By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
In its April issue, Spin ran its list of the "40 best artists making music right now." While we agreed with some of the picks, we feel it's never a bad idea to play devil's advocate.
They say: Hip-hop's hottest MC is also America's favorite soccer dad--he can shock the bourgeoisie and rock the boulevard.
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.
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.
They say: The world's greatest backward-flowing, freaky-beat-riding MC.
We say: Potential drawback: Her backup dancers are sometimes more entertaining.
They say: Campfire sing-along alt rock as group therapy facilitated by a hot guidance counselor.
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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.
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
We say: Dude? Dude. Dude!
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.