Ranging from bad-ass South African gangsterism to the fresh-faced grace of a Brit songstress, the tunes blaring on our iPod are almost as varied as the musicians who craft them. And with this mishmash of sound—think Zola Jesus’ ethereal operatics or Jessie J’s pop-friendly dance tunes—each artist comes with wildly different and incredibly covetable styles. Suddenly, on top of singing along to Oh Land’s “Son Of A Gun,” I now want to blunt-cut our bangs like Die Antwoord’s Yo-Landi, and go thrift-shopping for beach style with Tennis’ Alaina Moore. Not every musician has to be a fashion inspiration, but I must admit: It’s awfully awesome when my fave artist look as good as they sound rocking the stage. Here are the songbirds currently inspiring ME !
The Sound: Irreverent, grimy, and unapologetic, Die Antwoord became an Internet sensation in early 2010, radically popularizing the part-electro, part-crunk sound known in South Africa as “Zef.” Rapper Ninja aggressively alters between English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa, and Yo-Landi spits deceptively sweet-sounding rhymes on hooks.
The Style: With hyper-short baby bangs and a penchant for gold and glitter, her style is not for the faint-hearted. Of course, we love her fearless sense of self in a cropped top or a scene-stealing graphic tee.
The Sound: Emerging from mix-tape culture, the hard-hitting emcee Rye Rye was discovered by M.I.A., who called the young artist the “voice of Baltimore.” We fell in love when she brought her boogie-tastic beats to Alexander Wang’s post-Fashion Week carnival last year, and her kinetic energy and club-friendly tunes keeps our booties shaking.
The Style: Once a protégé of the always stylish M.I.A., Rye Rye has stepped out of her mentor’s shadow—but has borrowed a couple of her brightly colored tricks. Where M.I.A. embraced global patterns and an inherently Brit sensibility, Rye Rye rocks some real-deal Baltimore street style. We love matching her hair with her clothes, the excess of pink, and of course, those incredible door-knocker earrings.
The Sound: We couldn’t be digging this influx of smart, savvy pop mistresses hitting our ears—Robyn, Adele, and now Jessie J., who sounds like Pink and Nicki Minaj’s love child…if she were born across the pond.
The Style: Imagine Katy Perry’s dark side, with flat-ironed black hair and thick swipes of black eyeliner. Except Jessie isn’t just vamp: Her playful style of pin-up elements with killer tights, cheeky hair accessories, and mega-hoops show the singer can switch effortlessly between sex-kitten and LOLcat.
The Sound: With a flair for the dramatic (maybe stemming from her opera background), front-woman Nika Roza’s otherworldly vocals are dark but not goth, flitting through Zola Jesus’ echo chamber-like soundscapes. We love.
The Style: Aside from being haunting musically, Nika’s signature style leans to the dark. But the singer mixes it up, pairing a pencil skirt with a silk top or adding flowing layers of black for texture. Porcelain skin and red lips, however, is a must.
The Sound: How’s this for an adorable story? Post college, married couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Reilly sailed around the world and returned to write beachy, nostalgic sounds about their experiences. Think slow dances, kisses under the boardwalk, and rubbing your toes in the sand.
The Style: A summer-obsessed retro sound should have a summer-obsessed retro style, and when it comes to casual shorts, convertible-ready hair, and rocking out on your organ, Alaina is set. We love her use of patterns, from nautical stripes to floral.
The Sound: There’s something about the music of Nanna Øland Fabricius, or Oh Land, that reminds us of a romp through the mythic and mysterious Danish forests. Driving beats harmonize perfectly with her rapturous voice, like a percussive-heavy Florence and The Machine.
The Style: If you can ignore Oh Land’s model-like looks (if you can), you’ll see an imaginative, colorful world filled with capes, maxi dresses, and a couple beauty tips swiped from Twiggy. Of course, Oh Land learned from the best for her gorgeous stage style: Designer Christian Joy works with both her and our girl-crush Karen O
The Sound: It will be nearly impossible to mention 2011 in music without talking about Ellie Goulding. The Brit It-Girl not only sweeped at the BRIT awards, but she’ll be at every summer festival you can name. Her upbeat sound and breathy voice is the soundtrack both to our workouts and our evenings at home.
The Style: Perfect for the warm weather, Ellie’s bright eyes and pale lips are anytime-appropriate. Girly, effortless, and classic, her girl-next-door vibe is always modernized with a bright print or her dreamy, flawless waves (can her hair be any more perfect?).