The Greatest Modern Active Music Artists

Here are the 30 greatest modern active music artists, ranked by overall career importance, artistic output and current relevancy.  Entries must have peaked 1990 or later (with apologies to the still active U2, Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stones etc)  Must have either released new music or toured within past 5 years to be considered active.

  1.  Radiohead   (est 1985 in Oxfordshire, England)
    Current Members: Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O’Brien, and Philip Selway
    Top Albums: The Bends, OK Computer, Kid A
  2.  Dr. Dre    (est 1984 in Compton, CA)
    Associated Acts: NWA, Snoop Dogg, Eminem
    Top Albums: The Chronic, Straight Outta Compton, 2001
  3.  Pearl Jam   (est 1990 in Seattle, WA)
    Current Members: Eddie Vedder, Mike McCready, Stone Gossard, Jeff Ament, Matt Cameron
    Top Albums: Ten, Vs, Vitalogy
  4.  Beyonce   (est 1997 in Houston, TX)
    Associated Acts: Destiny’s Child
    Top Albums: Dangerously in Love, Lemonade, Beyonce
  5.  Jay-Z   (est 1996 in Brooklyn, NY)  
    Top Albums:
    Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint, and The Black Album
  6.  Daft Punk (est 1993 in Paris, France)
    Current Members: Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter
    Top Albums: Homework, Discovery, Random Access Memories
  7. kanye west greatest artists Kayne West (est 1996 in Chicago, IL)
    Top Albums: College Dropout, Graduation, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
  8.  Metallica (est 1981 in Los Angeles, CA)
    Current Members: James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo
    Top Albums: The Black Album, Master of Puppers, And Justice For All  (Definite case to be made for Meticalla peaking pre-1990, but the bulk of their success and output still came from the nineties on)
  9. kendrick greatest artists Kendrick Lamar (est 2004 in Compton, CA)
    Top Albums: good kid m.A.A.d city, To Pimp a Butterfly, DAMN
  10.  Phish  (est 1983 in Burlington, VT)
    Current Members: Trey Anastasio, Jon Fishman, Mike Gordon, Page McConnell
    Top Albums:  Lawn Boy, Junta, A Picture of Nectar
  11. adele greatest artists Adele (est 2006 in London, England)
    Top Albums: 21, 25, 19
  12. justin timberlake greatest artists Justin Timberlake (est 1995 in Memphis, TN)
    Top Albums: Justified, FutureSex/LoveSounds, The 20/20 Experience
  13. Red Hot Chili Peppers (est 1983 in Los Angeles, CA)
    Current Members: Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith, Josh Klinghoffer
    Top Albums: Blood Sugar Sex Magic, Californication, Stadium Arcadium
  14. Taylor Swift greatest artists Taylor Swift (est 2004 in Nashville, TN)
    Top Albums: Red, 1989, Fearless
  15.  tool greatest artists Tool (est 1990 in Los Angeles, CA)
    Current Members: Danny Carey, Adam Jones, Maynard James Keenan, Justin Chancellor
    Top Albums: Aenima, Salival, Undertow
  16.  rihanna greatest artists Rihanna (est 2003 in Saint Michael, Barbados)
    Top Albums: Music of the Sun, A Girl Like Me, Good Girl Gone Bad
  17.  Eminem (est 1996 in Detroit, MI)   
    Top Albums:
    The Marshall Mathers LP, The Slip Shady LP, The Eminem Show
  18. foo fighters greatest artists Foo Fighters (est 1994 in Seattle, WA)
    Current Members: Dave Grohl, Nate Mendel, Pat Smear, Taylor Hawkins, Chris Shiflett, and Rami Jaffee.
    Top Albums: Foo Fighters, The Colour and the Shape, There is Nothing Left to Lose
  19. wu tang greatest artists Wu-Tang Clan  (est 1992 in Staten Island, NY)
    Current Members: RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and Cappadonna
    Top Albums: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Wu-Tang Forever, The W
  20. nas greatest artists Nas (est 1991 in Brooklyn, NY)
    Top Albums: Illmatic, It Was Written, Stillmatic
  21. outkast greatest artists Outkast (est 1991 in Atlanta, GA)
    Current Members: Andre 3000 and Big Boi
    Top Albums: Stankonia, Aquemini, ATLiens
  22. nine inch nails greatest artists Nine Inch Nails (est 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio)
    Current Members: Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
    Top Albums:  The Downward Spiral, Pretty Hate Machine, Year Zero
  23.  Bruno Mars (est 2009 in Los Angeles, CA)
    Top Albums: Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Unorthodox Jukebox, 24k Magic
  24. dave matthews greatest artists Dave Matthews Band  (est 1991 in Charlottesville, VA)
    Current Members: Dave Matthews, Carter Beauford, Stefan Lessard, Tim Reynolds, Rashawn Ross, and Jeff Coffin
    Top Albums: Under the Table and Dreaming, Crash, Busted Stuff
  25. lcd soundsystem LCD Soundsystem (2002, Brooklyn, NY)   
    Current Members:
    James Murphy, Pat Mahoney, Nancy Whang, Tyler Pope, Al Doyle, Gavin Rayna Russom, Matt Thornley, Korey Richey
    Top Albums: LCD Soundsystem, This is Happening, Sounds of Silver
  26. green day cookie Green Day  (est 1990 in East Bay, CA)
    Current Members: Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tré Cool
    Top Albums: Dookie, American Idiot, Insomniac
  27. drake greatest artists Drake (est 2006 in Toronto, Ontario)
    Top Albums: If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Nothing Was the Same, Take Care
  28.  Beck (est 1985 in Los Angeles, CA)
    Top Albums: Odelay, Mellow Gold, Sea Change.
  29.  Coldplay (est 1996 in London, England)
    Current Members: Chris Martin, Will Champion, Jonny Buckland, Guy Berryman.
    Top Albums: Parachutes, A Rush of Blood to the Head, X&Y
  30.  The Flaming Lips  (est 1983 in Oklahoma City, OK)
    Current Members: Wayne Coyne, Michael Ivins, Steven Drozd, Derek Brown, Jake Ingalls, Matt Duckworth, Nicholas Ley
    Top Albums: The Soft Bulletin, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Embryonic


Honorable Mentions:
Garth Brooks, The Strokes, Weezer, Jack White, Lady Gaga, Primus, Maroon 5, Wilco, The Killers, Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, Tiesto, Aphex Twin, moe, Widespread Panic, Arcade Fire, Kings of Leon, My Morning Jacket, Phoenix, Muse, Kenny Chesney, The Roots, Deadmau5, Gwen Stefani



  1. Mariah Carey not even in the honorable mentions? Absolutely massive impact (a lot of R&B singers today would have other jobs without her) and while she’s fell a lot she’s still probably as big as Pearl Jam today.

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