On Rotation: 1883’s Best Tracks of 2023

Whatever genre of music you’re into, there is no denying that 2023 has been a great year for the art form.

From album releases to jaw-dropping world tours courtesy of Harry Styles, Beyoncé, and Taylor Swift, or even the odd music film documentary release, 2023 has been full of musical goodness. When it comes to albums, music fans have been graced with brand-new records from Doja Cat, Boygenius, Blur, Lana Del Rey, and even rock legends, The Rolling Stones, to name a few. Even when you look purely at single or EP releases, the list of brilliant single releases is endless.

With 2023 coming to a close, several members of the 1883 team have shared their top favourite songs from this year.

Cameron Poole, Senior Writer

“This Is Why” by Paramore

When bands return from a hiatus, it is always fascinating to hear what the comeback track will sound like. Undoubtedly, Hayley Williams & co exceeded all expectations when it came to “This Is Why” off their sixth studio album of the same name. Yes, the single version was technically released last year but the fantastic LP dropped in February, so I’m including it. The track is an unapologetically cool alt-rock tune with the most beautiful dynamics. The vocals, guitars, drums, everything is on point. It was the perfect anthem to launch their latest era and the band think so too. The song has been used as the incredible finale of many of their headline live shows throughout 2023.

“Back On 74” by Jungle

Jungle has always been a master of creating intoxicating, danceable tracks with the most lush visuals to accompany them. It finally feels like the duo has captured the attention of new fans thanks to the viral TikTok success of “Back On 74”. It’s a grooving funk song lifted from their fourth record, Volcano, and it’s a tour de force of impeccably soulful vibes from start to finish. It’s fantastic to see the critically acclaimed band receive even more praise thanks to this anthem.

Joe Beer, Contributor

“secrets” by KIANA

Toronto R&B artist KIANA has released a couple of tracks this year, both of which have been new favourite playlist additions, but there is one that stands out as one of the strongest singles this year. “secrets” showcases the artist venturing into new territories and as she breaks down the boundaries of her comfort zone it’s evident that the risk has paid off. Whilst staying true to her moody, hypnotic R&B style, “secrets” explores a gritty 80s pop vibe, where noir-tinged synths collide with foreboding beats. The sound perfectly encapsulates the story behind the song, as KIANA sings about being in a toxic relationship that she chooses to stay quiet about. Her honest and playful lyrics resonate with listeners who prefer to keep their business under wraps.

“Hold Me In The Water” by Rum Jungle

This year, Rum Jungle dropped their highly anticipated EP, Hold Me In The Water and ever since it’s been on repeat. A prominent track off the EP, however, is the title track, “Hold Me In The Water”, an introspective song which touches on feeling helpless when it comes to relationships. The emotional and vulnerable lyrics show a softer side to the Australian band, accompanied by melodic, jangly guitars, driving percussion and gravelly vocals, delivering an overall comforting release. Self-deprecating at times, singer Benny croons, “I know I’m beyond repair, you don’t like the words I use and I’m clearly missing screws.” Through the unfiltered sincerity of his lyrics, there is an expected familiarity that resonates within. 

Michaela Makusha, Contributor

“Labour” by Paris Paloma

This song was one that I listened to the most according to Spotify. For me, it’s both rallying and meditative with how gentle the melody is against the angry lyrics. Paloma can poetically articulate feminine rage and the emotional toll of toxic relationships and patriarchy and I just love it so much!

“People Pleaser” by Cat Burns

I just love this song – it is relatable but also puts me in a very good mood in the morning. I will listen to it Cat Burns is just so cool, her music truly is so beautiful and relatable.

Dana Reboe, Contributor

“Uglyfisherman” and “Listen” by DJO

To couple with his 2022 sophomore album Decide DJO (pronounced ‘Joe’) released two previously cut tracks late in 2023 to tide over fans already desperate for new music. Aptly named ‘D-sides’ both “Uglyfisherman” and “Listen” weave easily into the album’s mythos. While “Uglyfisherman” takes on a hypnotic synth wave akin to what you’d hear playing a round of Super Mario, ‘Listen’ is a mesmerizing and mellow groove, featuring snippets of Joe [Keery’s] voice meshed throughout. DJO’s step into the experimental and adventurous has yielded some incredible sounds blended with stellar mixing. As a listener, you’re transported sonically to a world of good times and good vibes losing yourself to the melodic chaos.

“Hechizos” by Glass Spells

Glass Spells are having quite the year. From going viral on TikTok to releasing new music, the New Wave synth duo [Tania Castello and Anthony Spells] are only getting started. Upbeat and playful, ‘Hechizos’ is sung in the group’s native Spanish. Coupled with retro electronica, you’re plunged right back into the 80s. The song’s heartbeat truly comes from Castello’s alluring vocals and Spell’s masterful musicality. Beautiful and spellbinding, the pulse of ‘Hechizos’ makes you want to stop what you’re doing and dance. Taking you to a time full of nostalgia and killer beats, Glass Spells is one to watch in the new year.

Kelsey Barnes, Editor

“Somebody First” by Charlotte Cardin

What has always appealed to me with Charlotte Cardin’s work is just how easily she’s able to get her feelings across with a simple lyric, like in “Somebody First” where she snarkily sings “I heard you’d be here tonight/So I guess I’ll wear that skirt/That I hate, that you like.” She dances along being vulnerable while cutthroat, attempting to maintain control and power after a breakup. 99 Nights is an album that uncovers the depths of ending a relationship and “Somebody First” is a song about the stage that so many of us are afraid of admitting we are in — when we refuse to let the other be the one to move on first. As always, Cardin’s ability to dive into her own life to lean into her storytelling through songs makes her an artist who should be held in the same regard as Taylor Swift, Gracie Abrams and beyond.

“London” by milk.

Pulled off their recent EP 3, the EP., “London” sees Irish band milk. explore what it means to be a human in a digital world. Although commentary around the digital age isn’t anything new in music (see: The 1975), but milk. do so with a deft touch — never preaching, always curious — while using “London” as the backdrop. Much like my other pick for this year, milk. like to hold a mirror up to themselves and question their intentions and with “London,” a city that can envelop you, they are grappling with just how much a city can influence who we are and who we become.

Listen to the playlist below.

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