39. Belle & Sebastian
Years active: 1996 - present
Influenced: '50s style innocence, pop-folk
Hometown: Glasgow, Scotland
Jam: "Step Into My Office, Baby." An office affair never sounded so alluring—but the power dynamics won't hold up even for a band as charming and innocent as Belle & Sebastian.
Pop gems from a male/female duo seem like a dime a dozen now, but the intimate whimsy of Belle & Sebastian made precious music with such pizazz that everyone forgot to feel embarrassed for liking them. The Scottish group shyly snuck their way into stardom, never once apologizing for their sweetness and embedded in such a web of organs, tambourines and shakers, that even sinister-sounding one liners assume an air of gleaming amiability. Belle & Sebastian are important because they brough back some of the innocence of '50s sounds without the accompanying blandness. A far cry from the punk, rock and noise that pervaded most of the '90s, but a welcome, jangly addition to indie rock.