FT5: Modern Rock Stars

0115top5coverWe really live in a day and age when the idea of being a rock star is just about gone. Gone are the days of the lead singer who gets mobbed by fans everywhere they go or sleeps in hotel rooms full of strange women.  We don’t even get a lot of musicians with drug and alcohol problems anymore or who quite obviously don’t give a shit what anyone thinks.  You know, those people who were just way cooler than you ever hoped to be?  Dylan, Jagger, Plant, etc.  We all know the names.  That’s what makes them rock stars.  So today I wanted to create a list of those “modern rock stars” who have carried the torch of debauchery and coolness into a new age.  These guys (and gals) represent all the great things about being a rock star: alcohol/drug rehab stints, celebrity girlfriends, trend setting, don’t give a shit attitude, members of popular bands, and decent music all earn you a place on this list.  As a disclaimer I’ll say that all these artists rose to fame in the last decade so this means you won’t see a Dave Grohl or Eddie Vedder on this list because they have long been in the halls of the greats.  I’ll also make an attempt to compare each artist to who they most closely resemble from years past.  Please don’t assume that I’m comparing anyone artistically, I just wanted to give you a  frame of reference.  Follow the jump for the full list.


joshhomme5. Josh Homme (Lemmy Kilmister)

Josh Homme and Lemmy from Motorhead have so much in common it’s creepy.  They both have major anger issues and have been known to lash out at unruley fans.  Both have very well documented troubles with drugs and alcohol.  Both men have been accused of homophobia.  Both generally dress in nothing but black.  Both are in bands with cult followings but have seen limited commercial success.  One sings about sex, the other has a lot of it. And both are full of more foul language than a drunken sailor.  I’d say that’s a recipe for a rock star if you ask me.  Check, check, and check.


ryanadams4. Ryan Adams (Bob Dylan)

I can already hear some of you out there going… whaaaa??? Ryan Adams!?!  That little guy?  No way!  Yes way!  And let me give you a few reasons why:

Married to a hot and famous celebrity

Has also been involved with other famous celebs

Has recorded and put out more material this decade than anyone else I can think of

Had major drug/alcohol problems in the past

The guy is incredibly weird and generally known as an asshole

– Always wears sunglass or denim on denim

Nicotine problems

– Quite obviously doesn’t give two shits what anyone thinks about his art or music

See?  He deserves to be here.


julian3. Julian Casablancas (Lou Reed)

Casablancas, as was Lou Reed, is by far the coolest mofo on this list.  You’ll never see this guy without his trendy dark sunglasses and matching dark apparel.  That alone doesn’t earn him a spot in this list, but it helps.  Julian also just so happen to front The Strokes who have turned out to be one of the most influential bands of the decade.  Also similar to Reed, he recently embarked out on his own to create a truly ballsy solo record unlike anything anyone expected from him.  To earn himself even more points The Strokes lead singer became like all the other rock stars and bitched about his record label.  Everyone wants to be this guy.


karenO2. Karen O (Madonna)

Karen O slides into the number 2 spot as my only female rock star on the list.  She would also be the musician on my list who most recently rose to true rock stardom.  After a string of solid albums and underground popularity, this year’s It’s Blitz and subsequent tour is what really got this leading lady on top for me.  Similar to Madonna, she exudes that insane sex appeal and energy without really being all that attractive when not on stage.  Also similar to Madonna, Karen O is doing crazy things for the fashion industry by setting trends with clothes that are made specifically for her by a friend in the fashion design industry.  Anyone who caught the Yeah Yeah Yeahs performance during ACL has to know exactly what I’m talking about.  Karen O can command a crowd with one spray of water in the air or sticking a microphone down her throat… Awesome!  I could also see Karen being compared to a female version of Mick Jagger.


jackwhite1. Jack White (Neil Young)

This was by far the easiest and most obvious pick for my top 5 list.  Jack White embodies literally every quality of a true rock star.  The guy is in more than one supergroup, he plays a helluva mean guitar, he writes most all the material in his bands, he’s got a crazy fashion sense, he plays the part of mysterious front man and the list goes on and on.  To top it all off, Mr. White even kicked some guys ass once for apparently no good reason.  If that’s not rock star persona, I don’t know what is!  I could go on forever about Jack White, but I’ll save my breath as no one can really disagree with this choice.  You’ll still be talking about this guy 20 years from now.


Honorable mentions and reasons why they missed the cut: Chris Martin(way too nice), Ben Gibbard(way to sad and my mom doesn’t know who he is), Kevin Barnes(Of Montreal is still a blogosphere band), Aaron from Ghostland(no staying power).

Feel free to leave some comments with your favorite modern rock star.  This list is pretty solid if you ask me.


  • Bebop (not Rocksteady)

    I’m not going to go into detail, because that would take research, time, and I’m not confident that I would find any parallels, but that doesn’t make it any less absolutely true than Bob Dylan = Dan Bejar. Deal with it.

  • Awesome list.

    It is still really something for Aaron Behrens to be in this conversation with the other more established names.

    Freddie Mercury + Casio Keyboard + 200 kajillawatt lasers = Rockstar

    He could run the drive-thru mic at McDonalds and still be a rockstar.

  • Of course #1, because he is a super bad ass. Love this post.

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