List, Music

Top 30 Albums of 2023

The biggest thing that stuck out to me in the world of music for 2023 wasn’t necessarily the recorded music itself, but the ravenous appetite for live music from the fans. When I went to Bonnaroo (a giant music festival) in 2022, it was the least attended I had ever seen in all of my 12 visits. I could arrive to a set late and still comfortably move my way to front row. In 2023, it sold out before it even started. That’s just one example out of many when it comes to sold out tours and concerts in 2023 (with a few big, obvious names coming to mind).

As a music fan, this makes me really happy to see regular folks putting a priority on live, in person music. At the same time, I wish that translated equally into people’s desire to pay for recorded music. It still seems like such a long way from where it needs to be. Gone are the days where somewhat-known bands/artists randomly push a quarter of a million units in the first week out. To put things into perspective, in 2003, Obie Trice landed at No. 5 on Billboard with his album “Cheers” selling 226,000 copies in its first week. Number 5!

TikTok really cemented it’s space as a king-maker in the industry, for better or worse. It’s been widely reported about record labels seemingly putting every egg in that one basket and acting like TikTok is the ONLY way to make something popular. But at the same time, I love the randomness of what people gravitate towards on that platform. Such as how shoegaze made a massive comeback, to the point where it’s arguably more popular than ever before. That’s not the type of thing you can predict or calculate; instead, it’s driven by people (many of whom are quite young) discovering new types of music they love.

If there’s one downside to the ultra-curated algorithm to me, it’s that everything has become so niche, the big cultural touchstones seem more rare than ever. There’s a handful, sure, but not in the way it used to be. I’ve been finding it harder to talk to people about artists who have millions upon millions of monthly Spotify listeners. And I’m not immune to it either – while perusing the recent flurry of festival announcements, I’ll look up artists like, say, TV Girl, only to find out nearly 20 million people listen to them monthly. It’s kind of amazing how popular musicians can be now while also not being at the forefront.

Regardless, I’m happy brilliant people are still making brilliant music. There’s more amazing tracks out there than we’ll ever have time to listen to. That’s pretty great, isn’t it?

Here are my favorite albums of 2023.

30. Tim Hecker – No Highs

29. King Tuff – Smalltown Stardust

28. The Go! Team – Get Up Sequences Part Two

27. Woods – Perennial

26. Kesha – Gag Order

25. Kylie Minogue – Tension

24. Yunè Pinku – BABYLON IX

23. Queens Of The Stone Age – In Times New Roman

22. Lil Yachty – Let’s Start Here

21. Kelela – Raven 

20. Paramore – This Is Why

19. Jessie Ware – That! Feels Good!

18. MSPAINT – Post-American

17. Róisín Murphy – Hit Parade

16. Sufjan Stevens – Javelin

15. Olivia Rodrigo – GUTS

14. Wednesday – Rat Saw God

13. Liturgy – 93696

12. Caroline Rose – The Art of Forgetting

11. Janelle Monáe – The Age of Pleasure 

10. 100 gecs – 10,000 gecs

09. Amaarae – Fountain Baby

08. yeule – softscars

07. boygenius – the record

06. Gorillaz – Cracker Island

05. The Armed – Perfect Saviors

04. M83 – Fantasy

03. Carly Rae Jepsen – The Loveliest Time

02. Julie Byrne – The Greater Wings

01. JPEGMAFIA/Danny Brown – Scaring the Hoes

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