The best new song of the year is by a peppy beat combo named the Beatles. Despite their silly, punny name, the band – on the strength of this cut – has real potential. What initially sounds like a maudlin plodder soon reveals itself to be a song with flashes of true ingenuity. You’ll find yourself returning to its beguiling charms again and again, thanks to the lead singer’s (one ‘John Lennon’) deceptively clever melody. Does it sound like it’s been arranged and performed by a computer? A bit. But the sound of humanity, an enduring, psycho-spiritual fraternity, calling out from beyond the AI algo-void is perhaps what makes it so affecting. Now can we have a version without the cloying string section?
Following on from 2022, in which the ginormous wheels of the music industry fully churned back into action, 2023 has felt oddly... normal. Well, as normal as the musoworld gets. This year still featured film soundtrack tunes spinning off with their own wild success and a brand-new, AI-driven single by a band with two members who have, famously, been dead for a rather long time.
So, perhaps 2023 hasn’t been the most typical year for music after all – but it’s certainly been a good one. And that’s pretty obvious from our list of the year’s best songs. Chosen by members of the Time Out team in offices around the world, 2023’s finest choons cover a vast range of styles and genres, from euphoric house and buoyant country to brutal death metal and UK garage-inflected K-pop.
Prep your playlist for some brand-new bangers: these are the 23 tracks the Time Out team has had on repeat in 2023.