Feature DIY’s 20 Best Songs of 2024 (so far) 

We’re (somehow) halfway through the year - these are the tracks we haven’t been able to get out of our heads.

It barely seems a few weeks ago that we were packing away the Christmas baubles and trying to resist turning up the heating, but we are in fact now a whole six months into the year. And in that time, there’s been no shortage of cracking tunes to wrap your ears around. From where we’re sitting, the first half of 2024 has seen the pop girlies dominate cultural conversations in a big way (or certainly DIY’s in-office conversations, at any rate), but the bands on this list have also proved that guitar music isn’t just still alive and kicking, but evolving in a way that’s Very Exciting Indeed. So without further ado, here we go - these are our 20 zeitgeist-capturing, playlist-infiltrating, best tracks of 2024 so far…

Beyoncé - TEXAS HOLD 'EM

Unveiled amidst this year's Super Bowl frenzy, ‘TEXAS HOLD 'EM’ arrived as the lead single of Beyoncé’s 'COWBOY CARTER' - the recent second installment in her 'Renaissance' album trilogy. Possessing an authentic country and Western style, the track uses a chameleonic approach to pay homage to the genre's origins; while her vocals beckon listeners to join her in a lively line dance, infusing 'TEXAS HOLD 'EM' with a spirited, inclusive atmosphere, the sonics served to spark conversations about the rich history of Black country music. (Katie Macbeth)

Billie Eilish - LUNCH

Even though Billie Eilish has been thrust into the public eye since her early teens, it turns out she still has some secrets up her very big sleeves. 'LUNCH' opens with one of her most jaw-dropping lines to date ("I could eat that girl for lunch / Yeah, she dances on my tongue / Tastes like she might be the one"), but there's so much beyond the boldness to admire about the track. The effortless groove of the bass, her cheeky, seductive delivery, and a melody that's so sticky it's now sung across the world – it's another slam dunk for the prodigal popstar. (Alex Rigotti)

Chappell Roan - Good Luck, Babe!

In the midst of her monstrous rise to fame this year - thanks to last year's stellar debut ‘The Rise and Fall of a Midwest Princess’, and a string of support slots on Olivia Rodrigo’s GUTS tour - Chappell Roan’s ‘Good Luck, Babe!’ is the gem of a queer anthem that the pop world didn’t know it needed. Arriving in April, it’s already amassed over 200 million streams and has become the Missouri-based artist’s first UK chart hit. Led by synthpop influences and boasting a retro ‘80s feel, it builds exponentially to a climactic, undeniably therapeutic crescendo of “I told you so!” And it’s as monumental a track as it is catchy, too: queer pride is well and truly dominating mainstream pop music, and on this merit, it’s very much here to stay. (Kyle Roczniak)

Charli XCX - von Dutch

For a second there, the pop landscape felt almost critical, bloated with breathy vocals and confessional singer-songwriters… what happened to fun?! Recalling a slicing era of pop music that's seemed dormant since the late aughts - messy, mischievous, cocky, rich – the tongue-in-cheek ‘von Dutch’ is a vital adrenaline shot. And though that excessive, experimental flavour of pop never left the early morning afterparties or the underground queer clubs, Charli’s untouchable ambition in pulling it back into the charts has been nothing but pure joy to experience. Here, accelerated by the pumping sirens and teasing club beats of PC Music alumni Easyfun’s production, we get the definitive pop statement of 2024, straight from an artistic whirlwind who knows – and has always known! – that she is IT. (Tilly Foulkes)

Dua Lipa - Training Season

On one hand, 'Training Season' has all the marks of a typical hit pop song: upbeat energy, ridiculously catchy hooks, relatable lyrical phrases. But on the other hand, it's far from typical, mixing influences in a way that shouldn't work, and yet undeniably does. The intro's chirpy metallic synths and lo-fi beats take you straight to the '80s; the dramatic acoustic guitars are part Flamenco, part Daft Punk; the melody wanders around the minor key but remains elevated; and those camp piano runs are pure ABBA. And it's this combination of safeness and surprise that makes Dua Lipa's February big-hitter a standout song in an intensely crowded field. (Phil Taylor)

English Teacher - You Blister My Paint

A rare love song for the Leeds quartet - something approaching a ballad, even - 'You Blister My Paint' is nevertheless characteristic of English Teacher's inimitable style, spearheaded by their particular brand of strange, perceptive poetry. Although the song is built around a moving melody and Lily Fontaine's beautifully free voice, those vocals are rarely left alone to rest in their undeniable purity. Instead, they begin to echo and distort, before dissolving through thicker and thicker filters. The band's guest cellist Blossom Calderone then picks up on the harmonies, virtually guaranteeing a rending of the listener's heart - particularly in the last minute, when it and the piano begin to descend before settling on a final, uneasy chord. And so the band perfectly capture the beautiful, contradictory torture of love: "Your overexposure / Makes my eyes weak / But I can't look away". (Phil Taylor)

Fat Dog - Running

Untethering a five minute stampede of gangling rhythmic propulsion, Fat Dog’s trance punk epic ‘Running’ has firmly cemented the hype that's been building around them for some time now. The South London band’s exponentially growing cult following - amassed via their massive touring schedule and legendary live shows - point to their upcoming album 'WOOF' being one of the most highly anticipated debuts of the year, and this track hits you square in the face with an unrelenting barrage of canine slobber, slick with anthemic derangement. Eyes fervidly wide, mouth agape, and tongue billowing in the breeze - damn, does 'Running' feel good. (Hazel Blacher)

Fontaines DC - Starburster

With the launch of ‘Starburster’, Fontaines DC ditched the pensive moods that built them their name, arrived in a fanfare of neon colours and lurid Gen-Z drip, and, erm, named that return single after a brand of fruity sweets? Despite the wardrobe overhaul, it's sonically still as recognisably Fontaines as ever, albeit with a fresh lick of swagger heaped on top. Sounding like a trendy war march into the baying arenas of rock, cavernous drums, tremulous guitars, and vocalist Grian Chatten’s compelling Dublin drawl are the orders of day. There are plenty of surprises too: an art-house mellotron intro; a tender string-quartet diversion; Chatten threatening over and over that he’s “goin’ hit your business”. Whatever that means, it’s terrifying - and totally, completely thrilling. (Elvis Thirlwell)

Gossip - Real Power

Since its release, Gossip’s anticipated comeback record 'Real Power' has proven to be a hugely successful and highly eclectic album - and one which was spearheaded by its instant-classic title track. Built around Beth Ditto’s soaring vocals, it conveys such an infectious sense of joy, it's near-impossible not to get up and groove. Showcasing all that fans have come to love about Gossip over the years, 'Real Power' has depth, heart, and the kind of addictive replayability that confirms exactly why they're still beloved by so many. (Chris Connor)

Nia Archives - Crowded Roomz

Introvert party anthems can sometimes be a bit moany and self-pitying, but there's a gutting alienation that pervades 'Crowded Roomz'. Here, Nia Archives - breakout junglist of the year - dismantles her facade of the über-cool party girl like she's talking to a stranger who she knows won't listen: "No one to turn to, they don't understand my blues / I feel so lonely, especially in crowded rooms". Not that the music would let you catch on – swept up in a whirlwind of breakbeats and that haunting melody, this is one of the best dance anthems of the year. (Alex Rigotti)

Olivia Rodrigo - obsessed

Ever wasted hours down an internet rabbit hole combing through photos of your new partner’s ex? Olivia Rodrigo’s been there. Debuted live during some of the first shows of her GUTS Tour, ‘obsessed’ sees O-Rod dance circles around her morbid fascination with a partner’s former flame, even though they no longer speak: “I know she’s been asleep on my side of the bed and I can feel it,” she whisper-sings, as if embarrassed by her irrationality, before things get noisy and guitars rage behind her as she attacks the chorus again. Feeling crazy has never sounded this much fun - especially when it makes you feel this seen. (Emma Wilkes)

Orlando Weeks (feat. Rhian Teasdale) - Dig!

The former frontman of ‘00s indie rock icons The Maccabees joining forces with the frontwoman of much-hyped duo Wet Leg was always going to raise intrigue, and on ‘Dig!’ Orlando Weeks more than meets his match with Rhian Teasdale, as the pair trade blows over worn-out promises. Aided by ominous pianos and angular guitars, the track's power lies in its sense of gentle frustration and subtle build up, which culminates in the bridge's ethereal vocal refrain (“I'll believe it / When I see it”) – a moment so stirring it may well raise your neck hairs. (Matthew McLister)

Rachel Chinouriri - Never Need Me

Lifted from a debut album that is itself a significant new entry in the annals of indie-pop, Rachel Chinouriri's pre-release single 'Never Need Me' manages to hit this satisfying, temporally ambiguous sweet spot wherein it captures 2024's 'putting yourself first' philosophy whilst still maintaining a rosy, coming-of-age colour; it's as if she's unearthed a bonus song on the soundtrack to an early aughts teen flick - except here, the heroine's makeover makes her realise that actually, she doesn't need a prom date after all. Plus, its accompanying video casts none other than Florence Pugh in the role of Rachel's supportive bestie: the duo you never knew you needed. (Daisy Carter)

Remi Wolf - Cinderella

Like referees kicking off a high-stakes game, whistles poke in at the sides of ‘Cinderella’ - the lead single from Remi Wolf’s upcoming sophomore record ‘Big Ideas’. In Remi-tinted sunnies, pop stardom is a 9-5 blinder full of critique and uncertainty, and as she tries to focus on doing a good job, she worries she’s got it all wrong: “Like Cinderella making babies on the company’s dime,” she howls over a massive, cacophonous funk, “We’re making pennies out of paper / Better find a new slime”. As celebratory horns mask the malaise and the star steps into her own self-assurance, this '70s hippie pantomime becomes the perfect pick-me-up - and, despite the pressure, Remi hits the ball out of the park as always. (Otis Robinson)

Sabrina Carpenter - Espresso

A captivating and addictive track with a dynamic mix of cheekiness and self-assurance, ‘Espresso’ quickly gained recognition as one of the ‘songs of the summer’ when it was released back in April. Ingeniously weaving coffee-themed wordplay into its lively melody, it vividly captures the thrills and pleasures of Sabrina Carpenter’s relationships, and marked the fast-rising star's first ever UK Number One. With her next album 'Short 'n Sweet' scheduled for release in August, we’re eagerly anticipating our next fix. (Katie Macbeth)

SOFT PLAY - Everything and Nothing

SOFT PLAY roared back to life last year after a prolonged period of absence, with both Isaac Holman and Laurie Vincent having undergone intensely difficult personal experiences in the intervening years - the former navigating mental health problems, the latter losing his partner to cancer. While the singles lifted from comeback record 'HEAVY JELLY' have so far been loud, swaggering missives, ‘Everything And Nothing’ is a starkly more vulnerable contrast. Juxtaposing the bright chords of a mandolin and the acrobatic flourishes of a violin with Holden’s impassioned screams, this isn’t just SOFT PLAY at their most innovative, but also at their most raw. The song is dedicated to Holden’s late friend Bailey, and is a moving testament to both their increasing versatility as musicians, and the significant challenges of their last few years. (Emma Wilkes)

Sprints - Heavy

Beaming with intensity and energy that emanates from every corner, 'Heavy' is Dublin garage-punks Sprints' floor-filling anxiety anthem. Noisy drums, screaming guitars, and frontwoman Karla Chubb's distinctive vocal delivery nod to '80s goth rock, PJ Harvey, and Bauhaus, resulting in a confidently loud track that served as the ideal final teaser of the band’s wildly acclaimed debut album, ‘Letter to Self’. Ultimately, ‘Heavy’ is the perfect epitome of what Sprints are all about: raw, sweaty live shows laced with unrelenting noise; and real, communal, passionate guitar music. (Kyle Roczniak)

St Vincent - Broken Man

The fact that Jack Antonoff wasn't on production for St Vincent's latest album, following his work on her previous two outings, has been something of a hot topic among fans of Annie Clarke. Rejoice, Antonoff haters, you're in luck - for new LP 'All Born Screaming', she took the reins as sole producer, and with lead single 'Broken Man' delivered the loudness we'd been yearning for since her 'Strange Mercy' days. In true St Vincent fashion, the track creeps up on you, dramatically building by the second before erupting into a mad cacophony of tumbling drums (thank you, Dave Grohl), angular post-punk elements, jabs of brass, and booming, distorted guitar riffs. Vocally, she's seductively confrontational, as if on the verge of anger-fuelled tears (“What are you looking at? / It's like you’ve never seen a broken man”), ultimately leaving us with a guttural concluding cry. Here, St Vincent's production era provides us with another welcome addition to her insanely impressive canon. (Millie Tempo)

Yannis & The Yaw, Tony Allen - Walk Through Fire

Best known as frontman and guitarist of Foals, Yannis Philippakis' latest project Yannis & The Yaw sees him collaborate with the late, great, Afrobeat icon Tony Allen. The first offering from this perhaps unlikely partnership, 'Walk Through Fire' is a track driven by dirty riffs and propulsive, offbeat drums; drawing the best out of each party, it possesses the familiarity of Foals' sound, but with the addition of something deeper, more layered. Clearly a labour of love for Yannis, this new collaborative venture also comes with the promise of an upcoming EP - a project which thus far has all the hallmarks of being a match made in musical heaven. (Chris Connor)

Yard Act - We Make Hits

Filled with surface-level cynicism and a swaggering, light-hearted silliness, Yard Act’s ‘We Make Hits’ also taps into something deeper, acting as an ode to friendship and the joys of making music. The track showcases the quintessential sound of the Leeds post-punk poster boys' second album ‘Where’s My Utopia?’, which blends together introspective lyrics and elements of their post-punk roots whilst equally nodding to the genius of pop and retro hip-hop. The truth is out, the hype is true: Yard Act make hits, and very good ones at that. (Neve Dawson)

Tags: Beyoncé, Billie Eilish, Chappell Roan, Charli XCX, Dua Lipa, English Teacher, Fat Dog, Fontaines DC, Gossip, Nia Archives, Olivia Rodrigo, Orlando Weeks, Rachel Chinouriri, Remi Wolf, Sabrina Carpenter, SOFT PLAY, Sprints, St. Vincent, Yannis & The Yaw, Yard Act, Listen, Watch, Features

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