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The 123 Best Songs of 2023

Illustration by Jed Chisholm for NPR

This list of NPR Music's best songs of 2023 looks unlike any we've ever made before. It's not just the number of songs that has changed. There are no rankings here — in fact, the 123 songs below appear in a different order each time you load the page. There's more, though: Click on the "more like this" button next to any song and you'll get a hand-picked collection of seven other songs from the list that we think you'll like.

There are so many things that can lead you from one song to another — a great voice or the way a turn of phrase sticks in your head, an unforgettable riff or rhyme. The infinite possibilities of the streaming era promised to expose listeners to a wider range of songs, so wouldn't it be nice if playlists felt more like play? Why stick with the algorithmically generated tried and true when all it takes to make a great playlist is active interest, some musical knowledge and the willingness to fully engage with the music. And maybe some friends to help with recommendations.

In pursuit of that goal, we've basically made you 123 mixtapes to go with our 123 best songs of 2023, little slices of those infinite possibilities. Don't know where to start? You can narrow the list to our "best of the best" or pick something you like and see what we recommend next. Follow any individual song to a playlist of suggestions that open new doors. (Of course, you can also listen to a big playlist of nearly every song on the list, and check out our 50 best albums of the year too, if that's your speed.) There's enough here to keep making discoveries and connections into 2024.

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