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
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
the last shadow puppets
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
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
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
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
Mercury Music Prize – London
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
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
the last shadow puppets
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
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.
Africa Express at BBC Electric Proms 2008 – London
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