The best albums of 2023

1 December 2023, 16:49

The best albums of 2023
The best albums of 2023. Picture: PopBuzz

By PopBuzz

Olivia Rodrigo? Chappell Roan? Victoria Monét? Our favourite albums of 2023 are...

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With 2023 now drawing to a close, the time has come to rank the best albums of the year.

Every year blesses us with a new collection of records that work their way into our hearts and soundtrack our lives. 2023 is no different.

From brilliant debuts by the likes of RAYE and Chappell Roan to amazing returns by the likes of Lana Del Rey and Paramore, there's been something for everyone this year. Even, Barbie came though with an iconic soundtrack.

Which albums come out on top though? Scroll down to find out which projects made our official Top 20 and in what order.

READ MORE: The best songs of 2023

20) Barbie: The Album

This Barbie is an enjoyer of bops – and Barbie: The Album delivered on all fronts. From Lizzo’s Barbie Land anthem ‘Pink’ to Billie Eilish’s emotionally devastating ‘What Was I Made For?’, all topped off with a banger from Barbie herself, Nicki Minaj, the soundtrack has something for everyone – even the Kens. Produced by Mark Ronson, Barbie: The Album manages to nail the nostalgia, vibes and aesthetic of the dreamy, bubblegum pink world that makes you want to stay on Barbie’s Dreamhouse dance floor until the lights come on. If we had to sum it up in one word? SUBLIME! – Katie Louise Smith

Barbie: The Album
Barbie: The Album. Picture: Atlantic

19) PinkPantheress - Heaven Knows

What PinkPantheress has achieved in the past 12 months is nothing short of extraordinary. Many newer artists struggle to convert their early viral successes into something more long lasting and concrete. PinkPantheress pulled it off, not only with mega-hit 'Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2', an unexpected yet perfect partnership with Ice Spice, but also her debut album, Heaven Knows, which takes a swing for a mainstream pop sound without losing what made her special in the first place. This feels like just the beginning for PinkPantheress. - Woodrow Whyte

PinkPantheress - Heaven Knows
PinkPantheress - Heaven Knows. Picture: Warner Records UK

18) Kali Uchis - Red Moon in Venus

We could sit here all day and wax lyrical about what makes a good album but, ultimately, we’re in the business of bops here at PopBuzz HQ, and Kali Uchis was serving them hot on Red Moon in Venus. You simply cannot argue with jams as strong as ‘I Wish you Roses’ and ‘Moonlight’, and the collaborations with Omar Apollo and Summer Walker push this album to the next level. Ever since the Por Vida EP, Kali has been steadily refining her sound and its come to full fruition on Red Moon in Venus. If her forthcoming Spanish album is anywhere near as good as this, Kali is about to release two albums of the year in a row. - Woodrow Whyte

Kali Uchis - Red Moon in Venus
Kali Uchis - Red Moon in Venus. Picture: Geffen

17) Slayyyter - Starfucker

Slayyyter's commitment to making bops should be studied. Starfucker is one of the best explorations of fame in pop since Lady Gaga's The Fame and the hooks are undeniable. Whether she's denying doing cocaine on 'I Love Hollywood!', or bragging about her 'brand new tits' on 'Plastic', pop hasn't sounded this fun, filthy and audacious in years. Slayyyter make 'Girl Like Me' a single in 2024 challenge. - Sam Prance

Slayyyter - Starfucker
Slayyyter - Starfucker. Picture: Fader

16) Ashnikko - Weedkiller

No one else could write a concept album about a post-apocalyptic fae universe and make it slap this hard! The album is overflowing with songs that could soundtrack a dramatic fight scene but, if you listen a little closer, there are also vulnerable moments that will hit you right in the heart. Songs like 'Miss Nectarine' and 'Dying Earth' prove that Ashnikko has only just begun peeling back the layers of her artistry and there's nothing more cathartic than screaming along to 'You Make Me Sick!' at the top of your lungs. - SP

Listen to Ashnikko break down Weedkiller track by track on Making The Album

Ashnikko - Weedkiller
Ashnikko - Weedkiller. Picture: Warner

15) Kevin Abstract - Blanket

Never one to sit still, for his first solo album since Brockhampton's indefinite hiatus, Kevin Abstract has turned to the world of alt rock. Blanket is filled with influences and sounds from all manner of 90s bands but its leftfield moments have a more contemporaneous kinship with artists like Alex G. Whether this is a permanent change or he's just passing through, fans can be grateful to Blanket for 'Real 2 Me', 'Blanket' and 'Scream', which are some of the most compelling and brilliant songs he's ever written. - WW

Kevin Abstract - Blanket
Kevin Abstract - Blanket. Picture: RCA/Video Store

14) Lana Del Rey - Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd?

Trends have come and gone over the past decade but Lana Del Rey's commitment to her own singular sound has made her one of the most compelling artists in recent memory. Who else could release a song like 'A&W'? Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd? may not explore new sonic territory but Lana reaches new heights as she hones her songwriting craft. 'Kintsugi' is arguably one of the most beautiful songs she's ever written. - SP

Lana Del Rey - Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd?
Lana Del Rey - Did You Know That There's a Tunnel Under Ocean Blvd? Picture: Interscope/Polydor

13) Kaytraminé - KAYTRAMINÉ

Every track of dream team duo Aminé and Kaytranada’s collaborative 2023 release is a pure slice of summer (not hard to see why when you find out the album was cooked up when the two holed up in a studio in Malibu). Fusing Kaytranada’s smooth, nostalgia-laced productions with Amine’s signature, sharp and humour tinged flows, KAYTRAMINÉ is an album that is an essential for the beach party, the after party, AND the after-AFTER party. - Emily Beard

Kaytraminé - KAYTRAMINÉ
Kaytraminé - KAYTRAMINÉ. Picture: CLBN/Kaytranada/Venice

12) Madison Beer - Silence Between Songs

After exploring industrial sounds on Life Support, Madison Beer strips everything back with Silence Between Songs and the results are remarkable. 'At Your Worst' captures exactly what it's like to have a complex relationship with your dad and 'Reckless' is a breakup ballad for the ages. There's also a song about a tree that has no right being as moving as it is. 'Envy the Leaves' stans make some noise! In a just world, Madison's Tame Impala inspired single 'Home to Another One' would have been Number 1 for 10 weeks straight. - SP

Listen to Madison Beer break down Silence Between Songs track by track on Making The Album

Madison Beer - Silence Between Songs
Madison Beer - Silence Between Songs. Picture: Epic Records/Sing It Loud

11) 100 gecs - 10,000 gecs

For long term ska punk heads (aka me), a reimagining of the genre has been long overdue. Musical magpies Dylan Brady & Laura Les did just that by adding ska to their eclectic bag of influences across hyper-pop, nu metal and industrial. Perhaps this record’s greatest strength, though, is how unserious the band are willing to be, with songs about a lost and confused frog, tooth removal, being “the dumbest girl alive”. Gloriously dumb and fun, yet wildly innovative and smart, 100 gecs are deserving of all the critical praise and fan love they received this year. - WW

100 g
100 Gecs - 10,000 Gecs. Picture: Atlantic

10) Amaarae - Fountain Baby

There are few things more exciting than listening to a project and feeling like you haven't heard anything like it before. Amaarae's 'Fountain Baby' is just that. It exists in its own sonic universe and it leaves you craving more after every listen. The entire album is layered with luxurious live instrumentation and its all tied together by Amaarae's angelic voice. Whether she's poking fun at star-signs on 'Co-Star' or taunting a lover on 'Reckless & Sweet', it's impossible not to be hypnotised by Amaarae's talent. - SP

Amaarae - Fountain Baby
Amaarae - Fountain Baby. Picture: Interscope

9) Lil Yachty - Let's Start Here

To say Lil Yachty’s Let’s Start Here was an unexpected genre pivot is an understatement. The signature Yachty sound that blew him up was set aside for a dive into a shimmering pool of psych-rock, funk, synth-pop, and velvety R&B. The big swing results in some huge album highs, most notably on the standout lead single 'sAy sOMETHINg’ and dreamy fan favourite ‘drive ME crazy!’. With such a success on his hands, we can’t wait to see where Lil Boat sails to sonically next. - EB

Lil Yachty - Let's Start Here
Lil Yachty - Let's Start Here. Picture: Motown Records/Quality Control Music

8) Caroline Polachek - Desire, I Want To Turn Into You

In addition to screaming at birds, Caroline’s four single run into Desire, I Want To Turn Into You will go down in the alt-pop history books. Starting with stone cold banger ‘Bunny Is A Rider’, back in 2021, it took another year before the weighty, poetic ‘Billions’ dropped, a cuntquake measuring a 9.9 on the cunter scale. People died it was that good. Then came Balearic bop ‘Sunset’ which, despite not being an ABBA song, absolutely belongs on the next Mamma Mia soundtrack. And to finish off with ‘Welcome To My Island’ proved - alongside the rest of this stunning album - that Caroline is a pop auteur in a league of her own. - WW

Caroline Polachek - Desire, I Want To Turn Into You
Caroline Polachek - Desire, I Want To Turn Into You. Picture: Sony Music

7) Paramore - This Is Why

After the roaring success of 2017’s After Laughter, it would have been understandable (and likely very well received) if Paramore had returned for more of the same on their latest release. However Zac, Hayley and Taylor instead surprised fans by switching things up and returned with a triumphant album that calls back to the early 2000s British alt-rock and post-punk revival. This Is Why is an album that is both at once nostalgic and also speaks to the fears and anxieties of existing as a person in the modern day just trying to deal. This Is Why shines brightest when the lyrical subjects turn inwards, as on standout tracks ‘You First’ (a lament about the inner conflict of knowing if you’re a good person), ‘Liar’ (an ode to being in denial about falling in love) and ‘Figure 8’ (an angst laced track about losing yourself in a toxic relationship). This Is Why shows why Paramore continue to be an exciting, ever evolving band to watch. - EB

Paramore - This Is Why
Paramore - This Is Why. Picture: Atlantic

6) Ryan Beatty - Calico

“They’re not just pretty pop songs, they’re beautifully intense and meaningful.” That's how actual-icon Elton John described Ryan Beatty’s songwriting after listening to Calico. Kings supporting kings, we love to see it! And Elton is right; Calico has a depth that pulls you under from the very first note. Opening with the quiet devastation of ‘Ribbons’, the records unfurls one beautiful song after another, with stripped-back acoustic instrumentation allowing for Ryan’s vocals to take centre stage over the album's lean but powerful 9 songs. A shocking omission from the Album of the Year category at the Grammys, but at least Ryan’s fans are treating Calico with the reverence and respect it deserves. - WW

Ryan Beatty Calico
Ryan Beatty Calico. Picture: Interscope

5) Victoria Monét - JAGUAR II

Victoria Monét has arrived. After impressing critics with her Jaguar EP in 2020, Victoria dives deeper into 70s inspired R&B to create the kind of record that sounds timeless as soon as it comes out. 'Party Girl' effortlessly weaves dancehall into her sound, 'How Does It Make You Feel' is a stirring ballad worthy of Anita Baker and 'On My Mama' flips a Chalie Boy sample into something modern and fresh. All the while, Victoria puts her humour front and centre. 'Thought you was about to get some foreplay with me? / You won't even get a picture of these 4K titties' is the kind of bar most rappers would be jealous of. Victoria just received seven Grammy nominations and she deserves every single one of them. - SP

Listen to Victoria Monét breakdown JAGUAR II track by track on Making The Album

Victoria Monét - JAGUAR II
Victoria Monét - JAGUAR II. Picture: RCA

4) Troye Sivan - Something to Give Each Other

Troye Sivan was not wrong when he proclaimed Something to Give Each Other as his best era to date. Musically and aesthetically, Troye is moving with the confidence of an artist reaching his peak. You can see it in the rapturous carnal explosion of 'Rush', the sheer audacity of that 'Shooting Stars' sample on 'Got Me Started' and the gender fuckery of 'One Of Your Girls’ video. The poppers o’clock production on 'Rush' was perfect for an attention-grabbing lead single but the rest of STGEO has a more breezy atmosphere. Understated, tender moments like ’Still Got It’ and ‘Can’t Go Back’ are the record’s highlights. Something to Give Each Other is nothing short of a triumph. - WW

Watch Troye Sivan paint a self-portrait on 'Portrait Mode'

Troye Sivan Something To Give Each Other
Troye Sivan Something To Give Each Other. Picture: Capitol

3) RAYE - My 21st Century Blues

Few music stories are more inspiring than what RAYE has achieved with My 21st Century Blues. After feeling trapped by the label system, RAYE managed to get out of her contract and create an album completely on her own terms. Not only that but she also took her career to another level and landed her first Number 1 single with 'Escapism'. My 21st Century Blues is the sound of an artist who has finally been given the freedom to explore the full range of their talent. From the club ready 'Black Mascara' to the jazzy 'Worth It', My 21st Century Blues effortlessly showcases why RAYE is one of the UK's brightest talents. - SP

RAYE - My 21st Century Blues
RAYE - My 21st Century Blues. Picture: Human Re Sources

2) Olivia Rodrigo - Guts

How do you follow-up one of the most successful debut albums of all time? In Olivia Rodrigo's case you release an even better album. After processing the heartbreak that inspired Sour, Guts sees Olivia expand her viewpoint and explore exactly how angst-ridden being 19 can be. Ballads like 'Making the Bed' and 'The Grudge' will bring you to tears and songs like 'Bad Idea Right?' and 'Get Him Back' prove that there's still fun to be had in the chaos and confusion of growing up. No matter how old you are, Olivia has the ability to transport you back to exactly what it feels like to be her age and that skill will serve her as an artist for many years to come. - SP

Watch Olivia Rodrigo vs 'The Most Impossible Olivia Rodrigo Quiz'

Olivia Rodrigo - Guts
Olivia Rodrigo - Guts. Picture: Geffen

1) Chappell Roan - The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess

If pop music needs saving, then 25-year-old Chappell Roan makes a compelling case for being the saviour on her debut album.

The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess is a cinematic and audacious pop record, shamelessly marching to the beat of its own drum. Written over four years, Chappell describes the record as “unearthing my true self and fearlessly embracing queerness”, and that story is told with thrilling detail and delivery across it's daring 14 track run.

Of her many talents, Chappell’s vivid storytelling is perhaps her greatest gift. Take 'Casual', a tale as old as time; a person who wants all the benefits of a relationship but won’t commit. Searing honesty paired with razor sharp wit is Chappell's calling card, and she deploys it with electrifying results when she asks her lover rhetorically during the chorus; “Knee deep in the passenger seat and you’re eating me out, is it casual now? Two weeks and your mom invites me to her Long Beach house, is it casual now?

Chappell's main collaborator Dan Nigro delivers pitch-perfect production, providing enough space for TRAFOAMP's raw, emotional elements to breathe ('Coffee', 'Kaleidoscope'), then turning it up to 11 for the album's big pop moments. In lesser artists’ hands, ‘Pink Pony Club’ would be a flimsy album filler. With Roan and Nigro, it becomes a euphoric camp classic. Two of the biggest singles, ‘Naked In Manhattan’ and ‘Red Wine Supernova’, share the fun theatricality found on Marina’s early work, while album highlight ‘HOT TO GO!’ is a fists-in-the-air, cheer squad masterpiece.

Such is its consistency, The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess is the strongest debut pop album since Lorde's Pure Heroine, and a future classic in-waiting. For now, Chappell has a dedicated cult following but it's only a matter of time before the rest of the world catches up. - WW

Chappell Roan - The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess
Chappell Roan - The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. Picture: AMUSEMENT/ISLAND RECORDS

Previous winners...

🏆 Beyoncé - RENAISSANCE (2022)
🏆 Halsey - 
If I Can't Have Love, I Want Power (2021)
🏆 Chloe x Halle - Ungodly Hour (2020)
🏆 Billie EIlish - 
🏆 Cardi B - 
Invasion of Privacy (2018)
🏆 Khalid - 
American Teen (2017)
🏆 The 1975 - 
I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (2016)
🏆 Carly Rae Jepsen - 
E•MO•TION (2015)