By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
They say: Hip-hop's hottest MC is also America's favorite soccer dad--he can shock the bourgeoisie and rock the boulevard.
We say: Can't take it from a hand puppet, yet continues to dish it out. Also, Brittany Murphy ditched him for Ashton Kutcher. Damn.
They say: Laptop-loving Thom Yorke & Co. still kick smart arena rock worth flicking your Bic for.
We say: Tough listens are meant for 911 tapes not albums, fellas.
3. The White Stripes
They say: The Donny and Marie Osmond of punk blues are quickly becoming America's favorite rock'n'roll fantasy.
We say: Interest only sustained by an are-they-or-aren't-they? dynamic reminiscent of the first two seasons of Moonlighting.
4. The Strokes
They say: The Rolling Stones of boho rock rewrite rules for skinny-tie accessorizing.
We say: Made our greasy mop of hair, dirty jean jacket and extensive collection of thrift-store tees increasingly passé. So fuck them.
They say: The Dirty South's valedictorians are hip-hop's next-level mad scientists--and they sell mad records, too.
We say: Word.
6. Linkin Park
They say: Rap-metal nice guys get cozy with new-school hip-hoppers while still keeping their metal edge razor-sharp.
We say: Being the best of a bad bunch only makes you better, not actually good.
They say: The Kiss-loving emo standard-bearers are still wondering why everyone loves them so much.
We say: Answer: Because they're hoping Matt Sharp will rejoin the band.
8. Missy Elliott
They say: The world's greatest backward-flowing, freaky-beat-riding MC.
We say: Potential drawback: Her backup dancers are sometimes more entertaining.
9. Dashboard Confessional
They say: Campfire sing-along alt rock as group therapy facilitated by a hot guidance counselor.
We say: David Koresh also played a mean guitar. Smells of another Waco.
10. The Neptunes (a.k.a. N.E.R.D.)
They say: Pretty soon Joe Lieberman will be calling up these hip-hop super-producers for a remix.
We say: Only problem: More overextended than a baby tee on Marlon Brando.
They say: Britpop's reigning falsetto-rockers are the only band ever to cover both Nelly and Sigur Rós in a single tour.
We say: In a certain light, Gwyneth Paltrow looks a lot like Yoko.
They say: Anti-major-label poster boys make catchy, warped, major-label alt rock for the whole family.
We say: At this rate, Jeff Tweedy will alienate everyone in the band before the next record hits stores.
13. The Roots
They say: Hip-hop's greatest group and biggest Bad Brains fans are still coming to break us off, and, really, we're fine with that.
We say: Still coming, sure, but much slower than before.
14. The Hives
They say: Sweden's coolest, campiest spectacle and the greatest rock'n'roll swindle Max Martin ever pulled off (wink).
We say: One guitarist is already pushing three bills; what's he going to look like when they're still aping the Stones at age 60?
15. Queens of the Stone Age
They say: Desert-nomad future-gazers make hard rock fun again.
We say: At least they did on 2000's Rated R. On the new one? Not so much.
16. Bright Eyes
They say: Catholic prep-schooler, "new Dylan," antiwar radical, folk-rock messiah, and boy du jour--Conor Oberst feels our pain more tunefully than we do.
We say: There are 8-year-old girls with bigger stones.
They say: The manchild folk fusionist has become a grown-ass man, getting weepy one minute, pop-locking the next.
We say: Love affair with Prince still troubling.
18. No Doubt
They say: Our favorite Super Bowl halftime rockers ever.
We say: Did they even see Shania Twain? Jesus.
They say: He's so en fuego these days that the cameo rhymes he writes in his sleep are pure genius.
We say: Uses Biggie as a crutch more than Puffy does these days. Fa shizzle.
20. Le Tigre
They say: New York City-based feminist dance-punk trio speak ass-shaking truth to power.
We say: A term paper with a beat is still a term paper.
21. The Streets
They say: British rapper drops genius tales of slacker high jinks over futurist beats.
We say: If he were American, Mike Skinner would already be on the streets.
They say: Gothy pop rock just like the old days--just less, y'know, depressing.
We say: Whatever happened to Menswe@r anyway?
They say: Jay-Z's nemesis comes off their feud with God's Son, his best album in almost a decade.
We say: To paraphrase Jay-Z, one hot album every 10 years isn't much of an average. Even if you're a Boston fan.
24. The Donnas
They say: Cock rock's greatest girl group are finally ripping up MTV in fine Joan Jett fashion.
We say: For: Have gotten more mileage out of rewriting the same song over and over than AC/DC. Against: Continue to rewrite the same song over and over.
25. System of a Down
They say: Prog metal's greatest time-signature-moshing radicals strive to grow weirder facial hair, end capitalism.
We say: Huh. Still don't get it.
26. Foo Fighters
They say: A hard-charging New Order to Nirvana's Joy Division, led by rock's nicest guy and biggest Missy Elliott fan.
We say: His best album is a few years behind him, but Dave Grohl can always star in his own sitcom.
27. The Flaming Lips
They say: Every generation deserves its own Sgt. Pepper's-era Beatles; these confetti-strewing, anime-loving psych-poppers are ours.
We say: Unfortunately, it's all downhill after The Soft Bulletin.
28. Lucinda Williams
They say: The best roots-rocker in America just hit 50 and is better than ever.
We say: So long as "ever" does not include, oh, every record between 1979's Ramblin' and 1998's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road.
29. Ryan Adams
They say: The hot, young torchbearer of roots rock has balls enough to open stadium shows for the Rolling Stones, then spoof "Beast of Burden" at benefit shows.
We say: Not a bad-ass. Just an ass.
They say: Chris Cornell and Rage Against the Machine carry on after The Battle of Los Angeles.
We say: And managed to write one good song.
31. Avril Lavigne
They say: The best thing to happen to teen-girl rebellion since Judy Blume.
We say: Dumber than a sock full of quarters and about half as talented. Oh, Cana-duh.
32. The Vines
They say: Aussie nü-grungers keep AC/DC's legacy of rock-star excess alive and kicking.
We say: Yet are too high to write even one decent song.
33. Felix Da Housecat
They say: Chicago house producer becomes a pied piper for the electroclash massive.
We say: Wait...who?
34. Sigur Rós
They say: Abstract-scatting space-rockers from Iceland who don't need no damn lyric sheets.
We say: It's all pops and buzzes over here.
35. The Used
They say: Kelly Osbourne's boyfriend survives life in Utah, makes metallic noise about it.
We say: Dude? Dude. Dude!
36. Dave Matthews Band
They say: Jamland's Prince Charming is secretly turning into a funk fiend, and we can get with that.
We say: This is what they'll be playing outside of Saddam's bunker to force him to surrender.
They say: Billy Corgan tones down the metal--and the megalomania--and is suddenly fronting a great band again. Smashing!
We say: Which means we're only--what?--two years away from another bout of megalomania. Awesome!
38. 50 Cent
They say: Ex-crack dealer and mad-flowing mix-tape king teams up with Dr. Dre and Slim Shady.
We say: Dude's been shot nine times. Not fucking with that.
39. Jimmy Eat World
They say: The best arena-rock band in emo America.
We say: Note to every other struggling band on a major label: Don't change your sound. Just add more sweaty teen-agers in underwear to your videos.
They say: The den mothers of the grrl-rock nation and one hell of a guitar band.
We say: Ten years ago, Spin would have made them No. 1.