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


Now 40 years’ old, Dorset’s PJ Harvey is unlike any lyricist ever, regardless of gender

It seems like law that any successful female lyric writer must be likened to PJ Harvey. But how many would dare pen a song about infanticide, as PJ did with ‘Down By The Water’? Critics have tried to label her a feminist, and with songs like ‘Sheela-na-gig’ you can see why. Named after disturbing medieval carvings of women, it perverts ’60s girl group lyrics that “wash that man right out of my hair ”.

But she’s not really a feminist – Polly rarely judges, and often inhabits male as well as female bodies, a notable example being 2007’s piano-heavy ‘White Chalk’.

Any musician worth their salt – whatever gender – should strive for comparison to such an individual lyricist. LS

Key lyric: “It’s hard to walk in the dress, it’s not easy/I’m spilling over like a heavy loaded fruit taree”
(‘Dress’, from ‘Dry’, 1992)


Listen to PJ Harvey Now


Latest PJ Harvey News

PJ Harvey reads 'The Guest Room' from her debut poetry book

PJ Harvey reads 'The Guest Room' from her debut poetry book

The poem will feature in the musician's first book 'The Hollow Of The Hand'

PJ Harvey to release her first poetry book 'The Hollow Of The Hand'

Musician collaborates with photographer Seamus Murphy

  • Dec 1, 2014

PJ Harvey streams cover of Nick Cave's 'Red Right Hand' - listen

The rendition was recorded for BBC drama 'Peaky Blinders'

  • Oct 30, 2014

More PJ Harvey News


More PJ Harvey Reviews

Live Review: PJ Harvey

Live Review: PJ Harvey

Troxy, London, Sunday 27th February

  • Mar 9, 2011

PJ Harvey - 'Let England Shake'

Polly’s most affecting and impressive work so far

  • Feb 9, 2011

Live Review: Camp Bestival

PJ returns to debut some new material at the southwest’s most up-market festival. Lulworth Castle, Dorset, Friday July 24-Sunday July 26

  • Aug 5, 2009

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