Über V.V. Brown
This long-legged Northampton lassie scored a Top 40 single in the U.K. in 2009 with her Diddley-beat pop confection "Shark in the Water," and a Top 10 in France after her track "Leave!" showed up in a bank commercial. But she'd entered the game four years and a few singles earlier, as pseudonymous cowriter of a couple tracks for latter-day girl groups the Pussycat Dolls and Sugababes, among other acts. Before long, she was placing her own songs on TV soundtracks. Her sound is a hybrid of sorts -- retro R&B, but without much soul inflection, lightened by sunny Brit go-go pop influences from the '60s through '90s, rockabilly hiccups, early MTV-era techno-pop bounce, and rhythmic lilts befitting her West Indian (half Jamaican, half Puerto Rican) heritage. Her debut Travelling Like the Light -- weirded up with mentions of bottles down at the Tube station and aliens from outer space -- peaked at No. 30 in the U.K. She wrote or cowrote all the songs, and played some instruments to boot.