It seems like just yesterday we were ringing in 2023, but here we are again, preparing to welcome 2024 with open arms. To celebrate another year in music, Team EnVi has rounded up 25 of our favorite songs from 2023. We’ve also created a playlist with even more of our top tracks for you to listen to as you read along. Grab your headphones and let’s look back on this year in music!

“From The Start” – Laufey

When talking about 2023 in music, 24-year-old Laufey is naturally found right at the heart of the conversation. The Icelandic Chinese and Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter credited with reframing and revitalizing vocal jazz for younger generations proved herself a force to be reckoned with this year, “bewitching” fans and critics alike with the release of her sophomore album. Lead single and TiTok favorite, “From The Start” encapsulates the unabashed romanticism and clever mingling of classic and modern, characteristic of Laufey’s artistic essence. Through Disney princess-like delivery and breezy instrumental textures, the bossa nova-infused track tells a tale as old as time about unrequited love, capable of squeezing sentimentality out of a rock — let alone the ever-yearning Gen Z. — Evi K.

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In April of this year, the world was graced with a new NCT unit — NCT DOJAEJUNG. Comprised of members DOYOUNG, JAEHYUN, and JUNGWOO, the trio of vocalists made their official debut with their EP, Perfume. The fragrance-themed, R&B electro-funk title track is delightfully intoxicating, with an array of colorful harmonizations from the unit. NCT DOJAEJUNG have left their mark on our hearts just as they said they would when they sang, “Leaving ‘em on your wrist / On your collar / Gonna let ‘em hover / So you can’t forget me.” With such an unforgettable debut, it’s safe to say we’ll be on the lookout for more from the trio in 2024. — Danni Perez

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“Under the Tree” – SiM

If you’ve ever loved someone so much you  wished you could undo all of their indiscretions and hold them to keep them safe, then “Under the Tree” by four-membered Japanese alternative metal band SiM is the track for you. “Under the Tree” served as the ending for Attack on Titan’s final season. Singing from the perspective of the character Mikasa, SiM captures her helplessness and desperation as lead vocalist MAH pleads “This is already enough, we’ll figure out the rest. Let me shoulder your sins together with you.” With haunting vocals and intense screams, “Under the Tree” tells a story of loss backed by heavy guitar riffs and lyrics that would break the heart of any listener. — Vanessa Arias

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“pretty isn’t pretty” – Olivia Rodrigo

Singer-songwriter Olivia Rodrigo is no stranger to the charts. Besides all 12 songs of her sophomore album GUTS landing on Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart, her album received six Grammy Award nominations. “pretty isn’t pretty” is a perfect mix of vulnerable themes and a groovy beat. With a simple sound mix, the garage band feel adds to the singer’s down-to-earth tone. Rodrigo touches on themes of comparison, beauty standards, and her frustration with the never-ending pursuit of it all. In this age of post-Barbie girlhood healing, “pretty isn’t pretty” is an anthem filled with feminine rage and vulnerable declarations to relate to, and be comforted by. — Tiffany Vu 

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“Talk To Me Nice” – Tinashe

Tinashe’s “Talk To Me Nice,” the lead single off her fifth album BB/ANG3L, combines R&B with electronic allure, delving into themes of love and desire. Tinashe’s soulful refrain, “This a feeling that money can’t buy / Couldn’t be fake if I tried,” explores the intricate dance of love. With lyrics emphasizing loyalty and genuine connection, the track paints a vivid picture of modern romance, making it a captivating addition to Tinashe’s musical repertoire. — Kayla Gayle

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The K-pop scene was set ablaze on June 5th as TAEYONG, the cornerstone and leader of NCT, released his highly anticipated solo debut with the dynamic album SHALALA. The same-named single showcased TAEYONG’s seamless blend of contemporary beats with a nostalgic homage to the ‘90s and early-2000s, incorporating influence from hip-hop classics Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How To Dougie” and Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” With braggadocious delivery of lines such as “Won the game of life at birth, just look at my drip,” that exude self-confidence, and an infectious chorus, “SHALALA” is a pop anthem that cements TAEYONG’s prowess as a solo artist. Kayla Gayle

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“To Let Go” – NateWantsToBattle

Nathan Sharp — better known by his Internet pseudonym NateWantsToBattle — dropped his full length album To Let Go on August 28 which included the eponymous track “To Let Go.” In line with his punk-rock and metal roots, “To Let Go” is a rock track with pop-synth elements that create an emotional soundscape. Sharp sings about the emotional abuse he suffered at the hands of another, shouting out angrily in the chorus that “All I ever wanted was for you to have some faith in me.” If you’ve ever felt that others have taken advantage of you without seeing the best in you, look no further than this deeply poignant track. — Vanessa Arias

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“Sleeper” – BADBADNOTGOOD, Charlotte Day Wilson

October-released “Sleeper” is the latest addition to a growing collection of collaborations between Canadian jazz ensemble BADBADNOTGOOD and R&B singer Charlotte Day Wilson. Where 2016 “In Your Eyes” (from the band’s LP IV) took on a more straightforward lounge jazz approach, the latest track builds onto 2021 “I Can Only Whisper”’s (from Wilson’s ALPHA) indie sensibility; Over a shiny arrangement of gentle guitar and prominent bass, masking the surprise of virtuosic flute, a key change crescendo, and abstractly layered harmonies, Wilson’s signature warm yet melancholic vocal tone delivers a wistful reflection on relationship ennui that could be likened to a deceptively soft punch in the gut. — Evi K.


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“Glue Song” – beabadoobee

Aptly released on Valentine’s Day, one of the most tender love songs of the year belongs to indie darling beabadoobee. In “Glue Song,” the Filipino singer-songwriter likens the love she feels for a significant other to being “stuck by glue” onto them. In painting the romantic picture, the guitar aficionado is accompanied by slow dancing rhythm clad in old school, lush strings and gentle wind instruments. But the charm of “Glue Song” reaches beyond its recording. For the music video, the West London-raised artist reconnected with her roots, filming in her Philippines hometown — Iloilo City — among family and at dear places, in a sweet ode to everyday Filipino life. Two months after the original single’s release, beabadoobee was also joined by American singer-songwriter Clairo in another, equally as delicate and heartfelt, rendition of the track. — Evi K.

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“Where Our Blue Is” – Tatsuya Kitani

To love someone who life forbids you to be with is the worst fate to live. And it is this pain which Japanese singer-songwriter Tatsuya Kitani illustrates in his sentimental single “Where Our Blue Is” — the first opening theme song of the second season of hit series Jujutsu Kaisen. Tatsuya adopts the perspective of the character Satoru Gojo, expressing a story of where the relationship could have been. With bittersweet lyricism and the purposefulness of the color blue, the artist depicts the profound connection that once was, and expresses the longing of unrequited love, and the scars of lasting emotions. Angela Ruedas

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“Cobra” – Megan Thee Stallion

2023 saw the return of Megan Thee Stallion with the introspective rock-infused rap tune “Cobra.” The single follows her 2022 album Traumazine and single “Pressurelicious” (feat. Future) after a considerable break from music. This is not the first time the rapper has experimented with punchy guitars on a track — her 2020 single “Girls In The Hood” plays with rock elements as well. “Cobra” comes at a time where rap is increasingly blurring the lines between rock, punk, and hip-hop as we know it. It only makes sense that in this new era of music, Megan uses these sounds to let the world know that she is experiencing rebirth, not only as a person but as an artist. “Cobra” touches on aspects of mental health, exposure to the public eye, and heartbreak. Megan Thee Stallion puts it all on the table, utilizing raw yet saddening lyrics with brash and confident delivery. With each release, the Houston rapper refines her pen and offers deeper meaning to her music. — Ellie Forte

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“CoolAs” – KEY

Nothing is cooler than confidence according to SHINee’s KEY. Earlier this year, the K-pop star released his second EP, Good & Great, which features the electro-dance B-side “CoolAs.” Tapping into his retro influence — which can be seen in previous title tracks such as “BAD LOVE” — “CoolAs” is driven by a funky, disco-reminiscent bassline and delicate synthesizer effects. The song’s spoken-word chorus reads as a self-empowerment mantra as KEY sings, “Just came out the freezer / Dripping ice, what I’m cool as.” Smooth, confident, and intriguing, “CoolAs” practically embodies what it means to be cool. — Danni Perez

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“Separate Ways” – Eyedress ft. The Marías

Eyedress has been making a name for himself in the indie scene over the past decade, with his guitar-based sound, simple yet catchy melodic lines, and signature processed vocal style. 2023 was a year of multiple single releases for the Manila-born, Los Angeles-based musician, starting with the Valentine’s special “Flowers & Chocolate.” However, the standout drop for us came in the second half, in the form of “Separate Ways,” a collaboration with psychedelic-soul act The Marías. Puerto Rico-born, Atlanta-raised María Zardoya lends dreamy vocals to this vulnerable confession of regret over a breakup, enveloped in Velvet Underground-esque, lethargic bass guitars and soft synths. — Evi K.

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“yvr” – melatonin boy 

2023 had its fair share of sleepless nights. So who did we listen to when our thoughts kept us awake? Easy. melatonin boy. Coming in just under two and half minutes, the closing track off his debut EP, could u call me tonight?, captures vulnerability and accepting a lack of closure. Despite the pop track’s upbeat nature and vibrant synths, “yvr” tugs at the heartstrings as melatonin boy comes to terms with the end of a long-distance relationship. — Danni Perez

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“3 Boys” – Omar Apollo

After releasing an acclaimed 2022 album, earning his first RIAA-certified platinum record and a Billboard Hot 100 debut with viral hit “Evergreen (You Didn’t Deserve Me at All),” and being honored with a Best New Artist Grammy nomination, Omar Apollo stayed on our minds in 2023. “3 Boys,” the Mexican American singer-songwriter’s first drop of the year, is a further testament to his masterful skill at elevating the act of yearning to a craft. The single is nothing short of heartbreaking: a poignant confession of irreversible devotion to one person, in response to their wish to open up the relationship. “Three boys would work if I wasn’t so tethered to you” captures both frustration and infatuation, as Apollo, ever the crooner, employs pained delivery over muffled bass guitars and romantic harmonies, to portray the predicament’s emotional complexity. — Evi K.    

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“The View” – D.O.

A song that makes you wonder, “Is this what love feels like?,” “The View” is a soft R&B song from EXO’s main vocalist, D.O.’s second mini album Expectation. For this song, D.O.’s voice carries a message that transcends the language barrier. Despite “The View” having mostly Korean lyrics, the artist managed to clearly portray the longing, love, and devotion that — accompanied by the music arrangements — submerges the listener into a romantic atmosphere. It makes no difference if it’s in Korean, English, or Spanish. His solo work has a distinct tone and sincerity that are characteristic of D.O.’s work, such as soft guitar rhythms and bright harmonies. Likewise, D.O.’s over a decade of music experience has made him an artist to keep an eye on. Mafe Morales

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“Brand New” – Big Time Rush

With the way pop music is looking nowadays, some may say the notion of the Western boy band is dead — but in 2023, Big Time Rush proved otherwise. After releasing a handful of singles over the last two years, the former Nickelodeon stars dropped their first studio album in a decade titled Another Life. While the record is chock-full of energetic party-starters, it’s the dreamy mid-tempo ballad “Brand New” that stands out among the rest. Accompanied by the romantic sways of a violin and acoustic guitar, the track is a soft reminder of just how easy it is for the members of BTR to creep their way back into listeners’ hearts, both new and old. Although longtime fans were left thinking the band had indefinitely gone their separate ways, here, it’s like they never left. The harmonies are just as crisp, the emotions are just as fresh, and the love Kendall, James, Carlos, and Logan pour into each lyric is just as timeless. This level of maturity may be brand new for the band, but there’s nothing new about the way Big Time Rush makes us feel. — Chyenne Tatum

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“sever the blight” – hemlocke springs

If vibrant, dreamlike ‘80s-esque synthpop is your cup of tea, then look no further than hemlocke springs. The 25-year-old artist began releasing her self-produced tunes in 2022 on TikTok, and released the sonic escapism track “sever the blight” this May. Opening the song with “Where are you, my lady?,” hemlocke plays the role of a damsel in distress. Then the song majestically transitions from its symphonic intro to its more upbeat sections, parallel to her vocalization. The track’s music video also supports its ethereal appeal with a medieval fantasy setting, complete with hand-painted stop-motion backgrounds and swashbuckling action. Once “sever the blight” ends, it leaves you in awe and anticipation for hemlocke’s next moves. T. Aquila

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“On My Mama” – Victoria Monét

No pen is like Victoria Monét’s. Writing hits for artists like Ariana Grande and Rihanna, she embarked on her own journey with albums like Jaguar and JAGUAR II. And in 2023, Monét delivered the summer classic “On My Mama” to the masses. The song was met with chart success and critical acclaim, so it should come to no surprise that it has become a two-time Grammy-nominated song. It’s buttery smooth due to Victoria’s rich voice and groovy with complex horn instrumentals. With catchy lyrics like “I’m so deep in my bag, like a grandma wit’ a peppermint,” it becomes so evident why Monét is seen as a leader in R&B today. The song tells a story of confidence, self love, and pays homage to Black southern music. At a time where many artists invoke southern hood aesthetics without it feeling lived in, Victoria Monét so effortlessly showcases the culture both in sound and visuals. — Ellie Forte

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“More Than Words” – P1Harmony

From embarking on a world tour to unexpected collaborations with British pop trio New Hope Club and famous producer and songwriter, Tricky Stewart, P1Harmony have had quite the year. Perhaps their greatest feat of 2023 was closing their second trilogy with their sixth EP, Harmony: All In, and shattering their record for first-week album sales. With each release, P1Harmony seems to be growing more sure of themselves — honing in on their strengths and leaning on one another for complete harmony. “More Than Words,” a B-side from their latest EP, is as harmonious as it is enthralling. Written and composed by members Keeho, Jiung, Intak, and Jongseob, this melodic Afropop track must be what walking on air feels like. Almost instantly, the listener is met with mystifying synths traveling from one ear to the other before diving deep into an endless sea of addictive beats, breathy falsettos, and the most rhythmic of rap verses. If the song is about showing love through actions, then “More Than Words” is P1Harmony’s most musically comforting hug yet. — Chyenne Tatum

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“Spunky!” – Grrrl Gang

In a stylistic pivot from the sugary, ‘90s-adjacent, melodic guitar pop of Here To Stay! (2020), Indonesian indie trio Grrrl Gang made their boldest statement to date with September-released Spunky! Heavily leaning into their punk influences by opting for prevalent talk-singing and some of the most abrasive instrumental arrangements in their catalog thus far, the band illustrates an inspired portrait of the Gen Z headspace, delving into themes of societal pressures, self-esteem, and mental health. The record’s title song stands out as a piece emblematic of its conceptual direction, where lead vocalist Angeeta Sentana channels her inner “Bad Reputation” era Joan Jett, in a raw and equally tongue-in-cheek assertion of her “bad girl” persona. — Evi K.

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“Be a Flower” – Ryokuoushoku Shakai

On October 29, quartet J-pop rock band Ryokuoushoku Shakai, also known as Ryokushaka, released their addictive single “Be a Flower.” Serving as the opening theme song to the currently-running anime series The Apothecary Diaries, the heavy rock track revolves around the theme of self-love and the desire for others to love you as you are. From the use of traditional Chinese instruments to the experimental piano and fast guitar riffs, Ryokushaka shine a light on the life of Maomao (a.k.a the protagonist) while simultaneously showcasing the band’s playful colors and profound musical expression. — Angela Ruedas

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SEVENTEEN right here! Earlier this year, the 13-member K-pop group released their tenth EP, FML, and it cemented the group in place as a performance powerhouse to be reckoned with. SEVENTEEN even made history after selling over 6.2 million copies of the album — thus becoming the best-selling K-pop record of all time. The EP’s title track “Super” is a rhythmic and energetic hit and unlike anything done by the group to date — sonically, at least. Lyrically, “Super” contains the same vigor and confidence of previous tracks highlighting SEVENTEEN’s unwavering perseverance, such as “Shining Diamond” and the leader-line subunit’s “CHEERS.” Brimming with life, the hit’s tenacious chorus vows, “We’ll never rest, every day, make it, make it / Don’t break till we make it.” — Danni Perez

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“Contact” – Kelela

A study on the history and nuances of club subgenres, Kelela’s Raven pays homage to the Black roots of electronic dance music through its immersive, DJ set-adjacent ebb and flow. On a journey through liminal spaces and nightclub haze, the Ethiopian American singer and songwriter crafts a multidimensional experience; Genres from house, drum and bass, and R&B to soul and ambient are weaved into an atmospheric sonic tapestry where introspection and sensuality become one. “Contact” might be the centerpiece of the record: a sultry siren call to the dancefloor over propulsive drum rhythms that encapsulates the scenery of strobe-lit nighttime into oblivion-inducing sound. — Evi K.

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“My Love Mine All Mine” – Mitski

It’s not all the time that viral hits can be caught veiling profoundly sincere and thought-provoking ideas. That said, if there is one musician who could take this type of scenario with a morning cup of tea, it would be Mitski. One of the year’s biggest tracks, despite its second half release, “My Love Mine All Mine” propelled the indie phenomenon to the peak of her fame, capturing listeners’ hearts worldwide, and scoring astronomical virality on TikTok. The resonance goes way beyond algorithmic ubiquity. “My Love Mine All Mine,” situated among similarly aligned ‘60s and ‘70s retro-tinged pieces with an orchestral flair on her LP The Land Is Inhospitable and So Are We, is part of a larger declaration from the Japanese American singer-songwriter; in which the choice to bathe unapologetically in the light of the only unlimited resource in a world where everything has a cost, extends to a message about seeing hope in adversity even when it seems impossible. — Evi K.

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Other tracks featured in our favorite songs of 2023 playlist include “Airplanes” by JHIN, “Back To Me” by The Rose, “LALA” by Myke Towers, and many more. Follow us on Spotify, and check out our playlist, curated by Team EnVi, just for you! 

Still in the holiday spirit? Check out our roundup of heartwarming holiday hits here!