The best songs from Singapore in 2023 — ft. ALYPH, The Great Spy Experiment, Shye, and more

The best songs from Singapore in 2023 — ft. ALYPH, The Great Spy Experiment, Shye, and more

With the number of days left in 2023 down to double digits, it is time to look back on yet another eventful year for Singapore's music scene.

Since January, we have been treated to a plethora of songs that have made us laugh, cry, dream of falling in love, and even reflect on our lives. If anything, these releases are a testament to the quality of our homegrown talents and their commitment to continue soundtracking our sunny island through both good and bad times. 

Without further ado, here are seven tracks from Singapore that stood out to us at Hear65 in 2023.


Remember the ALYPH who unapologetically told naysayers “Aku ada type / Kalau aku like, aku like (I have a type, If I like it, I like it)” in his viral 2022 hit ‘SWIPE’? That version of the Singaporean rapper is not who greets us in 2023’s ‘CHECK’

Unveiled slightly over three months after the release of ‘SWIPE’, ‘CHECK’ introduces us to an ALYPH who has taken a step away from his success and fame to examine himself and his surroundings. And this enlightened ALYPH has much to share with us. 

In an interview with Hear65, the 34-year-old explained: “Check whether your room is clean before you want to go out and try and clean somebody else's room, you know what I mean?”

Although it was made by one of the biggest stars from the Southeast Asian hip-hop scene, ‘CHECK’ is not to be mistaken as a song whose message is only relevant to famous individuals. In a world where it is so easy to lose ourselves to the pursuit of power, wealth, and status, the number is ALYPH’s reminder to us to remain focused on what’s truly important in life. “Jaga orang tua, that’s gangsta / Bagi duit kat mama, that’s gangsta / Besarkan anak dengan Baik, that’s gangsta (Take care of the old people, that's gangsta / Give money to mama, that's gangsta / Raise children well, that's gangsta),” he teaches.

It’s always interesting to see how artists have matured through their releases, and ‘CHECK’ will certainly go down as an important milestone in ALYPH’s career. - Brandon Raeburn, Staff Writer

'It's fine' - rhyu

This year, rhyu strikes again with another earworm that is sure to be left on repeat. Best known for her discography of honest and relatable love ballads, you can certainly count on the homegrown singer-songwriter to churn out tunes that’ll hit you in the feels and tug your heartstrings.

In this bittersweet track, rhyu proves she is head over heels for her significant other, despite all the back and forths in the relationship. As apparent in the lines “It’s so tiring to always give in / But you kick up such a fuss when you don’t win / Still, my heart just doesn’t wanna leave”, she is willing to look past the muddle and rekindle the romance. 

Upon first listen, there were so many details to pick out – from the jazzy undertones resonating through the crescendo of violins and gentle patter of the piano, to the weight of emotions that rhyu carries in her sincere lyricism. What stands out the most is the touch of city-pop timbre infused in the track, which is a refreshing change of sonic scenery within her discography. 

Ultimately, what makes this track part of Hear65’s top songs for the year is rhyu’s ability to control her dreamy and soothing vocals throughout the five minutes and five seconds. As soon as she belts out a fluctuating falsetto for “Until another day / We fall, clash, break / Draw the lines that’ll fade / Know it’s not okay / This should end”, rhyu sends shivers down your spine (at least that’s what she did for us). 

Produced at Panik Records, ‘It’s fine’ is easily one of the most infectious tracks of the year that will linger in your mind long after you discover it. - Adlina Adam, Writer

'Shelter From The Rain' - KEYANA

It is one thing to express your pain through the art you put out, but quite another to do so in such a way that makes others feel what you are feeling. The latter is what KEYANA does so well in her single ‘Shelter From The Rain’.

With a length of just two minutes and twenty-one seconds, ‘Shelter From The Rain’ is a brief track. KEYANA herself does not even sing until after a 20-second instrumental segment, but once she does, the R&B singer-songwriter lays bare her struggles with love for all to see, delivering each line soulfully. KEYANA’s strong vocals are, without a doubt, her greatest asset, and we hear them in all of their glory here. 

As the song, which KEYANA recalled creating during her “darkest hour of self-destruction”, takes you into recesses of her mind, one cannot help but to empathise with the rising artist and hope that she finds the answers and peace she has been searching desperately for sooner rather than later. “I wanna fix my heart / I don’t know how anymore,” she sings.

Written by KEYANA alongside Singaporean producer and musician Fauxe, ‘Shelter From The Rain’ may be KEYANA’s sole musical release of the year, but it is certainly more than sufficient to keep her on our radars until she returns with new material. - Brandon Raeburn, Staff Writer

'Pujaanku' - Masdo (Malaysia), Aisyah Aziz

The collaboration between homegrown artist Aisyah Aziz and Malaysia’s Masdo is one that we never knew we needed. With Aisyah's sweet and ethereal vocals complementing Masdo's distinctive 60s revival pop soundscapes, a profound sense of nostalgia is evoked. ‘Pujaanku’ is certainly a retro-inspired track that serves as a declaration of love and deep connection between partners. So if there was ever a song that captures the moment one discovers their first love during their youthful days – in this case, prom night – this would be it. 

Known for her powerful and impressive vocal range, Aisyah’s team-up with Masdo serves as a great example for new listeners to get well acquainted with her musical persona. With an equal presentation by Masdo’s frontman Ali Sariah and Aisyah in the track, it’s only natural for us to want to sit through their “conversation” out of curiosity.

Upon closer inspection of the track, Aisyah vividly displays her soulful crooning for a love interest, hoping that he will still love her the same when they’re old and grey. Just as she sings “Sampai usai memutih rambutmu (Until your hair turns grey) / Jangan pernah kau ragukan cintaku (Don’t you ever doubt my love) / Relung hati ini cuma ada kamu (In this heart there is only you) / Pujaanku (My idol)”, anyone who’s totally smitten with their significant other will be able relate to the track’s lyrics. - Adlina Adam, Writer

'NEED' - Shye

‘NEED’ is easily the standout track of Shye’s 9LIVES, an EP in which she channels the spirit of pop-punk music from the 2000s and British rock tunes from the 1980s. 

The singer-songwriter and producer has said that this amalgamation of sonic influences is one that she has always wanted to explore, and in ‘NEED’, she effortlessly swaps out the bedroom pop style of her 2022 album idk it’s complicated for distorted guitars and vocals. Considering how tempting it can be to stay in one’s comfort zone, Shye’s decision to make this bold and innovative trek into new territory should be commended. Not only does it signal that this young artist may have more surprises up her sleeve than we think, but it also calls attention to the polish and sonic richness of her production work, which are even more impressive if you remember that she makes her own music at home.

Amidst the distortions in ‘NEED’, it is also hard not to be drawn to its lyrics about Shye’s struggle to stay away from someone who is not good for her despite the “signs” and “red flags”. Personal yet relatable, they will stay in your head long after you have sobered up from the high of dancing along to the track, leaving you with much to think about if you find yourself in a similar situation as the one Shye sings of. - Brandon Raeburn, Staff Writer

'early2thou (Love, Lust, Pearls)' - Cravism, Mary Sue, ABANGSAPAU, lullaboy

When local rappers and beatsmiths join forces, you know something exceptional will arise. With the palpable musical chemistry between Cravism, Mary Sue, and ABANGSAPAU, the trio dished out a couple of brilliant tracks together this year. However, ‘early2thou (Love, Lust, Pearls)’ truly takes the cake. Within three minutes and twenty-two seconds, it’s enough to get hooked from “hook to the verse”, as what ABANGSAPAU raps in the track. 

From a nod to modern relationships (A$AP Rocky and Rihanna, if you will) to humorous tongue-in-cheek innuendoes, the track becomes increasingly addicting each time you listen to it. With the union of Mary Sue’s sonorous and distinctive voice, ABANGSAPAU’s infectious flows, Cravism’s mellow and groovy beats, and a tinge of lullaboy’s ethereal falsetto, the contributions by each artist seamlessly weave into a tapestry of newfound sonic landscapes that is one of the best that Singapore has ever seen.

Especially evident in the unique delivery of the bridge: “Lemme know, lemme know / ‘Cause for sure I just never wanna go now / You the one I just always wanna roll around / You the one, I could feel it in my core now”, it’s a rare gem to witness Mary Sue and ABANGSAPAU singing the lines rather than sticking to their usual rap style.

Given their musical compatibility, it’s safe to say that this won’t be the last we’ll see of the trio. And when that moment arrives, we’ll be sure to swing by. - Adlina Adam, Writer

'Sanctuary' - The Great Spy Experiment

Sanctuary’ is more than just a comeback track from The Great Spy Experiment. When the indie rock veterans announced their return from an eight-year hiatus with a two-track single and made an appearance at Baybeats 2023, not only did it mark a significant milestone in the music landscape in Singapore, but it also reignited the long-time friendships between band members Fandy Razak (drums), Khairyl Hashim (bass), Magdelene Han (keyboards), Song (guitar), and Saiful Idris (guitar and vocals). 

Although the quintet initially departed from the music scene due to a creative standstill, ‘Sanctuary’ proves to be a reawakening of the band’s chemistry while maintaining their signature indie riffs that we’ve come to love.

Of the creation of the track, songwriter Saiful reminisced in an interview with Hear65: “Looking back, I think subconsciously I might have drawn from my own reservations about the band getting together, and me being on stage and in people's lives again.”

The track, which was released together with ‘Secrets’, devotes itself to two interpretations – through a rose-tinted perception that holds a risk of losing the good memories once relived and Saiful’s decision to let bygones be bygones as he never experienced the comforting sanctuary, which led to his inability to love his old self in past memories.

As Saiful sings “Hey familiar face / I don’t think I know you / It feels like I should though / And there’s no sanctuary between us / Where did it go now?” you’ll find yourself wondering about the past relationships that faltered in your life and question if your sanctuary is preserved. - Adlina Adam, Writer