WXTJ Writes! By Wyatt Carter: The Top 30 Songs of 2023

Please enjoy reading my one-hundred percent objective and scientific (kidding) Top 30 Songs of 2023! The only requirements for a song to make this list are 1.) every song had to have been released within the 2023 calendar year (that means no SZA, sorry) and 2.) each artist is limited to one spot on the list, including features. I tried to showcase some of the best songs that came out this year, while also being real about which tracks I appreciated the most. Unfortunately and inevitably, there was only so much music I could place on this list, so I’d like to apologize in advance if I didn’t put your favorite song/artist on here. (Please don’t leave me death threats.) Thanks!   

Below are playlists on both Spotify and Apple Music with my Top 30 lists, so you can listen along while you read:  

The Top 30 Songs of 2023 Spotify Playlist

Top 30 Songs of the Year Apple Music Playlist  

30. Dua Lipa – Houdini

Superstar co-producers Kevin Parker (of Tame Impala) and Danny L Harle (of PC Music) have crafted a thumping, sinister soundscape for Dua Lipa’s vocals to glisten. For the first two-thirds of its runtime, Houdini is an infectious partystarter, but that last third sprawls into something kaleidoscopic.   

Listen Here!

29. Hit-Boy & The Alchemist – Slipping into Darkness

Hit-Boy produces the first half of this cut while The Alchemist spits a chill verse, but when they switch hats, Hit-Boy raps like the rent is due. I’ve known Uncle Al could rap for a while now, but I had no idea Hit-Boy could spit like this. He goes off, speaking on his come-up in the Hip-Hop game, fake friends double-crossing him, and he even namechecks his super-producer counterparts. The way he’s rapping on this track, you believe everything he says.  

Listen Here!

28. Paramore – Figure 8 

Paramore’s comeback has resulted in some stellar music being released this year and Figure 8 is the perfect mix of This is Why’s more mature sound and the band’s pop-punk roots. This one also wins this year’s Most Screamable Chorus award. 

Listen Here!

27. Jazmine Bean – Terrified

I don’t know anything about Jazmine Bean, but I do know I’ve listened to this Brit-Pop influenced cut dozens of times this year. Terrified is a beguiling dedication to the security we find in new love, and the frightening prospect that we could one day lose it.   
Listen Here!

26. Kim Petras – brrr

Brr is not Petras’ first foray into the Hyperpop sound, but it is, in my opinion, their best yet. Brr’s chilling, industrial beat (clearly influenced by the late, great SOPHIE,) gives this track this pulsating momentum, making it perfect for late-night listening.  

Listen Here!

25. Hemlocke Springs – heavun

Hemlocke Springs is currently having a bonafide breakout year, and she’s quickly become one of my favorite up-and-coming artists. Heavun is my favorite song she’s created so far; The pre-chorus on this track alone is easily one of the best music moments of the year and deserves so much more attention. 

Listen Here!

24. Lil Yachty – Strike (Holster)

Strike doesn’t try to reinvent Lil Yachty’s musical persona in the way his last EP Let’s Start Here does, but it keeps up the quality of that album. Strike is a laid-back cloud-rap cut, whose melodies and chorus I sang over and over to myself all year.   

Listen Here!

23. Lana Del Rey – Say Yes to Heaven

After having gained prominence as an Ultraviolence-era leak for years, Say Yes to Heaven finally saw an official release in May. Lana’s voice sounds enchanting as ever, and her pen-game takes on this siren-esque tone. 

Listen Here!  

22. Jorja Smith – Little Things

From its onset, Little Things puts the listener right in the center of the discotheque dance floor. After so many prominent Dance-influenced songs, I need Jorja to get in the booth and give us a full EP of club anthems.     

Listen Here! 

21. Slayyyter – Miss Belladonna 

Miss Belladonna, unlike other synth-pop Maneater tunes in a similar vein, is dripping with Slayyyter’s unique personality. In her authoritative vocal performance, she belts, “He lives for love, and I live for drama,” To borrow a phrase from the YouTube comment section for this song: I can’t believe she graduated from The University of Servington with a PHD in C*ntology.   

Listen Here!  

20. Flo Milli – Chocolate Rain 

Flo Milli absolutely bodies this flip of Kelis’ Milkshake, and her irresistible flow combined with her irreverent attitude, remind me of a younger Missy Elliot. Chocolate Rain is a cocky reminder that no one in 2023 should be questioning why this Ho is still here.    

Listen Here! 

19. Caroline Polachek – Pretty in Possible 

Pretty in Possible feels like a blend of the more atmospheric elements of a Cocteau Twins cut, and the vocal stylings of Susanna Vega. The resulting soundscape leaves the listener absolutely entranced. As a vocalist, Caroline Polachek is consistently in a league of her own and that’s no different here. 

Listen Here!

18. Chris Stapleton – White Horse

To do a ballad like White Horse right, one where Stapleton pleads with his lover to understand his not being ready to settle down, the listener needs to feel that push and pull between Stapleton’s love for his partner and his overwhelming urge to run. Chris Stapleton, being one of the most talented voices in Country music today, makes this sound all too easy. 

Listen Here!  

17. Doja Cat – Agora Hills 

In May of this year, Doja Cat tweeted that her two previous albums were “mediocre cash grabs.” The reaction from her fans was partially one of hurt, but also excitement for whatever new music was coming their way. One of these tracks was Agora Hills, and this one feels as though Doja is having fun making music again. She saunters through this down-to-earth love song, while delivering some of her most amusing bars yet, for example: “Like Fortnite, I’ma need your skin, don’t give a f*ck where the penis been.” If that doesn’t sell you on Agora Hills, I don’t know what will.

Listen Here! 

16. Yeat – Bëttr 0ff

On Bëttr 0ff, Yeat contorts his unique flow masterfully around the ins and outs of this truly hypnotic banger. Yeat’s bars here are about Tonka Trucks, Range Rovers, Honey Buns, (idk) and money. The adlibs on here sound like the work of 4 different rappers, always oscillating somewhere between screaming and gurgling. Did I mention that this track’s instrumental heavily features bells fit for the end of a Taco Bell commercial? But somehow, despite sounding absolutely ridiculous on paper, Bëttr 0ff goes so f*cking hard. Yeat makes me feel like I can run through concrete.  

Listen Here! 

15. JPEG Mafia & Danny Brown – Lean Beef Patty 

“First off, fuck Elon Musk,” opens the first collaboration between two of Hip Hop’s most experimental entertainers. In one-minute and 48 seconds, the song goes full-throttle, touching on Musk’s Twitter takeover, free speech online, Kanye’s antisemitic ranting, and Papa John’s racism allegations. My only gripe is that this one isn’t longer. 

Listen Here! 

14. 070 Shake & Ken Carson – Natural Habitat

Although Natural Habitat starts out fairly tame, the rest of the track is constantly evolving. Both Shake and Ken give stellar vocal performances, but the production on this song really steals the show. There’s so much natural forward momentum when the song does pick up, that when it ends you’ll have vertigo. And that’s on everything. 

Listen Here!

13. Troye Sivan – One of Your Girls

One of Your Girls is a groovy, intimate track that speaks to the emotional complexities of life. Sivan has stated that the song’s lyrical content was born from his experiences sleeping with questioning straight-men, and the combination of emptiness and intimacy that these experiences brought him. We see this dichotomy in the full-throated flirtatiousness of the verses, in comparison with the impassive Daft-Punk-esque vocoder-voice on the hook. One of Your Girls is at once heartbreaking, and sultry, showcasing Sivan’s immense talent as a songwriter.  

Listen Here!

12. Tainy & Bad Bunny – Mojabi Ghost

Reggaeton legend Tainy and Puerto Rico’s hottest export Bad Bunny have forged something in MOJABI GHOST that sounds futuristic, yet nostalgic. Bunny plays both forlorn lover and vengeful lothario on this cut, and his impassioned performance imparts a real emotional honesty on the listener. The juxtaposition of Tainy’s glitzy instrumental juxtaposed with the heartbroken nature of BB’s lyrics make for an exceptional listening experience.          

Listen Here!

11. Amaarae – Sociopathic Dance Queen 

Not only does Sociopathic Dance Queen win this year’s Best Song Title award, the song’s laid-back melodies effortlessly combine beachy guitars with Afrobeats. Amaarae’s unique voice adds this dreamy vibe to everything she’s a part of, and her imaginative lyrics emphasize this quality as well. On the track’s sensational earworm hook, Sociopathic Dance Queen earns enough replayability value to last until 2024 and beyond.  

Listen Here!

10. Central Cee & Dave – Sprinter

Central Cee and Dave ooze immense charisma and chemistry on Sprinter. The way their verses bounce back and forth, trading one liners and sleep-flexes, all while staying in their respective pockets is radiant. These two can rap their ass off, and I hope we see more collabs from them in the future. Rather than describe to you how talented they are, here are my three favorite bars from the song:    

  1. “My whip could’ve been in the Tokyo Drift ’cause it’s fast and furious, I went from the Toyota Yaris to Urus, they had their chance but blew it 
  2. “With bae through thick and thin She already thick, so I’m halfway there” 
  3. “SUV, the outside white, The inside brown like Michael Jack’

Listen Here!

9. Olivia Rodrigo – all-american bitch

Olivia Rodrigo’s breakup songs turned her into a superstar, but All American Bitch is as an exquisitely penned satirical look into the unattainable and unserious expectations our society heaves upon young women. She sarcastically sings, “I am built like a mother and a total machine, I feel for your every little issue, I know just what you mean.” In the verses of this track she makes fun of attempting to conform to these expectations, but in the song’s raucous choruses she really rebels. During the final climax, at just the right moment, as the bridge is building tension, Rodrigo lets out this animalistic scream that has scratched something in my brain for months. SOUR may have made her a pop-star, but GUTS! has shown us Rodrigo is here to stay, for a while. 

Listen Here! 

8. Tyler, The Creator – WHAT A DAY 

WHAT A DAY is a look into the reality of a fully self-actualized Tyler’s life. T shouts out Black women, shuns people spending all their time on social media, and encourages the listener to embrace change, all while gliding over an unreleased Madlib instrumental. He’s got the cars, cribs, the jewelry, and even the travel plans, all off believing in himself. Even though he’s got access to every luxury he can afford, his stress forces him to work around the clock. Even though his life has changed immensely from when he was a broke SoCal kid, he can’t shake the feeling that he could go back there any minute, a sentiment I, and many other people can find relatable as progress in our own lives and career. Tyler sounds as self-assured as I’ve ever heard him here, and when his art is consistently THIS good every time, how could he not be?    

Listen Here!

7. Omar Apollo – 3 Boys

3 Boys is a ghostly hymn, where Apollo modernizes the typical unrequited-love song by speaking on his own experience with a polyamorous partner. The track’s reverb-drenched, compassionate guitarwork, makes the listener feel as though Apollo is trudging through the haunted cemetery of this failed relationship, and inviting us to wallow with him. In one particularly breathtaking line he writes, “fell asleep with your hand on my skull and my face In your lap,” showcasing how he and his lover think about the same picture from two different perspectives. To Apollo’s lover, this scene is purely physical, so he uses biological description for those body parts, his hand on Apollo’s skull. But to Apollo, this scene is much more intimate as he uses colloquial words to describe the scene; with Apollo’s face, being in his lover’s lap. On the hook you can practically feel Omar crying in the booth as he wails over a rising instrumental, “Three boys would work if I wasn’t so tethered to you!” 3 Boys’ layered songwriting, and spellbinding vocals make for one of the best heartbreak songs of the year. 

Listen Here!

6. Megan Thee Stallion – COBRA

Megan Thee Stallion gets real as fuck on COBRA. This song should be a downer, as she speaks on opportunistic “friends,” suicidal thoughts, missing her deceased parents, her philandering ex-Man, and the entire world attacking her in the wake of being shot by Tory Lanez. However, the vibe here is more akin to Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing,” thanks to a lively beat from producer trio Bankroll Got It, built around this insanely hooky synth sample. COBRA is about the resilience one gains after going through so much raw emotional pain, and coming out on the other side of that pain ready for whatever’s next.  “This pussy depressed,” she boldly proclaims on the hook, emphasizing once more, that hot-girls have bad days too. This song was a real place of refuge for me in a trying year. If Megan can make it through her laundry list of disturbing experiences, I know I can make it too.    

Listen Here!

5. Pink Panthress – Capable of Love 

Pink Panthress’s hype has been bubbling under for years now online, but 2023 was finally her mainstream coronation, with a major smash-hit in Boy’s a Liar Pt.2 (featuring the ubiquitous Ice Spice,) and dropping her fantastic debut record, Heaven Knows, on which my favorite song is Capable of Love. On the track, Pink Panthress showcases her talent for communicating that yearning unrequited feeling that sometimes happens in love; she does so not necessarily in her lyrics, but with her breathtaking vocals. Every vocal run here is exactly where it needs to be, and lasts for exactly how long it should. On the musical end, I love how this song builds on Pink Panthress’s established aesthetic, naturally intermixing breakbeat drums and punky distorted guitars. Specifically the last time the chorus is brought back at 2:17, is absolutely *chef’s kiss* incredible. Also, she finally beat the “she-can’t-make-a-song-longer-than-2-minutes” allegations, so cheers to that.   

Listen Here!

4. Only – Sampha

Only, like much of Sampha’s music, is thematically dense, but lyrically open to interpretation. I interpreted Only as being about the all-healing power of loving, forgiving and trusting yourself. Sampha’s vocals on this song are heavenly, and the piano-driven beat perfectly matches the track’s more introspective lyrical elements.. On Only, Sampha struggles with getting in his own way, feeling a lack of purpose in pursuit of authenticity, and doing his own thing in spite of those around him. He even learns to practice self-care, and emphasizes making Music as part of that process, singing “Take my body for a walk, call somebody just to talk, take a mic and press record, to speak the truth only.” By the end of the track, Sampha has accepted that in order for him to achieve self-discovery, he may have to separate himself from the crowd a bit, but also that he should always remain open to new wisdom. 

Listen Here!

3. Mitski – My Love Mine All Mine

I can’t recall a time I’ve skipped this song since the first time I heard it earlier this year. Every time it comes on, for 2 minutes and 18 seconds, I feel like I’m smoking an old-timey cigarette, looking up to the Moon on the balcony above some lounge bar, swaying in the cold wind. All of what we think of as ours, our bodies, our clothes, our homes, will one day be gone. On My Love Mine All Mine, Mitski pleads with the eternal Moon, to make her immense love, for life, the world, and her person, eternal too. The human experience may be finite, but love has the power to make life feel like it could last forever.       

Listen Here! 

2. Travis Scott – MODERN JAM (feat. Teezo Touchdown)

Born from a reworked sample of the first version of Kanye West’s I Am A God, Modern Jam is a propulsive, drum-driven heater with aspirations of reaching the club dancefloor, but not the club of 2023, rather the club of year 2300. With help from Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel and your favorite artists’-favorite-artist Teezo Touchdown, I think Scott makes the mark. Travis himself brings some super-fun bars and just-the-right-amount of energy to make this work. In between his verses though, he screeches like a Baptist preacher, commanding your ears to accept his musical gospel. Teezo Touchdown’s guest verse on the song is perfectly weird, matching the song’s vibes to a tee. When your feature verse invites credible comparisons to both David Bowie and Andre 3000, you have to be doing something right.    

Listen Here!

1. Blur – The Narcissist

The Narcissist is a meditation on how easy it is for our perceptions of ourselves to become distorted, and how to prevent this distortion. In the track’s verses Damon Albarn highlights his fame and his drug-use as the primary drivers of his narcissistic self-image, singing emotively, “My heart, it quickened,  I could not tear myself away, Became addiction, If you see darkness, look away.” On the track’s anthemic chorus, the production and vocals bleed together beautifully, and Albarn promises, “I’ma shine a light in your eyes, You’ll probably shine it back on me, but I won’t fall, this time, With Godspeed, I’ll heed the signs.” Albarn has now learned that the only way to prevent egocentrism is to rely on other people. He promises those that are close to him that in the future when his self-aggrandizement sends him down the wrong path, he will turn to them for a reality check. The Narcissist is a commitment to try and do better every single day, and that resonated with me more than anything else this year.

Listen Here!

Wyatt Carter is a 3rd year student and DJ for WXTJ. You can tune in to his show HoosGotAux! with fellow co-host Antonio Rosario every Friday from 8-10 PM.

Sponsor Image

Become a Sponsor

Underwriting WXTJ is a way to broadly share information about your business. It’s also a way for your business or organization to gain community-wide recognition for your support of WXTJ’s community mission.

Underwrite a Program


Support WXTJ, WTJU, and help us keep college radio thriving at UVA.

Donate Image