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COOL LIST 2010

 

It's NME's favourite time of year, as we herald the dudes du jour.

Disagree with our choices? Have your say here. And watch a behind-the-scenes video of the Cool List cover shoot here.

The Cool List 2010 was originally published in the 23 October issue of NME.

Have your say - Vote for the readers' Cool List

 
 
 

People get the wrong idea about Gaga. They think she’s simply about the meat dresses and machine-gun tits and being ‘up the gays’. In fact, the key to her genius is Beatles-esque in its simplicity – her songs are genius.


The ‘package’ is crucial; the way the Haus Of Gaga has formed the most freestanding creative universe since Warhol’s Factory. The way she turned reckless product...

 
 

49

Katy B

 

Katy’s on a mission, alright. A mission to ensure dubstep is remembered as more than just some beardy-man’s backroom art project by giving it some proper pop props. Already she’s on her way to becoming the genre’s first true breakout star.

Despite starting out at the Brit School she’s shown proper kudos by manoeuvring herself closer and closer to the razor’s edge of cool, hopscotching through...

 
 

48

Plan B

 

A field of phone-waving shimmy freaks at V can’t be wrong, you might argue, but according to statistics it’s wrong 67.8 per cent of the time, usually while watching Faithless. But not this year, when Plan B drew a bigger crowd than the Pope to celebrate his transformation into the Amy Winehouse you could take home to your mum.

What’s cool about Ben Drew is that he’s planning to follow his soul...

 
 
 

In a world where most teachers suck – you included, Ezra Koenig – it’s little wonder Alexis Krauss has found a home in rock’n’roll. The former primary school tutor jacked in books, desks and braces to hang out with MIA and write white noise pop songs with a man she met at
a Brazilian restaurant. In case you hadn’t guessed, randomness is the key to Krauss’ world.

Admittedly, had her...

 
 
 

If there was one man who seemed the least likely to turn up to your house party and moonwalk across your kitchen floor, it was TV On The Radio helmsman Dave Sitek. When NME travelled to the USA to talk about ‘Dear Science’, he refused to even leave his bus.

So, when he released his ‘Maximum Balloon’ album, featuring Jacko-esque rubber-funk and more party appeal than a clown with four-foot red shoes...

 
 
 

He’s the one in the middle slurring raps through the mist over Salem’s murky miasma. He’s the reluctant hipster, the long-haired witch house poster boy with the cheeks drawn by Mephistopheles. He claims to like being ill and finds creativity from liberal drug abuse and self-imposed sleep deprivation.

He’s an otherworldly creature – a potential American Apparel model if they ever open a branch in...

 
 
 

While flipping the record company execs over and tickling their bellies is all very well if you want to get rich, rock’n’roll is actually about pissing people off. Andrew VanWyngarden surely understands this, and whether he and bandmate Ben Goldwasser meant to or not, his band’s sequel to the sales-tastic ‘Oracular Spectacular’ got up a lot of people’s noses.

He’s done exactly what he wanted,...

 
 
 

What’s in a name? Traditionally not so much. But when the name happens to be Honor Titus, you’d hope it’d mean something, at least. Likewise, you’d be disappointed if the frontman of best-/worst-named band in recent memory, Cerebral Ballzy, was a cardigan-clad wistful bard that jots down haikus in his Moleskin.

Thankfully the Brooklyn moggy delivers on all his moniker’s bravado. Honor’s been...

 
 
 

Whether it was on her seminal ‘Beam Me Up Scotty’ mixtape or her turn spitting rhymes about (yes) cunnilingus on Christina Aguilera’s rather icky non-single ‘Woo Hoo’, people will remember where it was they first heard Nicki Minaj. Because by the time her album ‘Pink Friday’ drops next month she’s going to be everywhere.

Having fallen to Earth from a subspace somewhere between the places...

 
 
 

Ethan’s position as the musical bedrock and emotional heart of a band defined by the harpy shriek and possessed priestess flailing of Alice Glass has made Crystal Castles so much more than the hipster flash-in-the-pan they should have been. Their second album proved they had staying power, emotional depth and real ambition.

They continue to give one of the most apocalyptically sexy live shows around. And...

 
 
 

One of the key components to being cool lies in Adam Ant’s old adage that “ridicule is nothing to be scared of”. For example: wandering around Los Angeles in cynically-minded 2010 dressed as a kind of quasi-hippy-goth while making lo-fi AOR is – by anyone’s standards – fucking stupid. For good reason, no-one else does what he does.

But the thing is: if you simply believe enough in what you are...

 
 
 

The Maccabees themselves are an absolute exercise in understated cool. People who go on about how “meaning it” is everything should be kissing their feet every second. They are quietly becoming one of the best-loved – and biggest – bands in Britain.As well as the tenderness that fills their songs, this is largely down to charm, to which Orlando is central.

The prettiest Maccabee by miles (sorry...

 
 
 

Lee Spielman buys into the hardcore genre’s philosophy of individually pulverising each and every member of your gig audience into appreciating you by jumping into their faces off of any-and-every raised platform. The same enthusiasm goes into his whole touring setup.

Operating on a self-professed ‘zero sleep’ philosophy, Spielman – Trash Talk’s founding father and only surviving member – has...

 
 
 

The first time we came across teenage prodigy Alex Hewlett he was studying Music Tech at college. The Egyptian Hip Hop singer was spending his days pissing about in a hopeless class while using his nights to deliver his own workshops on ‘Being A Rock Star’, gigging at all the right shitholes and supporting the likes of Lostprophets while critics swooned.

So what makes him cool? Well there’s the...

 
 
 

Say what you like about My Chemical Romance, their frontman never fails to give good quote. That’s because he invests so much thought in the conceptual side of his band. He claims new album ‘Danger Days: The True Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys’ was inspired by “’70s muscle cars”. Sounds ludicrous?

Listen to the record, with its gleaming surfaces and growling punk-rock exuberance, and it makes...

 
 
 

Arcade Fire’s mainman has made it on to this year’s Cool List because he’s shown an impeccable social conscience but not become bloody Bono; because his lyrics on ‘The Suburbs’ try to tug and rip at the very structures of society and economy that keep the unlucky majority unhappy, unfulfilled or in poverty; because he’s taken a 16-track concept album to Number One around the globe; and the band he...

 
 

34

MNDR

 

Despite being Jay-Z’s favourite DJ, after all those horns and ill-advised covers, there ought to have been no way back for Mark Ronson. However, rather than crank up the cheese, new album ‘Record Collection’ is turning the right heads again, and that is due in no small part to a certain Amanda Warner, aka MNDR. Her contribution to ‘Bang Bang Bang’ – not just the cool French vocals but a co-writer’s...

 
 
 

Will Smith’s daughter Willow (or to use her proper, brilliant name Willow Camille Reign Smith) has done some cool shit for a nine-year-old. Not only did she once bake some awesome peanut cookies, she’s also starred in 'I Am Legend' and two 'Madagascar' films, become a youth ambassador for Project Zambia to help children orphaned by AIDS and just signed to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label, releasing the...

 
 
 

Rock’n’roll needs its tree-shakers, its oiky, antagonistic gobshites who are willing to say anything simply for the sake of saying it. Flats frontman Dan Devine is one of those. With his guttural proclamations of Paul Weller’s inherent cuntiness, unprintable slurs on Pete Townshend’s character, and cast-iron belief that Gang Of Four should be banished from the indie rock syllabus, calling Devine...

 
 
 

There’s something almost too perfect about Akiko – she seems like the fevered dream of an indie scriptwriter. Smoking hot Japanese girl drummer with a tendency to play naked? What is this, a rejected draft of Scott Pilgrim Vs The World? But not only is Akiko real, and every bit as cool as her backstory suggests, she’s also really, ridiculously oh-my-god-I-want-to-be-your-friend super-lovely.

She’s...

 
 
 

Do we need to explain why Nicky Wire is in the Cool List? Divides opinion, speaks in amazing quotes, detests Radiohead, wears dresses… has been doing so for 20 years. Basically, Nicky is Liam Gallagher with a degree and five inches more height. Need more proof? Best grin in rock’n’roll. Best scissor-kicks.

No-one does scissor-kicks properly anymore. If they did they might stand a chance of...

 
 

29

Skream

 

Even before becoming one-third of Magnetic Man, Skream – aka Oliver Jones – was one of the original pioneers of dubstep, taking the genre from the back room of a Croydon record store into the clubs and, eventually, the charts. That alone makes him worthy of inclusion here, but even if you’re not familiar with the genealogy of dubstep, if you’ve been to a club in the last couple of years the chances are...

 
 
 

For Klaxons this year, the agenda was clear: the re-recorded, Ross Robinson-helmed ‘Surfing The Void’ was to blast their new rave past into a cloud of melted glowstick space dust and establish them as, you know, a proper British band. While debate still rages over whether they’ve met that target, we’ve been enjoying the presence of a man who has no goals: Jamie Reynolds, aka Party Klaxon.

He...

 
 
 

The first time we clapped eyes on Jenny Lee Lindberg, she was forcing the rest of Warpaint to sing a cappella to two bemused students on Brighton Pier. Second time, she was running wild at London’s Lexington, turning heads and completely owning the joint while arm-in-arm with sister and Hollywood A-lister Shannyn Sossamon. And we haven’t even got onto the subject of her immense bass playing yet....

 
 

26

Giggs

 

An abridged history of ‘the UK rap scene’ in five words: stuff, more stuff, grime, Giggs. OK, that’s a bit mean. It’s not that Britain’s been without talented MCs and producers for the past 25-ish years. What it has been lacking though is revelations. Moments that make the game sit up and take notice in the knowledge that things ain’t ever gonna be the same.

That fight and hustle is what stokes...

 
 
 
 
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