Stream Pop Crave’s Top 20 Songs of 2023 on the official Spotify playlist here:
#20. “Dumbest Girl Alive” by 100 Gecs
100 Gecs is at the height of their powers on the ‘10,000 Gecs’ opening track “Dumbest Girl Alive,” a rave-worthy pop banger that sounds like it’s soaked in battery acid and wrapped in barbed wire. The THX opening sample is an appropriate and inspired choice, while lines like “I took 10 Advil today” and “I did science to my face” reinforce the duo’s unserious, off kilter personas. A YouTube comment on the song’s music video describes the song best: “I’m gonna tell my kids this was Courtney Love and Kurt Cobain.”
#19. “TQG” by Karol G & Shakira
Karol G tells Billboard she was inspired to collaborate with Skakira on “TQG” after seeing news about the singer’s much-publicized breakup with ex-boyfriend Gerard Piqué:
“We were trying to figure out what we were going to do, because I had said yes to Becky, and now we had two songs, but the topic was the same: heartbreak diss tracks. Then when I saw the story about Shakira and her situation, this song again gained meaning.” The pair struck while the iron was hot, generating over 39.5 MILLION YouTube views for the music video in the first 24 hours and nearly 1 BILLION to date. In March, the track entered the Guinness World records as the highest-charting Spanish language track on the Billboard Hot 100.
#18. “Houdini” by Dua Lipa
Following her successful return to disco with ‘Barbie’ standout track “Dance the Night,” Dua Lipa‘s first #DL3 single “Houdini” marks the singer’s departure from the sounds of ‘Future Nostalgia’ in favor of a psychedelic pop with collaborator Tame Impala. The track’s groovy bass line paired with Lipa’s confident songwriting and building synths makes for an exhilarating listen start to finish. The song’s highlight comes in the final 20 seconds when the instrumental explodes into one of the most cathartic moments in Lipa‘s catalogue of dance-crying hits. See also: the extended version for six minutes of psychedelic pop perfection.
#17. Super Shy by NewJeans
NewJeans makes a splash with their Jersey club-tinged anthem, “Super Shy” which sees the girl group coming out of their shells and taking the lead. Released in July, the track invites listeners to ‘Get Up’ as their EP title suggests, and into a euphoric journey that perfectly captures a simmering summer fling. However, NewJeans are definitely not shy about their bold choreography skills that they flaunt effortlessly in the chromatic music video.
#16. “Greedy” by Tate McRae
In an interview with the BBC, Tate McRae reveals collaborator Ryan Tedder had to convince her to drop the now smash hit, “greedy”:
“For months, Ryan Tedder tried convincing me to release this song. I was like, Ryan, this is the scariest song ever. It’s so different for me. It terrified me…I finally came around to it, me and my best friend were sitting in my car, he was like “you need to put this out.” In spite of her reservations, “greedy” has helped launch Tate McRae into the Pop Girlie conversation, amassing over 500 MILLION Spotify streams to date and going #1 on Billboard’s Global Songs Chart. It also landed her the coveted SNL musical guest spot, an opportunity Tate did not waste.
#15. “My Love Mine All Mine” by Mitski
“My Love Mine All Mine” has melancholic, Sad Cowgirl undertones, but the message at its center is actually quite hopeful. Mitski tells Vera on Track in a recent interview the song isn’t so much about her love for one specific person, but rather the larger concept of loving others:
“It wasn’t about a specific person for me…for me, every material thing in my life felt so temporary. Everything goes away, even my body changes, and I’m going to die, and I don’t know what happens after death. You can’t take any of your possessions with you when you die. I felt like, oh, I actually own nothing. But then I started thinking, well, this love I have in me that I feel not just for one person but for people, for the world, for myself, for living – that’s something the world can’t take away from me and no one can break as long as I hold onto it. It felt so powerful and important to realize that for myself. The world can take stuff away from me, but as long as I keep loving, that’s all mine.”
#14. “Red Wine Supernova” by Chappell Roan
I was vaguely familiar with Chappell Roan before her debut album this year. My cursory, peripheral understanding was “Pageant Queen Pop at the intersection of Mia Goth ‘Pearl’ campiness and Olivia Rodrigo angst.” I am still digging into the 14 tracks on Roan’s record – an excellent debut that rewards repeat listens – but it’s safe to say that “Red Wine Supernova” is the most shining example of the Missouri-native’s talents. Highly recommend listening to the chorus in a car at night as you drive under a tunnel with eyes closed and arms spread wide like Emma Watson in “Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
13. “One of Your Girls” by Troye Sivan
A recent Grindr poll reveals users voted the “One of Your Girls” music video as the most gag-worthy moment of 2023, and we don’t disagree. With the release of its viral music video starring Ross Lynch, Troye Sivan rounds out his perfect trio of promo singles following “Rush” and “Got Me Started” with yet another stunning reinvention. It marks one of the few times in 2023 when the music video felt like an event, further proving Sivan is a student of pop music who has never been more in control of his craft.
#12. “Snooze” by SZA
SZA strikes gold with “Snooze,” the eighth track and sixth single from her blockbuster sophomore effort, ‘SOS.’ Featuring production by Babyface, the song felt like an R&B classic upon its arrival and has experienced one of the most successful, enduring chart runs this decade. SZA is both assertive and pleading here, demonstrating the vulnerability that made us fall in love with her music in the first place. Thankfully, we didn’t snooze and miss the moment.
#11. “I Love Hollywood!” by Slayyyter
In an interview with Pop Crave, Slayyyter says “I Love Hollywood” is her favorite song off her latest album ‘STARFUCKER.” The track’s music video, filmed at the historic Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles, sets the tone for her new era with its cinematic visions of excess, glamour and debauchery:
“When I first made the song, it sounded like a sexy movie trailer – I wish I could get it in the new ‘MaXXXine’ movie starring Mia Goth. It could’ve also been in HBO’s ‘The Idol.’ It’s my favorite song off the album easily, it encapsulates the whole thesis and vibe of everything I want to say with this era.”
#10. “Water” by Tyla
Tyla is primed for a breakout 2024 with the release of her hit song “Water,” the lead single off her self-titled LP out March 4th. The South-African singer tells Genius she was inspired by Aaliyah‘s palatable but mature songwriting in the making of the song:
“Growing up I really liked the song “Rock the Boat,” by Aailyah, and I did not know what that song meant. Then growing up, I found out what I was rocking to! I love that it was a song about something mature, but if you didn’t know you didn’t need to know. no matter your age, where you’re from, you can vibe to it. With “Water,” I think that was the perfect way to incorporate it.”
#9. “On My Mama” by Victoria Monét
Victoria Monét is back again with arguably 2023’s best R&B track, “On My Mama.” Following the critically-acclaimed release of ‘JAGUAR,’ the singer had big shoes to fill with ‘JAGUAR II,’ and she once again didn’t disappoint. The third single from her debut album samples Chalie Boy‘s breakout hit, “I Look Good,” flipping it into a girl-power anthem with absolutely gorgeous ear-worm melodies. If the infectious production and stellar lyricism wasn’t enough, Monét elevates the track with some of the best choreography of the year in a music video that solidifies her as a star on the rise.
#8. “Bad Idea Right?” by Olivia Rodrigo
Olivia Rodrigo‘s second ‘GUTS’ single, “bad idea right?” is a stunning showcase of the singer’s many talents that’s equal parts hammy, theatric and sarcastic. Rodrigo and her main collaborator Daniel Nigro manage to walk a very thin line here by returning to the sounds that inspired “good 4 u” without sounding like a recycled cash grab. Instead, it’s a satisfying evolution for fans and our personal favorite from the sophomore album.
#7. “Boy’s a Liar, Pt. 2” by PinkPantheress feat. Ice Spice
“Boy’s a Liar, Pt. 2” packs quite a punch in just over two minutes. Fueled by Mura Masa’s bouncy lo-fi production, PinkPantheress and Ice Spice prove to be a dynamic duo with artistic styles that, on paper, are quite different. Their collaboration is one of 2023’s most unlikely and satisfying link ups, fusing PinkPantheress’s soft, airy vocal work with Ice Spice’s endlessly catch lyricism. The Bronx rapper makes everything she touches sound easy, and she delivers arguably the most quoted, viral rap performance of the year.
#6. “Agora Hills” by Doja Cat
A fan-favorite standout from Doja Cat’s latest album, “Agora Hills” is a dreamy, steamy & sexy track about infatuated love. Taking a page from Coco & Clair’s signature sound, Doja Cat effortlessly raps about OnlyFans love with a Valley Girl accent, further paying homage to California town the track is named after. With a Y2K backrooms inspired music video direct by Hanna Lux Davis, Doja further cements her status artistically as she continues to push boundaries creatively.
#5. “A&W” by Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey dropping a song named after soda is a sure fire sign she’s bringing heat. “A&W,” which is also an abbreviation for American Whore, is a folksy trap ballad that serves as an oddly perfect album centerpiece. It is one of those rare, fantastic songs that fans seemed to all agree on when it arrived early this year, with much of the conversation focusing on the track’s killer “Jimmy” tempo switch mid-song. Our only complaint: can we please get a music video for this Grammy nominated fan favorite?
#4. “Deli” by Ice Spice
“Deli” is a song for the girls and gays who want to disrupt a local pop on the Touch Tunes. Produced by her main collaborator Riot, Ice Spice delivers a rap performance that is tough, hypnotic and seemingly effortless, establishing her as one of the most exciting new voices in mainstream hip hop. Name an artist who can serve Ms. Poopie and Princess Diana in one era.
#3. “What Was I Made For?” by Billie Eilish
Billie Eilish opens a new chapter in her career with the critically-acclaimed ‘Barbie’ soundtrack song, “What Was I Made For?”, another stunning and tender ballad that will surely be remembered as a highlight in the singer’s discography. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Eilish says it’s one of her best and most difficult vocal performances:
“It is top three hardest songs I’ve ever had to record. It’s not even that it’s high, it is high in my range, but it’s not about that. It’s about the delivery. I was trying to do a very specific thing with my voice, which was very soft and held back in an upper range falsetto. I could’ve belted it, it could’ve sang it in more of a choral, choir type thing. It’s really hard to do, honestly…it’s this heartbroken delivery, like you’re crying and singing.”
#2. “Padam Padam” by Kylie Minogue
“Padam Padam” is a miracle of a pop ear worm. It’s actually more than a song – it’s a movement, and a rare moment in 2020s mainstream music that felt free of the irony and nihilism that typically surrounds pop-timism. It is easily the Sleeper Hit of 2023, as even Kylie Minogue admitted in an interview with Andy Cohen she didn’t expect to see so much success:
“You dare to dream of something like that, that hits immediately and just keeps growing. I feel like it’s not mine anymore, it’s become the people’s song, like everyone’s song. That’s the most I could ask for.”
#1. “Rush” by Troye Sivan
Troye Sivan‘s steamy dance single, “Rush,” is the crowning achievement of his excellent third studio album, ‘Something To Give Each Other,’ and Pop Crave’s #1 song of 2023. Co-written with his longtime collaborator Leland, the track and its music video are a welcome reminder that Sivan is NOT to be played with. He captured the attention of new fans and old, was crowned Man of the Year for GQ Australia, earned two Grammy nominations and even made a viral “cameo” on SNL as played by Timothée Chalet. Sivan’s album era rollout was so well executed, tasteful and gag-worthy that it’s easy to imagine it serving as a blueprint for other male pop stars moving forward.