April 21, 2023 | OPINION | By Zoe Smith
As we get closer to May and begin closing out the fourth month of the year so far, it is clear that there has already been a wide variety of music released in 2023. In the United States, only five songs reach the No. 1 spot on the world’s most famous music list this year.
Having listened to each song that earned itself the prized spot, I was wonderfully surprised by just how unique each song was. Despite that, I am a music fanatic; therefore, I couldn’t help but compare the songs to each other, and I was compelled to rank the five tracks that have taken over the world in the last four months.
In the No. 5 place is Morgan Wallen’s “Last Night.” As the song begins with a simple pattern on the guitar followed by the entrance of Wallen’s rich southern twang, it is clear this song falls within the country genre.
“Last Night” tells a narrative story, setting the scene in the mind of the listener. While listening to the song, it’s sure to get anyone listening in a country mood. With a substantial 36 songs on the album, I found myself being lost in the sauce of Wallen’s heartbreak. Like “Last Night,” many of the songs rely on a simple guitar pattern while the other instruments take the back burner, which is what incentivized me to place it in the fifth spot.
In fourth place is The Weeknd’s “Die for You” remix, featuring Ariana Grande. Besides the addition of Grande’s new verse and a few background vocals, the song seems to stick to its roots and not stray too much from the original. Less of a powerhouse remix like “Save Your Tears,” the vocals play a more subtle role as Grande’s infamous whistle note can be heard lurking in the background.
I was tempted to place this song in the third place slot, but what ultimately confirmed my fourth spot placement was that, when I listen to any remix, I am expecting something grand that will make the song even stronger than its original. Yet, listening to the new “Die For You,” I find myself thinking it isn’t even remotely better than the original released several years ago.
“Anti-Hero” by Taylor Swift situates itself nicely in the third-place position on this list. The lead single off of her most recent album, “Midnights,” has now become Swift’s longest No. 1 single ever, establishing itself in the top slot of the Billboard for eight weeks, surpassing “Blank Space,” the second single off of Swift’s megahit pop album “1989.” 17 years after the release of her debut album, Swift proves that her skills as a singer and songwriter age like fine wine.
The melancholy lyrics of the song hide behind the synth-pop sound that adds a lighter tone to what is arguably one of Swift’s most emotional singles. The song builds a contemplative insight into Swift’s struggle, confronting her flaws. She gets candid with her audience as the singer shares her deepest insecurities. The power of the lyrics and the creativity of the music video earned her a ninth No. 1 hit.
For the second place on this list, I found myself looking at the historic significance. “Like Crazy” by Jimin debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 3, 2023. The Korean singer is not unfamiliar with the Billboard No. 1 spot, already holding six No. 1 hits with global K-Pop group sensation, BTS.
Being the second single released from Jimin’s debut album, “Face,” “Like Crazy” is, from start to finish, a song that creates a pleasing, enigmatic feeling. The lyrics follow all the emotions that make up heartbreak and use fun adventures to move on. “Like Crazy” is energetic, compelling, and slightly intoxicating, making sure that anyone tuning in to listen has a good time.
“Like Crazy” is the first song by a Korean soloist to ever reach No. 1 on Billboard, and the only one to debut in the No. 2 spot ever. Even hits such as “Gangnam Style,” released in 2012, by Korean artist PSY peaked at No. 2 in the U.S. In addition, it is one of only 66 songs to ever debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s Chart. Looking at just how symbolic the achievement of Jimin’s solo song is, I felt it undeniably deserved to be in the second spot.
In my first-place ranking, I had to go with the obvious choice of Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers.” The singer officially announced her pop comeback with her lead single from her new album, “Endless Summer Vacation.” Released on January 12, 2023, the first song encompasses the post-divorce feeling that will continue throughout the rest of the album.
After listening to “Flowers,” the upbeat heartbreak song deep dives into the final emotion when moving on from Cyrus’ ex-husband, Liam Hemsworth. The empowering lyrics showcase the singer’s look back on a long-term relationship and the growth she has experienced since, and that not every breakup song has to be a sad song.
Through a song like “Flowers,” Cyrus flaunts her undeniable songwriting skills. The chorus acts as a response to Bruno Mars’ famous song “When I Was Your Man,” which Hemsworth dedicated to Cyrus as “their song” at the pair’s wedding. In Mars’ rendition, he says “I should have bought you flowers/ and held your hand/ take you to every party ‘cause all you wanted to do was dance.” Whereas Cyrus uses the lyrics of her new hit to respond to Mars’, “I can buy myself flowers/I can take myself dancing/And I can hold my hand.”
The song has charted at No. 1 for over eight weeks and is on its way to quickly becoming the fastest song to reach one billion streams on Spotify. Similar to Swift, decades into her career, Cyrus breaks through the barrier of time to produce what is now one of the biggest hits in her discography.
After creating this list, what I have enjoyed the most is that mainstream radio has surpassed the simple pop genre that used to dominate and has opened the doors to a range of songs that vary in genre, lyrics, and even language.