If you go by the charts, the best songs of 2023 have been all over the place. SZA’s 2022 standout “Kill Bill” has certainly had its moment, while country star Morgan Wallen has dominated in several realms. Taylor Swift’s 2022 entries have held strong, and Latin stars like Peso Pluma have made their mark. Even a decade-old song from Miguel has found new life in an ever-changing music environment.
With all that in mind, we’ve shifted from our typical listmaking to try something new in 2023. We asked the core Uproxx writers to each pick their favorite song of the year so far, and what we found is something that somewhat resembles the greater music landscape. Country, hip-hop, indie, pop, and afrobeats all make appearances, while Ice Spice is just as omnipresent here as she is in the real world. There’s even a couple chart-toppers in this mix.
Check out the best songs of 2023 so far, as chosen by the Uproxx staff, below.
100 Gecs – “Hollywood Baby”
The music landscape is as diverse and interesting now as it has ever been. Given that anybody with a laptop can create and release a decent-sounding album these days, it’s hard to be shocked. And yet, 100 Gecs surprise with pretty much every song they put out. On paper, what their hyper-pop distillation of ’90s alt-rock shouldn’t work, but songs like “Hollywood Baby” just do. Given, the unbelievably catchy pop-punk-ish track sounds relatively conventional for them, but it goes to show there’s more to 100 Gecs beyond making seemingly disparate sounds work together: They’re exemplary songwriters, too. – Derrick Rossignol
Arlo Parks – “Weightless”
Arlo Parks may be a musician, but she’s a poet first and foremost. The 22-year-old UK artist has been known to expertly wield her pen to write touching songs about mental health, mortality, and identity that bring listeners to tears. “Weightless,” which appears on her sophomore album My Soft Machine is no different. While much of the subject matter on her latest LP focuses more on budding relationships than waning mental health (we love to see it!), “Weightless” still manages to be just as moving. Her unique, honeyed vocals add a soaring dimension to the reverb-drenched instrumentals, and Parks even cuts in with a spoken-word verse about the all-too-familiar anxiety that takes over when near a crush. – Carolyn Droke
Ice Spice – “Gangsta Boo” Feat. Lil Tjay
With co-signs from Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj, Ice Spice being crowned the People’s Princess is indisputable. Although the Bronx rapper found crossover success thanks to her guest verse on “Boy’s A Liar Pt. 2,” Spice’s innovation in the drill scene shouldn’t be dismissed. As her first solo track to land on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, “Gangsta Boo” featuring Lil Tjay is the pop drill pocket Spice thrives in. Containing a sample of Diddy’s 2002 cult-classic song “I Need a Girl (Part 2),” an infectious chorus, and a fiery guest verse — it’s a sleeper hit. After the video shoot was canceled due to Tjay’s arrest, Spice moved on from promoting the song. However, it will live on far beyond her EP’s shelf life. –Flisadam Pointer
Lana Del Rey – “Let The Light In” Feat. Father John Misty
While Lana Del Rey’s newest album has plenty of fan-favorite standouts to choose from, it’s her collaboration with longtime buddy Father John Misty on “Let The Light In” that stands out. The harmonies highlight just how well she works with folksier artists — similar to 2017’s “Tomorrow Never Came” with Sean Ono Lennon. In this breezy song’s unique dynamic, Lana and FJM go back and forth before she decides, “Screw it, maybe you should and record some other songs.” This, coupled with the fact countless TikTok edits are set to the “love to love to love you / hate to hate to hate you” part, results in another modern classic from one of this generation’s most acclaimed songwriters. – Lexi Lane
Miley Cyrus – “Flowers”
Miley Cyrus’ The career-best No. 1 single finds Cyrus rewriting Julia Roberts’ iconic Notting Hill line. Why stand in front of a boy, asking him to love her, when she can “love me better than you can”? Cyrus has been this individualistically empowered for a decade. It just took everyone else this long to meet her there. – Megan Armstrong
Militarie Gun – “Do It Faster”
Some songs just have it. “Do It Faster” by Militarie Gun is one of them. It has the adrenaline, the post-hardcore invigoration, the catchy hook to scream wherever you are in the mosh pit: “I don’t care what you do / Just do it faster,” Ian Shelton shouts. It has their signature barks to be emitted in unison; it has a less-than-two-minute run time that leaves no room for messing around. It’s an all-in ripper for anarchy, a call to immediate fervor. – Danielle Chelosky
Nicki Minaj – “Red Ruby Da Sleeze”
The truth is, Nicki Minaj isn’t slowing down anytime soon. When she teased a minute-long snippet of “Red Ruby Da Sleeze” in February with the Lumidee “Never Leave You (Uh Oh)” sample, it was highly anticipated. “Red Ruby Da Sleeze” checks off all the boxes that make a rap song great in this era of music: top-tier production (shout out to Go Grizzly, Cheeze Beatz & Tate Kobang), a nostalgic Y2K sample, a catchy melodic hook, masterful lyricism, and memorable Instagram-ready bars like, “Shout out to hoes that’s watchin’ me like Movados.” Nicki is playing the role of rapper, singer, and featured artist on this standout, resulting in a bold boost of confidence to the soul of all who listen. No, slowing down isn’t in the plans. “Red Ruby Da Sleeze” is merely a cute reminder that “bad gyal don’t die.” – Cherise Johnson
PinkPantheress & Ice Spice – “Boy’s A Liar, Pt. 2”
Breakout stars PinkPantheress and Ice Spice kicked off the year proving they were the ones to watch in 2023. With PinkPantheress’ painfully relatable account of a dishonest ex, and Ice’s punchy bars reminding us why she stays on his mind, the song has proven inescapable. Whether you’ve heard the song in the club or discovered it on one of many viral TikToks, you can’t help but shake your “duh-duh-duh” when “Boy’s A Liar, Pt. 2” comes on. – Alex Gonzalez
Tyler The Creator – “Dogtooth”
Over the course of Tyler The Creator’s 10-year career in hip-hop, we’ve heard him angry, boastful, depressed, dismissive, gleefully defiant, introspective, and occasionally even impressed, but on “Dogtooth,” we finally hear him truly, ridiculously in love. Amid boasts about his luxury rides and snide jabs at phony would-be hangers-on, Tyler, at last, drops the facade of uncaring stoicism to simp out for his lady love for a minute, boasting “My girl look like Zazie Beetz and Kelis.” – Aaron Williams
Victony – “Soweto (Remix)” Feat. Don Toliver & Rema
With afrobeats’ increased presence in the mainstream light, fans of the genre have often been critical of the crossover collaborations, often in the form of remixes, that have been used to boost songs. It’s happened with records like “Essence” and “Calm Down,” but not with Victony’s hit record “Soweto.” That song, off his 2022 Outlaw EP, grew to prominence after it went viral on TikTok, and its remix with Don Toliver and Rema kept it close to its roots while simultaneously introducing it to a new audience. Rema’s verse on the remix has been memorized from start to finish by fans for what is now one of this year’s most well-received features and Don Toliver fits like a glove on the song’s new take to make it a textbook example of how crossover remixes should be done. – Wongo Okon
Wednesday – “Chosen To Deserve”
Part rock anthem and part teenaged dirtbag confessional, this is Karly Hartzman looking back on every bad decision she made in adolescence and concluding that she still deserves the world. But the words aren’t pushed to the forefront — it’s the crunching power chords borrowed from Southern rock gods Drive-By Truckers and that lifesaving pedal steel lick wafting throughout like a breeze on a sticky summer afternoon that immediately commands your attention. And, then on the 20th listen, Hartzman’s memoir finally lands a devastating blow. – Steven Hyden
Zach Bryan – “Dawns” Feat. Maggie Rogers
The meteoric rise of Zach Bryan during the pandemic era has been impressive to witness, especially as he operates far outside the normal country playbook. He generally eschews interviews, has licensed about 7000 songs to Yellowstone, and has hit both the top 10 on the Hot 100 and the top line of multi-genre festival lineups. But while his sound veers closer to the outlaw lane, this one-off collaboration with Maggie Rogers isn’t really a country song at all, showing the range and possibility for a young artist that doesn’t have expectations yet to defy. But while the male-female vocal tradeoffs and driving string section underscore the song’s emotional pull, it’s in Bryan’s words that he demonstrates his power, evoking his mother’s death, his relationship’s disillusion, religion, and the passing of time. Bryan is turning out great songs by the dozen these days, but “Dawns” is one of his best yet. – Philip Cosores
Some artists covered here are Warner Music artists. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.