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


Mastermind behind The Magnetic Fields, the former Spin editor is akin to the modern-day Stephen Sondheim

No other lyricist alive has Merritt’s knack for twisting the comic mournful. When he’s not playing the dry master storyteller (the ecstatic domestic murder in ‘Yeah! Oh Yeah!’; the LA serial killer in ‘California Girls’) or writing this generation’s most lyrical tear-jerkers (‘The Book Of Love’, ‘Kissing Things’), he’s penning heartbreaking truths. From ‘Busby Berkeley Dreams’: “I should have forgotten you long ago/But you’re in every song I know”. Hey, that’s love and music, encapsulated in 14 words! MB

Key lyric: “The book of love is long and boring/No-one can lift the damn thing”
(‘The Book Of Love’, from ‘69 Love Songs’, 1999)


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