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Best Music of 2023: Staff Picks

Ask anyone who works at Rolling Stone what they’ve been listening to lately, and you’re guaranteed to get an interesting answer. In the final weeks of the year, more than 30 colleagues from across the departments that make RS submitted their personal picks for the 10 best albums of 2023. You’ll find practically every sound imaginable represented somewhere on these lists, from the biggest pop hits to the brightest DIY gold and everything in between. Think of this as a fun counterpart to our official list of the year’s best albums — a chance to see some of the wildly eclectic individual perspectives that go into our coverage. And if you see an album you don’t know, give it a listen. You just might find a new favorite.

Sage Anderson, E-Commerce Editor

  1. Various Artists, Barbie: The Album 
  2. Victoria Monét, Jaguar II
  3. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  4. Kim Petras, Problématique 
  5. Engelwood, Washed
  6. Jung Kook, Golden
  7. Mystery Skulls, The Gold Album 
  8. Paramore, This Is Why 
  9. PinkPantheress, Heaven Knows 
  10. Kylie Minogue, Tension 

It was admittedly more difficult than usual to round up all the top albums that could make a solid shortlist this year — not for lack of incredible releases, new artists taking their first big swing, or unbelievable comebacks. No, it was my own personal reckoning with my 2023 listening habits, a near seismic shift that meant I could no longer take up the mantle as the Hawaiian shirt-wearing, Margaritaville-loving dad friend of the group with Yacht Rock in their top genres on Spotify Wrapped. How was I supposed to be reeling in the years when I was spending the entire summer in pink shaking it to Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice’s “Barbie World”? Much like the charts over the past few months, one thing was clear for me: Pop was back in a big way. Yes, all that glittered was wasn’t gold, but bubblegum this year, from the sweetly sexual and flutteringly groovy beats we got off of icon Kylie Minogue’s Tension to the vindication I felt watching Kim Petras finally get her time in the spotlight with “Revelations” and “All She Wants” off her originally-scrapped, partially-leaked album, Problématique. All I’ll say is, thank goodness we’re living in a post-irony, post-NFL (no fun league) music landscape. Although that doesn’t mean there was no edge to the dance floor — Olivia Rodrigo curled her hair with Coca-Cola bottles and held in her female rage on the Guts track “All-American Bitch”, and her elder emo influence Paramore showed off exactly why some of us still don’t leave the house (just turn on “The News,” for god’s sake) on This Is Why. Artists this year showed that maybe we’re ready to move past everything the past few years have wrought for us, or maybe we’re just being realistic about what lies ahead. Get your sequin-toned shaking and shimmying out of the way before it’s too late! Nihilist? Perhaps. But like the thundering bass and optimistically repetitious groove on Mystery Skulls’ “Every Single Day Is Another Chance You’ve Got To Turn It All Around” says, we’ve got to keep chugging along somehow. Why not do it in style? 

Yaasmiyn Alam, Executive Assistant

  1. Mitski, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We
  2. Kali Uchis, Red Moon in Venus
  3. Janelle Monáe, The Age of Pleasure
  4. Yves Tumor, Praise a Lord Who Chews But Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds)
  5. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  6. Various Artists, Barbie: The Album
  7. Foo Fighters, But Here We Are
  8. Caroline Polachek, Desire, I Want To Turn Into You
  9. Taylor Swift, 1989 (Taylor’s Version)
  10. Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Council Skies

Mitski lured me in yet again with her powerful songwriting and haunting melodies on another 32-minute masterpiece — “My Love Mine All Mine” is the viral hit, but “The Deal” has been on repeat in my world. Kali Uchis and Janelle Monáe’s seductive albums dominated the soundtrack to my summer, and Mark Ronson’s perfect soundtrack for Barbie might be solely responsible for the four trips I made to see the movie. Guts was my favorite guilty pleasure of the year, while 1989 (Taylor’s Version) transported me right back to my favorite guilty pleasure of 2014. This year also saw the return of one of my musical heroes, Noel Gallagher, in an album that proved he’s still got plenty of tricks up his sleeve — like the beautifully heart wrenching “Dead To the World.”

Jonathan Bernstein, Senior Research Editor

  1. Joanna Sternberg, I’ve Got Me
  2. Meshell Ndegeocello, The Omnichord Real Book
  3. Free Range, Free Range
  4. Kara Jackson, Why Does the Earth Give Us People to Love?
  5. Lankum, False Lankum
  6. Margo Cilker,  Valley of Heart’s Delight
  7. Rachel Baiman, Common Nation of Sorrow
  8. Alice Gerrard, Sun to Sun
  9. Vagabon, Sorry I Haven’t Called
  10. Al Menne, Freak Accident

“Everything is under control,” Meshell Ndegeocello sings, again and again, throughout “Call the Tune,” a haunted hymn amidst the collection of mystical prayers, jazz vamps, and folk musings that comprise her gorgeous LP The Omnichord Real Book. Each time Ndegeocello sings those four words, it becomes more clear she’s doing her best to will them into existence amidst a world that’s telling her the exact opposite. This past year, I found myself seeking records that made me feel the same way: grounded and at home during a period that sometimes felt anything but. It’s no wonder, then, that so many of these albums make use of that tension, in the way they juxtapose folk harmony and meandering experimentation (Lankum, Kara Jackson), or the way they tell despairing stories set to sing-song melodies (Margo Cilker, Alice Gerrard, Joanna Sternberg). What struck me most about these 10 albums is their careful, calm crafting of all sorts of emotional turmoil that can leave anyone feeling out of control: devastation, chemical highs, hopeless love, hapless heartbreak, grief, violence, rootless wandering, you name it. Which is to say that, in 2023, these 10 records all provided immense comfort. 

Jon Blistein, Staff Writer

  1. Wednesday, Rat Saw God
  2. Joanna Sternberg, I’ve Got Me
  3. Ryan Davis and the Roadhouse Band, Dancing on the Edge
  4. L’Rain, I Killed Your Dog
  5. MJ Lenderman, And the Wind (Live and Loose!)
  6. 100 Gecs, 10,000 Gecs
  7. Jim Legxacy, HNPM
  8. Blake Mills, Jelly Road
  9. U.S. Girls, Bless This Mess
  10. The playlist my friend Cam made me

What a great year it was for good old rock & roll. So much praise has already been heaped on Wednesday’s Rat Saw God that it barely feels worth saying anything else besides: It really fucking rocks. Wednesday guitarist MJ Lenderman also put out a live album that feels as essential as his already-excellent studio albums. U.S. Girls did Seventies funk-rock pastiche on Bless This Mess as well as 100 Gecs did Nineties/early-Aughts butt-rock pastiche on 10,000 Gecs. L’Rain made a self-described “basic bitch” rock record with I Killed Your Dog that was every bit as engrossing and challenging as her more classically experimental efforts. I found Blake Mills’ Jelly Road, made with Chris Weisman, similarly expansive and absorbing, rooted in familiar patterns as it simultaneously wandered far-out sonic universes. Joanna Sternberg’s I’ve Got Me was more grounded, stark, and gorgeous, while rapper-producer Jim Legxacy carved out new planes of sound between the worlds of U.K. drill and Midwest emo. A special shout out to my friends Lily and Simon for putting me onto Ryan Davis and the Roadhouse Band’s stunning country-rock epiphanies on Dancing on the Edge. And my buddy Cam, drummer for the Nashville egg-punk band Snõõper (honorable mention for their great debut, Super Snõõper), who made me an amazing playlist featuring some of this year’s great breakthrough bands like Hotline TNT and Feeble Little Horse, alongside fascinating, far-flung offerings like Sydney’s 1-800 Mikey (“Pressure”), NYC’s Peace De Résistance (“Don’t 1099 Me”), and Barcelona’s Prison Affair (“El Motín”).

Elise Brisco, Social Media Editor

  1. Don Toliver, Love Sick
  2. Jungle, Volcano 
  3. Cleo Sol, Gold
  4. Cleo Sol, Heaven 
  5. Victoria Monét, Jaguar II 
  6. Majid Jordan, Good People/Afterhours
  7. Janelle Monáe, The Age of Pleasure
  8. Troye Sivan, Something to Give Each Other 
  9. Sampha, Lahai 
  10. Hozier, Unreal Unearth 

With the exception of Janelle Monae’s Age of Pleasure, Victoria Monét’s single “On My Mama,” and Jungle’s Volcano, this year for me was more about foot tapping than head bopping. It was the quiet, private moments I shared with the green glow of my Spotify app when I had “damn, this sounds good” revelations. Don Toliver kicked the year off with features from some of my close faves who sit on opposite ends of my playlists, GloRilla and James Blake. Cleo Sol lulled me into picking up some of my dignity to finish off the year grounded and strong with two introspective releases. And Majid Jordan, a duo I mostly associated with Drake, have been tenderly rocking me toward 2024 with calm, Sade-like apartment cleaning grooves. 2022 was a “back outside” year, but 2023 restored the balance.  

Rick Carp, Research Editor

  1. Sprain, The Lamb as Effigy
  2. Nhomme, 「 一種の過音 」
  3. Flooding, Silhouette Machine
  4. Closet Witch, Chiaroscuro
  5. Missouri Executive Order 44, Seventeen Dead in Caldwell County
  6. Agriculture, Agriculture
  7. Imelda Marcos, Agita
  8. Diced, Demo?
  9. Melissa, II
  10. Adhesive, October 2023

This list is not in any real order. These are basically just records I found myself playing a lot. There was a lot going on: Sprain released another amazing LP, only to break up a few weeks later; Graf Orlock also came to an end; Year of the Knife has continued to post updates as everyone recovers from a horrible van accident. But we also got reunion announcements (and even some new music!) from acts like Orchid, Capsule, and the Dillinger Escape Plan — so it isn’t all bad news. I hope to see some of you at those shows next year. I wish that I could add some more albums here, breaking it down to only 10 records is really tough! Have a good holiday season, everyone.

Honorable Mention: Various Artists, Balladeers, Redefined. This collection was organized by Touché Amoré’s Jeremy Bolm and showcases more than 30 great skramz bands. I have previously featured some of them on these year-end lists we make! Click play on some random names and discover your favorite new artist.

Tim Chan, Associate Vice President, Editorial and Commerce

  1. NewJeans, Get Up
  2. Jung Kook, Golden
  3. Troye Sivan, Something To Give Each Other
  4. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  5. Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
  6. Carly Rae Jepsen, The Loveliest Time
  7. Stray Kids, 5-Star
  8. Caroline Polachek, Desire, I Want To Turn Into You
  9. Kylie Minogue, Tension
  10. Twice, Ready To Be

Thanks to their sold-out, career-defining tours, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, and SZA had us playing their 2022 albums well into 2023, but there were a number of new releases that we had on repeat too. Artists like Olivia Rodrigo, Lana Del Rey, and Troye Sivan showed that pop music has never been as diverse — or as interesting — while stars like Kylie Minogue and Carly Rae Jepsen delivered their most exhilarating and inspired work in years. And with kingpins BTS on official hiatus and Blackpink in between album cycles, 2023 also saw new K-pop groups (and a solo BTS star) rise to the occasion, proving that the genre still has plenty of momentum and talent left to offer.

Mankaprr Conteh, Staff Writer

  1. André 3000, New Blue Sun
  2. Davido, Timeless
  3. Noname, Sundial
  4. Victoria Monét, Jaguar II
  5. John Wells, The Apprehension of John Wells (Deluxe Version)
  6. Jordan Ward, Forward 
  7. Janelle Monaé, The Age of Pleasure
  8. Summer Walker, Clear 2: Soft Life EP
  9. Quavo, Rocket Power
  10. Naomi Sharon, Obsidian 

The idea of timelessness came up a lot for me this year. It’s how Fousheé described herself when I asked her how old she was, it was Victoria Monét’s goal when she made her hit album Jaguar II (which has rightly been widely recognized as one of the year’s absolute best), it’s the title of Afrobeats superstar Davido’s impeccable fourth LP as he returned to music after five month of extreme loss. But, to me, it’s not that these folks and their works don’t belong to any moment — a lot of this music actually marks very specific ones. Monét’s mystique is particular to 1970s R&B, to aughts hip-hop, and to hyper-online modernity. Quavo’s Rocket Power  powerfully marks a distinct period after the death of his nephew and Migos bandmate Takeoff; John Wells, a young, diligent rapper from Baltimore, does something similar from the vantage of his father’s passing. Noname speaks to personal growth and sociopolitical issues marked by both interior and public milestones. All my favorite albums of the year are calendars in themselves.

Jon Dolan, Reviews Editor

  1. En Attendant Ana, Principia 
  2. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  3. Bonny Doon, Let There Be Music
  4. Lil Yachty, Let’s Start Here
  5. Pardoner, Peace Loving People
  6. Tainy, Data
  7. Hotline TNT, Cartwheel 
  8. Diego Raposo, Yo No Era Así Pero De Ahora En Adelante, Sí 
  9. Megan Moroney, Lucky 
  10. Volcano, Jungle 

My favorite album this year was the droll summertime guitar sweetness of En Attendant Ana’s Principia. I also loved Olivia Rodrigo’s lunch-feeding, car-keying punk-pop party bombs, Bonny Doon’s laidback folk-rock pick-me-ups, Lil Yachty’s lavishly listenable psychedelic rock-rap, Pardoner’s top-shelf Pavement cosplay, Tainy’s futurist reggaeton, Hotline TNT’s nice-guy shoegaze blues, Dominican producer Diego Raposo’s weirdly poignant electro-mosh implosions, new country star Megan Moroney’s dusky dispatches from millennial relationship purgatory, and Volcano’s rapturously lush, unapologetically slick dancefloor bliss. 

Brenna Ehrlich, Chief Research Editor

  1. Militarie Gun, Life Under the Gun
  2. Mitski, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We
  3. Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyar, and Shahzad Ismaily, Love in Exile
  4. Code Orange, The Above
  5. Paramore, This Is Why
  6. Guided By Voices, Welshpool Frillies
  7. The Mars Volta, Qué Dios Te Maldiga Mí Corazón
  8. Kesha, Gag Order
  9. Angel Dust, Brand New Soul
  10. Wilco, Cousin

2023 was a great year for rock, hardcore, and out-there tunes. These are some of my favorite records of the year.

Solomon Fortune, Account Manager

  1. Kimbra, A Reckoning
  2. Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
  3. Mariah Carey, Music Box (30th Anniversary Edition)
  4. Kelela, Raven
  5. Nicki Minaj, Pink Friday 2
  6. Lola Brooke, Dennis Daughter
  7. Sexyy Red, Hood Hottest Princess
  8. Twice, Ready To Be
  9. NewJeans, Get Up
  10. City Girls, RAW

2023 was all about the return of the greats. We saw resurgences from some of music’s most impactful artists, reminding everyone that they remain at the top of their respective games. My first pick is Kimbra, who so gracefully crafted a seamless project exploring the process of Reckoning with herself, diving into heartbreak and resolution with a lover. Lana Del Rey also returned with one of the most reflective albums of the year, featuring bold tracks such as “The Grants” and “Grandfather Please Stand on the Shoulders of My Father While He’s Deep-Sea Fishing.”

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of her diamond album Music Box, Mariah Carey reached the pinnacle of songwriting and vocal prowess once again. This edition includes never-before-released tracks and extended versions that showcase Carey’s endurance. The “All I Live For” extended version gave us nearly five minutes of Mariah reminding us that her vocal prowess and adlib game are untouchable. She also revisited her devotion to recrafting songs for dance mixes with “Workin’ Hard (Terry Hunter Remix),” breathing new life into her already vast catalog. In the words of Whitney Houston, “The clubs are happening, the gay community keeps them happening!”

The women of rap were in peak form, and a few newcomers showed that they have what it takes to join this lucrative space. Lola Brooke and Sexyy Red released projects to claim their status with my morning motivation tracks “Don’t Play With It (feat. Latto & Yung Miami)” and “Born by the River (feat. Sukihana),” respectively, while Nicki and the City Girls released highly anticipated albums to reclaim their own positions. Together, these albums sprinkled the extra bit of fun we needed into an already vibrant year.

Maya Georgi, Editorial Assistant

  1. Boygenius, The Record
  2. Karol G, Mañana Será Bonito (Bichota Season)
  3. Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
  4. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  5. Paramore, This Is Why
  6. Palehound, Eye on the Bat
  7. Gracie Abrams, Good Riddance
  8. Gale, Lo Que No Te Dije
  9. Holly Humberstone, Paint My Bedroom Black
  10. Mon Laferte, Autopoiética

2023 was inarguably the year of embracing the hell out of femininity and challenging the patriarchy — so it makes sense that women and non-binary artists dominate my top 10. This year was filled with albums that fully owned a range of complex emotions of womanhood: rage, insecurity, sensuality, pettiness, and pride. Boygenius’ standout single “Not Strong Enough” shifted my brain chemistry and gets at the ferocity of gender inequality: “Always an angel, never a god.” Olivia Rodrigo flattened me into a shell of all my former selves with just one question: “They all say that it gets better… but what if I don’t?” But there were also joyful moments, like Lana Del Rey’s empowered tour-de-force and Karol G’s rebirth through heartbreak. From Palehound’s insistent guitar licks to Gale’s infectious pop beats and Mon Laferte’s blistering reggaeton, these albums make ripping your heart out and placing it firmly on your sleeve feel not only OK, but necessary.

Kory Grow, Senior Writer

  1. Christine and the Queens, Paranoïa, Angels, True Love 
  2. PJ Harvey, I Inside the Old Year Dying 
  3. Anohni and the Johnsons, My Back Was a Bridge for You To Cross 
  4. The Rolling Stones, Hackney Diamonds 
  5. Metallica, 72 Seasons
  6. Jenny Lewis, Joy’All 
  7. Godflesh, Purge 
  8. Khanate, To Be Cruel 
  9. Boygenius, The Record 
  10. Water From Your Eyes, Everyone’s Crushed 

Each album on my Top 10 represents an emotional extreme, from Jenny Lewis singing “I’m not a psycho, I’m just trying to get laid” on “Psychos” to Khanate’s Alan Dubin screaming, “Sink or swim in gasoleeen” on “Like a Poisoned Dog.” You have Boygenius begging you to be a nihilist (“If nothin’ matters, man, that’s a relief,” Lucy Dacus sings on “Satanist”) and Mick Jagger swearing he’s “not going to Hell in some dusty motel” on “Sweet Sounds of Heaven.” Anohni wept for the world devolving around her, PJ Harvey built her own world, and Water From Your Eyes dreamt up their own universe. My favorite album of the year, Paranoïa, Angels, True Love, is an emotional 97-minute sci-fi pop-music opera that should be listened to in its entirety. Make the time for yourself; you can feel so much. 

Julia Hardie, Branded Social Content Manager

  1. Taylor Swift, Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)
  2. Taylor Swift, 1989 (Taylor’s Version)
  3. Reneé Rapp, Snow Angel
  4. Sabrina Carpenter, Emails I Can’t Send Fwd:
  5. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  6. Noah Kahan, Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)
  7. Chappell Roan, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess
  8. Kelsea Ballerini, Rolling Up the Welcome Mat
  9. Various Artists, Barbie: The Album
  10. Miley Cyrus, Endless Summer Vacation

2023 was a year for the girls, as I watched so many talented female artists dominate the music scene. At the forefront of my list were both of Taylor Swift’s re-recorded albums, Speak Now (Taylor’s Version) and 1989 (Taylor’s Version). These albums once again showcased Taylor’s self-determination and echoed the feminist movement that defined this year. Although not directly fitting the feminist theme, Noah Kahan’s Stick Season brought a refreshing vibe and unique sound, while mirroring the rawness and honesty that drew me to so many of these albums. The albums on my list share a common thread of relatability, offering a soundtrack to my experiences in 2023. Themes of regaining independence, celebrating self-love, and transforming heartbreak into resilience run through all of these records. In a departure from my usual Taylor Swift-centric list, 2023 broadened my musical horizons, introducing me to a stellar lineup of female artists who, through their bold and unapologetic voices, made this a monumental year for women in music.

Christian Hoard, Music Editor

  1. SZA, SOS
  2. Zach Bryan, Zach Bryan
  3. Amaarae, Fountain Baby
  4. Victoria Monét, Jaguar II
  5. Tainy, Data
  6. Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
  7. 100 Gecs, 10,000 gecs
  8. Boygenius, The Record
  9. JPEGMafia & Danny Brown, Scaring the Hoes
  10. CMAT, Crazymad, for Me 

I say some version of this often: There’s so much good music out there, and if you’re not hearing it, you’re probably not searching hard enough. I’m cheating with my Number One, since it was also my Number One last year, but whatever: SZA’s popwise yet deeply personal, deeply adventurous R&B towered over this year. Zach Bryan’s album snuck up on me — it took a second to realize it was more than the sum of its very sincere parts, a pretty major statement whose sturdy songs feel timeless rather than traditional. Amaarae tossed together everything from highlife to an ace Clipse quote, categorized the whole brew under Afrofuturism, and sprinkled tons of sticky melodies on top. Victoria Monét‘s debut was damn-near flawless, Tainy’s a kaleidoscope. Lana’s album was deeply beautiful; 100 Gecs beautifully weird and shamelessly catchy in a way I find endearing. The boygenius album felt like a moment, and the music lived up to the moment. JPEGMafia and Danny Brown’s album was grimy and slightly unhinged and deserves to be played very loud. CMAT, meanwhile, was one of my favorite 2023 discoveries — a Dublinite singer-songwriter with pipes, hooks and an observant eye. Hilarious, too. Happy new year. 

Joseph Hudak, Editor, Rolling Stone Country

  1. Brian Dunne, Loser on the Ropes
  2. Stephen Wilson Jr., Son of Dad
  3. Paramore, This Is Why
  4. Lucinda Williams, Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart
  5. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Weathervanes
  6. Brothers Osborne, s/t
  7. The Cadillac Three, The Years Go Fast
  8. Margo Price, Strays
  9. Low Cut Connie, Art Dealers
  10. Margo Cilker, Valley of Heart’s Delight

Sometimes you just have to keep punching — even if the opponent is yourself. That’s the message I took from Brian Dunne’s courageous examination of imposter syndrome, Loser on the Ropes, my Number One of 2023. Musically, it’s held together by jangly guitars and swirling synths, but its backbone lies in its open-book lyricism: There are tales of incredulous perseverance (“It’s a Miracle”), denying others’ expectations (“Stand Clear of the Closing Doors”), and foolishly facing down a life that’s stacked against you. (The word “cavalier” turns up in two songs.) Dunne is a New York songwriter and Bruce Springsteen disciple, and both influences are all over the record (listen to him sneak in the melody of “The Rising” to “Optimist”). He also plays in my new favorite band, Fantastic Cat, but Loser on the Ropes proves Dunne lands on his feet as a solo artist. Elsewhere, I couldn’t get enough of This Is Why by Paramore, whose album-release gig in Nashville was the best all-around live show I saw this year. In the country space, Stephen Wilson Jr.’s Son of Dad was impossible to beat. It’s a bold double album that introduces noisy grunge elements to country music and follows Wilson’s journey through grief after losing his father — I continue to lean on it as I cope with the passing of my mom. Finally, there was a lot of jibber-jabber about another “rock” album in country music this year, but to me, Lucinda Williams was the undeniable rock star. Stories from a Rock N Roll Heart featured cameos by Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, co-writes by seminal punk Jesse Malin, and Williams’ indistinguishable rebel spirit. Rock and Country Halls of Fame…take note.

Jeff Ihaza, Senior Music Editor

  1. Jim Legxacy, Homeless N***a Pop Music
  2. Danny Brown & JPEGMafia, Scaring the Hoes
  3. Sampha, Lahai
  4. Drake, For All the Dogs
  5. Central Cee & Dave, Split Decision
  6. Kelela, Raven
  7. Everything But the Girl, Fuse
  8. MIKE, Burning Desire
  9. L’Rain, I Killed Your Dog
  10. PinkPantheress, Heaven Knows

This year, I was sort of desperate to hear something new. Not that there wasn’t plenty of good music released in 2023. That was more or less the problem. In the seas of sounds that inundated my life — from TikTok earworms to blockbuster albums and endless viral snippets that permeate social media — I was always listening to something, which is why it felt special when what I heard sounded new. The musician Jim Legxacy is a good example. When I first heard his genuinely groundbreaking EP Homeless N***a Pop Music, best described as a cross between emo and U.K. drill, it felt like mapping new pathways in my brain. And then there’s the bewitching Scaring the Hoes, by Danny Brown and JPEGMafia, which finds uncanny and beautiful moments in sonic chaos; or Kelela’s refreshingly expansive Raven, blended like the kind of DJ mix you’d hear in the afterlife. 2023 was a year of seeking out the margins, both for listeners faced with endless options and artists still looking to make music that sticks. 

Miles Klee, Staff Writer

  1. Alaska Reid, Disenchanter
  2. M83, Fantasy
  3. Flyying Colours, Goodbye to Music
  4. Maria BC, Spike Field
  5. Key Glock, Glockoma 2
  6. The Reds, Pinks & Purples, The Town That Cursed Your Name
  7. Seablite, Lemon Lights
  8. Tim Hecker, Infinity Pool (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
  9. Daughter, Stereo Mind Game
  10. Slowdive, Everything Is Alive

Dreamy drones, soaring synths, and reverberant guitars are my comfort music, and 2023 didn’t disappoint on that front. M83 dropped his most cohesive album since 2008’s Saturdays = Youth. Slowdive once again cemented their status as shoegaze gods (with Flyying Colours and Seablite proving themselves worthy inheritors of the genre). Maria BC found otherworldly elegance in the trancelike Spike Field, while, in a year of extraordinary film scores, Tim Hecker hypnotized as only he can for the uncanny thriller Infinity Pool. Don’t overlook the smooth and supremely confident rapping of Key Glock — “Pop My Shit” is a standout. The earworm indie pop of Alaska Reid and the Reds, Pinks & Purples likewise deserves your attention. Finally, Daughter’s Stereo Mind Game was a slept-on return for a band grown all the spookier in its maturity.

Daniel Kreps, Staff Writer

  1. André 3000, New Blue Sun
  2. Christine and the Queens, Paranoïa, Angels, True Love
  3. Jess Williamson, Time Ain’t Accidental
  4. Lil Yachty, Let’s Start Here
  5. Westerman, An Inbuilt Fault
  6. Death’s Dynamic Shroud, Midnight Tangerine
  7. SZA, SOS
  8. Aphex Twin, Blackbox Life Recorder 21f
  9. The Clientele, I Am Not There Anymore
  10. Fred again.. & Brian Eno, Secret Life

It wasn’t the André 3000 rap album we’ve all spent decades clamoring for, but New Blue Sun was well worth the wait. Every year seems more and more like we’re perilously plunging toward some dark place; 3K’s spiritual jazz journey is a 90-minute antidote to that. Other standouts: Christine and the Queens’ epic triptych — the latest in a now-annual stream of killer LPs — plus the albums from Jess Williamson (“Topanga Two Step,” song of the year), Westerman, SZA, an Aphex EP, etc.

Plus: 10 Great Reissues

  1. John Coltrane with Eric Dolphy, Evenings at the Village Gate
  2. The Replacements, Tim (Let It Bleed Edition)
  3. Les Rallizes Dénudés, Citta ’93/Baus ’93
  4. Daft Punk, Random Access Memories (10th Anniversary + Drumless)
  5. Pharaoh Sanders, Pharaoh/Harvest Time Live 1977
  6. Pacific Breeze 3: Japanese City Pop, AOR & Boogie 1975-1986
  7. Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Dazzle Ships (Deluxe)
  8. Frank Zappa, Funky Nothingness
  9. Arthur Russell, Picture of Bunny Rabbit
  10. Grandaddy, Sumday: Excess Baggage/The Cassette Demos

Also wanted to shout out an incredible year for reissues, from newly unearthed concerts from jazz legends and Japanese psych lords to wonderfully overstuffed anniversary editions to a new (and better?) way of experiencing the Replacements’ already-classic Tim.

Kristine Kwak, Director, Audience Development

  1. NewJeans, Get Up
  2. XG, NEW DNA 
  3. ENHYPEN, Dark Blood 
  4. Seventeen, FML 
  5. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts 
  6. Jisoo, Me
  7. Taeyang, Down to Earth
  8. Le Sserafim, Unforgiven
  9. (G)I-DLE, I Feel 
  10. Agust D, D-Day 

2023 was a really special year in music for me and I’m so grateful for the opportunities that came my way. Taeyang, from my all-time(!) favorite group, Big Bang, released new music after six years, which was a gift in itself, but to meet him in person at the YG Entertainment building in Korea? That’s 100 percent straight out of a dream I had in high school. On top of that, I ended 2022 with a Zoom call with NewJeans to discuss “Ditto” and “OMG,” and started 2023 with meeting them in Seoul for two very special Rolling Stone pieces (their Future 25 profile and their own special print zine!). It’s no surprise that a handful of my favorite albums this year are by the same artists as my list from last year, because I can be bad about discovering new music, but XG and ENHYPEN are two groups who were newer to me and have solidified a place in my heart. Every artist on my list just continues to outdo themselves and I cannot wait for what 2024 has to offer.

Sacha Lecca, Deputy Photo Editor

  1. The Murder Capital, Gigi’s Recovery
  2. Depeche Mode, Memento Mori
  3. Nick Cave, Carnage (Live at the Sydney Opera House)
  4. PJ Harvey, I Inside the Old Year Dying
  5. Model/Actriz, Dogsbody
  6. Lucinda Williams, Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart
  7. L’Rain, I Killed Your Dog
  8. Sleaford Mods, UK Grim
  9. Nation of Language, Strange Disciple
  10. The Nude Party, Rides On

Love, strength, grief, resilience, death, and age. 2022 ended horribly; 2023 had me asking questions, and looking back as much as I was moving forward. Music/art as a guide and a companion cannot be overlooked in tough times, and these are only a few albums that struck chords, punched guts, and moved and/or delighted me this year.

John Lonsdale, Commerce Editor

  1. Chris Stapleton, Higher
  2. Cleo Sol, Heaven / Gold
  3. Zach Bryan, Zach Bryan
  4. Miley Cyrus, Endless Summer Vacation
  5. André 3000, New Blue Sun
  6. Ryan Beatty, Calico
  7. Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
  8. Margo Price, Strays
  9. Troye Sivan, Something To Give Each Other
  10. Boygenius, The Record

Honorable Mentions: James Blake, Playing Robots into Heaven; Willie Nelson, Long Story Short: Willie Nelson 90 (Live at the Hollywood Bowl)

From Chris Stapleton’s country classic to Cleo Sol’s back-to-back album drops, my year’s favorite records soundtracked milestones and travel, hikes and parties, walks with best friends and meditations in between. And then there were the shows: Margo performed Strays at the Fonda, Willie celebrated his 90th at the Hollywood Bowl (and released a live album), and we all danced under the palm trees to James Blake at Hollywood Forever. 

Julyssa Lopez, Senior Music Editor

  1. Tainy, Data
  2. Diego Raposo, Yo No Era Así Pero De Ahora En Adelante, Sí 
  3. Sofia Kourtesis, Madres
  4. Melanie Martinez, Portals
  5. Fred again.. & Brian Eno, Secret Life
  6. Valgur, Armageddon
  7. Kelela, Raven
  8. Ralphie Choo, Supernova
  9. Usted Señalemelo, Tripolar
  10. Titanic (Mabe Fratti, I. La Católica), Vidrio

This year, I was drawn to music that made me feel like I was exploring the inside of someone’s brain and hearing something I could only find there. That was my immediate reaction after diving into mutinous, unpredictable projects by Tainy, Diego Raposo, and Sofia Kourtesis, who each fold bits of their own past, present, and future into intricate, multi-layered sounds. And while a lot of these albums felt like they were exploding with energy and color, artists like Kelela, Fred again.. / Brian Eno, and Ralphie Choo achieved the same kind of interiority with lots of space and ambient palettes. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many of these people are producers and/or incredibly talented sound architects. All of it was massively revelatory — the kind of stuff that makes you feel like you’ve landed in a different stratosphere and gets you excited for how much there is out there to discover.

Griffin Lotz, Deputy Photo Editor for Digital

Model/Actriz, Dogsbody
Geese, 3D Country
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, PetroDragonic Apocalypse
Militarie Gun, Life Under the Gun
Scowl, Psychic Dance Routine
Blondshell, Blondshell
Lil Yachty, Let’s Start Here
The Nude Party, Rides On
Pigsx7, Land of Sleeper
Boygenius, The Record

My listening habits are typically heavily influenced by the live music that I am seeing, and this year was no different. From the first song of Model/Actriz’s set at a half-empty Cheer Up Charlie’s on the Tuesday evening of SXSW, I knew immediately that they were going to be a force to be reckoned with this year. Only a few nights later, I was seeing them for the fourth time and the venue was packed. I wasn’t able to make it to seven Pigsx7 shows this year, but I did catch five, and each one was a welcome heavy-metal punch to the face. I caught Blondshell for the first time late last year, and her sound and presence grew bigger and better each time she sang the songs off her self-titled debut. Scowl and Militarie Gun both put on a chaotic, fun party, and boygenius had a sold-out Madison Square Garden singing and laughing along. I was unable to catch King Gizz or Geese this year, but both offered releases that pushed their artistry, and they’ll be sharing the bill for a tour next summer… “Moooootor Spiiiirit” is permanently etched in my brain. And last, but not least (this is an unranked list, after all), Yachty’s Let’s Start Here took everyone by surprise and transported us all somewhere.

Leah Lu, Senior Social Media Editor

  1. Blondshell, Blondshell
  2. Ian Sweet, Sucker
  3. Indigo De Souza, All Of This Will End
  4. Youth Lagoon, Heaven Is a Junkyard
  5. The Japanese House, In the End It Always Does
  6. Sufjan Stevens, Javelin
  7. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  8. Kara Jackson, Why Does the Earth Give Us People To Love?
  9. Greg Mendez, Greg Mendez
  10. Samia, Honey

I bumbled through this year carrying around big, big feelings, considering things like cruelty and forgiveness and rage and revelry. The music I depended on in 2023 not only soundtracked my escapades — as the music supervisor of my own life, I will say I have manufactured some damn near perfect mental needle drops — it has also, without exaggeration, sculpted me into a surer person. I’ve piggybacked off the disarming honesty of artists like Blondshell: “I can’t stay away from my new friends/I think that I’m losing myself.” I’ve borrowed some righteous cutting anger from Indigo De Souza: “I’d like to think you’ve got a good heart and your dad was just an asshole growing up/But I don’t see you trying that hard to be better than he is.” And I’ve co-opted some much-needed strength and a backbone from songwriters like Kara Jackson: “I’m no longer amused by losers who find themselves losing me…I am pretty top-notch.”

Angie Martoccio, Associate Managing Editor

  1. Blondshell, Blondshell
  2. Boygenius, The Record
  3. Annie Blackman, Bug
  4. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  5. Margo Price, Strays 
  6. Jenny Lewis, Joy’All
  7. Mitski, The Land Is Inhospitable And So Are We 
  8. Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
  9. Bonny Doon, Let There Be Music
  10. Jess Williamson, Time Ain’t Accidental

My favorite musical moments of the year can all be heard on a single album: Blondshell’s self-titled debut. Each song is its own achievement, whether for having the best bridge (“Salad”), the best lyric (“I’m afraid of your description that I’m fitting when I’m faded,” from “Olympus”), and the most addictive chorus since Blur’s “Coffee and TV” (“Joiner”). What’s incredible is how unexpected all of this was — Sabrina Teitelbaum came virtually out of nowhere. She’s been waiting in the wings all this time, waiting to unleash these angsty gems into the world. And for a year like 2023, that was absolutely welcome.

Tomás Mier, Staff Writer

  1. Chappell Roan, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess
  2. Grupo Frontera, El Comienzo
  3. Amaarae, Fountain Baby
  4. Peso Pluma, Génesis
  5. Becky G, Esquinas
  6. SZA, SOS
  7. Karol G, Mañana Será Bonito
  8. Victoria Monét, Jaguar II
  9. Ellie Goulding, Higher Than Heaven
  10. Slayyyter, Starfucker

2023 was undoubtedly the year of música Mexicana. Peso Pluma’s raspy vocals took over the charts; Grupo Frontera revived the nostalgia for norteño-cumbias and dropped an excellent debut album; Becky G went deep into her roots with Esquinas, tapping the rising stars of the genre for features along the way; and reggaetón stars like Karol G and Bad Bunny even dabbled in Mexican genres. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It feels fucking good to be mexicano. And it’s an exciting feeling to see our music taking over charts with a young generation of Latines embracing the music of their origins — and bringing in new fans along the way. As a pop stan, it’s also exciting to see that pop music is in good hands with newcomer Chappell Roan, who delivered the best debut album since… should I say Dua Lipa? Roan is the next massive pop star — the world is about to catch up. Just watch.

Larisha Paul, Staff Writer

  1. Paramore, This Is Why
  2. Fall Out Boy, So Much (for) Stardust
  3. Dominic Fike, Sunburn
  4. Ryan Beatty, Calico
  5. Victoria Monét, Jaguar II
  6. Troye Sivan, Something To Give Each Other
  7. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  8. Niall Horan, The Show
  9. Ice Spice, Like…?
  10. Hozier, Unreal Unearth

For the entirety of 2023, I’ve been celebrating 2013. The music that I gravitated towards the most this year has felt inextricably connected to the albums and artists that redefined the way that I consumed and understood music as a teenager a decade ago. Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts brought me back to the feeling of being 15 years old and hearing Lorde’s Pure Heroine for the first time, both serving as entry points to fully embracing complicated young emotions. The live instruments and soul of Victoria Monét’s Jaguar II brought me back to the many, many hours I spent listening to and dissecting the luscious sounds of Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience. Niall Horan’s The Show, with its massive choruses and tender infatuation, brought me back to the nights I spent waiting for the latest One Direction album to leak on Tumblr. Troye Sivan’s Something To Give Each Other reminded me of watching his YouTube videos and digging for new music on 8tracks (if you know, you know) in high school.

The self-reflection of Dominic Fike’s Sunburn and Hozier’s Unreal Unearth sparked deep introspection in me as I reflected on the past decade. Paramore and Fall Out Boy both returned this year, as they did in 2013, with records that reminded me that angst has no expiration date. Ryan Beatty’s Calico reminded me of what it feels like to really listen to music, to feel it, and to be shaped by it. Coming of age in the 2010s and enduring the chaos of the 2020s as a young adult has a way of souring the curiosity that allows you to surrender yourself to art. I’ve always used music as a means of keeping track of my memories and how they made me feel — no matter how significant or insignificant — and there was an excitement that I had back then that I don’t always feel as connected to now. I’ve missed it dearly, and this year sparked something that brought that back to me. Happy 2013-in-2023 to all who celebrate.

Steven Pearl, Copy Editor

  1. Janelle Monáe, The Age of Pleasure
  2. The Rolling Stones, Hackney Diamonds
  3. Channel Tres, Real Cultural Shit
  4. Jungle, Volcano
  5. Jessie Ware, That! Feels! Good!
  6. LP Giobbi, Light Places
  7. Maneskin, Rush!
  8. Bella Shmurda, DND
  9. Nation of Language, Strange Disciple
  10. Troye Sivan, Something To Give Each Other

Seduce me with a good hard rocker I can dance, lounge, or bang to and I’m all yours. Global beats, smart instrumentation, and catchy hooks don’t hurt either — and I’m a sucker for snappy songcraft and lyrics that pull you in, even when I don’t entirely believe some of the stories being spun. Tempting as it was to include film scores in a year powered by Barbie and Across the Spider-Verse supertracks, none of these sonic booms are compilations, but they aren’t all equal, either. Some are blockbusters years in the making, some feature guest artists, a couple are simply EPs. Collectively, they’re my favorite listens of the year.

Noah Shachtman, Editor-in-Chief

  1. SZA, SOS
  2. Samory I, Strength
  3. Skrillex, Quest for Fire
  4. Zach Bryan, Zach Bryan
  5. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  6. Asake, Work of Art
  7. Victoria Monét, Jaguar II
  8. Lil Yachty, Let’s Start Here
  9. Protoje, In Search of Zion
  10. Tainy, Data

I had a goddamn meltdown the first time I heard the new SZA record, and I’m not sure I ever got over it: the songwriting, the originality, the range of emotion — SOS was just on a level above the rest. But it wasn’t the only surprise of the year. Tainy turned out the weirdest reggaeton record to date. Lil Yachty took a fuckton of hallucinogens and came back as a synth-rocker. And somehow, Skrillex dropped not one but two records that were better than anything he produced at dubstep’s peak. That’s how strange and unexpected things got in 2023.

Rob Sheffield, Contributing Writer

  1. Boygenius, The Record
  2. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  3. Crosslegged, Another Blue
  4. billy woods & Kenny Segal, Maps
  5. Palehound, Eye on the Bat
  6. Pardoner, Peace Loving People
  7. Noname, Sundial
  8. Wednesday, Rat Saw God
  9. Sufjan Stevens, Javelin
  10. Victoria Monét, Jaguar II

Nobody likes you when you’re 2023, as Blink-182 warned us. But it’s a fact: Years that end in “3” are always great music years, however they might suck for everything else. These were the albums that kept me facing forward and moving on up all year. Some of them kept revealing new twists and surprises over time; others settled into a durable pleasure groove. Some are mega-pop sensations; others are underground gems. Pop divas, rap poets, punk rockers, storytellers, tearjerkers, rump shakers — this year, the great stuff was wherever you found it. So good night, the Year of She’s Still ’23 Inside Her Fantasy. Here’s looking forward to some ‘24K Magic for 2024 Hour Party People.

Brittany Spanos, Senior Writer

  1. Chappell Roan, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess
  2. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  3. Daisy Jones & the Six, Aurora
  4. Miley Cyrus, Endless Summer Vacation
  5. Lana Del Rey, Did You Know That There’s a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd
  6. Paramore, This Is Why
  7. Kesha, Gag Order
  8. Hozier, Unreal Unearth
  9. Jessie Ware, That! Feels! Good!
  10. Lil Yachty, Let’s Start Here

Chappell Roan’s debut album was my most-anticipated album of the year, and she really delivered on the fun and fresh pop song assignment like I knew she would. The album became an easy favorite, as did the single “Red Wine Supernova,” which has one of the best pop bridges of all time. Otherwise, Olivia Rodrigo and Miley Cyrus came back with a couple of albums I couldn’t stop spinning. Lana Del Rey somehow outdid herself with “A&W,” quite frankly her best song. And while we’re talking songs, how could I choose just one by Taylor Swift? Bootleg YouTube uploads of “You’re Losing Me” were already going platinum for me after its physical-only release in May, while “Is It Over Now?” is spiking to the top of my personal vault song rankings.

Louisa Suyanto, Senior Account Manager

  1. Jungle, Volcano 
  2. Supershy, Happy Music 
  3. Noah Kahan, Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)
  4. Zach Bryan, Zach Bryan 
  5. SG Lewis, AudioLust & HigherLove
  6. Parcels, Live Vol. 2 
  7. Barry Can’t Swim, When Will We Land? 
  8. Boygenius, The Record
  9. Poolside, Blame It All on Love  
  10. Jayda G, Guy 

This year, more than most, was filled with a wide range of challenges, accomplishments, and changes. Music has been there at my lowest and highest of times, through both tears and laughter. These albums will always transport me to very specific moments, allowing me to feel gratitude for both the good and bad things that have happened in 2023. 

Lisa Tozzi, Digital Director

  1. Olivia Rodrigo, “All-American Bitch” 
  2. Sleater-Kinney, “Say It Like You Mean It” 
  3. Palehound, “Eye on the Bat”
  4. Boygenius, “Not Strong Enough”
  5. Billie Eilish, “What Was I Made For?”
  6. The National, “Eucalyptus”
  7. The National + Phoebe Bridgers, “Laugh Track” 
  8. Blondshell, “Salad”
  9. SZA, “Snooze”
  10. Mitski, “My Love Mine All Mine”
  11. Raye (With the Heritage Royal Orchestra), “Escapism”

Dearest Editor, I am so sorry that this is not only late, but I also strayed a bit from the assignment. There’s always one of us that has to be difficult and break the nice, neat, best albums format and tries to do favorite songs instead. Hear me out: One of my favorite albums of 2023 isn’t out yet.  Another made my 2022 favorite albums list. Two whole National albums were released, and I sheepishly must confess I listened to those a lot. And there were a few songs I needed to listen to again and again, but they weren’t always part of an album I loved. With your indulgence, I present my favorite songs of 2023. (P.S. There are 11. A million apologies!) 

Grace Troutman, Marketing

  1. Taylor Swift, Midnights (The Til Dawn Edition)
  2. Boygenius, The Record
  3. Noah Kahan, Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever)
  4. Troye Sivan, Something To Give Each Other
  5. The National, Laugh Track
  6. Zach Bryan, Zach Bryan
  7. Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense (Deluxe Edition) [Live]
  8. Sufjan Stevens, Javelin
  9. Slow Pulp, Yard
  10. Hall Johnson, Haymaker

As I’m in my debut year at Rolling Stone, I owe a debt of gratitude to the music that got me to the interview. Taylor Swift’s Midnights remains at my Number One, and (The Til Dawn Edition), released this year, secures its place at the top of my 2023 list. There’s something special about becoming a Swifite as an adult; “You’re on Your Own, Kid” and “Sweet Nothing” made me audibly say “I get it” as I found myself twirling around like I’m 13 again, and dancing to every (Taylor’s Version) release as if I was hearing it for the first time. Noah Kahan earns my nod for Best New Artist with Stick Season (We’ll All Be Here Forever), showing up with his ability to create a vulnerable space that’s fresh and inviting for his audience. I had the privilege of watching the theatrical re-release of Stop Making Sense, and fell back in love with the Eighties synths that tickles my brain just right with the 2023 live soundtrack.

Moving into the official 2023 calendar year, Boygenius take the gold with unparalleled harmonies that I can’t get enough of. Troye Sivan launched me back into a pop realm I didn’t know I missed, while Zach Bryan’s music makes me like country? An honorable mention for Maggie Rogers with “Dawns.” The National’s track “Weird Goodbyes” drew me into the entire album. Sufjan Stevens remains my go-to subway companion, providing the perfect soundtrack for thought-provoking drift-aways. Slow Pulp invokes nostalgic memories of friend-filled backseats, while Hall Johnson’s debut album, Haymaker, proves that something really cool can come out of riffing in the basement.

Simon Vozick-Levinson, Deputy Music Editor

  1. Boygenius, The Record
  2. Blondshell, Blondshell
  3. Model/Actriz, Dogsbody
  4. McKinley Dixon, Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!? 
  5. El Michels Affair & Black Thought, Glorious Game
  6. Wilco, Cousin
  7. Annie Blackman, Bug
  8. Mitski, The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We
  9. Tainy, Data
  10. NewJeans, Get Up

2023 has been a wild year of discovery and renewal for me. Some artists came crashing onto my radar when I saw them perform for the first time at SXSW (Model/Actriz’s ecstatic noise; Annie Blackman’s wry one-liners; McKinley Dixon’s heartfelt pleas). Other artists found ways to surprise me after many years of listening (Black Thought made the solo masterpiece he’s always had in him; Wilco shook off some rust with help from Cate Le Bon). Mitski reached for a classic sense of cool, and Tainy and NewJeans offered vivid visions of pop’s future. But the two albums that stood above the rest for me came from Blondshell and Boygenius. No one had more acute insights or more blazing hooks than Julien Baker, Lucy Dacus, and Phoebe Bridgers on their full-length debut — unless it was Sabrina Teitelbaum on hers. How do you choose between “Anti-Curse” and “Sepsis,” or “Joiner” and “Cool About It”? Maybe you don’t. I’m just glad we got two albums this crushingly real in one year.

Trending

Ilana Woldenberg, Video Producer

  1. Reneé Rapp, Snow Angel (Deluxe)
  2. Troye Sivan, Something To Give Each Other
  3. Olivia Rodrigo, Guts
  4. Aly & AJ, With Love From
  5. Paramore, This Is Why
  6. Karol G, Mañana Será Bonito
  7. Miley Cyrus, Endless Summer Vacation
  8. Taylor Swift, 1989 (Taylor’s Version)
  9. Victoria Monét, Jaguar II
  10. Boygenius, The Record

From Troye Sivan’s iconic TikToks revealing the inspiration behind some of his biggest hits of this year (spoiler alert: Rush is not not about poppers), to Reneé Rapp purring “I just want some recognition for having good tits and a big heart” over smooth R&B beats, gone are the days of the aloof pop star with an overly curated image. Pop stars are back to being messy, and we probably have Gen Z to thank for that. This past year in music ushered in an era of vindication for the chronic oversharer. Or rather, I have felt personally vindicated by a trend that’s taking over the pop music landscape, and admittedly, eating all the way up. From Olivia Rodrigo oh-so-relatably conflating insecurity, envy, and desire on “Lacy,” to basically the entirety of “Ballad of a Homeschooled Girl,” we’ve finally come around to embracing the cool in being uncool. And nothing says let’s subvert the notion of the unattainable pop star quite like Taylor Swift’s “Slut! (Taylor’s Version) (From the Vault),” because who doesn’t love imagining the glamazon that is Swift getting “lovesick all over [her] bed.” If this year in pop music had a motto, I reckon it’d be: Let’s BFFR.

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