75. Rivers Cuomo, Weezer. The grand vizier of geek-rock has mellowed with age – and the world has come round to his way of thinking. In an age where a film about Facebook tops the box office, we are all geeks now. And the ecstatic reaction that greeted Weezer at Reading/Leeds this year suggests the band’s stock has never been higher.
74. Lewis Bowman, Chapel Club. With a voice that’s more stern and passion-filled than Count von Count remonstrating with a parking warden, Bowman invests Chapel Club with boundless gravitas. Meanwhile, his band prove that the age-old formula of big tunes, long faces and Jesus & Mary Chain-style feedback never stops being awesome.
73. Caitlin Rose. Like a younger Lucinda Williams (much younger – she’s 23), Rose has a plangent quality to her voice that belies her age. And her lyrics are so clear-eyed. Take this couplet from ‘Shanghai Cigarettes’: “Trying to quit will make you wish you didn’t start / ‘Cos the pack is as empty as the hole in your heart”.
72. James Blake. Part producer, part dubstep singer-songwriter, James Blake is another London-based artist – Katy B is another – who’s spinning underground dance music into something fresh, exhilarating and highly listenable.
70. Soulja Boy. Even collaborating with pop goblin Justin Bieber on ‘Rich Girl’ hasn’t quite dented Soulja Boy’s aura. A man of ineffable swag, his upcoming album ‘The DeAndre Way’ (rumoured guest spots: Kanye, Lil Wayne, Snoop Dogg) looks likely to confirm him as hip-hop’s best-connected young star.
69. Matt Bellamy, Muse. He goes out with a movie star (Kate Hudson) and plays guitar like a Jimi Hendrix for the Virgin Galactic age. Not even the fact that Muse contributed a song to that lame Twilight film can diminish our admiration for their outrageously gifted frontman.
68. Nathan Williams, Wavves. For a man who’s supposedly king of the new slackers, Williams gets up to his fair share of mayhem, whether it’s getting in a brawl with one of Black Lips or enduring a drug-induced meltdown onstage in Barcelona. He’s shambolic and unpredictable, and we like that.
67. Avi Zahner-Isenberg, Avi Buffalo. His Twitter feed suggests he’s the most upbeat man on earth, and while his song titles might be a little odd (‘Summer Cum’, ‘Five Little Sluts’), there’s nothing crude about the beautifully crafted songs that make up Avi Buffalo’s debut album.
66. Cher Lloyd off X Factor. Why is she in the Cool List? Allow Jaimie Hodgson to explain.
65. Elizabeth Sankey, Summer Camp. Representing the UK wing of the new slacker movement, Summer Camp have been responsible for some of the year’s sweetest melodies, always delivered with heart-melting purity by the John Hughes-movie-obsessed Sankey.
64. Tom Hudson, Pulled Apart By Horses. Raucous, lank-haired and possessed of a saw-toothed howl, Hudson offers a glimpse of what grunge might have sounded like had it emerged in Leeds rather than Seattle.
63. Ernest Greene, Washed Out. Chillwave. Hypnagogic pop. It doesn’t matter what pretentious name you give to the genre – Greene simply makes music so beautiful and immersive you want to crawl inside it, like a flotation tank.
62. Glasser. She wears a mask on stage and takes her name from “a midnight vision of a figure hovering over water” – yes, Glasser (real name Cameron Mesirow) is one of those witchy post-Bat For Lashes acts (see also Zola Jesus), but there’s nothing remotely generic about her gorgeous, synth-drenched debut album.
61. Ryan Olson, Gayngs. What with covering Sade and occasionally sounding like Bruce Hornsby, it’s hard to know if Ryan Olson is being entirely sincere, but the mellifluous, nostalgic atmospheres he conjures with collaborator Justin Vernon are unquestionably very now.
60. Eva Spence, Rolo Tomassi. Like a Steel City equivalent to Alice Glass, Spence’s is never less than compelling live. That’s mainly because she’s got a voice like a heavy artillery bombardment.
59. Cee-Lo Green. Currently riding high on the strength of ‘Fuck You’, it’s wonderful to see helium-voiced soul man Cee-Lo escape the shadow of Gnarls Barkley. Disagree with our picks? You can vote for the readers’ Cool List too.
57. Daniel Blumberg, Yuck. Another British band reviving grunge, Yuck benefit from Blumberg’s keen ear for a hook, which will be familiar to those who remember his last band, Cajun Dance Party.
56. Gucci Mane. As all modern pop stars must, the man born Radric Davies understands the need to present his life as a soap opera. That’s why new album ‘The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted’ deals with his numerous prison experiences. Sounds generic? It is a bit, but the man’s got just enough style to sneak into our list.
55. Rose Elinor Dougall. In a year of indie singers going solo, few pulled it off with as much panache as Dougall, who left The Pipettes behind to record the mesmerising ‘Without Why’. She also cropped up on Mark Ronson’s new album, ‘Record Collection’.
54. Julian Casablancas. Last year’s ‘Phrazes For The Young’ solo album seemed to give Julian a fresh jolt of enthusiasm for his craft, and at his solo shows in 2010 – especially at Glastonbury – he looked to be having the most fun he’d had on stage in years.
53. LoneLady. With a delivery that’s by turns exquisitely intimate and painfully intense, Manchester’s LoneLady (real name Julie Campbell) is a singer-songwriter who deserves a wider audience.
52. Tim Harrington, Les Savy Fav. Because an enormous sweat-drenched man bellowing in your face just never gets tiresome.
51. Josh Homme. OK, he’s not done a whole lot of note this year, aside from touring with Them Crooked Vultures, but the man known to his QOTSA bandmates as “the ginger Elvis” will always be at least 15% cooler than the average American rocker.
50. Lady Gaga. People think she’s simply about the meat dresses and machine-gun tits. In fact, the key to her genius is that her songs are genius. Check out previous winners of the Cool List.
49. Katy B. Katy’s on a mission, and already she’s on her way to becoming dubstep’s first true breakout star. She’s manoeuvring herself closer and closer to the razor’s edge of cool.
48. Plan B. What’s cool about Ben Drew is that he’s an artist willing to blow his chart cred for the music he believes in.
47. Alexis, Sleigh Bells. Her definition of cool? “Somebody that you have respect for, who does their own thing and doesn’t compromise.”
46. Dave Sitek, TV On The Radio. When he released ‘Maximum Balloon’, featuring more party appeal than a clown with four-foot red shoes, it was one of the coolest about-turns we’d witnessed.
45. Jack Donoghue, Salem. He’s the reluctant hipster who claims to like being ill and finds creativity from liberal drug abuse and self-imposed sleep deprivation.
44. Andrew VanWyngarden, MGMT. He’s done exactly what he wanted, ditching MGMT’s electro sound and irony on a journey to more psychedelic, rawer pastures.
43. Honor Titus, Cerebal Ballzy. He’s brought fun, snot and, er, Beavis And Butthead back into hardcore punk for the first time in never.
42. Nicki Minaj. People will remember where it was they first heard Nicki Minaj because by the time her album ‘Pink Friday’ drops next month she’s going to be everywhere.
41. Ethan Kath, Crystal Castles. He’s the musical bedrock and emotional heart of his band. And we don’t mean to seem superficial, but he is hot enough to make licking blood off his chest seem like a normal and rational thing for Alice to do.
40. Ariel Pink. If you are as genuine and eccentric as Ariel Pink is, eventually the rest of the world will dance to your tune.
39. Orlando Weeks, The Maccabees. His bashful and timid brand of charisma sits in stark contrast to the accepted ‘rock star’ shtick that so many attempt to adapt.
38. Lee Spielman, Trash Talk. What makes him truly fascinating is that beneath his theatrical nutjob persona lurks the heart of a big ol’ softee.
37. Alex Hewett, Egyptian Hip Hop. He’s not afraid to say what he thinks of his peers – expect many more acid comments as his band achieve the fame that rightly awaits them.
36. Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance. He’s a songwriter with a film-maker’s eye for the cool detail and sassy turn-of-phrase, and he understands that great bands are not just about the music.
35. Win Butler, Arcade Fire. His lyrics tug and rip at the very structures of society and economy and his band pledged to donate a million dollars to help rebuild Haiti. Who needs words when you’ve got actions?
34. MNDR. Her contribution to ‘Bang Bang Bang’ helped rehabilitate Mark Ronson and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs asked her to build them a touring keyboard rig. Sorry Mark and Karen, music’s coolest secret belongs to all of us now.
33. Willow Smith. Will Smith’s daughter has done more stuff in less than a decade than most will achieve in a lifetime.
32. Dan Devine, Flats. He’s yet to entirely disassociate himself from the east London hipster scene he professes to loathe, but it’s too much fun watching him ruffle the feathers to worry about little details like that.
31. Akiko Matsuura, The Big Pink/Comanechi. There’s something almost too perfect about Akiko – smoking hot Japanese girl drummer with a tendency to play naked? She’s also really, ridiculously oh-my-god-I-want-to-be-your-friend super-lovely.
30. Nicky Wire, Manic Street Preachers. Do we need to explain why Nicky Wire is in the Cool List? Divides opinion, speaks in amazing quotes, detests Radiohead, wears dresses…
29. Skream. Even before becoming one-third of Magnetic Man, Skream was one of the original pioneers of dubstep, taking the genre from the back room of a Croydon record store into the clubs and, eventually, the charts.
28. Jamie Reynolds, Klaxons. In his spare time he makes video documentaries about psychedelically minded cult directors. Stupid if anyone else did it, but from Party Klaxon: cool.
27. Jenny Lee Lindberg, War Paint. A modern-day rock Medusa who’s totally in her element. Hippy, dandy, randy, kooky and unpredictable, fuck knows what she’ll end up doing next.
26. Giggs. Finally UK rap is scary again. Finally, UK beats that don’t sound like a poor man’s rip-off of ‘36 Chambers’. The best is yet to come…
25. Jonathan Everything. Plenty have called them pretentious, but in a year where slackery and sloppy fretwork has become an even softer-worn wail, it’s a delight to find a man so obsessed with the intricacies of silliness.
24. Marina Diamandis, Marina & The Diamonds. Marina has always craved fame. Do you think she gives a shit? Giggle all you like, but Marina’s having the last filthy cackle.
23. Dee Dee, Dum Dum Girls. Without this cutthroat, lo-fi rock’n’roll girl gang, the past year’s lo-fi revolution would’ve been missing at least a third of its hits.
22. Jack Steadman, Bombay Bicycle Club. He’s completely shtick-free – a normal kid who writes heart-stoppingly gorgeous songs.
21. Jay-Z. Jay-Z is more than a rapper; he’s our Elvis. Every time he hits what looks like a career summit, he reinvents himself completely.
20. Ritzy Bryan, The Joy Formidable. Onstage, she’s a veritable force of nature and years spent toiling unsigned mean that she’s refreshingly free of bullshit.
19. Kele Okereke. When frontmen of indie bands relaunch themselves as surname-free solo artists it’s usually time to cringe. But underestimate Kele at your peril.
18. Theo Hutchcraft, Hurts. He sees the bigger picture – that bands should be about ridiculously meticulous preparation, about signing massive record deals and then spunking the lot on totally ridiculous stuff.
17. James Murphy, LCD Soundsystem. Rather than rest on his laurels, James Murphy actually gets cooler. You have to wonder how much cool shit one man can fit into a year?
16. Yannis Philippakis, Foals. This is someone hellbent on cutting the crap in interviews to highlight the bands he loves so much.
15. Robyn. She’s a super-driven fembot who’s already churned out 10 heartbreak-on-the-dancefloor melancholy pop masterpieces before most of her rivals have even crawled out of bed.
14. Zola Jesus. Zola’s been aligned with the hipster-y witch house scene, but it’s her distinctiveness, not her zeitgeistiness, that makes her so cool.
13. Hayden Thorpe, Wild Beasts. He is a randy, rowdy knave with his mind in the gutter, and NME will raise a glass to that.
12. Simon Neil, Biffy Clyro. Says the man himself: “I don’t know why I’m cool… I suppose it’s because I’m not pretending to be someone else.”
11. Marcus Mumford, Mumford & Sons. He makes everyone in his immediate vicinity feel like they are part of something truly special. Rather than a frontman, he is a band leader in the truest sense of the word.
10. Darwin Deez. His is an ego-free, spontaneous, maximum-non-rock’n’roll joy that has no time for airs or graces – as his loopy yet lovely onstage dance routines amply demonstrate.
9. Carl Barat. A Cool List without a mention of Carl Barât would be as inconceivable as an egg-less omelette.
8. Jack Barnett, These New Puritans. For some the vaporous mists of ‘cool’ aren’t built on attitude, wit or trouser, but on the sense that they’re just not of our planet.
7. Jonathan Pierce, The Drums. He has a charmingly careless combination of perfectly straightfaced deadpan humour and ludicrously grand statements.
6. Paul Weller. The secret to his cool is simpler than the leg-hugging cut of his cloth – ‘Wake Up The Nation’ was one of the best, most exciting albums of 2010.
5. Romy Madley Croft, The XX. She looks incredible and much like the music she makes, there’s no mistaking her for anybody else. She’s just naturally, unknowingly cool.
4. Beth Cosentino, Best Coast. Bethany’s walking proof that weed needn’t completely curtail creativity. Ha! Take that, scientists and government advisors! Disagree with our picks? You can vote for the readers’ Cool List too.
3. Kanye West. Obama thinks he’s a “jackass” and, for a while there, we were inclined to agree. We thought we’d lost him forever – how wrong we were. Welcome back, Kanye.
2. Janelle Monae. She’s a mixture of contradictions that shouldn’t work: an androgynous creative dominatrix who signed to Diddy’s label yet retained total control over her output.