The 100 best songs of 2023

A collage of Peso Pluma, Boy Genius and Shakira.
Peso Pluma, left, Boygenius and Shakira.
(Jess Hutchinson / Los Angeles Times; photos by Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times; Christopher Polk / Penske Media; Kevin Winter / Getty Images)

Where do songs come from? For now, they come from us — from our needs, our wants, our regrets, our scorn. Next year, they might come from a box brought to near-sentience by all the songs that came before.

Here, in descending order of greatness, are our picks for the 50 best of 2023, followed by 50 more bangers in alphabetical order.

(And scroll to the bottom for the 100-song playlist.)

Our critics and reporters select their favorite TV shows, movies, albums, songs, books, theater, art shows and video games of the year.

1. Boygenius, “Not Strong Enough”
Boasting about an inferiority complex makes for a paradox worth savoring in this tender yet walloping indie-rock anthem from the let’s-call-it-a-supergroup of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus. “I don’t know why I am the way I am,” they sing in yearning three-part harmony even as their shimmering guitars capture a feeling that words never could. — Mikael Wood


2. Eslabón Armado and Peso Pluma, “Ella Baila Sola”
Pedro Tovar, bandleader of rising “sad sierreño” act Eslabón Armado, gave the tough-talking corrido star Peso Pluma a makeover with this sensual ballad about a mystery girl who dances alone. Peaking at No. 4, “Ella Baila Sola” came to be the highest-charting regional Mexican song on the Hot 100 since the list’s creation in 1958. — Suzy Exposito

3. Megan Moroney, “Tennessee Orange”
Such a perfect lyrical conceit about young love and college football that it’s hard to believe it wasn’t already a country standard. — August Brown

4. Jungle, “Back on 74”
An irresistible groove further elevated by the year’s most beautifully choreographed music video. — Kenan Draughorne

5. Lily-Rose Depp, “World Class Sinner / I’m a Freak”
Not least among the many flaws of HBO’s “The Idol” was that the Weeknd’s character failed to recognize the diabolical brilliance of this would-be teen-pop classic. — M.W.

A woman in a black bikini reclines on the grass next to a large dog.
Lily-Rose Depp in “The Idol.”
(Eddy Chen / HBO)

6. Shakira and Bizarrap, “BZRP Music Sessions Vol. 53”
At the start of 2023, things weren’t looking good for Shakira. The Colombian pop icon had been charged with tax evasion in Spain, where she once lived with her ex, Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué. To make matters worse, it was revealed that Piqué carried on an affair with a woman half Shakira’s age. Faced with a 24-million euro fine and even threats of prison time, Shakira turned to Argentine mixologist Bizarrap to help craft this scorching act of dance-pop vengeance. — S.E.


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7. Troye Sivan, “Rush”
Better hope your VCR doesn’t need cleaning soon, because this song cleared stores of amyl nitrite. — A.B.

8. Amaarae, “Co-Star”
Leo, Sagittarius, Aries, Aquarius, Libra — all horrible in their own, unique ways, if you take it from Amaarae. Over quickening dance rhythms, the rising Ghanaian American singer breathlessly berates her new lover to reveal her star sign, eventually pleading for air as things get steamy. — K.D.

9. Doja Cat, “Agora Hills”
The year’s scariest pop flirtation: “Boys be mad that I don’t f— incels / Girls hate too, gun to their pigtail.” — M.W.

10. Billie Eilish, “What Was I Made For?”
Never thought you’d weep openly at a Mattel-IP blockbuster, huh? — A.B.

A woman with dark hair looks to her left in a cyan-tinted photo
Billie Eilish.
(Annie Noelker / For The Times)

11. Grupo Frontera feat. Bad Bunny, “x100to”
Songwriter-producer Edgar Barrera first met this charming band at a local carne asada outside of his hometown of McAllen, Texas. Then, with the help of Puerto Rican don Bad Bunny, Barrera and Grupo Frontera spun cumbia gold with this Latin Grammy-winning hit. — S.E.

12. SZA, “Nobody Gets Me”
Ain’t too proud to beg. — M.W.

13. Janelle Monáe, “Float”
An energizing confidence-booster sure to make you feel (almost) as good as Monáe did when she made it. — K.D.


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14. Olivia Rodrigo, “Get Him Back!”
Bar after bar after bar. — M.W.

15. Miley Cyrus, “Flowers”
The tidiest self-care bop since Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.” — M.W.

16. Myke Towers, “Lala”
This effervescent reggaetón smash became the Boricua rapper’s highest-charting song, climbing to No. 5 on Spotify’s global songs. — S.E.

17. Yeule, “Dazies”
All the pedal-board bombast of Ride or Slowdive but digitally serrated with a just-uncanny vocal from this Singaporean visionary. — A.B.

18. Tems, “Me & U”
A tempting appetizer ahead of Tems’ promising debut album. — K.D.

19. Chappell Roan, “Super Graphic Ultra Modern Girl”
The official song of piling in an Uber from Ruby Fruit to Honey’s. — A.B.

20. Bad Bunny, “Monaco”
Using a symphonic clip from the 1964 ballad “Hier encore,” Bad Bunny resuscitated the memory of French singer Charles Aznavour in this taunting nouveau-riche anthem. — S.E.

21. Jack Harlow, “Lovin on Me”
One thing about Harlow: He’ll always goof on himself before somebody else can do it (which never stops somebody else from doing it). — M.W.

22. Kali Uchis, “Moonlight”
A grown ’n’ sexy theme for hotboxing in the car with your soulmate. — S.E.

A woman in a blue bustier top, cheerleader skirt and boots tilts a mic stand
Kali Uchis performs at Coachella in 2023.
(Monica Schipper / Getty Images for Coachella)


23. Leon Thomas feat. Ty Dolla Sign, “Love Jones”
A little bit of love, a lot of riches and a drive down Sunset Boulevard: a time-tested recipe, executed to perfection by two superb songwriters. — K.D.

24. Ashley Cooke, “Shot in the Dark”
Top-shelf wordplay — and a gently love-drunk melody — from a promising Nashville up-and-comer: “Who knew two straight tequilas on a debit card / Would wind us up right where we are? / So here’s to two strangers in the back of a bar / Taking a shot in the dark.” — M.W.

25. Jung Kook, “Standing Next to You”
Wispy, exultant neo-disco that will more than tide you over until the BTS boys return from military service. — A.B.

26. Taylor Swift, “Suburban Legends”
A newly recorded outtake from “1989 (Taylor’s Version)” with the surging hormonal intensity of the original LP. — M.W.

27. Tate McRae, “Greedy”
The soundtrack to hitting the club in a matching Alo leggings set. — A.B.

A serious-looking woman with light brown long hair in a T-shirt and jacket.
Tate McRae.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)


28. J Hus feat. Drake, “Who Told You”
Even the troublemakers gotta get down sometimes. — K.D.

29. Karol G, “Mi Ex Tenía Razón”
The Colombian superstar’s fresh take on the ’90s cumbia sound is not just a slam dunk at her previous suitors but a brilliant tribute to the original queen of cumbia clapbacks, Selena. — S.E.

30. Andrew Barth Feldman, “Maneater”
A chilling remake of the Hall & Oates hit from a breezy Jennifer Lawrence sex comedy. — M.W.

31. Burna Boy, “City Boys”
Raise your hand if you had a hit song sampling Jeremih’s “Birthday Sex” on your 2023 bingo card. — K.D.

A seated man, wearing sunglasses and a big brown furry hat, with his left index finger resting on his cheek
Burna Boy.
(Oye Diran / For The Times)

32. Tyla, “Water”
Elegant, sultry and immaculately sung Afrobeats, where Aaliyah meets amapiano. — A.B.

33. Fuerza Regida, “TQM”
L.A. regional Mexican band Fuerza Regida flaunts the spoils of global fame with paisa grit on “TQM,” a corrido fit for the Hollywood Hills. — S.E.

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34. Byron Messia, “Talibans”
A song so hypnotizing that you almost don’t notice the venom the Jamaican-born, St. Kitts-raised artist puts into every word. — K.D.


35. Lil Tecca, “500lbs”
Another cuddly bubblegum-rap hit from this 21-year-old New Yorker. — M.W.

36. Morgan Wallen, “’98 Braves”
Nashville runs on clever metaphors for falling in and out of love; few come as thoroughly detailed as this one. — M.W.

37. Jordan Ward, “FAMJAM4000”
Look no further than the modern funk of “FamJam4000” to see why Tyler, the Creator and others can’t stop raving about this alt-R&B sensation. — K.D.

38. Becky G and Ivan Cornejo, “2ndo Chance”
With an assist from goth sierreño star Ivan Cornejo, the Chicana pop princess’ lovesick ballad sparkles like a mirror ball in a dusky honky-tonk. — S.E.

A woman in a silver bra top and white pants holds a microphone over her head and smiles
Becky G.
(From Joseph Hernández)

39. Yves Tumor, “Echolalia”
The tightest pants and biggest sunglasses in rock ’n’ roll. — A.B.

40. Rolling Stones, “Driving Me Too Hard”
A lilting country-rock jam that’ll fit right in between “Tumbling Dice” and “Midnight Rambler” next year on the road. — M.W.

41. Jelly Roll with Lainey Wilson, “Save Me”
Big red-state “Shallow” energy. — M.W.

42. RXKNephew, “Torey Lanes Should Have Shot His Barbershop Up”
A decade in prison is rough, but being roasted this completely by one of rap’s great new weirdos won’t help. — A.B.


43. Rauw Alejandro and Rosalía, “Vampiros”
They may have called it quits as Latin music’s hottest young power couple, but much like the vampires they sing of, the passion of Rauwsalía will live on. — S.E.

A man embraces a woman, his hands on her bottom, her back to the camera
Rosalía and Rauw Alejandro.
(Manny Hernandez / Wireimage)

44. Blxst feat. Bino Rideaux, “Doin Yo Stuff”
Two of the most exciting names in L.A. R&B connected this year for the third edition of their “Sixtape” mixtape series. By now, they’ve patented their chilled-out brand of half-sung, half-rapped songs for the bedroom, making “Doin Yo Stuff” sound as appealing as it is effortless. — K.D.

45. Pupil Slicer, “No Temple”
Absolutely filthy, fiendishly complex work from one of the best young bands in metal. — A.B.

46. Nia Sultana, “Some Feelings Never Go Away”
Sultana knows that sometimes moving on isn’t so simple. Over delicate piano keys and a devastating bass line, she works through the feelings of the wrong person coming back to her at an even wronger time. — K.D

47. Brandy Clark feat. Brandi Carlile, “Dear Insecurity”
An ultra-vulnerable piano ballad up there with the best (and the weepiest) of Adele and Bruno Mars. — M.W.


Two women play guitars in a room in a black-and-white photo
Brandi Carlile, left, and Brandy Clark.
(Claire Marie Vogel)

48. Lil Yachty, “Drive Me Crazy!”
The oversaturated groove of “Drive Me Crazy!” is the brightest moment of Yachty’s psychedelic “Let’s Start Here” album. Extra points to singer-songwriter Diana Gordon for meeting the moment with her shimmering chorus. — K.D.

49. Asha Puthli, “Space Talk (Maurice Fulton Remix)”
The L.A. reissue label Naya Beat taps underheralded South Asian pop. Puthli was a Studio 54 veteran and Warhol pal, and this exuberant remix should get her back on dance floors. — A.B.

50. The War and Treaty, “The Best That I Have”
From a Nashville-based husband-and-wife duo, the most haunting song ever written about watching “Golden Girls” reruns while eating ice cream on the couch. — M.W.

And in alphabetical order by artist’s name, another 50 songs not to be missed:

100 gecs, “Frog on the Floor”

AgustD, “Haegum”


Baby Keem and Kendrick Lamar, “The Hillbillies”

Big Thief, “Vampire Empire”

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Blk Odyssy and Bootsy Collins, “Honeysuckle Neckbone”

Bnxn, “Mukulu”

Jaimie Branch, “Borealis Dancing”


Zach Bryan feat. Kacey Musgraves, “I Remember Everything”

Tyler Childers, “In Your Love”

Two musicians onstage, one playing drums, the other seated on a chair next to an old-fashioned TV showing two young girls.
Tyler Childers performs at the 2023 Stagecoach Country Music Festival.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Luke Combs, “Fast Car”

Daisy Jones & the Six, “Regret Me”


Lana Del Rey, “A&W”

Drake, “Search & Rescue”

Fever Ray, “Shiver”

Fifty Fifty, “Cupid”

Dominic Fike, “Dancing in the Courthouse”


Dominic Fike reclines on the grass next to a rectangular pool
Dominic Fike.
(Annie Noelker / For The Times)

Gallant feat. Terrace Martin, Robert Glasper and Keyon Harrold, “311!”

Gel, “Attainable”

Gunna, “Fukumean”

Health, “Children of Sorrow”


Manuka Honey & Florentino, “Machete”

Sam Hunt, “Came the Closest”

IDK feat. Tay Iwar, “Elmina”

Kara Jackson, “Dickhead Blues”

Coco Jones, “Double Back”


A woman in an off-the-shoulder white dress with billowy sleeves
Coco Jones.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Noah Kahan, “Stick Season”

Kelela, “Raven”

Kesha, “Eat the Acid”

Le Sserafim, “Eve, Psyche & the Bluebeard’s Wife”


Mannequin Pussy, “I Got Heaven”

Kylie Minogue, “Padam Padam”

Mitski, “My Love Mine All Mine”

Maren Morris, “Get the Hell Out of Here”

Maren Morris stands wearing a sheer black dress over a black unitard.
Maren Morris.
(Morgan Foitle)


NewJeans, “Super Shy”

PinkPantheress feat. Ice Spice, “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2”

Romy, “Enjoy Your Life”

Allison Russell, “Demons”

Allison Russell in a ruffled off-the-shoulder turquoise top.
Allison Russell.
(Dana Trippe)


Travis Scott, “My Eyes”

Sexyy Red, “SkeeYee”

Jorja Smith, “Falling or Flying”

Chris Stapleton, “Think I’m In Love with You”

Tainy feat. Young Miko and the Marías, “Mañana”


Don Toliver, “Leather Coat”

Teezo Touchdown, “Impossible”

Teezo Touchdown has nails braided into his hair and greasepaint under his eyes.
Teezo Touchdown.
(Kenan Draughorne / Los Angeles Times)

Summer Walker, “Hardlife”

Wednesday, “Quarry”


Jess Williamson, “Hunter”

Yeat, “Bigger Thën Everything”

Bailey Zimmerman, “Religiously”

Zulu, “Where I’m From”

Two people in front of a colorful mural, one in a white shirt, the other in a bright yellow tunic
Zulu’s Anaiah Rasheed Sayyid Hadi Muhammad and Dez Yusuf.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)