The year started out strong, with tracks from SZA’s SOS sprawled all over the charts. SOS feels like an intimate monologue characterised with gorgeous vocals, seamless RnB and some highly anticipated collaborations. For me this is one of the defining albums of 2023; key tracks include Kill Bill, Open Arms (ft. Travis Scott), Nobody Gets Me, Low, and Snooze.

Early on in the year we saw the return of two major bands from the glory days. 2/3 of my personal Holy Emo Trinity, Paramore and Pierce the Veil both released full studio albums around the same time. Of course, this left plenty of room for comparison, and yearning for what they used to be. While it broke my twelve-year-old self’s heart to sit through the flaming pile of nothing that was Pierce the Veil’s Jaws of Life, Paramore, as it always does, made me smile. This is Why is fun, emotional, tastefully angsty, and as pop-punk as you can get in this era of music.

It’s not a music recap in the current decade unless we talk about Ms. Swift! Taylor Swift has experienced a previously unattainable kind of success in 2023. She released two ‘Taylor’s Version’ albums, Speak Now and 1989; and of course, launched the Eras Tour which became the highest-grossing tour of all time, with a documentary film to capture it all!

In other news, 2023 was a strange year for hip-hop. For the first time since the turn of the century, an entire calendar year passed without a rap song topping the Billboard Hot100 chart! That and a drop in sale across the genre had many paranoid that rap music’s popularity had perhaps peaked. While rap wasn’t dominating as much as in the years preceding, it still had enough memorable moments that managed to captivate wide audiences. For example, the sudden explosive rise of Ice Spice, who went on to drop her debut EP Like..? and feature on Taylor Swift’s Karma. Additionally, Drake, J. Cole, 21 Savage, and Doja Cat all had releases that did extremely well.

Last year also gave us boygenius’ much awaited the record and Lana Del Ray’s There’s A Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd., which we could always count on for the theatrics and for getting us through rainy day. Also, Olivia Rodrigo released her sophomore album, GUTS, that helps rationalise the intrusive thoughts of teen angst. In terms of music, it’s safe to say that 2023 belonged to the women!

Here’s a list of some other phenomenal releases from 2023 that you should check out ASAP:

  • Desire, I Want To Turn Into You – Caroline Polachek [Art-Pop/Alternative]
  • The Silver Cord – King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard [Electropop/Alternative]
  • Javelin – Sufjan Stevens [Folk/Indie]
  • Maps – Billy Wood, Keenny Segal [Hip-Hop]
  • O, Monolith – Squid [Post-Rock]
  • Heavy Heavy – Young Fathers [Experimental/Alternative/Gospel]
  • The Land Is Inhospitable Are So Are We – Mitski [Indie/Alternative]
  • & The Charm – Avalon Emerson [Electronic/Dream-Pop]

In only the first quarter of 2024, we’ve already had IDLES’ TANGK and The Last Dinner Party heard our prayers and finally dropped a full album. We look forward to Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department, Twenty One Pilots’ Clancy, and so, so many more.

Here’s to a great 2024 of music!

Edited by: Anna Shipman


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