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Spin Top 40

Who are the most important artists right now? The Donnas (right)are ripping up NYC (#24), desert-nomad future-gazers Queens of theStone Age make hard rock fun again (#15), while the White Stripesare quickly becoming America’s favorite rock ‘n’ roll fantasy (#3).

Who are the most important artists right now? The Donnas (right) are ripping up NYC (#24), desert-nomad future-gazers Queens of the Stone Age make hard rock fun again (#15), while the White Stripes are quickly becoming America’s favorite rock ‘n’ roll fantasy (#3).

40. Sleater-Kinney
The den mothers of the grrrl-rock nation and one hell of a guitar band. Upcoming: An April mini-tour with Pearl Jam.

39. Jimmy Eat World
The best arena-rock band in emo America.

38. 50 Cent
Ex-crack dealer and mad-flowing mix-tape king teams up with Dr. Dre and Slim Shady.

37. Zwan
Billy Corgan tones down the metal–and the megalomania–and is suddenly fronting a great band again. Smashing!

36. Dave Matthews Band
Jamland’s Prince Charming is secretly turning into a funk fiend, and we can get with that.

35. The Used
Kelly Osbourne’s boyfriend survives life in Utah, makes metallic noise about it. Upcoming: Part of this year’s Warped Tour.

34. Sigur Rós
Abstract-scatting space-rockers from Iceland who don’t need no damn lyric sheets.

33. Felix Da Housecat
Chicago house producer becomes a pied piper for the electroclash massive.

32. The Vines
Aussie nü-grungers keep AC/DC’s legacy of rock-star excess alive and kicking.

31. Avril Lavigne
The best thing to happen to teen-girl rebellion since Judy Blume.

30. Audioslave
Chris Cornell and Rage Against the Machine carry on after The Battle of Los Angeles.

29. Ryan Adams
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.

28. Lucinda Williams
The best roots-rocker in America just hit 50 and is better than ever. Upcoming: New album, World Without Tears, due in April.

27. The Flaming Lips
Every generation deserves its own Sgt. Pepper’s-era Beatles; these confetti-strewing, anime-loving psych-poppers are ours.

26. Foo Fighters
A hard-charging New Order to Nirvana’s Joy Division, led by rock’s nicest guy and biggest Missy Elliott fan.

25. System of a Down
Prog metal’s greatest time-signature-moshing radicals strive to grow weirder facial hair, end capitalism.

24. The Donnas
Cock rock’s greatest girl group are finally ripping up MTV in fine Joan Jett fashion.

23. Nas
Jay-Z’s nemesis comes off their feud with God’s Son, his best album in almost a decade.

22. Interpol
Gothy pop rock just like the old days–just less, y’know, depressing.

21. The Streets
British rapper drops genius tales of slacker high jinks over futurist beats.

20. Le Tigre
New York City-based feminist dance-punk trio speak ass-shaking truth to power.

19. Jay-Z
He’s so en fuego these days that the cameo rhymes he writes in his sleep are pure genius.

18. No Doubt
Our favorite Super Bowl halftime rockers ever.

17. Beck
The manchild folk fusionist has become a grown-ass man, getting weepy one minute, pop-locking the next.

16. Bright Eyes
Catholic prep-schooler, “new Dylan,” antiwar radical, folk-rock messiah, and boy du jour–Conor Oberst feels our pain more tunefully than we do.

15. Queens of the Stone Age
Desert-nomad future-gazers make hard rock fun again.

14. The Hives
Sweden’s coolest, campiest spectacle and the greatest rock ‘n’ roll swindle Max Martin ever pulled off (wink).

13. The Roots
Hip-hop’s greatest group and biggest Bad Brains fans are still coming to break us off, and, really, we’re fine with that.

12. Wilco
Anti-major-label poster boys make catchy, warped, major-label alt rock for the whole family. Upcoming: New EP, More Like the Moon, due this summer.

11. Coldplay
Britpop’s reigning falsetto-rockers are the only band ever to cover both Nelly and Sigur Rós in a single tour.

10. The Neptunes (a.k.a. N.E.R.D)
Pretty soon Joe Lieberman will be calling up these hip-hop supa-producers for a remix.

09. Dashboard Confessional
Campfire sing-along alt rock as group therapy facilitated by a hot guidance counselor. Upcoming: New album, A Mark, a Mission, a Brand, a Scar, due this spring.

08. Missy Elliott
The world’s greatest backward-flowing, freaky-beat-riding MC.

07. Weezer
The Kiss-loving emo standard-bearers are still wondering why everyone loves them so much.

06. Linkin Park
Rap-metal nice guys get cozy with new-school hip-hoppers while still keeping their metal edge razor-sharp. Upcoming: New album, Meteora, out this month.

05. OutKast
The Dirty South’s valedictorians are hip-hop’s next-level mad scientists–and they sell mad records, too. Upcoming: A long-brewing double CD–one disc Andre 3000, one disc Big Boi.

04. The Strokes
The Rolling Stones of boho rock rewrite the rules for skinny-tie accessorizing (see also 31).

03. The White Stripes
The Donny and Marie Osmond of punk blues are quickly becoming America’s favorite rock ‘n’ roll fantasy. Upcoming: New album (finally), Elephant, due April 1.

02. Radiohead
Laptop-loving Thom Yorke & Co. still kick smart arena rock worth flicking your Bic for. Upcoming: Bodysong, a film scored by guitarist Jonny Greenwood, and the band’s “dark-pop” sixth album.

01. Eminem
Hip-hop’s hottest MC is also America’s favorite soccer dad–he can shock the bourgeoisie and rock the boulevard.