Arts and Entertainment Techno wizards: Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys of OMD

Synth-pop pioneers OMD were one of most innovative bands of the Eighties. They're still on a quest for originality, they tell Elisa Bray

Mercury Music Prize nominees announced

The nominations for the Barclaycard Mercury Music Prize have been announced, with joint favourites Florence and The Machine's 'Lungs' and Kasabian's third LP 'West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum' jostling with ten other entries to be named the album of the year.

A bluffer's guide to who's hot in pop

Think Little Boots are toddlers' shoes? With the Mercury Prize shortlist for best album out on Tuesday, Katy Guest leads the more mature reader through the minefield of modern music

Sophie Heawood: We love you for more than your pollen, chaps

Our writer savours modern life just as it is, for both sexes

Album: Frankmusik, Complete Me, (Island)

To be completely Frank, it's digital pop at its very best

Album: Florence And The Machine, Lungs (Moshi Moshi)

The BBC's annual poll to find the "Sound" of the forthcoming year has rapidly developed its own self-fulfilling critical mass, nowhere better illustrated than in the performance of Florence and the Machine's singles so far.

Album: La Roux, La Roux, (Polydor)

After the hype, can La Roux live up to the hairdo?

Album: God Help the Girl, God Help the Girl, (Rough Trade)

God Help the Girl is the latest project of Belle & Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch, which with its affection for old-school settings and songwriterly values, and its showcasing of female vocalists, parallels Paul Heaton's work in the Beautiful South.

How to tell La Roux from Little Boots

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

Frankmusik - Bigger than hype

Vincent Frank, aka Frankmusik, has received plenty of positive press attention already, but he's confident that he doesn't need it. Rob Sharp meets an assured new talent

The gritty, British sound of dubstep will be lost

Hannah Lederer Alton, a UK dubstep fan, responds to attempts by US rappers to co-opt the booming underground genre

Noisettes, Komedia, Brighton

Make way for pop's new leading lady

Tricky, Club Academy, Manchester<br>La Roux, Notting Hill Arts Club, London

The dark material is all the better when his 1980s personal and musical influences are involved

La Roux, Notting Hill Arts Club, London

So girls, you want to make it big in music now that the death knell for guitar bands is sounding? Judging by recent successes – Ladyhawke, Little Boots and Lady GaGa, to name but three – you could be forgiven for thinking it's as easy as giving yourself a quirky moniker, grabbing some synths, a keyboard and laptop and being heralded as the new sound of pop. A strong look is also essential, with these girls respectively resembling Stevie Nicks as re-imagined by Skins, Princess Leia meets the Left Bank and a drag queen. Just don't forget to write some deliciously catchy electropop tunes, too.

Princesses of pop: The new generation taking over the charts

A new generation of women want to take over the charts. Just don't call it Girl Power, they tell Matilda Egere-Cooper
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