The year after I graduated from college I moved out of my parents’ house into my own apartment in Woodbridge, New Jersey, where I lived for two years before moving into Manhattan. Woodbridge was no great shakes, though there was one cool thing about it. Around the corner from me was an independent record store whose name I will never recall. Always on the hunt for new music, I would spend hours there flipping through the racks. It was on one of those occasions, in 1986 or ’87, that I chanced upon an album named Let It Be. I already had an album at home called Let It Be by a different band, and that one was pretty good, so I figured I’d take a chance on this Let It Be. It’s by a band named The Replacements, and while I had never heard their music, I did recall reading positive things about them in the music press. I splurged the $9 + tax on the still sealed vinyl LP, took that baby home, and have never looked back. I now own every album ever released by The Replacements in triplicate plus one (is that called quadruplicate?), not because I’m an obsessive, but because I worked for their record company. And because I’m an obsessive.
The Replacements’ Paul Westerberg was born on this date in 1959. A few of the band’s earlier recordings are included on today’s playlist.
Five years after then president of The Recording Academy proclaimed that women need to step up, the ladies have responded with “How’s this, jerkface?” Women dominate this year’s Grammy nominations. More importantly, all but two of the top 20 songs on my year-end list are led by female artists (with one guy showing up to provide guest vocals). That’s a record, I think, but don’t quote me on that. I’m too lazy to check. I don’t have a deep analysis for this phenomenon, but I do have a deep appreciation for the talent and diversity of these women (not that women have ever been underrepresented in my annual tallies). The highest placing male acts on my 2023 list are none other than The Rolling Stones and The Beatles. Yes, you read that right. The legends are back, and they still can show the young-uns how it’s done. With their song “Angry,” The Rolling Stones have achieved a remarkable feat: the longest span from first appearance to most recent appearance in my year-end surveys. In 1981, my first year of making such lists, the group placed with “Start Me Up.” The 80s are also well represented by Kylie Minogue and Madonna, each of whom made a triumphant return to my list after long absences. Welcome back, ladies! And last but not least, let’s give a round of applause to Megan Thee Stallion, who has been in my top five for five years in a row. That’s a record, I think, but don’t quote me on that. I’m too lazy to check. Now, without further ado, here is my list of the best songs of 2023. Enjoy!
Ice Cream Man. – RAYE
vampire – Olivia Rodrigo
Kill Bill – SZA
Bongos – Cardi B feat. Megan Thee Stallion
Not Strong Enough – boygenius
Flowers – Miley Cyrus
Escapism. – RAYE & 070 Shake
Paint the Town Red – Doja Cat
Lipstick Lover – Janelle Monáe
Nobody Gets Me – SZA
Dance the Night – Dua Lipa
Shirt – SZA
AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM – Beyoncé feat. Kendrick Lamar
What Was I Made For? – Billie Eilish
Padam Padam – Kylie Minogue
Cobra – Megan Thee Stallion
Brenda Put Your Bra On – Ashley McBryde, Caylee Hammack & Pillbox Patti
Angry – The Rolling Stones
Now and Then – The Beatles
Cool About It – boygenius
RATATA – Skrillex, Missy Elliott & Mr. Oizo
Did you know that there’s a tunnel under Ocean Blvd – Lana Del Rey
Along with a handful of other folks, I was invited to a friend’s home today for a celebration, which I can only assume is in honor of the birthday today of Nicolas Godin of the French duo Air. Nicolas provides vocals and plays keyboards, bass, and guitar, or should I say Air guitar. Man, I’m funny!
The first of nine US number one singles for The Bee Gees was “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” written for Andy Williams by the group’s three brothers (credited to Barry and Robin Gibb on its initial release but later amended to include brother Maurice). The song is from their album Trafalgar, named after where in London they stayed during the recording sessions; however, the single failed to chart in the UK.
The Bee Gees’ twins Maurice and Robin Gibb were born on this date in 1949. Lots of Bee Gees on today’s playlist.