When we asked readers yesterday if Gwyneth Paltrow was the mainstream’s Zooey Deschanel, we got an interesting response: a yawn. It turns out, many of you are sick of hearing about Zooey at this point. And frankly, we’re beginning to agree. Which begs another question: Who has enough style and substance to become the next Queen of the Indies? We’ve got 10 solid nominees after the jump.
10. Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast
What She’s Known For: Only time will tell if the “beach”-wave trend that her fame has successfully ridden so far will last longer than this summer, but we have faith in this singer-songwriter.
Why She’s A Possible “It” Girl: Although relatively new to the scene, massive coverage from websites such as the Hipster Runoff and Gorilla vs Bear has helped Bethany establish name recognition in most indie households. Also, hipsters probably hate to admit it, but most of them enjoy gossip as much as anyone else, and her relationship with Nathan Williams of Wavves makes for indie gossip gold. Bethany and Nathan may just be the next Ben and Zooey.
Bethany’s potential for lasting success is too early to call. Her songs are approachable and fun, which could lead to high album sales in the future, but being a somewhat successful indie artist would certainly not earn her “queen” status. Perhaps she’d have a shot if she starred in an indie movie about surfing or a remake of Disney’s classic Johnny Tsunami, but we have a feeling that isn’t going to happen.
9. Victoria Legrand of Beach House
What She’s Known For: Victoria Legrand’s band Beach House has certainly put in the work for success these last few years, releasing three albums that helped to reinvigorate the dream-pop genre. Even though iTunes users were not so fond of “Norway,” we believe that, given time, the average listener can come to love Victoria.
Why She’s A Possible “It” Girl: Victoria is basically an Internet nerd’s dream. For quite some time, the Beach House website was simply a picture of her with her hand down her pants and the words “Get some” that, when you clicked on them, redirected to a hilarious video of a hapless soul named Ben Ryan on a quest for love. (We highly encourage you watch the whole eight minutes). She also spends interviews talking about Internet memes and says things like “meta-boring” at shows. She seems to have a great sense of humor, so if she branches out into the comedy field, she may just take over the world.
Victoria also seems to be ahead of the zeitgeist when it comes to names — she named her band “Beach House” way before the beach craze and came up with the album title Teen Dream before Katy named hers Teenage Dream. Being ahead of trends certainly is a sign of being pretty cool.
8. Janelle Monáe
What She’s Known For: The most mainstream girl on this list, Janelle is signed to Diddy’s label and was the studio band for this year’s ESPYs (ESPN’s sports awards show). But don’t let this mainstream success fool you. Janelle’s music is genre-destructive brilliance, and her style is a throwback to Art Deco glam. Her recent album The ArchAndroid is a Metropolis-inspired record featuring a messianic android named Cindy Mayweather. She’s basically like the coolest person ever.
Why She’s A Possible “It” Girl: Her look and music just scream “pop icon.” Just watch her performance on Letterman and you’ll be convinced that this girl is about to accomplish great things. Is she too mainstream? For Janelle, it really doesn’t matter. Her extreme cool and talent will always transcend the association with Diddy. (And indie gods of Montreal love her, too.)
7. Régine Chassagne of The Arcade Fire
What She’s Known For: The Arcade Fire is one of the most successful indie bands to date. Their music has been featured everywhere from wild movie trailers to lame sports championships. But you don’t need us to tell you that.
Why She’s A Possible “It” Girl: Basically you can’t be an important part of one of the most popular bands in the world and not be in the running for this list. But even with all of this success, the public only seems to see Chassagne’s husband, Win Butler. Perhaps it’s her own choice that Régine tends to stay completely out of the press, but in any case, this will make it difficult for her to achieve any sort of It-girl status. A successful solo album would make her a strong candidate and is certainly a reasonable possibility.
6. Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes
What She’s Known For: Natasha Khan came close to solidifying her place as an iconic indie star last year, but then her record got overshadowed by such a strong year of other releases. (Thanks a bunch, AnCo!) Although Two Suns was arguably a masterpiece, we believe that the next album will easily elevate her to indie-elite status.
Why She’s A Possible “It” Girl: The exceptionally talented and drop-dead gorgeous Natasha Khan is a pretty strong possibility for the indie throne. She’s already pretty popular in Europe, but in America she’s still known mostly to the Pitchfork and Stereogum crowd. We have faith that in the next couple years this could change. If, for instance, she manages to score a Zooey-like acting gig and become the next Bond girl (which would be so awesome), she’ll be pretty much guaranteed to achieve similar stardom.
5. Alice Glass of Crystal Castles
What She’s Known For: Crystal Castles’ mp3s have been dominating a certain kind of party for the last couple years, but the band is pretty polarizing in the indie-sphere: Either you love it or you hate it.
Why She’s A Possible “It” Girl: Alice has established herself as a Karen O-esque performer, which is exciting, but we still like Karen O better. Her outlandishness is certainly the right way to go if she’s trying to develop herself as a “brand,” but to be honest, the studied quirk is not really working for us. In the next few years, she will continue to successfully build a strong and devoted niche following, but we think that will be about it.
4. Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian of Dirty Projectors
What They’re Known For: Dirty Projectors have had a huge last couple of years, releasing Bitte Orca in 2009 to critical raves and following it up with a collaboration album with Bjork this year. The band’s frontman, Dave Longstreth, has clearly achieved indie celebrity status, taking with him its principle ladies, Amber and Angel. As Angel released a pretty great EP and Amber has been doing things like live collabs with Mos Def and The Roots on Jimmy Fallon, the two are certainly branching out and establishing themselves as possible “It” girls.
Why They’re Possible “It” Girls: Dirty Projectors still seem to be too “out there” for mainstream audiences, but since Amber and Angel certainly have the talent and attractiveness to win over holdouts, we expect big things. Perhaps a revival of the ’60s girl band?
3. Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine
What She’s Known For: Last year’s Florence & the Machine release, Lungs, was a critical success, and the song “Dog Days Are Over” broke through to the mainstream. Plus, the Brits are crazy for her.
Why She’s A Possible “It” Girl: Florence seems to capture the zeitgeist of what cool-parent NPR listeners want, and that could certainly lead to some Neko Case-esque prosperity (and possibly even a Grammy nomination). We doubt the youthful mainstream will ever embrace Florence, but we can definitely see the older folks embracing her wholeheartedly.
2. Laura Marling
What She’s Known For: Laura Marling achieved acclaim at a very young age and really hasn’t slowed down since. Still only 20, she’s already sitting on two critically successful albums, and in the UK even fairly commercially successful. And what had you already done with your life at that age?
Why She’s A Possible “It” Girl: Although her beauty, youth, and talent all point to “It” girl status, we’re worried her singer-songwriter music isn’t “fun” enough to launch her to the top of the pack. We certainly don’t want to see Marling turn into the next Colbie Caillat (shutter), but we simply see her as a less successful Joanna Newsom, and by now we’ve all heard the legend of her last album’s abysmal sales…
1. Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells
What She’s Known For: Sleigh Bells came into 2010 with a loud, heavily distorted bang. The critically acclaimed and somewhat commercially successful Treats may turn out to be one of the most influential albums of the year, creating a whole new genre that no one has really named yet.
Why She’s A Possible “It” Girl: As the pop music-trained frontwoman of a band whose songs are being played at frat and indie parties alike, Alexis certainly has the opportunity to join the pantheon of iconic indie girls. She may need to become more of a “frontwoman” instead of simply an equal half to band member Derek Miller if she wants to be the Indie Queen, but she does have experience in that regard, completely stealing the show in this classic Nickelodeon commercial. And she goes pretty crazy on stage, which is definitely a good start in making the name “Alexis Krauss” as popular as the band she’s in.