While counting down the WNXP staff’s collective Top 30 Albums of 2023, it felt right to source the hive mind (that includes you, dear listener!) for favorite individual songs of the year. After all, several bands and artists between record cycles didn’t release an LP in 2023 but did tease us with singles that might indicate the sound of future full-lengths (I’m looking at you, Big Thief and Yard Act!) and some of those one-off songs are clear winners in terms of most spins at WNXP, and on your own stereos at home. Other tunes you mentioned are stand-out tracks on albums that perhaps didn’t make Best Of lists but deserve a listen for THAT song.
Thank you for so many great requests for this theme, and all mixtape themes we explore together for #ThematicStatic each week. You can always lob requests to us on the socials @WNXPNashville and record voice memos introducing those requests by calling 615-320-9100. Cheers!
#ThematicStatic Playlist: 12/14/2023
Be Your Own Pet – “Worship The Whip” – Lindsey, I concur about this song. What a comeback for Nashville’s BYOP with absolutely no shying away from subject materials like this S&M satire. Find all sorts of content from when this band was Nashville Artist of the Month on WNXP along with the release of Mommy in August.
Nation of the Language – “Sole Obsession” – Mike B. appreciated this lead single from NoL’s 2023 release Strange Disciple, which we covered as Record of the Week.
Gorillaz ft. Beck – “Possession Island” – Gah, the way this sweet ballad closes out a typically upbeat and club-ready Gorillaz record (Cracker Island) and set the stage for more sad Damon Albarn in the form of the Blur release later in the year, The Ballad of Darren. I was grateful that listener Evan found this one memorable, too.
Allison Russell – “Stay Right Here” – Destin asked for yet another 2023 Nashville Artist of the Month, and specifically this one, a disco-inspired and ever triumphant tune Russell herself introduced on WNXP.
Big Thief – “Vampire Empire” – After a double record in 2022, Big Thief still had something special for us in 2023, and Chris loves it.
Bully – “A Wonderful Life” – WHAT DO YOU KNOW, a Nashville Artist of the Month you all enjoyed as much as we did, digging into the creative inspiration and expression of Alicia Bognanno this summer with her release of the full-length Lucky for You. This one ended up in our Top 10 favorite records of 2023 and also topped Nashville Scene’s critics list for best Nashville releases of the year.
Jon Batiste – “Butterfly” – Both Joseph and Catherine mentioned this one, so it must be a heart-tugger, I thought, having not heard it before plugging it into the show. Batiste: what a real one. We heart a piano ballad.
The Arcs – “Keep On Dreamin'” – Infusing more Nashville love into this playlist, this one was requested by Kevin from the Easy Eye Sound return of the Dan Auerbach project memorializing The Arcs’ former bandmate Richard Swift. Out in January, Electrophonic Chronic clearly resonated throughout the year.
Sunny War – “No Reason” – Amanda requested this one, the single most played on WNXP from Tennessean-by-way-of-California Sunny War’s 2023 record Anarchist Gospel, also covered by Marquis Munson as Record of the Week.
SBTRKT ft. Toro y Moi – “Days Go By” – I always look forward to seeing what I missed over “this year in music” when loyal listener and contributor Zach makes his year-end lists. Case in point: I completely whiffed on this collab, despite my love for Toro y Moi. Thanks for sharing, sir!
Blonde Redhead – “Snowman” – The core three members of this band have been playing together since the ’90s, and they released another stunner of an album, Sit Down for Dinner, in September 2023. Christo’s favorite track was this one, which I hope they’ll play when Blonde Redhead takes the stage at The Basement East in February.
Caroline Polachek – “Sunset” – Jay and I were emailing about how great this record is. Desire, I Want to Turn Into You was an early 2023 Record of the Week and still managed to gobble up a share of my most-streamed songs on the DSPs by year’s end. They just persist in pleasing the ear! Jay’s feedback was specifically about the production, and “Sunset” is his favorite 2023 Polachek tune.
Quiet Houses – “Hot and Clumsy” – I’d never heard of this British band much less heard this song that Grace on Instagram said they’ll “wake up with in my head days after listening.” Now I love it, too. Your turn!
Sufjan Stevens – “A Running Start” – The new record from Stevens, Javelin, was instantly one of my favorites in his discography. It narrowly made WNXP’s Top 30 Albums but it was my personal #1, played in full dozens of times since its October release, so I had to include a favorite tune on my own playlist. This song has it all, the acoustic instrumentation and then the movie montage-like swelling of additional string instruments, a flute and a choir. Classic Sufjan. I need it.