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Thursday, October 6, 2011

The 25 greatest artists of the last 25 years: 25 to 11

For its 25th Anniversary, Qmagazine proposes a challenging and attractive poll. To vote for the 25 greatest artists of the last 25 years (Q was born in 1986), but with only 3 chances of adding different names than the listed on the web, I decided to make my own. So, this is my top 25. Many are personal favourites, but included a few that, despite not being really my cup of tea, deserve a recognition due to their influence, legacy or career. I also discarded the vast majority of bands with less than a decade of activity.

25. Massive Attack. The first entry of the list, and in a close fight with Portishead and Depeche Mode, was reserved to an electronic music act, an style that, despite not being interested in, has been essential to understand music in these 25 years. So I chose them, because of "Blue Lines", "Teardrop", the elegance, the innovation and the value of a career focused on create something, and not just commercial success.

24. The Smiths/MorrisseyI can't stand Bigmouth, and with very few exceptions, his solo career leaves me quite indifferent, but The Smiths were amazing and their influence is immense. The fathers of indie?

23. Coldplay. Before everything turned ridiculously huge, and sorry to say, empty, Chris Martin and co. they had great albums and an extraordinary ability to connect with their audience.

22. The Beautiful South. A personal soft spot I couldn't help but include on the list. From 1989 to 2001, but specially during the Jacqui Abbot period, they were pop genius, combining great lyrics (Paul Heaton deserves recognition among the greatest) with unforgettable melodies.

21. Sufjan Stevens. A fair good share of the rebirth of folk (indie-folk) we have witnessed lately rests on Sufjan's shoulders. A true artist, in the whole sense of the word.

20. Elbow. The underdogs that finally succeed. Underrated during many years, their flawless career is among the most solid, relevant and exciting of the last decade.

19. The Walkmen. "Just" a bit more than a decade active, but what a decade! "Bows and Arrows", "You and Me" and "Lisbon" are the trio of aces of an extraordinary career so far. Among the greatest bands of the last decade.

18. Eels. Mr. E's career is one of a kind. The freak that become "beautiful" has shown many different and exciting sides during all this years, but always sounding as himself. Besides, his memories "Things the Grandchildren Should Know" are among the best "music books" ever written.

17. The White Stripes. Voice, drums, guitars. Red, black and white. An unlikely shock to the system that became a music scene of their own. And Jack White remains one of the most intriguing music personalities of contemporary music.

16. Teenage Fanclub. "Bandwagonesque", "Thirteen", "Grand Prix" and tens of other indie gems deserve a better recognition of the fabulous but underrated band, whose real influence has yet to be measured. Scottish finest.

15. Nick Cave. Twelve albums with the Bad Seeds (starting to count from 1986 onwards) and two more with Grinderman, to build an undisputable, universal reputation. As passionate, bloody and doomed as rock can be.

14. The Cure. Probably lost their magic long ago, but from 1987 to 1992 ("Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me", "Disintegration" and "Wish") they were outstanding, and their legacy is immortal.

13. Natalie Merchant. "In My Tribe", "Our Time in Eden" and "MTV Unplugged" while she was with 10.000 Maniacs, "Tigerlilly", "Ophelia", "Motherland" solo, her words, and her incorruptible attitude makes Ms. Merchant one of the most relevant artists, no matter long hiatus and minor activity recently. Always special.

12. Nirvana. Although far from being a fan, the influence, weight and personality of Kurt Cobain obviously deserves a mention on this list. They were a band. Now they are a myth.

11. RadioheadAnother sure-fire, very hard to measure their enormous influence and impact. Not really keen on their latest decade, but "OK Computer" alone grants the band a well deserved place on the list.

Check the rest of the list, the final ten spots, here.

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