Four music entries on the list (five if you include Glee’s Ryan Murphy)
#23: LADY GAGA – SINGER
STAGE OF GLOBAL CONQUEST: She shoots a video about a scantily clad convict—and fills it with numerous product placements (Miracle Whip, Polaroid). She intrigues professors as they parse postmodern culture. She inspires surging sales for slinky “shapewear” (think Spanx). Gaga is living out the title of her debut album, The Fame (more than 10 million copies sold), hogging headlines whether she’s flipping the bird at a Mets game or wearing a red fetish costume as she meets Queen Elizabeth. All the while her fans stream her videos tens of millions of times and await her updates on Facebook and Twitter.
#35: BONO- SINGER, HUMANITARIAN
BUMP IN THE ROAD: In May, U2 was on track to break the record for the top-grossing tour ever when Bono was sidelined for emergency spinal surgery. The 360 Degrees Tour, reputedly the most expensive rock tour in history—costing $750,000 a day—pulled in $311 million, making it the year’s top draw.
NEMESIS: Popular financial-news Web site 24/7 Wall Street called Bono “the worst investor in America” for his Silicon Valley venture-capital firm Elevation Partners’ “disastrous” bets on companies such as Forbes and Palm.
#58: JAY-Z – ROC NATION
BRAGGING RIGHTS: The 40-year-old hip-hop legend generates nearly $1 billion in annual revenues from his clothing line, music label, talent agency, concerts, endorsements (HP, Budweiser), nightclubs, and more. He’s had 11 albums reach No. 1, more than any other solo artist and second only to the Beatles.
DUBIOUS EFFORT TO HAVE IT BOTH WAYS: He called out his close colleague Kanye West for his “rude” outburst during Taylor Swift’s Video Music Award acceptance speech—but also defended the “passion” that led the rapper to protest that Jay-Z’s wife, Beyoncé, deserved the win.
#60: JANN WENNER – WENNER MEDIA
STAGE OF GLOBAL CONQUEST: When Rolling Stone, Wenner’s 43-year-old culture-and-politics fortnightly, broke the story that broke the back of General Stanley McChrystal, many observers wondered how a magazine more popularly associated with preening pop stars could have landed such a scoop. They shouldn’t have. Fueled by two unpopular wars and a historic economic collapse, Rolling Stone simply stuck to its roots, churning out a string of high-caliber stories that have made the magazine consistently engaging.
SHOULD BE EMBARRASSED ABOUT: As the McChrystal story exploded across every news outlet in the country, the article was nowhere to be found on Rolling Stone’s own Web site, an absence that prompted some media critics to charge that Wenner still doesn’t get how the Internet works.