Mitski, Tom Odell, and boygenius: Elton John Shares Favourite Tracks of 2023

Mitski and boygenius among those who received the Elton john’s aka Rocket Man’s glowing endorsement

Sir Elton John has shared his favourite tracks of 2023, shining a light on the year’s indie darlings and up-and-coming stars (and Joni Mitchell) in one of the most coveted of December’s countless retrospectives.

As with last year and the previous, Elton John’s selection was presented on his Apple Music 1 radio show Elton John’s Rocket Hour, which airs live on Saturdays at 5pm UST. 

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In an age when new music is easier than ever to ignore, Elton John keeps his finger on the pulse on Rocket Hour, where contemporary musicians – several of whom appear on this list – are often interviewed and praised.

“I’m looking back and choosing some of my favourite songs that I’ve played on the show this year,” says Sir John, “It was very hard to choose because there’ve been so many brilliant songs this year.”

Read the full list and Elton’s commentary below:

CamelPhat & Ali Love – “Compute”

‘CamelPhat are a production duo from Liverpool. We’ve played a lot of stuff from them before on the show but this is taken from their new album Spiritual Milk. This track is fantastic and features a sample from the iconic track “Computer Love” by Kraftwerk’

Jalen Ngonda – “Come Around and Love Me”

Jalen is a soul artist who was born in the USA but now lives in the UK. I love his sound because it reminds me of all the great soul records from the 1970s.  I saw Jalen play live at the Nice Jazz Festival in July. If you’ve never seen him live – you’ve got to go and see this guy. He’s absolutely incredible.’

Baby Queen – “We Can Be Anything”

This is the lead track from Baby Queen’s album Quarter Life Crisis, which is one of my favourite album titles of the year. I absolutely love her. She’s from South Africa and she’s now London-based. Her music has featured a lot in the TV show Heartstopper which is fantastic.’

Chappell Roan – “Red Wine Supernova”

Chappell Roan is a new pop artist that I’m really excited about. I love her because her music is original, it’s fun, it’s brilliantly written and it’s brilliantly produced. She was a guest on the show in September and she has an absolutely brilliant record called The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess. If you haven’t heard this record, please go out, stream it, buy it, whatever. She is going to be a big star.’

David Kushner – “Daylight”

‘This is an extraordinary record. I can say that there’s a lot of pop records that I hear that are really vacuous, but this song is a beautiful song. The production, the voice, the video. It’s really great to be able to see someone as young as David doing something special, writing a special song.

This was a very big hit earlier this year, and funnily enough is beginning to be a huge hit in America after all this time.’

ANOHNI – “It Must Change”

‘This is a classic record, and classic records don’t come along very often. ANOHNI and the Johnsons released a wonderful album this year called My Back was a Bridge for You to Cross. When ANOHNI wrote this song she said that Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On?” was heavy on her mind.’

Romy – “She’s On My Mind”

‘Romy is a member of The XX. Her brilliant album Mid Air is probably one of my favourite albums of the year. Every single track is a winner. I love the lyrics. They’re so honest and they’re so fabulous. And the melodies. Everything about this record, it just clicks.’

Mitski – “My Love Mine All Mine”

Mitski made one of the best albums of the year called The Land is Inhospitable and So Are We and this was the single that really raised the roof and got her in the top 10 in Britain.  Mitski’s been around quite a while, but I have a feeling she’s going to follow in the footsteps of Lana Del Rey and get an incredibly loyal and huge following. I love her to death.’

Gabriels – “Offering”

‘Jacob from Gabriels came and sang with me at Glastonbury, which was one of the highlights of my life. Thank you for doing that Jacob. It’s so great to see them doing so well. We picked them up really early on the Rocket Hour, and it’s just wonderful to see them soaring.’

James Blake – “Loading”

‘This track completely blew my mind. I think this is one of the best things he’s ever done. I am a huge James Blake fan. When he’s on this kind of form, he’s untouchable.’ 

Joni Mitchell – “Both Sides Now (Live at the Newport Folk Festival, Newport, RI, 7/24/2022)”

Joni Mitchell put out a live album that was recorded at the Newport Folk Festival in 2022 and this version of her song “Both Sides Now” is so emotive. I’ve been very much privileged to be part of her recovery as far as vocals go, singing again with her ‘Joni Jams’ at her house in Los Angeles. If you don’t feel emotive listening to this song there’s something wrong with you because it was such a beautiful song to start with, but her voice on this is much lower than her original voice and it makes it sound even more meaningful. If you don’t get moved by this, you can’t get moved by anything.’

Stormzy & RAYE – “The Weekend”

‘Wow Stormzy and RAYE. What a voice RAYE’s got, and Stormzy is like champagne. He’s like a Rolls Royce. He’s just brilliant.’

BERWYN – “Bulletproof”

BERWYN played with me at Hyde Park a couple of years ago. He’s one of my favourites. He’s a Trinidad-born, London-based rapper, songwriter, producer.  He says this track is about the people around him that he is willing to do anything for. How sweet is that?’

Tom Odell – “Black Friday”

‘This song really floored me.  It’s the lead single from the singer-songwriter’s next album that’s coming out in January.  He recently got married – congratulations Tom! He’s one of the nicest, most talented boys around. We love him very much.’

boygenius – “Not Strong Enough” 

boygenius are an American supergroup made up of the fabulous Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus. They’ve had the most fantastic year, and it’s so great to see these girls producing such great music both live and on record.’

By Harrison Jones