More popular in London than in their hometown of Portland, Beth Ditto and The Gossip have charmed the charming set; from Arkansas, to Olympia and Portland to merry olde England.

You may not know, or if you know may have thought it an obscure cockney joke, like the French have for Jerry Lewis, but NME (and if you haven’t parsed NME I can’t help you) designated Beth Ditto as the coolest person of the year, scooting ahead of prior year models Lily Allen, Karen O and others. It’s a peculiar beauty pageant, of tremendous interest to rabid Brit youth.

One-time interesting person Germaine Greer comments on Beth Ditto in the most recent issue of NME, “Her intention is to force acceptance of her body type, 5 ft tall and 15 stone, and by this strategy to challenge the conventional imagery of women.”

The Gossip have been touring constantly for over a year and are about to get to work on a new album for a new label. Beth’s a foot-stompin indie queen Ethel Merman with a big brassy voice reminiscent of Alison Moyet in her first moments of fame. Out of Arkansas Beth dragged two bandmates, drummer Hannah Billie and guitarist Brace Paine, who keep the spare sound rough and loud. It’s fun, but not fulfilling music. Is it a comment on post-modern feminist theory? A bleak category!

No – Ditto takes over for Kathleen Hanna as a spokesperson for women who reject objectification and social standards. See Beth Ditto’s gay rant in FemaleFirst. She’s an answer for questions girls have, big girls, girls who like girls, girls who want to be rock stars. And that’s a lot of girls.

NME’s The Gossip page
The Gossip’s web site
Plan B Magazine interview
NME / Beth Ditto photo shoot (SFW)

The Gossip – Standing in the Way of Control. This video is far more “Kill Rock Stars” than The Gossip. See next video.

The Gossip – Standing in the Way of Control Live from Belgium. This version is the real deal – skip the silly studio vids and see the sweat and power of this live show.

The Gossip – Listen Up

Cass Elliot on H.R. Pufnstuf sings – Different. If you haven’t seen this, it’s a classic of its vertical genre.