The Top 88 of 2023

Top 88, 2023, Year In Review, WERS 88.9 FM
Graphics by Sarah Tarlin

2023 was an unusual year for music. In 2022, major releases from the likes of Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, and Beyonce dominated conversation. This year was a little bit quieter, and some underdog albums burst into the mainstream (boygenius, anyone?).

Over 500 WERS listeners voted, and chose the first EVER tie in the history of this countdown. You chose a healthy selection of new artists like Blondshell and Margaret Glaspy and returning heavyweights, like Blur and the Rolling Stones.

Here's the list in full! You can also listen to the countdown again on Saturday January 6th at noon, and Sunday the 7th at 4pm. Thanks for listening and voting!


1. boygenius — “Not Strong Enough”

All three members have made the top 20 before, but it's unprecedented for a group (even a supergroup) to top this list in their first year of eligibility, and with their first album. Also unprecedented…


1. Noah Kahan — “Dial Drunk”

Noah's "Stick Season" was #2 in the Top 88 last year. This year he's TIED for #1.


3. Black Pumas — “More Than a Love Song”

The Austin duo are back with an uber-cool second album. Check out their performance on WERS back in 2019!


4. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit — “When We Were Close”

A sleeper hit from Isbell's heartbreaking new Weathervanes album. We wonder how many people gave him an extra vote after watching Killers of the Flower Moon!


5. Hozier — “Francesca”

This nicest guy in rock n roll writes an album about Dante's the divine comedy and it rules. We talked to him about death earlier this year.


6. Mitski — “My Love, Mine All Mine”

Mitski makes top ten every time she's eligible (and she was last year too!) Her new album is one for the ages.


7. Paramore — “Running Out of Time”

Paramore came charging back with This Is Why back in February. This tune is classic pop punk, but there's some new found millennial existential dread here that makes it next level.


8. Margaret Glaspy — “Act Natural”

Definitely the best kept secret in the top 10. We LOVE Margaret Glaspy, and are pumped that this artist who got started in Boston is on the up and up.


9. The National Ft. Taylor Swift — “The Alcott”

We knew Taylor Swift would make this list somehow! The National's Aaron Dessner has become one of her key collaborators. She returns the favor on this gorgeous musing on missed connections.


10. Wilco — “Evicted”

Wilco impress on their 13th album, and their first with an outside producer. Cate Le Bon adds some edge that elevates this tune to the level of Wilco's very best.


11. Bleachers — “Modern Girl”

Jack Antonoff produced Lana Del Rey's impeccable new album and TWO Taylor Swift re releases this year. Somehow, he found time to get the band back together and write the funnest song they've ever done.


12. boygenius — “Cool About It”

The boys are back, the only band (not individual artist, like Hozier) with two entries in our top 20. Their first EP's cover was a deliberate reference to Crosby Stills and Nash. Here they lean into the comparison's with lush three part harmonies, and a spotlight for all three vocalists in every verse.


13. Deer Tick — “Forgiving Ties”

Providence's very own! They came by Studio 889 only a month ago.


14. Blondshell — “Salad”

Our highest voted brand new artist. Sabrina Teitlebaum is one to watch closely! Check out our recent interview.


15. Foo Fighters — “Rescued”

Dave Grohl and company look for catharsis after the tragic death of Taylor Hawkins, and find it in their best album in a decade.


16. Lana Del Rey — “Say Yes To Heaven”

Amazingly, this slow burning barn-burner of a song was a toss off! It didn't make it onto Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard? but emerged as a fan favorite on Tik-Tok.

17. Hozier — “Eat Your Young”

Hozier continues deeper into hell, with a song for the gluttons! Hozier made the top 20 twice, the only individual artist to do so this year.


18. Sarah Jarosz — “Jealous Moon”

A relatively unknown artist outside folk/bluegrass circles, Sarah Jarosz makes a big splash here. We've been paying attention since she graduated from New England Conservatory about ten years ago, but this is clearly a new phase for Jarosz's career. 


19. Blur — “The Narcissist”

Last year Gorillaz ranked in the top twenty, and Damon Albarn show's up this year with Blur's melancholy, excellent return.


20. The Killers — “Your Side of Town”

The Killers "Mr. Brightside" turns twenty this year! Brandon Flowers and company's latest has plenty of classic Killers swagger and adds some edge to their new retrospective, Rebel Diamonds.


  1. Air Traffic Controller — “EZbreezy”

  2. Jenny Lewis — “Psychos”

  3. Grace Potter — “Good Time”

  4. The Rolling Stones — “Angry”

  5. Beck & Phoenix — “Odyssey”

  6. Say She She — “Astral Plane”

  7. Peter Gabriel — “Road to Joy”

  8. The National — “Tropic Morning News”

  9. Caroline Polachek — “Welcome to My Island”

  10. The Beatles — “Now and Then”

  11. Death Cab for Cutie - "Arrow in the Wall"

  12. Depeche Mode — “Ghosts Again”

  13. Dave Herlihy — “The Invisible Girl”

  14. Blur — “Barbaric”

  15. Big Thief — “Vampire Empire”

  16. Thundercat Ft. Tame Impala — “No More Lies”

  17. Teddy Swims — “Lose Control”

  18. Joy Oladokun Ft. Noah Kahan — “We're All Gonna Die”

  19. Green Day — “The American Dream Is Killing Me”

  20. The Lone Bellow — “Honey”

  21. Inhaler — “Love Will Get You There”

  22. Bully Ft. Soccer Mommy — “Lose You”

  23. Shakey Graves Ft. Sierra Ferrell — “Ready or Not”

  24. U2 — “Atomic City”

  25. Foo Fighters — “Under You”

  26. The Heavy Heavy — “Go Down River”

  27. Beck — “Thinking About You”

  28. Middle Kids — “Highlands”

  29. Ben Folds — “Winslow Gardens”

  30. Brittany Howard - "What Now"

  31. Claud — “A Good Thing”

  32. Jon Batiste — “Calling Your Name”

  33. The New Pornographers — “Really Really Light”

  34. The Last Dinner Party — “Nothing Matters”

  35. boygenius — “$20”

  36. Wunderhorse - "Purple"

  37. The Japanese House — “Boyhood”

  38. MGMT — “Mother Nature”

  39. Josh Ritter — “For Your Soul”

  40. Little Fuss - "She's a Liar"

  41. Inhaler — “Just To Keep You Satisfied”

  42. Dave Matthews Band — “Break Free”

  43. Slowdive — “Kisses”

  44. Samia — “Honey”

  45. Peter Gabriel — “Panopticom”

  46. Arlo Parks — “Weightless”

  47. The Revivalists — “Kid”

  48. Tame Impala — “Wings Of Time”

  49. Lana Del Rey — “Did You Know That There's A Tunnel Under Ocean Boulevard?”

  50. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds — “Council Skies”

  51. Local Natives — “N.Y.E.”

  52. Bully — “Days Move Slow”

  53. Manchester Orchestra — “The Way”

  54. Yves Tumor - "Echolalia"

  55. Natalie Merchant — “Come On, Aphrodite”

  56. Jungle — “Back On 74”

  57. Iggy Pop — “Comments”

  58. Nation of Language — “Too Much, Enough”

  59. Dan Auerbach — “Every Chance I Get (I Want You In The Flesh)”

  60. Squirrel Flower — “Alley Light”

  61. Danielle Ponder — “Roll the Credits”

  62. The Struts — “Pretty Vicious”

  63. Momma — “Bang Bang”

  64. J. Mascis — “Can’t Believe We’re Here”

  65. Devon Gilfillian — “All I Really Wanna Do”

  66. Everything But the Girl — “Nothing Left to Lose”

  67. Bakar — “Alive!”

  68. Phoenix Ft. Clairo — “After Midnight”

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