The Best Songs Of 2024 So Far: Kendrick Lamar & Beyoncé

The first six months of 2024 have given us so much music that it’s felt overwhelming. It’s a double-edged sword we’ve been tasked to master, especially in today’s streaming era – so much music at our disposal, and so much listening to do. Still, whether you’ve effortlessly breezed through the large pile of releases in 2024 or continue to push a good pile of it aside like that annoying pile of laundry on your bed, there’s no doubt that you have a favorite from the year.

Maybe it comes from Kendrick Lamar and Drake’s exciting and rapid-fire rap beef that pit two of the genre’s best in a dual unlike any other. It could also come from the many other hip-hop offerings from the year. You could also pick from the stellar pop selections from the likes of Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Sabrina Carpenter, and others. Country music offered plenty to love thanks to outputs by Beyoncé, Shaboozey, Zach Bryan, and others. Like I said, there’s plenty to pick from.

Thankfully for you all, it’s not your job to sift through that pile of releases. However, it is our job! So here are the best songs of 2024 so far, picked by the Uproxx staff.

Beyoncé — “II Hands II Heaven”

Ahead of the release of her eighth studio album, Cowboy Carter, Beyoncé declared “This ain’t a Country album. This is a Beyoncé album.” The foundation of Bey’s music has always been love, and on Cowboy Carter’s turning point, “II Hands II Heaven,” the biggest musician in the world finds herself at ease, next to the one she loves most. Lyrically, “II Hands II Heaven” is instantly one of Bey’s more vulnerable deep cuts, but sonically, the song encapsulates the feeling of driving down a Texas road, hands in the air, with the love of your life by your side. – Alex Gonzalez

Future & Metro Boomin — “Like That”/Kendrick Lamar — “Not Like Us”

With just 16 bars on Future and Metro Boomin’s “Like That”, Kendrick Lamar kicked off what became one of the biggest rap beefs in history. Six weeks later, Lamar accepted and celebrated his win on “Not Like Us.” The two records bookend Kendrick Lamar and Drake’s rapid-fire war of words that ended with Lamar embracing his “boogeyman” persona, notching two additional No. 1 singles to his catalog, and proving that hip-hop’s crown was always positioned on the head of King Kunta himself. “Like That” and “Not Like Us” are also important timestamps for an exciting period in hip-hop – one that the genre was in search of for the better part of a year – and a testament on how to finish what you start. – Wongo Okon

GloRilla — “Yeah Glo!” & Rapsody “3:AM”

Oh what, you thought I was going to just pick ONE? To represent the BEST song of the year so far in hip-hop? Oh naw, baby. You see, hip-hop is many things to many people, and that’s why I have to present both — to represent the dichotomy, to highlight how that dichotomy is a sham, and to allow for all the space between these two tracks to symbolize just how much room there is in this genre for everything. (Also, the one thing for sure in 2024 is: Women run hip-hop. Tell Joe Budden to stuff it.) GloRilla‘s “Yeah Glo!” is an inescapable anthem, a club banger of the most perfect proportions to get hips shaking, hands flying, and voices raised. “3:AM” is a tender reflection on interpersonal relationships, an introvert’s weekend playlist staple. And yet, the two women who made these songs share more in common than conflict (Rapsody turned up to Glo’s track at a private dinner in LA attended by Uproxx, while Glo has her share of emotive, romantically-invested tracks on Ehhthang Ehhthang), and these songs are complements and foils to each other, presenting two sides of the same coin. – Aaron Williams

Lay Bankz — “Tell Ur Girlfriend”

Since music’s inception, every generation has crowned one track the greatest tale of forbidden love. For Generation Z, Lay Bankz’s hip-rocking smash single, “Tell Ur Girlfriend,” could very well be the anthem to snatch the top spot. If you are going to sing about something morally deemed off limits, then why not backdrop it against the infectious sound of a good Philly and Jersey Club mashup. Something so bad shouldn’t sound so good, but it just does, and the melodic rap delivery is the cherry on top. – Flisadam Pointer

RM — “Come Back To Me”

BTS’ brand is built on tightly constructed and radio-appeasing pop music (that’s ultimately catchy and a hell of a time, by the way). When the group’s members veer off to tackle a solo endeavor, though, the mission statement is markedly different. RM’s new solo album Right Place, Wrong Person cohesively and impactfully touches on a number of different styles and moods. A clear highlight is the album-closing “Come Back To Me,” which is downright John Mayer-y over the course of a warm 6 minutes. It’s not BTS, but it’s still smooth like butter. – Derrick Rossignol

Sabrina Carpenter — “Espresso”

Adele sang Sabrina Carpenter’s “Espresso” while getting into bed, and Carpenter’s charm struck again when she responded by posting on X (formerly Twitter), “All I read was Adele thinks about me in bed.” Adele is not alone in her inability to get this year’s snappiest pop hook (“That’s that me espresso”) out of her head, and Barry Keoghan’s schoolboy giddiness during Carpenter’s alluring Coachella 2024 set speaks to the validity of the song’s lyrics. “Nonsense” walked so “Espresso” could sprint to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking Carpenter’s long-brewing pop star coronation. – Megan Armstrong

Taylor Swift — “The Black Dog”

The Tortured Poets Department is long. 31-songs-over-122-minutes long. But to dismiss Taylor Swift’s 11th studio album as “too long” means you’re going to miss some gems. “The Black Dog” doesn’t arrive until track 17, but it’s a heartbreaking summation of everything that made Swift the preeminent songwriter of her generation. It’s specific (listening to The Starting Line) yet universal (anger and sorrow over the end of a relationship) with a cathartic bridge. Or in Swiftie terms: it should have been The Tortured Poets Department’s track 5. – Josh Kurp

Waxahatchee — “Right Back To It”

Tigers Blood is another product of Katie Crutchfield’s union with Saint Cloud producer Brad Cook, who helped the singer-songwriter assemble a supporting cast that includes MJ Lenderman, Spencer Tweedy, and Phil Cook. Lenderman is prominently featured on the instant-classic single “Right Back To It,” lending his laconic drawl to Crutchfield’s impossibly wistful cry of a voice. It’s the kind of song you know you’ll want to play again immediately within the first 60 seconds, and again and again after that. – Steven Hyden

Zach Bryan – “Pink Skies”

“I write and record music reckless and fast,” Zach Bryan tweeted a few weeks back, alluding to yet another new collection of work set to drop any day now. This prefaced “Pink Skies,” his latest top 10 hit and another example of Bryan’s seemingly endless well for timeless songwriting. Bryan writes the kind of songs that feel like they have been in your blood for a lifetime, instantly nostalgic for the kind of music you’d hear your parents dancing to after you went to bed. They’re the kind of songs that sound best in a truck or a garage or a campground or, as is the case these days, in a basketball arena or on a football field. They hug the middle ground between specificity and generality, where you never question their meaning to Zach even as you impart your own experiences on them. In short, “Pink Skies” is another high point for what’s been several years of high points. As reckless and fast as he keeps wanting to bring these songs, we’ll be there as long as they stay this good. – Philip Cosores

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