For Michael J And Madonna, The Bell Tolls

Ever wonder which superstars the music biz moguls think have long

careers ahead, which they'd like to show the door? Nope, me neither.

But the L. A. Times does think about these things. Well, the

L.A. Times doesn't think at all. But their chief pop music

critic, Robert Hilburn, thinks about this kind of stuff all the time.

So this past Sunday, thanks to Mr. Hilburn, there was an article in

which 25 major domos of the music biz, fast-lane folks like American

Recordings' Rick Rubin and MCA's Al Teller, Capitol's Gary Gersh and

Reprise's Howie Klein, weighed in with their thoughts on the stars.

The question posed was, if a label exec could sign any artist he or

she wanted, which ones would they sign? The consensus? Well the Top 10

read like this:

1) Pearl Jam

2) R.E.M.

3) U2

4) Janet Jackson

5) Whitney Houston

6) Mariah Carey

7) Garth Brooks

8) Metallica

9) Boys ll Men

10) Nine Inch Nails

In the Top 20 were Green Day, Soundgarden, our man Dr. Dre, Smashing

Pumpkins, Seal and the Cranberries. Thumbs down went to Prince,

Madonna and Michael Jackson. Also on the outs are acts considered

"one-hit wonders" like Stone Temple Pilots, Hootie & the Blowfish,

Sheryl Crow and the Spin Doctors. "MTV is bringing 'em in and burnin'

'em up...the good and the bad," one label prez told the Times.

"This is the most transient period in the record industry in memory.

That's what makes bands like Pearl Jam and R.E.M. look so attractive.

They've shown a consistency--even if it is just three albums in the

case of Pearl Jam. The same with a Janet Jackson or Mariah Carey."