Intern Picks of the Week – Top Songs of 2023

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Say hello to the Lightning 100 Spring Interns of 2024! It’s no surprise that we spend a lot of our time streaming music, so we found it fitting to share our Top Songs of 2023. Our debut article for Intern Picks of the Week features the highly eclectic music of Madeleine, Emily, Brooke, and Benni. 

Madeleine’s Pick: “Sad To Breathe” – The Japanese House

The Japanese House’s latest LP, In The End It Always Does, is a stunning mix of relatability, groove, melancholy, and organic instrumentation. It was no surprise to me that the album’s second single, “Sad To Breathe,” was my top song of 2023. “Sad To Breathe” begins with an intricate, soaring piano riff that supports Amber Bain’s gentle vocal delivery. Sweeping harmonies accompany Bain in the chorus as she laments “it’s sad to breathe the air when you’re not there.” The track’s somber nature is then flipped on its head as the beat kicks in. Suddenly, a song about yearning and heartache transforms into an upbeat banger. The duality of “Sad to Breathe” makes it one of my favorites. I love it when upbeat songs have a sadder meaning hidden beneath a groove. “Sad to Breathe” stops listeners in their tracks and makes them think as they sway to the beat.

Emily’s Pick: “Emily I’m Sorry” – boygenius

This is an extremely self-centered number one song of the year and I own that wholeheartedly. I just don’t think you can ever go wrong with boygenius. Consisting of Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, and Lucy Dacus, the trio knows how to write a gut wrenching album. Together, they are able to pen some of the most beautiful lyrics and intricate sonics. Their love of each other and the artistry of music shines through every track. In this song, specifically, the car crash metaphor in the first verse and the joint vocals in the chorus make this feel like a gospel hymn. There is true artistry in simplicity and “Emily I’m Sorry” encompasses that beautifully. It’s the perfect song to listen to in any mellow mood- it fully encompasses falling in and out of love so graphically and painstakingly.

Brooke’s Pick: “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.” – Father John Misty

My top song of 2023 was “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.” by Father John Misty, off of his 2015 album, I Love You, Honeybear. I’d listened to one or two of his songs before but this past year I made a die-hard FJM fan who told me I absolutely had to listen to all of his music, including that released under his real name. J. Tillman, those first two Fleet Foxes albums, and even his cover of Ryan Adams’ cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” (done, of course, in the style of The Velvet Underground.) Out of everything I listened to though, those first few lines of “The Night Josh Tillman,” stuck out to me. “Oh, I just love the kind of woman who can walk over a man. And I mean like a goddamn marching band” The sweetest sounding anti-love song you’ll hear, filled with sardonic lyrics and enough attitude to have you questioning whether you’d ever actually want to talk to this guy. I’ve yet to get tired of this song despite its earwormish qualities and I definitely can’t think about 2023 without hearing that opening melody.

Benni: “You’ve Got It Bad Girl” – Stevie Wonder

My 2023 was spent listening to Stevie Wonder’s 1972 album Talking Book religiously. The whole record became very dear to me, but “You’ve Got It Bad Girl” in particular was everything. Wonder’s serene voice is perfection as it flows on top of the interlocking synths that he is best known for popularizing. The light, rhythmic jazz percussion sits just right, offering a soothing airiness and interest. The various vocalizations, harmonies, and instrumental interludes that compliment the track throughout add an incredibly endearing and astounding feeling on top of the warmth that is already there. With all of the enchanting elements to discover and love, there is no growing tired of this track.