The Ting Tings
Members: Jules De Martino and Katie White
Origins: Manchester, England
Album: Sounds From Nowheresville (out February 28)
The sound: A highly caffeinated blend of Britpop and New Wave that garnered a Grammy nomination in 2010 for Best New Artist.
Relationship status: Friends. Survivors who put aside past traumatic musical relationships to become a massive phenomenon in the U.K.
Members: Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss
Album: Reign of Terror (out now)
Sound: Speaker-melting noise-rock anthems overlaid with Krauss' breathy schoolgirl vocals.
Relationship status: Friends. Became bandmates after Miller, then waiting tables, served Krauss and her mother—who generously offered up her daughter's vocal services.
Members: Ninja (Watkin Tudor Jones) and Yo-Landi Vi$$er (Yolandi Visser)
Hometown: Cape Town, South Africa
Album: Ten$ion (out now)
Sound: Snarled, heavily accented hip-hop boasts over fluid rave beats that are as entertainingly outrageous as the duo's look.
Relationship status: It's complicated. They claim they're "just friends"—but they do have a kid together.
Members: Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore
Album: Young & Old (out now)
Sound: Simple doo-wop melodies and gentle surf-rock riffs that reference the early sixties without feeling overly retro.
Relationship status: Married. Met as philosophy majors studying at the University of Colorado Denver; got married after an eight-month sailing trip that inspired their debut album.