Lily Allen's is hot, says annual NME zeitgeist cool list. Ditto for (Beth) Ditto

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The Independent Culture

One is a lesbian punk rocker from the Arkansas "Bible Belt". Another is credited for shaking up the British pop world with her unique brand of "chav chic".

The anti-establishment personas of Beth Ditto, from US band the Gossip, and singer Lily Allen have won them pole position in the music magazine New Musical Express's annual Cool List, an attempt to define the musical zeitgeist.

The top 10 artists on the list, traditionally dominated by males, this year includes an equal number of females who have rocked the pop world with their outspoken behaviour.

Ditto, the Gossip's lead singer, who has become an icon for gay rights activists, feminists and the American underclass, topped the list as the "Queen of Cool", making her the first woman ever to reach the coveted number one spot. Her more outspoken statements include an expression of sympathy for the perpetrators of American high school shootings.

The Gossip's recent single, "Standing In The Way Of Control", which rails against Republican homophobia, has proved to be a UK breakthrough hit.

Allen, who features in third place, has branded pop icon Madonna "overrated" and said she wanted to "kick the shit" out of Bob Geldof's daughter after she took part in a documentary about Islam. "What do you know about Islam, you useless oaf?" Allen is believed to have told Peaches Geldof.

Five men make it into the top 10: Faris Rotter, the frontman with Southend band the Horrors, at number two; Jarvis Cocker, who recently made a comeback with his solo album; Thom Yorke from Radiohead; Gerard Way from My Chemical Romance; and Kieren Webster from the View.

The female artists include: Karen O, from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, at number five; Kate Jackson from the Long Blondes, who comes in seventh place; and Japanese-Brazilian singer Lovefoxxx, from the band CSS, at number 10.

Conor McNicholas, the editor of NME, said he was pleased that the Cool List was full of women who had brought "new energy" to the music world.

"This year's Cool List is a testament to the raft of hugely talented women who have taken hold of the music scene in 2006," he said. "From Beth to Lily to Karen, they've brought new energy to a scene dominated by men. They're also living proof that you can still rock a crowd when you're wearing stilettos."

Last year's number one, Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys, slipped this year to 32nd place, while Pete Doherty, who was voted the Cool Icon of 2004, has been relegated to number 28. Liam Gallagher also slipped 10 places from two to 12, although he still managed to make it into the top 20.

Keith Richards, the Rolling Stones rocker, was a new entry at number 26 after a year which saw him come through brain surgery to rejoin the band's tour.

The NME's top 50

1 Beth Ditto, The Gossip

2 Faris Rotter, The Horrors

3 Lily Allen

4 Jarvis Cocker

5 Karen O, Yeah Yeah Yeahs

6 Kieren Webster, The View

7 Kate Jackson, The Long Blondes

8 Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance

9 Thom Yorke, Radiohead

10 Lovefoxxx, CSS

11 Paul Simenon, The Good, The Bad & The Queen

12 Liam Gallagher, Oasis

13 Jamie Reynolds, Klaxons

14 The House Of Lords, The Young Knives

15 Tahita Bulmer New Young Pony Club

16 Cee-Lo, Gnarls Barkley

17 Ryan Ross, Panic! At The Disco

18 Carl Barât, Dirty Pretty Things

19 Jack White, The White Stripes/The Raconteurs

20 Jamie Frost, The Automatic

21 Serge Pizzorno, Kasabian

22 Eugene Hutz, Gogol Bordello

23 Albert Hammond Jr, The Strokes

24 Meg White, The White Stripes

25 Jay-Z

26 Keith Richards

27 Matt Bellamy, Muse

28 Pete Doherty

29 Brandon Flowers, The Killers

30 Statik

31 Richard Hawley

32 Alex Turner, Arctic Monkeys

33 Vincent Vincent Vincent, Vincent & The Villains

34 Lupe Fiasco

35 Alexis Taylor, Hot Chip

36 Mike Patton

37 Jamie Williams, Tilly & The Wall

38 Bobby Gillespie, Primal Scream

39 Mike Skinner, The Streets

40 Ali Love

41 Tunde Adebimpe, TV On The Radio

42 Mince, The Fratellis

43 Devendra Banhart

44 Sam Duckworth, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly

45 Victoria Bergman, Ex-The Concretes

46 Jackie McKeown, 1990s

47 George Barnett, These New Puritans

48 Cat Power

49 Thorunn Antonia Fields

50 Amy Winehouse