Q Magazine
Q Magazine

Barack Obama's Songs of 2023 List Includes Beyoncé, Mitski, Big Thief

The former president's year-end lists have become a reliable source of debate.

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Amidst all of the innumerable year-end music lists, one critic’s annual picks have become an unexpectedly reliable source of debate. On Dec. 29, former president Barack Obama dropped his top 28 songs of the year with a post on X (previously known as Twitter).

Whether it’s a result of his eclectic personal tastes or residual people-pleasing political instincts, Obama’s picks ran the gamut from veteran artists to newcomers, with rock, pop, country, hip-hop, Latin, Afropop and jazz artists all included.

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barack karol
Source: MEGA

Obama confirmed his Karol G fandom with his 2023 music list.

Beyoncé’s “America Has a Problem (ft. Kendrick Lamar)” made the list, as did hits like Karol G and Shakira’s “TQC,” Megan Thee Stallion’s “Cobra,” and Zach Bryan’s Kacey Musgraves collaboration “I Remember Everything.”

One inclusion that caught Q’s eye was Obama’s selection of Big Thief’s “Vampire Empire.” This is the second time the Brooklyn indie-folk quartet has made an appearance on the presidential year-end list, with the group’s “Not” making the cut in 2019. Another returning artist from that same 2019 list is Nigerian superstar Burna Boy, whose “Sittin’ on Top of the World” appears this year. Whether Obama would consider himself a full-time stan of either artist, or just happened to enjoy two of their songs, is unclear.

(Also of note: the only artist included on both Q’s year-end staff picks and Obama’s best-of is Brent Faiyaz, whose “WY” appears here.)

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burna thief
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Nigerian star Burna Boy (left) and Brooklyn indie faves Big Thief both made the Obama cut for the second time.

Jon Batiste’s Oscar-shortlisted “It Never Went Away” also made the list. That song, of course, first appeared in the documentary American Symphony, which Obama distributed through his Higher Ground production shingle. (When he included American Symphony on his list of favorite 2023 films earlier this week, Obama did mention his involvement in the film. There was no such disclosure on his song list.)

In announcing his list, Obama mentioned: “Let me know if there are any other artists or songs I should check out.” While this might seem like boilerplate engagement-bait from any other critic, Obama has recently responded to feedback from his readership. The Color Purple was not initially included on his favorite films list earlier this week, but after commenter outcry, the former president reported back that he had since caught up with the film, and amended his list to include it. So feel free to drop him some suggestions.

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Source: MEGA

Obama's Higher Ground production company helped distribute the Jon Batiste documentary 'American Symphony.'

All of 44’s 2023 music picks can be found below:

“TQG,” Karol G and Shakira

“I Remember Everything,” Zach Bryan ft. Kacey Musgraves

“Sprinter,” Dave and Central Cee

“Since I Have a Lover,” 6lack

“Cobra,” Megan Thee Stallion

“Joiner,” Blondshell

“Midnight Gospel,” Ale Araya ft. Joseph Chilliams

“America Has a Problem,” Beyoncé ft. Kendrick Lamar

“Water,” Tyla

“The Returner,” Allison Russell

“Unavailable,” Davido ft. Musa Keys

“My Love Mine All Mine,” Mitski

“Sittin’ on Top of the World,” Burna Boy ft. 21 Savage

“Vampire Empire,” Big Thief

“Younger and Dumber,” Indigo Da Souza

“Toxic Trait,” Stormzy ft. Fredo

“Where You Are,” John Summit & Hayla

“La Bebe (Remix),” Yng Lvcas and Peso Pluma

“On My Mama,” Victoria Monet

“Cast Iron Skillet,” Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

“WY,” Brent Faiyaz

“Ampiano,” Asake & Olamide

“Lose Control,” Teddy Swims

“Crazy Love,” Rita Wilson & Keith Urban

“Drink the River,” Gabe Lee

“Road to Freedom,” Lenny Kravitz

“It Never Went Away,” Jon Batiste

“Me & U,” Tems


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