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The best songs of 2024 so far

Year’s halfway mark good time to take stock of what’s been, look forward to what’s ahead

By Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times
Published: June 15, 2024, 5:59am
4 Photos
Taylor Swift performs onstage at the Paris La Defense Arena in Nanterre, France, on May 9, 2024.
Taylor Swift performs onstage at the Paris La Defense Arena in Nanterre, France, on May 9, 2024. (Julien de Rosa/AFP via Getty Images/TNS) (Kevin Winter/Getty Images) Photo Gallery

With nearly half of 2024 behind us, it’s looking unlikely that anyone will top Taylor Swift’s record sales, that anyone will write a diss-track grimmer than “Meet the Grahams” or that anyone will cancel an arena tour more unhappily than Jennifer Lopez just did hers. What we will get over the next six-and-a-half months are more great songs (and more terrible ones) that go on to define the year. Yet mid-June presents an opportunity to take stock of what’s already come.

Here, in alphabetical order by artist’s name, are the 24 best songs of 2024 so far.

  • Beyoncé, “II Hands II Heaven”: Months after “ Cowboy Carter’s “ release, this sprawling yet intricate electro-country fantasia still feels like it’s revealing itself.
  • Laci Kaye Booth, “Cigarettes”: A song about thwarted ambition that should broaden this country songwriter’s professional horizons.
  • Camila Cabello feat. Playboi Carti, “I Luv It”: Never underestimate the motivating force of a few years without a hit.
  • Sabrina Carpenter, “Espresso”: “Me espresso” may end up the year’s best pop neologism — but let’s not overlook the linguistic invention in “Walked in and dream-came-true’d it for you.”
  • Diiv, “Brown Paper Bag”: Savor the bad vibes of a world in decline.
  • Billie Eilish, “Birds of a Feather”: The shimmering guitar? The shoulder-rocking beat? The breathy vocal runs? Let Billie bop.
  • Ernest feat. Lukas Nelson, “Why Dallas”: Pitch-perfect western swing from one of Nashville’s modern pros.
  • Future, Metro Boomin and Kendrick Lamar, “Like That”: Look what they made him do.
  • GloRilla with Megan Thee Stallion, “Wanna Be”: Look what he made them do.
  • Ariana Grande, “We Can’t Be Friends (Wait for Your Love)”: Think of the similarities to Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” as a feature, not a bug: Fourteen years after that Swedish singer gifted lonely clubgoers with the ultimate sad banger, Grande jacks Robyn’s groove for a song about the blissful agony of remembering.
  • Norah Jones, “Running”: Scuzzy in a good way.
  • Tori Kelly, “High Water”: This self-affirming pop-soul anthem would’ve owned “TRL.”
  • Kendrick Lamar, “Not Like Us”: The kill shot from Lamar’s beef with Drake has reached the point where you’re sure to hear it half a dozen times — including from the organist — over the course of a game at Dodger Stadium.
  • Dua Lipa, “These Walls”: Whether or not we can officially declare “ Radical Optimism “ a flop, Lipa must be discouraged by the fact that her latest LP sits 30 slots behind Fleetwood Mac’s half-century-old “Rumours” right now on the Billboard 200. And yet! Here’s a luscious soft-rock jam that Christine McVie herself might’ve admired.
  • Post Malone feat. Morgan Wallen, “I Had Some Help”: “Dukes of Hazzard” reboot in 3, 2, 1…
  • Mk.gee, “Are You Looking Up”: Imagine John Mayer’s “ Sob Rock “ as a DIY SoundCloud experiment.
  • Kacey Musgraves, “Deeper Well”: Walk on the mild side.
  • Charlie Puth, “Hero”: It’s true, you know — he really should be a bigger artist.
  • Tommy Richman, “Million Dollar Baby”: Your post-peak Justin Timberlake could never (and indeed with his latest did not).
  • Chappell Roan, “Good Luck, Babe!”: “When you wake up next to him in the middle of the night/ With your head in your hands, you’re nothing more than his wife.”
  • Sasha Alex Sloan, “Tiny’s Song (demo)”: Careful — this hushed guitar-and-voice ballad is about a missing pet, and it will destroy you.
  • Taylor Swift, “But Daddy I Love Him”: Grandly theatrical, righteously aggrieved and witheringly funny, the high point of “ The Tortured Poets Department “ is a Taylor all-timer.
  • Tems, “Love Me JeJe”: All the sweat and pleasure of summer in a song.
  • Xavi, “La Diabla”: Música Mexicana meets Midwestern emo; big feelings — and TikTok virality — ensue.