My apologies, faithful readers, for this interruption but it’s come to my attention that new people may actually be visiting, and perhaps a list of fictional songs by They Might Be Giants is not the best possible welcome. My understanding is that some of you newcomers are readers of weblogs or music mags, so I’d better keep this as simple as possible.

Smug, adj. possessed of undeserved self-satisfaction. A lot of rock stars are smug, of course, mostly because they are cossetted idlers who have made a very tidy living by peddling rank idiocy to a dazed and drooling public. Even the dead ones are probably smug: I’m sure that down in pop hell the ex-stars look up and are relieved from their endless torments by our infinite gullibilities. “Fucking hell, Kurt! Look at that! ‘Imagine’ No.1 in another poll! I only wrote it because Yoko bet me a bag of Moroccan I couldn’t come up with anything duller than ‘Let It Be'” “Uh yeah whatever nevermind”

Mind you it is in the realm of indie rock that the worst self-congratulation takes place. It is not difficult to become an indie rock star, oh dearie me no. You don’t have to look good, play good, talk good, think good, or indeed do anything other than turn up and sulk a bit. Sooner or later huge sheds in Olympia and Manchester will be discovered, holding the Indie Lottery Machines which randomly allocate which bunch of unemployable layabouts are the flavour of this month (imagine chewing the same piece of gum for a month and you’ve got an idea of how tasty most indie bands are). And yet indie musicians are smugness champions: here are the ten worst.

10. BADLY DRAWN BOY: Admittedly this unassuming shuffler is more punchable than smug but the gap between achievement (arrives on stage, picks nose, wobbles off, records bad soft-rock album) and reception (wins every award on earth) cannot fail to have inflated his apish ego. Smuggest Moment: calling a typically MOR plod “Another Pearl”.

9. STEPHEN MALKMUS: Sad-eyed fringe-merchant and perpetual student, will continue making the same album again and again until the education system is annihilated in a Maoist revolution. (see also Stephen Pastel) Smuggest Moment: endless rambling shaggy dog story concerning Smashing Pumpkins tour, won ‘cred’ by dissing Stone Temple Pilots, which is like watching someone fire a bullet into the ground and congratulating them for hitting the planet Earth.

8. STEVE ALBINI: Likes old vinyl and knows how to swear. Has built “ooh, scary” reputation by badmouthing the people who pay his wages. Thoroughly dislikeable. Smuggest Moment: endless Nirvana petulance.

7. MOLOKO: Not indie you say but one of them used to be in indie-funk outfit Chakk (think indie-dance but even more horrible). Besides their rancid narcissism and playschool ‘experimentation’ are indie to a San Andreas fault. Smuggest Moment: calling first album Do You Like My Tight Sweater, i.e. Look At My Tits

6. MOMUS: He’s an artist now, you know. Smuggest Moment: re-recording an entire album of his own godawful forgotten songs, forgotten for much the same reasons that wet loud farts in front of prospective dates are.

5. STEPHIN MERRITT: New York God-King of smug, unstoppable juggernaut of pallid wryness, who rumour has it is reviving the grand tradition of the musical. I intend in turn to revive the grand tradition of the rancid tomato: who’s for an opening night date? Smuggest Moment: that fucking “i” in his name.

4. NICKY WIRE: He’s the most intelligent man in rock (by dint of having got beyond page 20 once in a politics textbook). And my lord does he let you know it. In reality he’s a gangly, reactionary, embarrassing old twat, mithering about playing rent-a-quote to cover up the fact that his band are crap beerboy crowdpleasers and after nine years learning the simplest instrument in the world he still can’t fucking play it. Smuggest Moment: “PCP”

3. MICHAEL STIPE: Everybody hurts. Everybody hurts. Everybody fucking hurts. Fucking skinny bald fucker walking on fucking cars while the worst fucking song ever devised strums oh-so-fucking-politely behind him. Nobody is hurting more than fucking me, Stipe. Smuggest Moment: what do you think?

2. NEIL HANNON: The Liam Gallagher to Stephin Merritt’s John Lennon. Yes, quite that unspeakable. Taps a weary old tradition of sniggery music-hall ‘wit’, which will prepare him for a long and fruitless career trading unfunny jibes with Ned Sherrin on Start The Week. Now winning a following among stupid Americans who don’t quite realise how horrible that prospect is. Smuggest Moment: “National Express”, a bottomless abyss of conceited flab-brained horror.

1. DAMON ALBARN: He may change his style with every album but he certainly can’t change his awful boggling perky smugness. The world of pop may tolerate him, may even respect his ability to shift units to the kind of people who think ‘dangerous’ is when you throw away your IKEA instructions before you build the shelving unit. But it will never, ever remotely like him. Smuggest Moment: “Western pop bores me. I’ve recorded an album in Mali.” Plenty of cheap laughs still to come, I suspect.