Girl is not a genre... they say. However, if you’ve been paying attention to the critics' picks for 2009, you will no doubt be aware that female soloists are the overriding theme set to dominate the year ahead. The first two #1 singles of the year have belonged to girls, and every magazine is currently emblazoned with feminine front covers.
DiS takes a (relatively) light-hearted look at the three prime candidates for the fictitious Girl Of 2009 crown and attempts to separate the MGMT mega successes from the Bravery-style stinkers...
Florence & The Machine
Sound- Raucous tales of violence, freedom, love and loss. Florence Welsh has a voice to rival anyone in modern music - if she can get the songs to match then the sky is the limit. 9
Personality- Flitting effortlessly between frivolous and fun to anarchic and wild, Florence is an interviewer’s dream with her tales of partying at Donatella Versace’s house and her parents who were friends with Andy Warhol. Perceived kookiness may well annoy some quarters. 7
Live Show- Lots of fun and a chance to hear that voice in its purest form. A full headline tour last year followed an MGMT support slot. 'The Machine will soon be opening the NME Awards tour, the legendary slot has been occupied in previous years by Coldplay and The Ting Tings. 8
Producers- Is currently working on her debut album with Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford who is best known for his work with Arctic Monkeys. Also recording with Silent Alarm knob-twiddler Paul Epworth. Points lost however for writing songs with Alex James and rent-a-twat Johnny Borrell. 8
Covers- Performed an astounding cover of ‘Hospital Beds’ by Cold War Kids throughout the duration of her live shows in 2008. Other covers floating around the internet include tracks by Beirut, Mystery Jets and a whole EP of Green Day covers with Lightspeed Champion. 9
Indie Credibility- Depends on your criteria. She is managed by Queens Of Noize and is friendly with the guys behind Merok records and the aforementioned Dev Hynes. Last year's ‘Kiss With A Fist’ was released via the Moshi Moshi Singles Club. 7
Media Love- Big. Was on the cover of NME in their Tips for 2009 issue and will be awarded with the Critics' Choice Award at the Brit Awards in February, last year's winner was Adele. However, she was also tipped in 2007 as one of the mini Lily Allens. 9
Total = *57* / 70
Video: Florence & The Machine 'Dog Days Are Over'
Sound- The modern face of 80s electro pop. Think less of the cold atmospheric synth music and more of the big-hearted dance floor classics. Will get the cool kids dancing quicker than you can say Crystal Castles remix. 8
Personality- Has done very little in the way of interviews or TV. One short video clip accompanying her appearance on the BBC Critics Poll shows her as intelligent and passionate with a clear, if slightly naive, view of what she is doing. 7
Live Show- Has played very few dates thus far but has a busy schedule facing her in 2009. As well as a residency at her label boss Seb Chew’s Yo-Yo Club in Notting Hill, La Roux is on the road supporting Lily Allen on her nationwide tour. 8
Producers- No information is available as to who La Roux is working with, however her music lends itself well to remixes and a fine AutoKratz mix of ‘Quicksand’ is already doing the blog rounds. 7
Covers- None that we could find but then this isn’t Jo Whiley’s Live Lounge. Full marks for spending time on her own songs. *10*
Indie Credibility- Plus: released ‘Quicksand’ on the French Kitsuné label who then featured the track on their latest compilation. Minus: managed by the people behind Snow Patrol and Klaxons. 6
Media Love- Is tipped as an outsider in terms of unit shifting success but has support from Popjustice amongst others. Didn't come across particularly well in this Guardian interview. 6
Total = *52* / 70
Video: La Roux 'Quicksand'
Sound- Heralded by many as ‘The Future Of Pop’. That remains to be seen, but the Little Boots sound has a big FM straddling pop aesthetic, i.e. what Kylie Minogue is/was and what Annie should have been. In fact, she's quoted as saying she only started making music again to write songs for Kylie. 7
Personality- As an ex-member of now defunct Leeds trio Dead Disco, Little Boots a.k.a. Victoria Hesketh is clearly a survivor and determined to give this her best shot. Recent interviews have seen her talk of the time she auditioned for Pop Idol, and her belief that Little Boots is exactly who she is as opposed to what she thinks people want. 7
Live Show- Has not properly toured Britain yet besides a few dates with hipster also-rans Heartbreak at the tail end of 2008. Guardian writer Alexis Petridis recently spoke of a six song set in Berlin where every song sounded “suspiciously like a hit single” 7
Producers- Last summer’s underground smash hit ‘Stuck On Repeat’ was mixed by Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and written with Greg Kurstin who has worked with Beck, Ladyhawke and Britney Spears. Recent recording sessions in LA have seen Hesketh working with Dr Luke, the man behind Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed A Girl’ and ‘Since U Been Gone’ by Kelly Clarkson. Still, nowhere near as many co-writers as Ladyhwake. 9
Covers- On Little Boots’ YouTube channel are a host of lo-fi cover versions recorded in Hesketh’s bedroom. These range from Human League and Madonna to Wiley and Metronomy. Her use of the lesser spotted stylophone and Tenori-On will have the music geek’s attention, diverting away from her often weak voice. 5
Indie Credibility- Has been signed to Warners imprint 679 since the demise of Dead Disco. Rumour has it the label dropped Mystery Jets and Cut Off Your Hands last year in order to focus solely on Little Boots. Looks set to spend 2009 trying to balance between The Hype Machine and Radio One's A-List. 6
Media Love- Unparalleled. Has already topped this years BBC Sound Of... poll joining the list of previous winners alongside Adele, Mika and 50 Cent. Most major broadsheets and tabloids have carried features on Little Boots in recent weeks. 9
TOTAL = *50* / 70
Video: Little Boots 'Time To Pretend' (MGMT cover)
So there you have it: a narrow win for Florence & The Machine.
- How do you rate these three acts? Does Florence make your blood boil or do you think she could produce one of the albums of the year? There are plenty of alternatives here, too, including the likes of Micachu (& The Shapes), Telepathe, Rose Eleanor Dougall, Catherine A.D., Pens and Alessi’s Ark. Who are the female acts you feel should be garnering attention in 2009?