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


One thing links Blur, The Good The Bad And The Queen and Gorillaz: 42-year-old Damon Albarn’s ability to create whole societies in a few lines of a pop song

Whether you ask one of the hundreds of thousands who saw Blur at their comeback gigs last year, or a 14-year-old kid with a Murdoc doll, they’ll all tell you that Damon Albarn has written lines that have changed their lives. But which Damon is the best?

Could it be the one whose razor-sharp character-based observation in the ’90s provided the acutely accurate description of a generation of new Britons? Or is it the one who’s emerging from behind the special guests on Gorillaz albums? For us, Damon is at his best when he’s ripping his heart for all to bare. As on ‘No Distance Left To Run’ when he’s on the verge of tears singing, “I won’t kill myself trying to stay in your life”. Agonising but spectacular writing. SW

Key lyric: “Everyday he got closer/He knew in his heart he was over/I’d love to stay here and be normal/ But it was always overrated”
(‘Tracy Jacks’, from ‘Parklife’, 1994)

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