Most influential artists: Radiohead, fronted by Thom Yorke.

Most influential artists: Radiohead, fronted by Thom Yorke. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Music purists, you might want to take a seat and a few deep breaths. The editorial team at Britain’s New Musical Express has named its "100 most influential artists in music today" and expected shoo-ins such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan didn’t even make the list.

Instead, Brit rock adventurers Radiohead topped the poll, followed by the (relatively) recently resurgent elder statesman David Bowie and hip-hop egomaniac-genius Kanye West.

The key word in the list-making criteria appears to be the word “today”. Indeed, NME mounts a compelling argument for its exclusions, with writer Mark Beaumont’s blog post explaining the absentees: “These are acts whose influence is written in stone, the very bedrock of the form, but who aren’t necessarily directly informing the music being made today any more than Chaucer is influencing Buzzfeed.”

Nick Cave (at No. 9) was the highest-placed Australian on <i>NME</i>'s list.

Nick Cave (at No. 9) was the highest-placed Australian on NME's list. Photo: Getty Images

The introduction to the list in the print version of this week’s NME underlines the assertion, saying, “new bands with hints of [Led] Zep[pelin] and the [Rolling] Stones just want to be Jack White; the [Pink] Floydish psych freaks are, in fact, taking their cues from Tame Impala” – which brings us to Australian interest in the list.

“Roughly 96 per cent of all new bands formed in the six months after Lonerism sounded exactly like Tame Impala,” NME says of the 2012 album by the Perth band that helped put them at No. 40 on the survey.

“Their paw prints are all over [current Australian visitors] Kasabian's last two albums; Childhood, Temples et al are also indebted; and the [Arctic] Monkeys, Horrors and Noel Gallagher are all on record as being converts.”

The highest-ranking Aussie on the list is Nick Cave at No 9. His influence, from his late-1970s punk-rock outfit the Birthday Party to his subsequent adventures with the Bad Seeds and Grinderman, is everywhere, declares NME, specifically citing members from red-hot current outfits Arctic Monkeys, Palma Violets, Fat White Family and the Amazing Snakeheads.

“He’s in Alex Turner’s swivelling hips, Chilli Palma Violets’ frenetic baritone bawls, Lias Fat White’s wicked glare and Dale Snakeheads’ seditious snarl,” NME says. “Eagulls, Iceage and Savages channel the Birthday Party’s nihilistic assault.

“For so long a figure prowling rock’s outskirts, Cave is reaching the peak of his insidious influence.”

There is one more Australian act in the poll: another Perth act, in fact, in the form of the Triffids at No. 86.

“Alongside Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds and the Go-Betweens, the Triffids were at the vanguard of the literate Australian rock movement that broke through in the ’80s,” NME says.

“They were ambitious without being truly pop and would find kinship now with the heart-on-sleeve likes of Arcade Fire and Noah & The Whale, as well as Courtney Barnett’s louche indie-rock confessionals.”

Melburnian singer-songwriter Barnett herself added that “the good Australian bands are good because they’re just doing their own thing. But the Australian sound of the Go-Betweens and the Triffids is unmistakable and good.”

NME’s 20 most influential artists in music today

1. Radiohead

2. David Bowie

3. Kanye West

4. The White Stripes

5. The Strokes

6. The Flaming Lips

7. The Gun Club

8. Kate Bush

9. Nick Cave

10. The xx

11. The Smiths

12. The Breeders

13. Joy Division

14. The Clash

15. Jonathan Richman & the Modern Lovers

16. The Velvet Underground

17. Blur

18. Aaliyah

19. Neutral Milk Hotel

20. Prince