Who Is The Greatest Pop Act Of All Time?

The world’s biggest popstar, Lady Gaga, is on the cover of this week’s NME. The feature has prompted a debate over what it means to be ‘authentic’ over ‘manufactured’ in pop.

lady gaga

With all this mind, we’ve launched a poll to crown the greatest pop act ever.

Six decades of human (pop) life are here; from Little Richard to (the even littler) Justin Bieber, but who is your favourite?

We asked around our office to find out the staff’s picks for their favourites, and here’s what they said.

For me, despite being heckled by The Spice Girls, it has to be The B-52s; weird, wonky and utterly joyful. Theirs is the kind of pop that, thanks to some whip-smart new wave and re-occurring lyrical obsessions (their love of pulp fiction, b-movies, thrift stores and cheap sci-fi) make you want to be part of their outsider gang. A key component, I think, of what makes a great pop band.

NME.COM editor Luke Lewis chose the Purple god. He said: “It has to be Prince really. He’s one of those freakish human beings who were just built for performing- you see him live and it’s like he’s a pure conduit for music, as though his body’s an instrument in itself. That’s true of Michael Jackson too, but I’m going with Prince because you can enjoy Prince’s music without feeling like you’re teetering on the edge of a legal and ethical abyss.”

Meanwhile NME’s Associate Editor Paul Stokes chose Shakira, Shakira. He said: “I’m not a hundred percent convinced that the pint-sized Columbian is the greatest pop act ever – the grace and style of Dusty edges it – but Shakira is the greatest pop act I’ve seen live. Admittedly I never thought as an NME journalist I’d be covering the singer, but I begrudgingly trotted off to watch her at Glastonbury last year so the colleague I’d commissioned to cover her originally could go to watch Biffy Clyro’s secret gig instead. Within two songs, my frown was gone and she quickly became one of my favourite acts of last year’s festival.

“Despite not knowing much of her material beyond ‘Whenever Wherever’ and ‘She Wolf’ (co written with The Bravery of all people) her energy was effervescent and by the time she covered The XX’s ‘Islands’ (her favourite indie band apparently) she had totally charmed me along with the rest of Worthy Farm.”

News reporter Tom Goodwyn chose Justin Timberlake. “Being a former mousekeeter and a member of the one of the 1990s’ ropier boy bands would have normally left Justin Timberlake following the same career path as Brian Harvey, H from Steps and all the members of 911, but somehow he’s become one of the coolest men in the world. Since he went solo in 2002, he’s delivered two albums, full of flawless, immaculately produced pop songs. He’s talked up making a new year later this year after his hiatus in Hollywood. I can’t wait to hear it.”

Vote for the greatest pop act of all time

Read our Lady Gaga interview in the current issue of NME

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