🎵 Weekly Music Newsletter: 2023 in Review

Mic-Check Newsletter
15 min readDec 19, 2023

From Troye Sivan’s electrifying rush to SZA’s smoldering defiance, from Billie Eilish’s introspective Barbie ballad to boygenius’ vulnerable comeback.

2023 wasn’t your typical year in music. The genre map was redrawn with legendary artists venturing into uncharted territory. Dolly Parton embraced rock, André 3000 hypnotized with his instrumental flute odyssey, and Taylor Swift revisited her past with re-recorded versions of two beloved albums.

Country music wasn’t just playing, it was dominating. Four chart-topping hits, led by Morgan Wallen’s 16-week behemoth Last Night, sent the Billboard 100 soaring to twangy new heights. Rap, on the other hand, took a backseat, with a mere three tracks reaching the top — the lowest since 1989.

But music in 2023 wasn’t just about numbers. It was about saying goodbye to icons like Tina Turner, Tony Bennett, David Crosby, Jimmy Buffet, Sinead O’Connor, and Jeff Beck, and witnessing the hiatus of BTS as its members began their military service.

The year began with joyful moments: Bonnie Raitt’s shocking Grammy win and Rihanna’s return to stage for the Super Bowl LVII halftime show. Supergroup boygenius released their highly anticipated debut, while an AI-generated Drake and The Weeknd track went viral. In a dramatic twist, Coachella’s headliner Frank Ocean was replaced by the original Blink-182 lineup after a disappointing mess.

May brought relief with Ed Sheeran’s successful copyright defense, while Beyonce’s Renaissance World Tour hit the road and the Foo Fighters introduced their new drummer, Josh Freese.

June marked the end of Billy Joel’s iconic Madison Square Garden residency, Kesha and Dr. Luke finally settled their decade-long lawsuit, and the Migos reunited in a poignant tribute to Takeoff.

July saw Jason Aldean’s controversial hit Try That in a Small Town climb to the top, while August brought lawsuits for Lizzo, a 10-year sentence for Tory Lanez, and relationship woes for Keke Palmer, triggered by Usher’s Las Vegas residency.

September celebrated Shakira’s historic Video Vanguard Award win as the first South American recipient, The Weeknd’s final feature of his career, Maren Morris’ brave departure from country music, NSYNC’s long-awaited reunion, and U2’s grand opening of the MSG Sphere.

October saw Eric Clapton’s surprising fall from grace in Rolling Stone’s guitarists…

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