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


The 39-year-old Shins man’s couplets are obtuse, but it’s fun trying to decipher them

Mercer’s unique, warped outlook gave life to The Shins and, more recently, Broken Bells with Danger Mouse. Yet you’d be hard-pushed to find any clues about what he’s like as a person from his words.

True, he harbours an obsession with the fragility of life, but he ties this up with abrasive words that sour any notion of straightforwardness. It’s this ability to conjure up numerous alternate meanings that’s made him an undeniable master of powerful lyrics. 
Film-maker Zach Braff liked his work so much he wrote his debut feature Garden State around it. MW

Key lyric: “Turn me back into the pet I was when we met/I was happier then with no mindset”
(‘New Slang’, from ‘Oh, Inverted World’, 2001)


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