There don't seem to be any, as Jon Fine explains in the video clip below:
If you think about rock music -- which was this incredible industry for, I don't know, 30 years -- rock 'n' roll hasn't really minted any kind of massive ... multi-platinum-selling pop-culture superstar since the '90s, I think. The last really big ones have all been hip-hop. The rock bands now that consistently sell platinum generally came from an earlier era -- they're like Green Day or U2. That top level is completely gone.
Now, what you have in its place is you have a much healthier ecosystem in terms of discovering music and finding music, and for that matter nurturing bands on a local level. You know, the indie circuit that I adored in the '80s ... it's a much more accepted thing, as opposed to back then, it was a little more of a secret-handshake thing. ...
There's kind of a cultural impoverishment at the top of the spectrum, but at the bottom, it's just ridiculously healthy.
I agree, especially if we're talking about not just album sales but "rock stars," with the emphasis not on rock but on star. In the '80s, for instance, you had Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and others, who didn't just sell tons of records but made a genuine cultural impact in their time.
Does anyone who made it big in this decade (and actually makes good music) even come close? Rufus Wainwright, Regina Spektor, Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley), Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie and the Postal Service)? The Arcade Fire, the White Stripes, the Strokes? Those may be some of my own personal celebrities of the moment, but I don't know how broadly they resonate out in the world.
As Fine suggests, this is a very different question from how good the music scene is overall. In my opinion, rock/pop/etc. music in the 2000s is probably better overall than in the '90s -- or, for that matter, the '80s or '70s. There's more great music available to me and you, but it's less likely to be made by household names.
Of course, the '60s is better than all those other decades, but we'll never get the opportunity to see so much rock innovation, right? The bands/artists around now are severely disadvantaged by not being able to invent any of the genres that have already been invented. At a certain point, doesn't rock have to run its course?
(The Arcade Fire - "Wake Up.")
IN THE COMMENTS: Theories.