So the NME just published their 2011 Cool List. As ever, it’s a bewildering document that proclaims the likes of The Killers’ Ronnie Vanucci, the Arctic Monkeys’ drummer and, yes, Lana Del Rey to be cool, which makes us wonder if the NME’s writers have the same understanding of that particular word as we do. Anyway, we appreciate that setting yourself as arbiters of “cool” is asking for trouble (especially if you then proceed to include two members of Kasabian in your Top 10), but the fact remains: there are some people missing from the NME‘s list who we think should be there. We’re not sure if this makes these people “cool” or just generally awesome, but either way, here are 10 non-NME-approved musicians who we think were just great during 2011. So there.
Here’s the thing about Erika M. Anderson: she doesn’t care what you think. She’s going to do her own thing. And no doubt she doesn’t care that she’s not on NME‘s silly cool list, either. But she should be, and somewhere near the top. Apart from making one of the best albums of the year, EMA has been one of its most refreshingly unaffected presences — on stage she cracks jokes, trips over guitar leads, breaks things, and actually (gasp) engages with the audience, all the while exuding the sort of effortless star quality that most of NME’s nominees couldn’t muster with the aid of a thousand image consultants. Her songs are similarly free of any artifice or pretense — they’re laceratingly honest, and you get the feeling that for someone like Anderson, they couldn’t be any other way, because like her songs, she’s real. In a world where pop culture is ever more dominated by plastic people, someone like EMA stands out like a beacon in a sea of bullshit. Long may she prosper.