Best Global Music Albums of 2023

Global music album covers from 2023
WHAT A TUNE’s roundup of the best global music of 2023.

However this year has treated you, music has always had the power to soothe the soul through the highs and the lows.

WHAT A TUNE presents ten of the best non-English language albums from around the world, from amapiano to Tuvan throat singing, and from K-pop to cumbia.

Azahriah — Memento

Hungary’s breakout star Azahriah released his new album, memento, in May. The release expands the sonic palette of his 2022 6-track EP silbak, drawing on reggae, hip-hop, and Balkan and gypsy folk for a unique sound that is distinctly his own. The second half of the year saw him sell out a European tour, including a date at London’s Islington Assembly Hall in November. Undoubtedly, this is an artist to watch in 2024.

Batsükh Dorj Ögbelerim (Music for my ancestors)

Describing his music as “the Altai Blues”, Batsükh Dorj hails from Tsengel, a village nestled in the foothills of the Altai mountains in western Mongolia. The musician is a master of Tuvan throat singing in its many forms; khöömei (contracted throat singing), sygyt (whistled throat singing), kargyraa (deep throat singing), and ezenggileer (lit. “stirrups”, a pulsating singing style, said to imitate the rhythm of horseback riding). Produced and accompanied by French musicologist Johanni Curtet, Batsükh recounts tales of nomadic culture and travels across the remote mountains.

Daria Zawiałow — Dziewczyna Pop

Poland’s Daria Zawiałow released her 7th album in October and it’s one of her strongest yet. It’s proceeded by the punk-rock-influenced single Złamane serce jest and the reflective FIFI HOLLYWOOD. The project was supervised by respected producer Bartosz Dziedzic, who has also lent his talents to music by other successful Polish acts, such as Brodka and Dawid Podsiadło.

Kabza De Small, Mthunzi — Isimo

In Spotify’s annual wrapped, Kabza De Small was revealed as South Africa’s most-listened-to artist. Listening to his new album, made in collaboration with fellow South African singer Mthunzi, it’s easy to see why. Mthunzi’s melodic and soulful vocals lend themselves to euphoric dance beats in songs about love, relationships, and the human experience. The album also features guest appearances from big names on the amapiano scene including DJ Maphorisa, Young Stunna, and MaWhoo.


This year Colombian singer Karol G made history as the first female artist with a Spanish-language album to reach number 1 on the US Billboard chart. MAÑANA SERÁ BONITO (and follow-up mixtape MAÑANA SERÁ BONITO (BICHOTA SEASON)) was created alongside super producer Ovy On The Drums (María Becerra, Micro THD, Anuel AA), and features lush cumbia, poignant ballads and catchy reggaeton anthems.

MAUSTETYTÖT  Maailman onnellisin kansa

Sister duo Maustetytöt have built up a cult status in their native Finland. They released their third studio album in March, Maailman onnellisin kansa (The Happiest People in the World), a deadpan take on their country’s recently awarded status as the happiest place to live. The sisters sing about alcoholism, broken relationships and greed over thudding disco beats. The lead single Ei niin kovin suuri city includes phrases that roughly translate to “I can cry here, no one cares” and “This city has killed me”.

Pierre de Maere — Regarde-moi

Pop music often gets a bad rep, but creating good pop music is a true art that can’t be downplayed. An engaging performer armed with a catalogue of radio-friendly hits, 22-year-old Pierre de Maere is one of Belgium’s most promising new talents. The singer’s debut album is full of back-to-back bangers, including the endlessly repeatable Enfant de, the swirling Mercredi, and last year’s breakout anthem Un jour je marierai un ange.

Rubio Venus & Blue

Rubio is the project of Chilean drummer and producer Francisca Straube. Venue & Blue is her third full-length album and was released alongside the short film Nacimientos Llorando, featuring two songs taken from the album, Llorar and Kintsugi. The artist takes an experimental turn, classical piano and string music samples sit alongside electronic beats in Lo Que No Hablas, while Tu Olor deals in dark bass-heavy dance music. 

Stray Kids ROCK-STAR

2023 has been a breakout year for South Korean boy band Stray Kids who scored themselves a number-one album on the US Billboard Chart their fourth in only two years. With BTS on hiatus, the eight-piece has emerged as the top K-pop boy group to take their crown. ROCK-STAR leans into gritty hip-hop and electronica, and the core trio, 3RACHA (Bang Chan, Changbin, and Han) all had a hand in writing and producing the songs.

Zaho de Sagazan — La symphonie des éclairs

La symphonie des éclairs is the powerful and emotive debut album from hotly tipped singer-songwriter Zaho de Sagazan. The French artist’s trademark alto voice and haunting melodies are enough to send shivers down the spine. For those who understand French, the artist proves her talent as a songwriter with poetic lyrics dealing in depression and unrequited love.

Special mention also goes to the following albums: Playa Saturno (Rauw Alejandro) (PR), Being (Baaba Maal) (SN), Habita (Pahua) (MX), TOMORROW X TOGETHER (The Name Chapter: FREEFALL) (KR), Armes & Paillettes (Oete) (FR) and Les gens passent, le temps reste (Glauque) (FR).

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