50The unnamed woman from Richard Thompson’s ‘Beeswing’
Nominated by @ShaneRichmond. “It’s a song that makes me think about ageing, gender, independence and poverty, all through one striking character,” he writes.
49Billy in PJ Harvey's 'C'mon Billy'
'C'mon Billy' was the second single released on PJ Harvey's 1995 album 'To Bring You My Love.' Suggested by Bella Ferri, Billy is a hapless lover and the desperate figure of the protagonist's affections. Comme toujours, Harvey's poetry sketches a person who seems so real with so few words.
48Darling Nikki from Prince's 'Darling Nikki'
Another popular suggestion was the "sex fiend" from Prince's notorious track from 1984's 'Purple Rain.' Prince's meets her in a "hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine." Nikki jumped from fiction to real life in a significant way: the lyrics eventually led to the use of "Parental Advisory" stickers and imprints on album covers.
47Alanis Morrissette's Mary Jane
"Mary Jane from @morissette 's Jagged Little Pill is amazingly well-drawn," tweets Emma Ballantine. Mary Jane is an insomniac under-eater with a fascination with passing cars and Morrissette describes her turbulent life with poetic gentleness.
46Pulp's 'Seductive Barry'
The Mighty Mojo on Twitter suggested Seductive Barry, the character with a way with words from the late 90s Pulp song. The lyrics reveal a romantic man knows how to score: "There's nothing left for us to do but get it on," he says. Is it just me who imagines Barry from EastEnders in the title role?
45"The man who talks in maths" in Radiohead's 'Karma Police'
Radiohead are not known for their straightforward character profiles, but they often skewer socio-political stereotypes. Andreas Wolff goes for the man in the opening verse of 'Karma Police'. He "talks in maths" and "buzzes like a fridge." He's "like a detuned radio" and Thom implores for his arrest. He sounds pretty boring to be fair.
44Regina Spektor's 'Daniel Cowman'
@Cosmictits digs up this classic track from Spektor's 2002 album 'Songs'. "The premature ejaculation of his death sentence hit Daniel in the face like a big round spitball hwk-pfffff," she tells, spinning a typically surreal tale that sounds a little like a bad dream.
43The Killers' 'Uncle Johnny'
@TheeAmberHuston goes for this sorry picture of a cocaine-addicted uncle. "I feel a burning in your body's core / It's a yearning that you can't ignore," sings Brandon, one of many great character studies by the band.
42Bob Dylan's 'Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts'
From Dylan's 1975 album 'Blood On The Tracks', there's so much going on in this track plot-wise that not one but two screenplays have been written about it. Anne Bramley suggests the title characters on Twitter, Jack being a bank robber, Lily the "princess", and Rosemary "like a queen without a crown."
41The red right hand from Nick Cave's 'Red Right Hand'
Jamie Skey goes for the "red right hand" from Nick Cave's 1994 track 'Red Right Hand'. The liner notes from 'Let Love In' explained that the reference is from John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost. It's hidden in his coat, it's clutching wads of money, it's savage and it directs you, "one microscopic cog in his catastrophic plan." Chilling stuff.