I think this year I have to caption this article “A.K.A. Why Does The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Hate Chic So Much?”
For better or worse, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame really never ceases to amaze with their beguiling-if-not-perplexing list of nominees put up for induction. It’s a wonder that they publicize it at all, and, as of recent, have actually involved the public in the induction process. It would be quite the event if they just said, “Here are the six artists we’re inducting this year,” without even the slightest glimpse into their thought process and big-picture perspective. This year, however, this bombastic list of nominees begs far more questions than it does rational assessments. Let’s just go right down the line.
It has been over 30 years since Joan Baez has been eligible for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and she is just now getting her first nomination. While “better late than never” certainly holds true, it still feels a little bittersweet that this iconic songstress has been so blatantly ignored for so long. I think she’s sitting towards the front of the pack this year considering there’s nothing else from her era being represented here, and the Hall of Fame is under continued pressure (and rightfully so) to induct more women; Joan’s the safest choice.
Where did this come from?! Who would have ever thought Bad Brains would show up on a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot out of the blue?! This is absolutely one of the coolest nominees ever. You couldn’t say they’ve ever had a hit, nor are they even a household name, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any metal or hardcore act that doesn’t owe them a debt of gratitude. Isn’t that what the Hall of Fame’s all about after all? Nonetheless, it’s very unlikely they’ll find their way in this year.
New Wave icons The Cars are back on the ballot for a second consecutive year, proving they weren’t just a token feature. Despite remaining a viable option, the odds were stacked against them last year, and this one is looking similarly formidable. What’s working in their favor this go-around is their tenure. Momentum matters in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (unless you’re Chic, of course,) and The Cars were really gaining some. Whether or not they make it in is a pretty solid toss up.
It’s no surprise that Chic is back on the ballot; it’s practically tradition at this point. With their record-breaking 11th nomination (out of 14 eligible years,) these guys have been dragged through the mud unlike any other act ever. For some reason, the Hall of Fame just hasn’t managed to find a place on the mantle for them yet. At this point, if they are inducted this year, it’s an “uncle” move, because this ballot is as tight as it’s ever been. It pains me to say it, but unless the Hall does have mercy, we’ll just have to look forward to seeing their name again next year.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame loves to tease us with new wave-era acts. The likes of the The Smiths and The Cure have seen nominations, but haven’t made it off the ballot. Depeche Mode is a different kind of group, though. They make synth pop (and so, so much more,) and the Hall of Fame is yet to induct a true synth pop act. If there was one act that could break through the mold, it’s this one (they’re still selling out stadiums all over the world.) Whether the Hall’s willing to take the risk is to be seen, but this would be a major progression.
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Okay, finally! Love them or hate them (it’s usually one or the other,) Jeff Lynne’s ELO should have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame some 15-20 years ago. This is the kind of snub that was so glaringly obvious that just seeing their name on the ballot all but secures their induction. It’s clear that a new wave of voters is bringing all of these forgotten acts to the forefront and is pushing them in. For these guys, all you can really say is, “it’s about time.”
THE J. GEILS BAND
After over 20 years of eligibility and four nominations, you’d think that The J. Geils Band had finally paid their dues and would be a shoe-in for induction. Looking at their competition this go-around, it’s sad to think that they’ve been nominated just to keep their chances alive for the future. The group deserves this recognition, and it will certainly come eventually. Unless there’s a huge fan uprising, it just probably won’t be this year.
It was a huge victory seeing Janet Jackson on the ballot for 2016, which made her not being inducted that much more heartbreaking. A second ride on the nomination carousel feels like nothing short of relief. Could this mean she’s actually (like really) being taken seriously? With her peers long-since inducted, you’d have to assume so, but the Hall of Fame has drawn bizarre lines in the sand before, and this would be a prime opportunity for another one. It could truly go either way, but I think things are working in Janet’s favor this year.
Jane’s Addiction was a year-or-so away from finding their way onto the snubs list. They deserve this recognition, and will inevitably find their way in, whether it be this year or not (it’s about 50/50 if you ask me.) The key here is that they’re getting the ball rolling. With the Hall of Fame’s arms-wide-open acceptance of ’90s alternative rock, not seeing them on the ballot would be a glaring omission sooner than later. Five years after eligibility? Some might say it’s 5 years too long, others might say it’s right on time.
I’m sure I’m going to get a ton a flack for filing Journey under “Nod Virgin” instead of “Long Time Snub,” and you can chalk it up to taste if you’d like, but I think their nomination is right on time. Over 15 years is quite the waiting period, but this is the kind of group that, while insanely popular even to this day, wasn’t the kind of rock and roll pioneer that particularly warranted a speedy induction. It’s likely the fans are going to push them in, and it would be fitting way to seal the deal for them.
Here’s a nominee I didn’t see coming back for a second round so soon. Chaka Khan is an undeniable legend, but it’s a crime that she’s up here as a solo act again leaving Rufus in the dust. The group did manage see a nomination of their own a few years back, but now it seems like the Hall of Fame has their mind made up about her solo induction, and seeing her back so soon certainly points to an induction in the near future. This could likely be her year.
There is no fathomable explanation as to why Kraftwerk can’t seem to get off the ballot. There are far too many acts that simply wouldn’t exist without them stampeding rapidly towards induction, and it would be a downright sin if they didn’t manage to find their way in first. While their odds are as good (or bad) as they’ve ever been, it’s hard not to feel like this year could actually be their year. It would be one of the Hall of Fame’s most left-of-center inductions yet, but Kraftwerk’s impact on rock and roll is completely undeniable, and it’s about time it was recognized.
It’s been almost 15 years since MC5 was last seen on a nomination ballot, which, itself, came an unfortunate 12 yeas post-eligibility. Whether their resurgence here is a good sign for their rightful induction or a little nudge just to keep them in the mix (seemingly until there’s simply nobody left,) it’s certainly intriguing. There’s no real reason the group hasn’t at least been a ballot-regular by now, and looking at their competition this year, hopefully they’ll at least get that upgrade.
There is absolutely no surprise here whatsoever. This is Pearl Jam’s first year of eligibility, and they are already as good as inducted. It’s not to say that the group hasn’t earned their place, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s greedy-for-ratings precedent of inducting still-relevant acts as soon as they qualify has kind of left them no wiggle room when a group like this comes along. It’s the exact reason why there are so many acts as important and iconic as Pearl Jam still waiting for their number at the deli after years, if not decades of eligibility.
Here’s the second of two nominations everyone saw coming. No one can refute Tupac’s lasting effect on hip hop and his deservingness to be inducted, but he’s also the second example of just how the Hall of Fame is forced to shoot themself in the foot every year. If there wasn’t such an early resistance to the genre and a subsequent slow trickle of inducted acts, it wouldn’t feel as wrong that he’s going to be ushered in ahead of the many hip hop forefathers seeping further into the dust they’ve been left in to rot.
This is the perfect example of a group that has been eligible for an impossibly long time that fell to the bottom of the pile for no other reason than they weren’t an immediate priority. Steppenwolf has all of the makings of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act, and while it makes sense that their nomination took time, but almost 25 years without a single nomination? That’s pushing it, don’t you think? This might not be their year, but it’s certainly comforting to see them finally on the ballot.
Joe Tex is one of Hall of Fame Purgatory’s longest inhabitants. This is his fifth nomination spread out over the last almost-20 years. This soul and funk legend has long been treated as somewhat of an afterthought, especially seeing as though his last nomination came 6 years ago, but they can’t keep dragging him along, (can they?!) Unfortunately, the competition is as stiff as it gets, and poor Joe is likely to sit another round out. At least seeing him back in the mix is a positive step in the right direction.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has made their apprehension of inducting progressive rock acts into their graces crystal clear. While Genesis spent a good chunk of their career as a pop act, and Rush’s fans essentially bullied them in, it’s easy to see why they’ve been able to save Yes for a little cat-and-mouse, despite being the group that should have been the first inducted. This is the group’s third nomination in the last four years, and the odd’s seem just as stacked against them as they ever have been.
You can’t help but chuckle having to file The Zombies under “Resurrected,” but the fact that these British Invasion icons have yet to be inducted is no joke. Seeing as their first nomination came a good 20-plus years after eligibility and their second come another three years after that doesn’t exactly highlight them as a priority for the Hall of Fame, and with competition like this, it’s anyone’s guess how long the next wait will be.
WHO SHOULD BE INDUCTED?
WHO WILL BE INDUCTED?
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