Debating the Best Songs of 2023, Part One

In this episode of the Pitchfork Review podcast, our critics take sides and discuss which tracks by some of 2023’s most exciting artists deserve a spot on our upcoming year-end lists.
billy woods Ice Spice and 100 gecs
billy woods photo by Alexander Richter, Ice Spice photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for MTV, and 100 gecs photo by Chris Maggio

Our weekly podcast includes in-depth analysis of the music we find extraordinary, exciting, and just plain terrible. This week Editor-in-Chief Puja Patel and Reviews Director Jeremy D. Larson host Features Editor Ryan Dombal to talk about how we put our year-end lists together and argue over which songs by Ice Spice, 100 gecs, billy woods, Zach Bryan, and TisaKorean should be considered for those lists. Is gecs’ snotty punk track “Hollywood Baby” better than their ska farce “Frog on the Floor”? What about Ice Spice’s PinkPantheress collaboration “Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2” verses the red-headed rap phenom’s solo hit “Deli”? And which song from New York MC billy woods’ masterful album Maps is the best one? We get to all that and more.

Listen to this week’s episode and read an excerpt from it below. Follow The Pitchfork Review here, and check out all of Pitchfork’s 2023 wrap-up coverage here.

Jeremy D. Larson: Let’s talk about a couple of songs from one of my favorite albums that came out this year, 100 gecs’ 10,000 gecs.

Puja Patel: So many gecs.

Larson: Puja and Dombal, what songs are you arguing for here?

Patel: I’m coming here to ride for “Hollywood Baby.”

Ryan Dombal: I am repping for... “Frog on the Floor.”

Larson: Wow. Puja, why don’t you pose your argument first?

Patel: To be clear, I love this whole album. It’s just such a delight of nostalgia and pop care. Dylan Brady knows pop music in an insanely smart and detailed way, and you can see that through all of the very weird, funny references all over the album.

“Hollywood Baby,” to me, is the most straight-ahead of those pop songs. It also sounds exactly like what was playing on the radio in the late ’90s and early 2000s, to a note. The markings of so many iconic pop punk songs have to do with that opening guitar riff. Off the top of my head: Lit’s “My Own Worst Enemy,” All-American Rejects’ “Dirty Little Secret,” New Found Glory’s “My Friends Over You.”

Larson: Blink 182’s “Dammit.”

Patel: Sure. Any song where you know it from the first five seconds—a hit. So put that little guitar thing into the boom-clap of the drums, and you’re locked and loaded, like, “Let’s fucking go.”

The song also puts the angst of what to do with your privilege and apathy in 2023 through that pop-punk lens with lines like, “I’m going crazy/Little tiny Hollywood baby.” I just relate to it.

Larson: We’re all just a tiny little Hollywood baby.

Patel: Well, you know, in this moment there’s a lot of mocking rich people and celebrities and people who deliver news via statement, as is referenced in the song. But also recognizing you’re kind of one of them—like you’re sitting in your little place of privilege, too. I love the pop punk. I love the crunch. I love the sentiment, I love it all.

Everybody in this room loves this song. I would say it’s our favorite.

Larson: But!

Dombal: Let’s get to “Frog on the Floor.” This song is ska. It’s frogs. It’s floors… ?

Larson: It’s about something. It’s a story song.

Dombal: It’s about a frog who’s living in a basement and then comes up from the basement and jumps into a house party. The frog does a keg stand at one point. The frog is also doing frog shit, like eating flies.

Larson: It’s a party frog.

Dombal: It is. But I also feel for the frog. There’s one part in the song where Laura Les is singing about how we should give the frog some space.

Larson: “He’s still working it out.”

Dombal: Right. And one last thing I’ll say is that you haven’t fully appreciated “Frog on the Floor” until you’ve seen people throwing Kermit hats to it while moshing, as I did earlier this year. People love this song. They love how it’s really dumb and about a frog, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Larson: I think you just got at the heart of it. As much as I love being indicted for my privilege, I’d much rather have fun with a frog on the floor. So I’m going to give that point to Dombal.

Patel: What the fuck? That is so messed up.

Larson: It’s super messed up.