Friday, August 06, 2010

My 100 All-Time Favorite Artists of Popular Music - 2010 Edition

In honor of Lollapalooza weekend in Chicago--although I'm not attending this year's fest, due to being too old & fat to enjoy standing in a field all day, let alone three, and a scarcity of acts that interest me--I thought it would be a good time to update my list of 100 favorite popular music (mostly rock) artists, which I first compiled and published five years ago.

Although without too many wholesale changes, there are a number of acts that either newly made or fell off the top 100, and others that bounced around within it. Beyond asking myself at each berth, "Do I like "x" better than the artist below," there was no scientific methodology, but I did try to consider each artist's recorded output, their merits as a live act (where applicable), how often I tend to listen to them and the depth & duration of my affinity.

As such, the rankings are based on my personal fondness more than my critical regard for one's originality, impact, influence or other barometers of artistic merit. In other words, although I know Bob Dylan (#30) is "greater" than Rush (#19), I don't "like" him better. On stature alone, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Stevie Wonder and Bob Marley clearly belong, and I enjoy all four and others of their ilk, but none have been mainstays in the "soundtrack of my life" to the extent of the 100 who made the cut.

Keep in mind that I've seen more than 200 different artists as concert headliners and have nearly 1,400 artists in my iTunes library, so I like far more than the 100 listed here. And as this is meant as an "all-time" list, although  I've been listening heavily of late to stellar new releases from The Len Price 3, The Arcade Fire and LCD Soundsystem, among others, I couldn't allow myself to be too myopic in my selections.

Finally, one thing that I had some trouble being consistent about was in how to consider solo acts who were previously in bands. I like the individual post-Beatles output of John, Paul & George enough to give them their own slots, as well as that of Paul Weller outside The Jam, but though I've enjoyed Ray Davies' solo recordings & concert appearances, I didn't cite him beyond The Kinks. I included Bob Mould/Husker Du/Sugar as a single entry, and likewise Eric Clapton/Cream/Derek & the Dominoes, but listed Ozzy Osbourne, not Black Sabbath (despite liking his output in both forms). Neither Steve Winwood nor Traffic (or Blind Faith) made the cut, but perhaps should have if considered in sum, yet I combined Velvet Underground & Lou Reed. And my penchant for Neil Young includes his work in CSNY, Buffalo Springfield and more so with Crazy Horse than without, but he's only included individually.

Oh, well, life is full of inconsistencies and so is my list. But here it is, as of August 6, 2010:

1. Bruce Springsteen
2. The Beatles
3. R.E.M.
4. Nirvana
5. Led Zeppelin
6. The Rolling Stones
7. U2
8. The Kinks
9. The Who
10. The Jam
11. Pearl Jam
12. The Clash
13. The Smashing Pumpkins
14. AC/DC
15. The Ramones
16. David Bowie
17. Radiohead
18. Cheap Trick
19. Rush
20. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
21. Midnight Oil
22. Stereophonics
23. Foo Fighters
24. Dinosaur Jr.
25. Green Day
26. Jimi Hendrix
27. The Replacements
28. Van Halen
29. Bob Seger
30. Bob Dylan
31. Pink Floyd
32. Elvis Costello
33. Queen
34. Talking Heads
35. The Police
36. Aerosmith
37. Neil Young
38. John Lennon
39. Creedence Clearwater Revival
40. Johnny Cash
41. Guns 'n' Roses
42. Alejandro Escovedo
43. Husker Du/Bob Mould/Sugar
44. The Wildhearts
45. The Killers
46. Paul McCartney
47. Steely Dan
48. Simon & Garfunkel
49. Elton John
50. Eric Clapton/Cream/Derek & the Dominoes
51. The Cure
52. Billy Joel
53. The Zombies
54. Metallica
55. The Flaming Lips
56. Peter Gabriel
57. Warren Zevon
58. Blur
59. Sex Pistols
60. Garbage
61. Soundgarden
62. Paul Weller
63. Van Morrison
64. The Waterboys
65. The Doors
66. Maximo Park
67. The Pretenders
68. Velvet Underground/Lou Reed
69. The Cars
70. BoDeans
71. Wilco
72. Nine Inch Nails
73. Depeche Mode
74. Liz Phair
75. John Mellencamp
76. Stevie Ray Vaughan
77. Prince
78. Dire Straits
79. Fleetwood Mac
80. The Byrds
81. The Beach Boys
82. George Harrison
83. The Move
84. Ash
85. The Pixies
86. Buddy Guy
87. The Smoking Popes
88. Def Leppard
89. Ozzy Osbourne
90. Blondie
91. The White Stripes
92. Buddy Holly
93. Coldplay
94. The Smiths
95. Beck
96. Eagles
97. Jackson Browne
98. Social Distortion
99. Boston
100. Material Issue

Top 3 Almosts: Supertramp, Love & Graham Parker

Dropouts from the 2005 list: Elvis Presley, Jason & the Scorchers, ZZ Top, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Santana, Bad Religion, The Wallflowers, The Darkness, Counting Crows, Jane's Addiction, Love and Graham Parker

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