Year End Music Countdown # 22: 2023

For the past 22 years that I’ve been scrutinizing, analyzing, and criticizing modern music I’ve never gone through a full year as uninspired and boring as 2023. The entire year felt as though the world was collectively waiting for a big event that never came. A massive hit song, a masterpiece album from a celebrated act, a festival performance unlike any other before it – none of these materialized in the past twelve months. It was an empty expanse, a landscape void of genuinely big moments.

This will be further explored in an upcoming post diving into the trends of 2023, but in the meantime here are the meagre gems I managed to pluck from the wasteland this year.

The Top 25 Songs of 2023

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Year End Music Countdowns #21: 2022

In a rare bit of optimism I can definitively state that music – particularly alternative rock – had a good year. Even stalwarts like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Liam Gallagher managed to successfully deliver memorable hits worthy of inclusion on future greatest hits compilations. More importantly, this was the first year in a very long time where I had to carefully parse the top 10 tracks and there was an actual deliberation process as to which song would take the top spot. Though it may not have been the absolute strongest year for music I’ve lived through (the second half was a little weak), it was absolutely better than 2021.

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Year End Music Countdowns #20: 2021

If I may be perfectly honest with you, this was a very easy list to whittle down. 2021 was a bad year for music and some of these songs are only on here by default; a better year would see them nowhere near the top. So some of these entries are going to read as less-than-rapturous hosannas even though these are technically my favourite songs of the year.

Dire times indeed.

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The 100 Best Songs of the 2010s

The legacy of pop music in the 2010s will be a similar story to that of many a blockbuster released in this decade: a largely reductive look backwards bookended by a few interesting new ideas. We started off with a boom in pop music spearheaded by Lady Gaga and Kanye West in the final years of the aughts, paving the way for the demolition of the barrier between indie pop and mainstream pop by groups like Foster the People and AWOLNATION. Dubstep, though derided by many critics, could have been the sound of these past 10 years with a little finesse.

But everything was ruined in 2013 by Daft Punk with their absolutely horrible funk-redux album Random Access Memories. The rest of the decade followed suit and mercilessly pilfered the past, using only the worst elements of old genres to create music that pushed no boundaries and existed only to say “hey look i can make my songs sound just like the old times”.

Most artists took their cues from a small handful of influences: the aforementioned Daft Punk, The Black Keys, Lana Del Rey, Sam Smith, Arctic Monkeys, and Mumford & Sons. Eventually everyone started doing everything, resulting in one giant genre that all dabbled in simultaneously. It wasn’t until 2017 that mumble rap emerged as something brand new and switched things up a little, morphing into a more melodic variant that may lead to something new in the 2020s.

For now, here’s what I salvaged from the past 10 years. This list is far from groundbreaking. Nor is it a representation of the decade’s biggest hits. It’s not culturally relevant or a succinct snapshot of what will be remembered in years to come. Instead it’s a thorough collection of songs with hooks. If there’s one thing I can guarantee, it’s that every one of these tracks has an instantly recognizable melody. It may not be trendy or popular, but this is undoubtedly the only countdown you’ll find on the internet of the decade’s catchiest songs.

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