The Quietus’ Top 75 Tracks Of 2023

Here are our favourite songs of the year, compiled and ranked for your listening enjoyment

Illustration by Lisa Cradduck

Usually publication of the Tracks Of The Year chart is the last thing I do before I flip the sign on the front door at tQ Towers from ‘open’ to ‘closed’. This year things are different as 50 years ago, on 26 December 1973, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist was unleashed upon an unsuspecting world; an anniversary we’ll be celebrating with a feature published next Tuesday.

However, by Boxing Day, I fervently hope to be senselessly ensconced in a sub-littoral zone of consciousness, where higher brain functions have been trampled down to the merest flicker by the ingestion of Tycho Monolith-like slabs of Red Leicester and Mayan death temple-shaped mounds of gluten-free mince pies. So I will take this opportunity to say thank you.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of me becoming a music writer. As I explained in our recent Low Culture Podcast for subscribers, a lot of wild – and in retrospect quite improbable seeming – things have happened in that time. I won’t relitigate a full, or even partial list here, but if you imagine a perimeter which contains going round to Scott Walker’s house for a cup of tea, Kanye West stopping two large shows to get the audience to boo me, playing Mogwai to a sea otter in the Arctic Circle, getting stabbed with a pair of scissors during an interview and going out on the lash in Manchester with Mark E. Smith, then colour inwards from the edges, that should leave you with a somewhat gaudy and dynamic impression.

However, all of that stuff is window dressing – a bunch of mildly diverting pub anecdotes (which I haven’t needed for a long time, as I no longer go down the pub). As most other aspects of my professional life have either depressingly fallen away or exist in exciting promise, the only thing that has been a shining constant, for the last 15 years at least, is the Quietus, the site which Luke Turner and I founded.

This publication, for me, is the omphalos. It took me a while to realise it, but this site is the core of what I do, and to a certain extent it defines what I am. It has provided me with the rigid framework for recovery which is important for me rather than you, but also during that time it has slowly become a vital voice in the rhizomatic network of the international DIY/ independent/ weird/ modernist culture.

I’ve always said that I’d carry on doing this even if no one were reading, but as we’ve now enjoyed a decade and a half of existence with you cheering us on (and admittedly sometimes throwing soft tomatoes) the idea remains pleasingly abstract. I know you get the hard sell on the site from time to time so I don’t want to go on too much here about taking out a subscription, although I’ll get in trouble if I don’t mention it at least once, so: please take out a sub to the site if you can afford one, the perks really are quite something.

But to reiterate: I just wanted to say thank you for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful new year.
John Doran

This chart was voted for by Quietus staff, columnists and core writers

The Quietus Tracks Of The Year 2023

The Quietus Digest

Sign up for our free Friday email newsletter.

Support The Quietus

Our journalism is funded by our readers. Become a subscriber today to help champion our writing, plus enjoy bonus essays, podcasts, playlists and music downloads.

Support & Subscribe Today