The best songs of 2023

8 December 2023, 17:20

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

By PopBuzz

Miley Cyrus? Troye Sivan? Sabrina Carpenter? Our favourite songs of 2023 are...

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

2023 is almost over and it's impossible to imagine the past year without the iconic bops and ballads that soundtracked it.

Over the course of the past 12 months, we've seen huge acts like Dua Lipa and Miley Cyrus return with brand new eras. We've also witnessed artists like PinkPantheress and Victoria Monét reach new heights of success with smash hit singles. On top of that, icons like Lana Del Rey and Kylie Minogue have given us new songs to obsess over.

What is our single of the year though? Scroll down to find out which tracks made our official Top 20 and in what order.

READ MORE: The best albums of 2023

20) Omar Apollo - '3 Boys'

On ‘3 Boys’, Omar Apollo steps away from writing about unrequited love and into writing about being a man in demand! This song perfectly encapsulates what it's like to want someone all to yourself, so much so that even entertaining the thought of a ménage à trois makes you siiiick. Filled with yearning vocals and a dreamy guitar line, I like to imagine this song as a bratty tantrum over someone too hot to share. - Tia Owomoyela

Omar Apollo - 3 Boys (Official Lyric Video)

19) Lana Del Rey - 'A&W'

It's very rare that an artist can release a song longer than five minutes without you thinking that it should be shorter. Lana Del Rey is no ordinary artist though and, multiple times, she has stunned fans with epic multi-minute opuses. 'A&W' is up there with 'Venice Bitch' as one of the best things that Lana has ever released. It combines her typical arresting ballad style with something more experimental. The way Lana sings 'Jimmy Jimmy cocoa puff' in the second half is award-worthy alone. - Sam Prance

Lana Del Rey - A&W (Audio)

18) Dua Lipa - 'Houdini'

Holiday-enthusiast Dua Lipa recently claimed her songs are “growers” rather than instant hits. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love a grower, but ‘Houdini’ had me hooked on first listen. Produced and co-written by Danny L Harle and Tame Impala, there’s a lot to love about the first single from Dua’s forthcoming new album but especially the way she sings the song’s title (“who-dee-nee”) which I’ve not stopped imitating since it was released. Nobody is stacking up hits quicker than Dua right now and 'Houdini' is up there with the best of her catalogue. Another iconic moment, we simply must stan. - Woodrow Whyte

Dua Lipa - Houdini (Official Music Video)

17) PinkPantheress & Ice Spice - 'Boy's a Liar Pt. 2'

PinkPantheress already had a banger on her hands with the original solo version of 'Boy's a Liar'. However, it's impossible to imagine the song without Ice Spice now. Not only does she complement PinkPantheress perfectly but she also gives the song an extra layer of wit and bravado. Her matter of fact style is perfect for calling out a fuckboy and she commits to PinkPantheress' sonic world perfectly. One of the best videos of the year too. - SP

PinkPantheress, Ice Spice - Boy’s a liar Pt. 2 (Official Video)

16) Mette - 'Van Gogh'

We thought we’d never hear another Mette song again after she dropped her electrifying debut single ‘Petrified’ and then dipped without a trace for 18 months. Thankfully, the wait was worth it when she returned earlier this year with ‘Mama’s Eyes’. But it’s the follow up single, ‘Van Gogh’, that is truly god-tier. An instant earworm, this catchy ode to finding your inner muse is pure joy, the type of song which you dance around your bedroom to when no one is watching. - WW

METTE - VAN GOGH (Official Video)

15) Caroline Polachek - 'Welcome to My Island - George Daniel & Charli XCX Remix'

Such is the transformation, comparing the original version of 'Welcome To My Island' with George Daniel and Charli XCX’s remix would be futile. Featuring minimal recognisable elements from the original, they’re basically two entirely different songs. Some of the thundering guitars remain but Caroline’s ethereal vocals are mostly replaced by Charli spitting bars (“I'm on my Richard Branson wave/No virgin but I knew just how to behave” was a particularly viral highlight). Guaranteed to go off in the club, an absolute banger of a track. - WW

Welcome To My Island (George Daniel & Charli XCX Remix)

14) Chappell Roan - 'Red Wine Supernova'

The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess is so good you could literally spin a wheel and whatever song it landed on would have made it onto this list. But ‘Red Wine Supernova’ is the chosen one – and for good reason. Described by Chappell as a “campy gay girl song that captured the magic of having feelings for another girl”, the bold storytelling and witty lyrics (“I heard you like magic, I got a wand and a rabbit?” Iconic!) are an absolute standout. It’s a bop, your honour. A big, horny, perfect bop! - Katie Louise Smith

Chappell Roan - Red Wine Supernova (Magician's Cut)

13) Lil Yachty - 'Say Something'

If you’d have said at the start of the year that one of 2023’s most emotional songs would come from Lil Yachty, it’s safe to say many people would have been disbelievers. Yet Lil Boat surprised us all when he dropped his heart wrenching ode to yearning for reciprocated love. But this is no ballad! 'Say Something' is funky and high energy, the emotion building to a fever pitch in-between enchanted and wavy production, not to mention it comes with an equally moving and cinematic music video to match. Here’s hoping Yachty continues to show us his emotional and experimental side in 2024 and beyond. - Emily Beard

Lil Yachty - sAy sOMETHINg

12) Billie Eilish - 'What Was I Made For?'

Just when you thought Billie Eilish couldn’t write a sadder song than ‘Everything I Wanted’, she finds a deeper level of despair to really ruin your day. One minute I'm minding my own business watching the Barbie film, next thing I'm crying into my popcorn on the cinema floor. I’d send Billie and Finneas my therapy bill were it not such a beautiful song. Arriving with the air of a timeless classic, ‘What I Was Made For?’ feels destined to stand the test of time. - WW

Billie Eilish - What Was I Made For? (Official Music Video)

11) Victoria Monét - 'On My Mama'

It takes a true musician to spin a sample on its head and make a song that isn't overshadowed by the original. With 'On My Mama', Victoria Monét does just that. The entire track is a flex and no one else could write lines as good as 'I'm so deep in my bag like a grandma wit' a peppermint'. Victoria said she wrote it at a time when she was experiencing post-partum depression and wanted to write something that makes fans feel good about themselves. Based on its viral video and chart dominance, it's clear that Victoria has achieved exactly what she set out to do and more. - SP

Victoria Monét - On My Mama (Official Video)

10) NewJeans - 'Super Shy'

If you missed the NewJeans takeover in 2023, where have you been?! While the whole of their 2nd EP ‘Get Up’ is a vibe from start to finish, it’s ‘Super Shy’ that will truly hook you in to NewJeans’ sugary sweet, bunny filled world. Unexpectedly fusing production reminiscent of throwback UK garage with wholesome vocals about being too shy to make a move on a crush, ‘Super Shy’ is a song that STAYS on rotation and deservedly so. - EB

NewJeans (뉴진스) 'Super Shy' Official MV

9) FLO - 'Fly Girl (feat. Missy Elliott)'

After winning over a loyal fanbase with their debut EP in 2022, FLO took things to a whole new level with 'Fly Girl'. Not only does it sample Missy Elliott's 'Work It' but it also feature a verse from Missy herself. All the while, Jorja, Renée and Stella prove that they're in a league of their own when it comes to girl groups right now. From the vocal layering to the made-for-singing-along-to-in-the-club lyrics, it's impossible to deny how infectious 'Fly Girl' is. If this is any indication of how good their debut album will be, FLO will be on everyone's lips in 2024. - SP

FLO - Fly Girl ft. Missy Elliott

8) Kali Uchis - 'Moonlight'

This song has had nearly half a billion streams on Spotify and that’s still not enough. An ode to getting high with a lover and forgetting every day life, on ‘Moonlight’ Kali sounds like she’s literally floating away when she hits her falsetto, while the musical groove imbues the song with a sensual atmosphere. A clear standout from her brilliant Red Moon In Venus album, ‘Moonlight’ skipped right to the top of our playlists and became our new favourite Kali Uchis song. - WW

Kali Uchis - Moonlight (Official Music Video)

7) Addison Rae - '2 Die 4 (feat. Charli XCX)'

For 18 months we lived on a leak and a dream. That dream was for Addison Rae to unleash ‘2 Die 4’, a sleek, Cassie-inspired jam, into the world as a proper single. Finally, it became a reality when Addison dropped her brilliant AR EP back in August. Complete with a new verse from Charli XCX, ‘2 Die 4’ is hot and fun, two of the most essential ingredients for a good pop song. Could Addison be Britney’s heir apparent? It feels unlikely but we wouldn’t count her out given the strength of ‘2 Die 4’. - WW

Addison Rae - 2 die 4 feat. Charli XCX (Official Audio)

6) Miley Cyrus - 'Flowers'

Every year has one song that is so inescapable that everyone knows it and 2023 belongs to Miley Cyrus' 'Flowers'. As soon as Miley released the single people started obsessing over the easter eggs in the lyrics and the tabloid drama that inspired it. However, 'Flowers' is so much more than that and it wouldn't have been such an enduring hit if it wasn't a good song. Harking back to classic empowering anthems like 'I Will Survive', 'Flowers' is the kind of song that feels like a classic as soon as it comes out. Like any great pop song, it will be sung at karaoke bars around the world for decades to come. - SP

Miley Cyrus - Flowers (Official Video)

5) Tyla - 'Water'

2023 is the year Tyla arrived and 'Water' is a sign that she isn't going anywhere. Mixing pop hooks with the amapiano music she grew up listening to, 'Water' is the kind of song that no one other than Tyla could release. It may be subtle when you first listen to it but the melodies gradually seep into your soul and it isn't long before you're singing 'Water' in your head every minute of the day and attempting to do Tyla's viral choreography in the shower. With an album set to follow in 2024 and several incredible TV show performances already under her belt, Tyla world domination is upon us. - SP

Tyla - Water (Official Music Video)

4) Sabrina Carpenter - 'Feather'

Everything's coming up Sabrina! After reclaiming her narrative with Emails I Can't Send and dominating the charts with her hit single 'Nonsense', Sabrina gave fans even more to obsess over with 'Feather'. The song is a perfect kiss-off anthem in which Sabrina celebrates how good it feels to be free of a no good ex. Her delivery of 'I'm so sorry for your loss' is what pop music is all about. If that weren't enough, Sabrina made the song even more iconic with a video so good it upset the Catholic Church. With 'Feather' still growing in streams everyday and an incredible Christmas EP under her belt, Sabrina has set the perfect template for her to rise to main pop girlie status in 2024. - SP

Sabrina Carpenter - Feather (Official Video)

3) Olivia Rodrigo - 'Bad Idea Right?'

There are few things more exciting than when a huge popstar pushes the boundaries of their sound and creates something a little weirder than their usual output. On 'Bad Idea Right?', Olivia takes a step away from mainstream pop and leans into 90s alt rock to create one of her best songs to date. From the spoken word verses to the hilariously relatable lyrics, 'Bad Idea Right?' is full of sonic surprises that keep you coming back for more. Repeating 'Seeing you tonight, it's a bad idea right?' in the chorus only to conclude 'Fuck it, it's fine' is one of the best pop moments in recent memory. - SP

Olivia Rodrigo - bad idea right? (Official Video)

2) Kylie Minogue - 'Padam Padam'

It was the definition of a Pop Emergency. A cultural reset. A Padam-ic, if you will. Kylie Minogue, sweeping in to save the day with a certified banger. Her first Top 10 single in 12 years. The anthem of Pride Month 2023. A viral smash that introduced the beloved icon to a whole new generation of fans… And my GOD, what a well-deserved, long overdue moment! 'Padam' is not just a song, 'Padam' is a state of mind. And it’s Kylie at her absolute best: Sexy, camp and pure timeless pop perfection. Padam? PADAM!!! - KLS

Kylie Minogue - Padam Padam (Official Video)

1) Troye Sivan - 'Rush'

Now this is how you launch a new era. Coming five years after his last album, fans were more than a little itchy for new music from Troye Sivan.

Named after a popular brand of poppers, ‘Rush’ was teased with a clip from the chorus for five merciless weeks; an erotic chant from a burly group of bears: “I feel the rush/Addicted to your touch”. Needless to say, even the most devout of Troye stans were caught off guard.

Troye has flirted with club music before, primarily on ‘STUD’ from the In A Dream EP, but ‘Rush’ is a complete repositioning of his sound. Ready for gay clubs across the world, its pulsating house beat, horny chanting, and Troye’s airy falsetto is unlike anything else currently in the mainstream pop landscape. As a lead single, it was risky, bold, and addictive to listen to.

While ‘Rush’ wasn’t a massive radio hit, it was successful in bringing Troye to the attention of a huge new audience, especially thanks to its mildly controversial, sexually charged music video, complete with glory holes and soviet-style choreography. ‘Rush’ was an artistic gamble that paid off big time, a homoerotic banger that puts Troye in a lane of his own. Let’s cheers a bottle of poppers to that. - WW

Troye Sivan - Rush (Official Video)

Previous winners...

🏆 Rina Sawayama - 'This Hell' (2022)
🏆 Lil Nas X - 'MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name)' (2021)
🏆 Cardi B - 'WAP' feat. Megan Thee Stallion (2020)
🏆 Normani - 'Motivation' (2019)
🏆 Panic! At The Disco - 'High Hopes' (2018)
🏆 Paramore - 'Fake Happy' (2017)