You could spend all day arguing about what constitutes a great song.
It's perhaps even harder to narrow down a truly brilliant song than it is to define a great album; it needs to standalone, make a big impression and be something that demands you press the 'replay' button as soon as it ends.
Here are what we reckon are the best ten songs of the year.
10. Blur - 'The Narcissist'
Eight years after Blur released their last album The Magic Whip, Damon Albarn and co. made a wonderful comeback with their ninth studio album The Ballad of Darren. This, the lead single, demonstrated everything that Blur do so well: make quietly anthemic indie tunes packed with melody that burrow their way into your mind.
9. Kojaque - 'Cabra Drive'
Kojaque’s second studio album (not counting his debut mixtape Deli Daydreams) was a revelation; Phantom of the Afters saw the Dublin rapper go deeper and more personal than ever before. This track, an bittersweet excavation of the trials and tribulations of his youth, was a highlight.
8. Dua Lipa - 'Dance the Night'
Gen Z’s Queen of Pop (and we’re not open to discussion on that title) was reasonably quiet in 2023, but unleashed this absolute bop as part of the ‘Barbie’ soundtrack; another sophisticated disco-influenced earworm to luxuriate in.
7. Olivia Rodrigo - 'Vampire'
The young Californian pop star marked her 20th year in 2023 by proving that she is anything but a one-album wonder. ‘Guts’, her second album, is undoubtedly one of the pop albums of the year, and this thrilling track put a new spin on her bare-hearted balladry.
6. Miley Cyrus - 'Flowers'
It was released way back in January, but has endured throughout 2023 as one of the year’s most memorable tracks. Flowers, an empowering anthem about self-love wrapped up in a melancholic pop package, showcased a new side to Cyrus’s songwriting oeuvre.
5. Jessie Ware - 'Begin Again'
She has already bagged the #1 spot on our Albums of the Year list, and there are several tracks from ‘That! Feels Good!’ that could’ve made our Songs of the Year list, too. This, however, is the track that we have returned to again and again during 2023; the understated majesty of the arrangement, Ware’s vocals, the glimmering bridge leading into the chorus… what a tune. This woman needs to sing the next Bond theme.
4. Lankum - ‘Go Dig My Grave’
Another band that made our Best Albums list’, the Dubliners set their stall out with the first track released from ‘False Lankum’; Radie Peat’s haunting folk voice set against a background of spectral experimentation made for a mesmerising, cinematic 8 minutes. As the saying goes, there’s eatin’ and drinkin’ in this song.
3. CMAT - ‘Stay for Something’
She’s the breakout Irish star of 2023, largely thanks to a dazzling live show and her lustrous personality making waves - both online and internationally. Still, without the stellar songs to back it all up, CMAT would be just another witty person on the internet. Her excellent second album was jam-packed with poignant and often funny tracks, but this huge singalong sums up the best of her.
2. Jazzy - ‘Giving Me’
You can expect to hear a lot more of Jazzy in 2024, but the Dubliner made a hell of a big impression this year. Having turned heads with her collaborations with Belters Only, her debut solo single ‘Giving Me’ established her as a solo act to be reckoned with; the song went platinum in the UK and she became first Irish female artist to top the national charts in over 14 years. It’s also a hell of a song, drawing influence from ‘90s house but putting the Crumlin native’s distinctly 2023 spin on the whole shebang.
1. Paul Russell - ‘Lil Boo Thang’
It started out, as many things do these days, as a viral clip on TikTok before becoming the best feel-good song of the year. Put simply, it is impossible not to get swept up in ‘Lil Boo Thang’; from the tongue-in-cheek lyrics, to that iconic 1970s sample of The Emotions ‘Best of My Love’, to that infuriatingly catchy chorus, it is a song that simply radiates sunshine. Lil Boo Thang is that rare beast: a track with old school appeal that captures the energy required of a present-day pop/hip-hop crossover hit. Both your nanny and your 2-year-old kid will happily shake their tailfeather to this pick-me-up dazzler - which is about the best compliment you could pay to Paul Russell.