“One minute you’re just cooking up someone’s order of French fries and the next minute you’re laying on the floor and they blow your brains out.”- The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne reflecting on being held up at gunpoint when he was a fry cook at Long John Silver’s
The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne on this date in 1961. A few of his band’s cuts 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
In early 1980 newspaper The Village Voice published the results of its poll of 155 music critics. Voted the best album of 1979 was Graham Parker & The Rumour’s Squeezing Out Sparks. The rest of the top ten was:
Neil Young – Rust Never Sleeps
The Clash – The Clash
Talking Heads – Fear of Music
Elvis Costello – Armed Forces
Van Morrison – Into the Music
The B-52s – The B-52s
Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes
Pere Ubu – Dub Housing
Donna Summer – Bad GirlsGraham Parker was born on this date in 1950. A handful of his songs are included on today’s playlist.
One night in December 1994 my friend Kathy and I attended the WDRE Acoustic Xmas show at New York City’s Beacon Theater. There were multiple artists on the bill, each getting a short slot to perform three or four songs. The acts were The Go-Go’s, Big Audio Dynamite, Jesus and Mary Chain, frente!, Love Spit Love, Black 47, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood. I looked up online who performed, as the only act I recall seeing there were the Radiohead guys. The band had one album out at that time, 1993’s Pablo Honey. Kathy and I just wanted them to do their hit – “Creep” – and then skedaddle. They didn’t play “Creep.” They played some song about plastic trees and one about an iron long and some other mess. Kathy and I knew this band would never be heard from again.
Radiohead’s Thom Yorke was born on this date in 1968. Lots of Thom’s work on today’s playlist.
In the same room where Ian Fleming wrote James Bond novels Sting of The Police wrote what he called a “nasty little song” about his feelings of jealousy and obsession over his first wife following their divorce. I’m not sure if hearing the song everywhere helped him get over those feelings, but the money the song generated may have lifted his spirits.
Sting was born on this date in 1951. Lotsa Police songs on today’s playlist.
The album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was rejected by Reprise Records, Wilco’s label at the time, for being too experimental and uncommercial. Wilco bought back the rights to the album for $50,000. The band subsequently signed with Nonesuch Records, which, like Reprise, is distributed by Warner Music. Nonesuch put out the album in 2002. It became Wilco’s best-selling album, despite the band making it available to stream for free on their website following their departure from Reprise.
Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy was born on this date in 1967. Lots of Wilco on today’s playlist.