Brian Fallon from The Gaslight Anthem – one of the many new entries on this year’s Cool List. Like fellow New Jersey-resident Bruce Springsteen, Fallon brings a heartfelt everyman quality to his band’s galloping punk rock. Fallon’s clear-eyed lyrics made The Gaslight Anthem’s second album, ‘The 59 Sound’, one of 2008’s most welcome surprises. Keep clicking to see all 50 artists who made the shortlist and have your say at NME.COM/THEOFFICE. Pic: Andy Willsher
Eva Spence of Sheffield hardcore bruisers Rolo Tomassi. The band wouldn’t be half as thrilling without the razor-raw vocals of Spence, whose guttural banshee screams belie her demure appearance. See exactly what position Spence reached in the NME Cool List 2008 â
Little Boots. Rising starlet and NME blogger, Little Boots – aka 25-year-old Victoria Hesketh – helped shape a vintage year for electro; but you sense her best is yet to come. Who else has made the cut? Find out at NME.COM/THEOFFICE â
Peter Gabriel of Genesis fame. Yes, really. Chuffed at being name-checked in Vampire Weekend’s ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’, Gabriel responded by teaming up with Hot Chip to cover the song. If only all prog dinosaurs were this clued up. Pic: PA Photos
Caroline McKay, Glasvegas. She’d never played drums before she joined the band; frontman James Allan just recruited her on the grounds that she "looked like someone from a movie". Proof that some people are just born cool. Pic: Guy Eppel
New Zealander Ladyhawke makes her debut on the 2008 Cool List. Live she’s so shy she can barely look at the audience, yet Pip Brown’s limitations as a performer are an intrinsic part of her appeal, creating an enthralling disjunction between the euphoria of the music and the punishing self-doubt of its creator. Pic: Ed Miles
Rapper extraordinaire Jay-Z. "For those that didn’t get the memo, my name is Jay-Z and I’m pretty fucking awesome." With these words the rapper introduced his Glastonbury headline set, surely one of the most talked-about live performances of all time, and created an unforgettable moment of grandstanding hip-hop theatre in the process. Warranted self-confidence? Let us know at NME.COM/THEOFFICE. Pic: Tom Oxley
Andrew VanWyngarden, MGMT makes one of the highest new entry debuts in NME’s 2008 Cool List. This year saw the words "shamanic" and "cosmic" bandied around more recklessly than at any time since 1973, and it was primarily down to MGMT’s bandana-clad frontman, the blissed-out figurehead for a new generation of inner-vision voyagers. Pic: Ellis Parrinder
Brandon Flowers, The Killers.
Sadly no placing for Brandon’s moustache this year, which debuted at 18 in 2007. But there will always be room for Flowers in the NME Cool List, regardless of whether he ever gets to the bottom of that human/dancer conundrum:
Pic: Pamely Littky
Dev Hynes, Lightspeed Champion.
The alt-folk troubadour scraped into the Top 50 last year, but that was before we heard ‘Falling Off The Lavender Bridge’, a debut album whose sun-dappled loveliness ensures an impressive jump of 25 places.
Pic: Sam Jones
Tedious reactionaries scoffed at his decision to join The Cribs, but Marr proves that, in an era of endless big name reunions, the coolest thing an "elder statesman" can do is to move with the times, not trade on past achievements.
Pic: Tom Oxley
Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys/The Last Shadow Puppets.
Despite the best efforts of girlfriend Alexa Chung, Turner is still cool, with The Last Shadow Puppets proving he can play the role of the debonair Scott Walker-type as well as that of the caustic kitchen-sink poet.
Pic: Dean Chalkley
Alice Glass, Crystal Castles.
Whether forcing Glastonbury organisers to pull the plug on her crazed onstage antics or eliciting gasps with tales of her nihilistic, rootless upbringing ("bonfires and fights and endless pills"), Glass was a black hole at the centre of 2008, utterly magnetic yet thrillingly inscrutable. Pic: Tom Oxley
Jamie Reynolds, Klaxons.
OK, so he didn’t really do much in 2008, but the uber-hedonist’s wild-eyed determination to have a good time all the time stands as a lesson for us all in these joyless, gloomy times.
Pic: Tom Oxley
2008 was a rough year for the man Pete Doherty used to call Biggles, with serious illness and poor album sales conspiring to spell the end for Dirty Pretty Things. Yet Carlos retains an indelible aura of cool and his recent announcement that The Libertines have "unfinished business" bodes well for 2009.
Pic: Jo Plimmer
Matt Bellamy, Muse.
Whether he’s holding Wembley Stadium in thrall or discussing intergalactic conspiracy theories, Bellamy’s greatest gift is his childlike impulsiveness. This is a man who once strapped a praying mantis to a rocket and sent it hurtling skyward, for a laugh.
Pic : Andy Willsher
We were told CSS had "grown up" with second album ‘Donkey’. Thankfully that didn’t stop Lovefoxxx from dressing up in a silver dragon outfit (see below) and generally turning every UK festival into a riot of kaleidoscopic drunken joy. Again.
Pic: Dean Chalkley
Sam Dust from Late Of The Pier. It takes a true maverick to grow up in Castle Donington and become, not a denim-clad rocker or downcast screamo fan, but rather a purveyor of hyper-energetic, splatter-gun electro. In Dust we trust. Pic: Danny North
Pink Eyes from Fucked Up. The spirit of punk writ large, the swivel-eyed anarchy of Pink Eyes’ onstage antics is doubly impressive when you consider that he also holds down a job in the film industry â
Elbow’s Mercury Prize victory â
Just when you thought M.I.A. was destined to generate more style mag features than record sales, along came ‘Paper Planes’, an inter-continental radio smash that made M.I.A. properly famous as well as untouchably hip. Have your say on this year’s Cool List and vote for the Reader’s Top 10 at NME.COM/THEOFFICE. Pic: Pieter M Van Hattem
Ex-Blur frontman Damon Albarn. It’s been a good year for Albarn – only in 2008 has Albarn’s abundant creativity found its most mature expression. Monkey opera is his business, and business is good. Pic: PA Photos
DJ Mujava. ‘Township Funk’ electrified hipster dancefloors across the country in 2008, while the rumours concerning the South African artist’s fragile mental health only added to the intrigue.
Nick McCabe, The Verve. Take away guitarist McCabe and what have you got? Another Richard Ashcroft solo album. And no-one wants that. Don’t agree with our shortlist? Then tell us and vote for the Reader’s Top 10 at NME.COM/THEOFFICE. Pic: Dean Chalkley
An avatar of cool, Karen O of the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs has made the Top 50 almost every year since the list was first compiled in 2002. It doesn’t even matter that 2008 saw no Yeah Yeah Yeahs release, since her side project Native Korean Rock was impressive in itself, proving she could do minimalist alt-folk as well as caterwauling garage-rock. Pic: Pieter M Van Hattem
Gruff Rhys, Neon Neon. Twelve years on from Super Furry Animals’ debut album, and a year after calling time on his solo project due to "musical indifference", Gruff Rhys staged 2008’s most unlikely comeback, notching up a Mercury nomination for the debut Neon Neon album, ‘Stainless Style’, his collaboration with producer Boom Bip. Pic: PA Photos
Zack de la Rocha, Rage Against The Machine. You probably wouldn’t want to go for a pint with him, but RATM’s comeback festival appearances reminded the world that de la Rocha is the master of vein-popping, moshpit-slaying iconoclasm. Pic: Danny North
Florence Welch, Florence And The Machine’s singing starlet. Combining megawatt charisma with a pin-you-to-the-wall vocal ferocity, Welch inspires devotion through sheer force of personality. Only a lunatic would bet against her making it big in 2009.
Friendly Fires’ frontman Ed MacFarlane. ‘Paris” beatific chorus – "Every night we’ll watch the stars/They’ll be out for us" â
Santogold. She used to be an R’n’B A&R, before quitting in protest at the way P Diddy was dominating the scene. Clearly, Santi White is someone whose instincts you can trust. Pic: Ed Miles
Ezra Koenig, Vampire Weekend’s frontman. Over-educated and proud of it, Koenig has built up his own distinct lyrical world of collegiate eccentrics and Oxford commas. Not since Lynne Truss has grammatical propriety gained such a broad mainstream audience. Pic: Pieter M Van Hattem
David Sitek producer extraordinaire from TV On The Radio. Whether producing Foals and Scarlett Johansson or propelling his own band down ever more visionary vistas, Sitek’s forward-thinking philosophy is crystallised by his own mantra: "Why mess around when you can fuck around?" Pic: Pieter M Van Hattem
Last year’s #1, Frank Carter from Gallows. "People think Kurt Cobain’s cool, but he’s dead, so how cool is he really?" So said Carter upon topping the 2007 Cool List, revealing a shaky grasp of rock n roll mythology. This year Carter stays in the list by dint of still being in the band, no matter how reluctantly, in spite of endless threats to become a full-time tattooist.Pic: Dean Chalkley
Cool List 2008 new entry Tom Vain â
Foals frontman, Yannis Philippakis. Not even getting arrested in the wake of an ugly fracas with John Lydon in July 2008 could slow the steady ascent of post-punk’s hippest Oxford dropout. Pic: Dean Chalkley
Miles Kane, The Rascals/The Last Shadow Puppets. Would he have made the list on the strength of The Rascals? Unlikely. But Alex Turner coaxed a songwriting panache from Kane that had hitherto lain dormant. Meanwhile, few rocked a shirt-and-tie with as much flair as the Wirral lad did in 2008. Pic: Dean Chalkley
Amazing Baby’s Will Roan is a new entry on this year’s Cool List. If MGMT ditched the neat synth hooks and indulged their prog-stoner instincts to the max, they’d sound like fellow Wesleyan Uni graduates Amazing Baby, whose frontman Will Roan is a tousle-haired VanWyngarden-in-waiting. Let us know what you think at NME.COM/THEOFFICE. Pic: Guy Eppel
Rivers Cuomo from Weezer. 2008 was the year he stopped acting batshit barmy and concentrated on writing amazing tunes again. ‘Pork And Beans’ boasted his best chorus in years, not to mention the best Weezer video since ‘Buddy Holly’. Pic: PA Photos
Queens Of The Stone Age’s founding member, Josh Homme. The desert-rock James Dean possesses a classic charisma that ensures he’ll always be a Cool List contender. And news that he’s working with Arctic Monkeys just makes us love him more.
Jason Pierce, Spiritualized. After nearly dying from double pneumonia in 2007, this year Jason Pierce capped a remarkable comeback with the mesmeric ‘Songs In A&E’. The Spiritualized veteran would have ranked even higher had he realised his ambition of playing a gig inside the Large Hadron Collider…Pic: Andy Fallon
The Big Pink’s Robbie Furze. Former Alec Empire guitarist Furze is one half of nihilistic drone-kings The Big Pink. The other half is Merok label boss Milo Cordell. You can download a free Big Pink track from the NME Radar blog. You can also tell us what you think of our selection and vote for the reader’s Top 10 at NME.COM/THEOFFICE.
One half of Florida’s most potty-mouthed lesbian hip-hop duo Yo Majesty, Shunda K is typical of the hard-partying, needle-in-the-red spirit that re-energised hip-hop in 2008. Pic: Pieter M Van Hattem
Rapper Lil Wayne. Forget the backstory â
The Rev himself, Jon McClure from Reverend & The Makers. In an age of apolitical hedonists, The Rev is a beacon of conscience and political engagement. You might not always agree with what he says, but in the current apocalyptic climate, rock needs outspoken firebrands like McClure more than ever. Give us your views on our selection and even vote for your own top 10 at NME.COM/THEOFFICE. Pic: PA Photos
Rapper Lethal Bizzle. He’s slipped down the rankings since 2007, when he made Number Five on the back of his Gallows collaboration. Even so, any man who can face down a knuckle-headed Download festival bottling without losing his cool â