How to tell La Roux from Little Boots

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The charts and festivals are bursting with quirky-looking popstrels with weird names and big voices. Confused? Let Gillian Orr be your guide

Without wishing to sound too much like a broken record, aren't the girls doing well in the music world in 2009? A year ago, all we had was Lily, Adele, Amy and Duffy, but now there are swarms of solo female acts assaulting the charts. Why, just this week, another female singer with a pseudonym, Pixie Lott, is at No. 1 in the singles chart with "Mama Do (Uh Oh, Uh Oh)".

Although they all have their own style of music and a unique look, is anyone else out there struggling to keep up with them all? To make matters even more confusing, no-one seems to go by the name printed on their passport anymore. They all have some sort of quirky moniker attached to them, that was inspired by their favourite movie or song, a nickname or maybe just some other inanimate object that took their fancy. As the market gets more and more saturated, it appears that the only way to stand out from the crowd is to develop an eccentric stage identity, complete with outlandish costumes and hairstyles.

As we wouldn't want anyone to get their Ladyhawke confused with their Lady GaGa, here's a guide to the biggest chanteuses making headlines this summer, some old and some new, but all contributing to an overload of female quirk in your fragile mind.

LA ROUX

AKA

Elly Jackson, 21, from Brixton, South London. There's also her co-writer and co-producer, Ben Langmaid, who is the other half of the duo but tends to stay in the background.

What's in a name?

La Roux is French for "The Redhead".

Sounds like...

Falsetto-laden 80s synth pop. Erasure.

Looks like...

A Flock of Tilda Swintons.

Who's in the crowd?

Pre-"In for the Kill": east London hipsters. Post-"In for the Kill": everyone.

Most likely to...

Watch re-runs of Miami Vice for crucial style tips.

Least likely to...

Play an acoustic set.

Best Track:

"Quicksand".

BAT FOR LASHES

AKA

Natasha Khan, 29, from Brighton

What's in a name?

Apparently, she simply picked some random words that she liked the sound of when put together and which evoked the kind of dark imagery she relishes.

Sounds like...

Folktronic... is that even a word? With a breathy helping of Kate Bush on the side for good measure.

Looks like...

Pocahontas rolled in glitter.

Who's in the crowd?

Topshop hippies.

Most likely to...

Have a serious discussion about Indian stringed instruments with you.

Least likely to...

Be found snuggling up to a footballer in Chinawhite.

Best track:

"What's a Girl to Do".

PIXIE LOTT

AKA

Victoria Lott, 18, from Essex.

What's in a name?

Apparently, her mother always thought she looked like a pixie, so the name stuck. Besides, who ever heard of a pop star called Vicky Lott?

Sounds like...

R&B-tinged soulful pop. Think, dare I say it, Joss Stone.

Looks like...

The sixth member of The Saturdays.

Who's in the crowd?

Fans of Big Brother and the Radio 1 Chart Show.

Most likely to...

Go out with someone from Hollyoaks.

Least likely to...

Be turned down for a US visa following drug allegations.

Best Track:

There's more than one? "Mama Do", I guess.

LADY GAGA

AKA

Stefani Germanotta, 23 (ahem), from New York.

What's in a name?

A huge fan of Queen, she named herself after their song "Radio Ga Ga".

Sounds like...

Electropop that's come from a Scandinavian factory.

Looks like...

Ken in drag as Barbie. Wearing furniture and hair bows.

Who's in the crowd?

Gay men love her. Her recent concert in New York was a Who's Who of the entertainment industry. Even Madonna was there.

Most likely to...

Decide to take up residence on Trafalgar Square's empty fourth plinth, because she's "art".

Least likely to...

Make any sense in interviews.

Best track:

"Poker Face".

FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE

AKA

Florence Welch, 22, from South London.

What's in a name?

Well, her name's Florence. The Machine is her ever-changing band.

Sounds like...

Her huge voice will take you on a journey through soul music, from blues to disco.

Looks like...

She favours long floaty dresses that reveal sparkly knickers when she does a handstand on stage.

Who's in the crowd?

The critics love her, so probably a few of them. Kate Moss and Blur's Alex James are fans.

Most likely to...

Give herself an injury by stage-diving into the crowd.

Least likely to...

Be asked to sing louder.

Best track:

"Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)".

LADYHAWKE

AKA

Pip Brown, 29, from New Zealand.

What's in a name?

She is named after the film Ladyhawke, in which Michelle Pfeiffer played a hawk who turns into a beautiful lady by night.

Sounds like...

A love letter to Stevie Nicks. All big synths and guitar riffs.

Looks like...

Double denim, scuffed boots and a pork pie hat. Blunt fringe.

Who's in the crowd?

Plenty of thirty-somethings: perhaps it's nostalgia for the 80s. Kylie and Courtney Love adore her.

Most likely to...

Be called up by Chrissie Hynde to ask for her style back.

Least likely to...

Do a saucy shoot for FHM.

Best Track:

"Paris is Burning".

LITTLE BOOTS

AKA

Victoria Hesketh, 25, from Blackpool.

What's in a name?

The Roman Emperor Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus was also known as Caligula, or "little boot". Oh, that's cleared it up, then.

Sounds like...

Classic electro. The future of pop?

Looks like...

Kylie Minogue as re-imagined by George Lucas. Plenty of shoulder pads.

Who's in the crowd?

Teenagers and Grazia readers.

Most likely to...

Play a handcrafted Tenori-On while tottering around in scarily high heels.

Least likely to...

Make the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy lose any sleep over the calibre of her rhymes.

Best track:

"Stuck on Repeat".

PALOMA FAITH

AKA

Er, Paloma Faith, 24, from east London.

What's in a name?

Oh Paloma, that's your real name? Didn't you get the memo? Tut.

Sounds like...

Theatrical, edgy soul. Has been compared to Amy Winehouse but mannered.

Looks like...

Dita Von Teese meets Tinkerbell.

Who's in the crowd?

Immaculately dressed retro kids.

Most likely to...

Front an advertising campaign for Agent Provocateur. Previous jobs have included a stint as a burlesque dancer and a magician's assistant.

Least likely to...

Wear a tracksuit.

Best track:

"Stone Cold Sober".

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