BEST REINVENTION, ROCK DIVISION: Charli XCX
Gone was the dude with the synth rack that had been this U.K. pop savant's sound machine. In his place was a scrappy three-piece band of women that kicked out wiry, noisy post punk. Old songs like "Wrap You Up Inside My Heart" got overhauled, new ones (including an exuberant jam about the joys of breaking up) showed teeth. And the cover of "I Want Candy" was telling. A Sixties confection remade beautifully in the Eighties by Bow Wow Wow, a band sometimes dismissed as pawns of punk-pop hustler Malcolm McLaren, it was here a gimme-mine declaration of a young woman who seems no ones pawn. She danced like a spazzing dervish in a black leather motorcycle jacket, schoolgirl blouse and trademark stacked heels. And when some big dude jumped onstage to rock out with her, she pushed his ass right off.