Every generation needs its poets and here's the 23 musical scribes who define 2010.

Meanwhile, you can vote for the best lyricists ever here.

Words: Emily Mackay, Matt Wilkinson, Barry Nicolson, Mark Beaumont, Laura Snapes, Dan Martin, Sam Wolfson, Martin Robinson, Jaimie Hodgson


No-one writes better odes to doing the nasty

“Big-Jesus-soul-mates-trash-can” was the kind of thing Old Nick used to write back when he was a beatnik-junkie-vampire in The Birthday Party, and although he’s now more likely to be acclaimed at the Hay Festival Of Literature than in Berlin squats, he’s pretty much stood by that statement.

Yet after the hymn-like precision of songs on the PJ Harvey blubbering-over ‘The Boatman’s Call’ (“Stars have their moment and then they die”), he was lauded as a great master of the sorrowful love song, feted by The Guardian, analysed on the South Bank Show, respected. It was sickening. So what did Cavey do? Well, start Grinderman, a band with songs less about careful craft in a Brighton study and more about the spontaneous spraying of middle-aged spunk in a wall of feedback. “He drank panther piss, and fucked the girls you’re married to” he sang, like Ron Burgundy on cider-and-black.

For, despite the awards, the books, the highbrow acclaim, Old Nick knows that while perfect poem lyrics are lovely, when it comes to rock’n’roll there’s no match for just screaming about how fucking randy you are. MR
Key lyric: “I sent her every type of flower/I played the guitar by the hour/ I patted her revolting little Chihuahua/But still she just didn’t want to”
(‘No Pussy Blues’, from ‘Grinderman’, 2007)


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