they’re back collaborating again, this time on the 2023 album, Boom Boom. It’s a fascinating album, in part inspired by expressionist and Dadaist poets of the early 20th century and it features appearances by a range of musicians like Lalo López and Mark Cunningham, as well as a range of instruments —tin cans, theremin — not used nearly enough (IMO) in music.
Although purely by luck, the title of this track is appropriate to end a playlist completing a top 10 songs of 2023. Fin du Monde means end of the world. But don’t worry, this isn’t a premonition. I’m positive there will be plenty more music to listen to in 2024 and beyond!
by Ivan Santin
My year in music…and in MusicTo! It was a really prolific listening year. On my side, it was particularly driven by community and collaborative listening, both with music passionate work colleagues and by joining this fantastic community back in August. It is not a surprise that many of my picks and artists are familiar to some of you I collaborated with throughout the year. I feel that they deserve to have a place in this “sort-of-top-10”.
The playlist is not sorted in order of preference, but on a more consequential musical level (no shuffle allowed). I acknowledge I am usually centred on international artists. To my surprise, this time there is a lot of Italy represented and even a prime spot for an emerging Sicilian artist.
Ninety Three ‘Til Infinity And Beyonce – Andre’ 3000
This was such a great release and came to my ear from an unexpected angle. I am not a great listener/follower of Outkast and I had limited knowledge of Andre’ solo’s path. But I do love ambient tracks. When I read an article about it, I wondered how the 2 could be put together in the same sentence. I selected the shortest track of the pack, fitting a radio sized choice for this playlist, but the whole album is a very well advised night trip I recommend.
Rust (feat. Tom Misch) – Yussef Dayes
I found out about Yussef Dayes reading my favourite Italian webzine. I like to read their posts and comments users leave. A really tasty and colourful world opened before me. I shared my exploration with some of you inside the community. “What Kinda Music”, the former album, became one of the albums I listened to the most this year.
Melody Experiment – Blonde Redhead
The 66,6% Italian rock trio came back this year with a new album. Although I didn’t listen to it very much and to them for a good while, Melody Experiment reminded me why I was so fond of them many years ago
La luce che sfiora di taglio la spiaggia mise tutti d’accordo – Colapesce, Dimartino
Well well… I cannot say it enough times: “what a beauty this song is!”. I came to listen to it from a diametrical opposite position: Italian Pop is by far what I listen to the least. I also admit it: I snob it systematically. When I read enthusiastic comments about this song and how far the famous Italian duo went with it, I got curious. Still with my posh approach I listened to “the track”. Every piece of musical arrogance fell one after the other. I was never thinking this could go in such Radiohead ways, but also bringing in the Italian take and melody with it. Bravi!
Det läcker – Dina Ögon
So much credit to Maria for making me discover this band. I still remember the excitement of the first collaborative PL with her: Dina Ögon was the first artist ever exchanged with me and within a MusicTo collaboration. I immediately thought: “Wow! If we start with such quality, how am I going to keep it up?” Months later, this new single is hitting my ears. Still the same high bar.
Beddu – Marco Castello
Amicu mia! I don’t know who you are, but thank you so much for producing music…in Sicilian dialect, in 2023, in my province’s dialect (yes, they are different in each part of Sicily, and in each city too)! And much better, coming from a young artist, new generation, which makes me hopeful we don’t lose our heritage. On top of all of that, I love everything you have been writing and composing: your irony in the lyrics, the images you show us, your musical choices. Really everything! So thanks again. Si troppu forti me frate Marco Castello! Ni sai n’fasciu!
New Gold – Gorillaz, Tame Impala, Bootie Brown
Very fresh out of the last days in 2023, I bought a new set of headphones. I went on the hunt for something with a huge production quality and I just remembered Gorillaz published a new album this year. What a great way to put my new set to the test.
No more lies – Thundercat, Tame Impala
I suspect this track might be present in more than one “Best of 2023” playlists. Everything these 2 touches seems to be transformed in gold, in every sense. Well, we can just sit back and enjoy… and hope for more!
The Botanist – C’mon Tigre, Seun Kuti
Another great discovery of the year. Don’t be fooled by the name and by the sound: C’mon Tigre is an Italo-French electro jazz ensemble, capable of transporting you into surreal worlds. So much to unpack at every listen, but they have everything I love to listen to nowadays. Curious to dig into their albums? I don’t think you would regret it.
Fantasma en la Maquina – Chillum Trio
So much bragging about this track and this artist. I even almost dedicated a full playlist to him earlier this year 😀. But yeah, with a more sober and post-excitement tone, for sure this new album was a highlight and a more than pleasant surprise to me. This track is also a neat way to close with this playlist and depart from 2023. I can totally imagine it being played at my new year’s eve party.
Top 10 Tracks of 2023
by Matt Jenko
2023 has been one beast of a year for me, both personally and professionally. Music has scored the entire journey and picking ten songs to sum it up was tough but if I shied away from things that were tough I wouldn’t be sat here writing this roundup! Here’s what tickled me pickle this year:
1) Breezer — Yotto
This has been my go-to starter track whenever I’ve needed music all year. Siri knows it as well – any time I ask for Yotto, Breezer’s first up. I can (and have) listen to it on repeat without getting bored. Lots of great memories of cooking in the kitchen to these breezy belter
2) Found — Matt Fax & Estiva
I found (ha) this on the very first playlist I made with Andie, and it’s been my top Matt Fax track ever since. It reminds me so much of playing Raft with my good buddy Henri – hopefully soon we’ll get the time to get back to the ocean!
3) Hex — Dance With the Dead
This one of the coolest songs ever written and will no doubt continue to make it onto my roundups for many years to come
4) New Gold — Gorillaz, Tame Impala & Bootie Brown
Anyone who’s collabed with me in 2023 inevitably saw this track make it’s way onto the list. The sound is so versatile that it fit pretty much any list I was making, and fit it I did! I fit it on Vitamin C, Cough Drops, Colourclash, Paradise, Atopos and Across The Border, plus a bunch of others on their way
5) Gimme Gimme Gimme — ABBA
We have been having an absolute blast covering this our live sets, and the crowd always and without fail loses their collective shit the minute Luke starts playing that riff. It’s the one we all look forward to the most in the set and is so much fun to play – not least because Suze throws the Fresh Prince rap in over the bass solo
6) Inferno Galore — Carpenter Brut
This has to be one of the coolest Carpenter tracks, and that’s saying something. I love this track so much I made an entire playlist with Lena dedicated to it – as of writing, we’re one track away from finishing so expect to see our celebration of all that burns up in the new year!
7) Merlion — Emancipator
A couple of years I wrote a post about what I wanted from life, and chose Merlion by Emancipator as the accompanying track. Now as I sit here closing out 2023, cosy on my couch with my dog doin a dreamin about dog things and my girlfriend (who will one day be my wife) upstairs and our new carpet and the rain on the window, it only feels right to include Merlion once again. It’s symbolic, and continues to point me in the right direction
8) Attack — Rafael Cerato & Kinky Sound
I scored this from a Yotto live set that I put on whilst we were driving to the spa that Suze took me to for my birthday (decadent yes), and I’ve been hooked on it ever since
9) Angst — Rammstein
I love it when a band that’s almost as old as I am is able to not only continue to push their sound but also stay true to their core. This is peak Rammstein and the video is cool as all fuck
10) Amen — BMTH, Lil Uzi Vert & Daryl Palumbo
When this first came out I listened to it on repeat for about 3 hours. It was exactly the BMTH song we all wanted and continues to be one of the best songs I think they’ve ever written
2023 was a great year for music and 2024 will no doubt be even better – it’s going to be HUGE
! (If you know you know)
2023: Gee, That Was Fun
by Jon Ewing
Legends, newcomers, geniuses, pretenders, poseurs, perfectionists and party animals of 2023. Featuring artists like: • Iggy Pop • The Lottery Winners • Nadine Shah • Corinne Bailey-Rae • Ben Folds • Foo Fighters • Sprints • The Libertines
It is, of course, futile to try and pick out the best songs by musicians, making records of all different styles. released during a completely arbitrary range of dates that just happens to have the number 2023 in common. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been fun trying.
In the end, I mostly settled on trying to pick out tracks by artists I’ve seen playing live this year and one of my favourite gigs of 2023 was without doubt Manchester’s The Lottery Winners at The Bullingdon in Oxford. Their songs occupied all of the top five places on my Spotify Wrapped list and I just couldn’t stop playing ‘Burning House’.
The rest of the list includes returning rock legends, like Iggy Pop and The Hives with long-awaited new albums which did not disappoint, alongside very promising new voices like Heartworms, Sprints and The Last Dinner Party, whose first albums are much anticipated…
Andrew’s Top 10 of 2023
Once again I’m listening to the best music of my life.
People – The 1975
This was the year that Jenna introduced me to The 1975 – we did 1, 2, 3 playlists where we swapped tracks – Jenna adding a ’75 track and me responding with whatever came to mind. Over the months I fell head over heels with the band – the music – Matty’s shenanigans and just – yeah. I could have chosen any number of tracks – the traditionalist in me initially opted for Chocolate but – the one that stuck in my head was People – great video too!
A Big Brown Dog Named bagel – Nep
Hipped to this by Rob – which I think he found through Instagram. there’s something just “cute” about Nep – and I know – that’s probably not the right word to use but fuck it – this is my list and I can say what I want. There’s just a vibe to this song – the hook – the whole idea of the 7th floor of the library and the easy sexuality. It spent a lot of time in my head this year.
Sapphire Lake – Pollyanna Blue
A track that came in from Jade Perry at Memphia Music – Trials & Tribulations was their 4 track EP and while I think I was initially listening to Haunted, it’s Sapphire Lake that has stayed with me: big chords – big harmonies – great vocal – what’s not to love.
Dragging My Life Into a Dream – Girlpool
I try to get Girlpool on as many lists as I can. I just think they’re cool and their story is so zeitgeisty. I don’t understand people who get threatened by change – change in others – how can something that creates music like this be bad? I adore the harmonies and the underlying structure on the track – the lyrical wistfulness and honesty. Hell yes. Hopefully I’ll get to see them live one day.
Another Celebration at the End of the World – Mammoth WVH
He just makes me smile. How “interesting” it must be to bear that name – and to step into the same world – the expectations must be fucking nuts! And yet – the virtuosity – the charisma – the joie de vivre that just oozes from him. You can see Dave Grohl listening to this and grinning his head off – just like me!
Scott Street – Phoebe Bridgers
Ok sure – a little late to the party but man did I fall hard for this track this year. There’s something about how the track builds – the sweet simplicity of the opening – the genius positioning of the snare and the lyrical pun straight after. It grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. It made my Spotify top 10 tracks of 2023 and I probably listened to it 50 times!
Salt – Teen Jesus and the Jean Teasers
For sure – the band name made me crack up but the music made me stay – from the initial punch in the face of AHHHH! I got into the Salt EP and Salt was the stand out – all the angst – all the competing vocals – the overall message – just great!
Boss-A – Big Share
I have their vinyl sitting behind me – Maria and I are deep in a Big Share “sounds like” list – might have that up soon – but I fell hard for the chilled out groove. Love how the vocals compliment themselves and – hello horn section – perfect Sunday music – or Monday or – just perfect music.
All Now – The Staves
One of the few bands that I actively follow – temporarily (we hope) down to two of the three Staveley-Taylor sisters – this track just leapt into my ears and took up residence for the end of the year. Opening up the community’s “Songs for Solstice” playlist – the build is just fabulous. It’s one of those tracks where I’m just grinning along as I know it gets better and better the further you get into it – by the end I’m singing along – belting out the hook. I’m looking forward to playing it on the 31st!
Hot (Don’t Date A Musician) – Dream Wife
If you’re going to use a song to make a statement you’d better make the song great. Dream Wife tackle the underlying sexism of the music industry with raw ballbusting energy and smart lyrics. If you watched Daisy Jones and the 6 this year – this is a good accompaniment – although this makes the case a little more directly and with much more power!
Bonus!! Dynamic Playlist V Top 10 – Human Rhythms Not Algorithms
by The Hoof
The Hoof offers a counterpoint to Top 10 Lists with his an unceasing quest for sonic exploration. Featuring artists like: • Cleo Sol • The Rolling Stones • Kiko Bun • Skeewiff • Ghost Woman • Nadine Shah • GOAT • Sleaford Mods • and many more
In the realm of musical curation, the allure of the “Top 10 of the Year” playlist holds undeniable charm. It’s a capsule of the year’s finest tunes, a doorway to new discoveries. Yet, there’s an alluring dynamism to the ever-evolving playlist, an unceasing quest for sonic exploration.
The static nature of a “Top 10” limits scope; the year-long playlist thrives on perpetual discovery. With a staggering influx of quality releases monthly and Spotify’s relentless stream of new tracks, embracing a constantly changing playlist offers a panoramic view of musical landscapes.
While both have merits, the dynamic ever-shifting playlist goes beyond mere snapshots and stands as a vibrant odyssey, enabling a year-long exploration and discovery process, offering a more comprehensive, ongoing exploration of the year’s sonic landscape, encouraging a deeper dive into an array of genres and emerging talents throughout the year…
We hope you have as much fun with these lists as we did making them. If you love music, love meeting people around the world and are curious about how these lists are created – come and learn more about the musicto community – we’d love to make a list with you.