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The 2023 Week In One Song mixtape: recap + remix ▶️

From climate change to George Santos, in song.

- December 28, 2023
The Good Playlist: 2023 Week in One Song mixtape: recap + remix

Editors’ note: In 2024, Good Authority will launch a new initiative: The Good Playlist, a series aimed at offering students and faculty an easy way to find and watch or listen to podcasts and videos that illuminate some aspect of politics, collated with links to relevant research. 

For year’s end, however, Good Authority contributor Christopher Federico, master of the Week in One Song Friday feature, offers his own spin (←see what we did there) on the Good Playlist. Here is his half-year in review with updates – a half-year, since we didn’t launch until September – as seen through song. 

In July, the world endured the hottest month in 174 years of record-keeping. Symptoms included shocking megafires in Canada that suffused the continent’s midwest and east coast with dangerous levels of particulate-heavy smoke, 101-degree ocean water off south Florida, 31 consecutive days of heat over 110 degrees in Phoenix, Arizona, a 17-day heat wave in Greece leading to wildfires and evacuations, and even more disasters soon after, including the deadliest U.S. fire in more than a century in Hawaii and torrential rains and historic flooding in Libya. We thus kick this year-in-review Good Playlist off with a song to note the record heat: the Supersuckers’ “Burnin’ Up.”

(To learn more about the political science of climate change, check Good Authority’s climate archives.) 

The U.S. Congress, meanwhile, endured its own internal drama as the House of Representatives’ Republican majority ejected Speaker Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) and took some time to elect a new one, a historic first that Good Authority editor Sarah Binder explored here in depth with several other scholars. 

The leadership crisis lent itself to a number of Week In One Song entries on this list. The week that the speaker’s chair was vacated was commemorated with the Sex Pistols’ “Pretty Vacant.” Once it became apparent that the House GOP was not going to be able to easily make up its mind about who to elect in McCarthy’s stead, the Week in One song marked the occasion with Can’s “Deadlock.” Unfortunately, this process repeated itself for a while, across repeated efforts to replace McCarthy. Once Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) at last won the prize, we marked the rinse-and-repeat process that got us there with The Fall’s “Repetition.” Capping all of this drama off at the end of the year, former Speaker McCarthy concluded he would retire and check out of Congress entirely by the end of 2023, an event the Week In One Song observed with Mudhoney’s “Checkout Time.” 

As if the House speaker drama wasn’t enough, even Republican members of Congress finally had enough of Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) after a U.S. Attorney indicted him on 23 counts of defrauding his donors. The House voted to expel him, making him only the sixth member to have that dubious distinction. To mark the occasion, we offered readers the sounds of Weird War’s “Grand Fraud.” 

Meanwhile, the lead-up to next year’s election began to unfold. Republicans continued to hold seemingly pointless presidential debates that frontrunner and almost-certain nominee former President Donald Trump declined to attend, noted with King Missile’s song “No Point.” Trump also declined to reassure the public when he was asked whether he would govern as an authoritarian. In his inimitable style, he quipped that he would not, except on “day one.” The Week In One song elected to mark this statement with The Cortinas’ “Fascist Dictator.”

The year also produced copious news on the tech front. Artificial intelligence grew ever more impressive, unleashing numerous controversies and scaring some observers. It might not have been surprising to longtime tech observers Kraftwerk, who once opined on “Computerwelt” and thereby earned a spot on this list. 

And in a month in which the world lost a number of movers and shakers, one especially noteworthy light that went out was that of legendary Anglo-Irish bard Shane MacGowan, who we memorialized with his band The Pogues’ classic “The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn.”

Whatever next year brings, we will celebrate in song.