This morning, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2023, and it was done rather quietly. The reason I say this is that the induction announcement is usually a big deal on SiriusXM, with a show that interviews the new inductees and generally celebrates the world of rock and roll. This year? Nothing…I was a bit surprised about that.
These are my general, hot of the press takes on the 2023 class. I’ll have some thoughts about some other issues (including John Sykes’ apparent preoccupation with “what the fans think”) at a later date.
1) Overall, a decent class that has taken care of a couple of oversights from the past. In the Performers category, the inductions of Bush and Rage Against the Machine were long overdue and the Voting Committee finally corrected this error (some would also add The Spinners into this category). If there was a guaranteed inductee for the 2023 class (like last year’s Dolly Parton induction), Willie Nelson was going to be going in.
For both Missy Elliott and George Michael to go in with the same class was a bit of a surprise. I figured that one would go in before the other would (and I thought that would be Elliott over Michael), but they both made it through the battle. Sheryl Crow has done it all in her stellar career and the Hall enjoys honoring those who have always been there for them, thus her induction isn’t a surprise.
2) Those who were spurned from the Performers category are…well, let’s just say that the carryover of the “populist” theme from last year is evident. Critical favorites like Joy Division/New Order, Warren Zevon, Soundgarden, The White Stripes, A Tribe Called Quest, and Cyndi Lauper (we’ll get to the other in a minute) were not inducted and they didn’t get a nod from the “non-voting” paths. This isn’t a case of “not enough support” – Zevon and Lauper (along with #3) were WAY up in the Fan Vote and it was believed this would be the year, especially in first-time nominee Zevon’s case. Alas, it was not to be.
3) Not that they were sitting around waiting for the phone to ring, but Iron Maiden is probably never being inducted into the Hall. I’ve heard the explanations regarding the bypassing of hard rock/metal bands, and Iron Maiden in particular, but they’re beginning to ring hollow. How you can have one act but not another – in this case Judas Priest (who FINALLY got in through the “non-voting” method last year) and Iron Maiden – is befuddling. If I am finding it hard to believe, then you can only imagine how the Average Joe is seeing it.
4) The Award for Musical Excellence is OUTSTANDING. They also took care of a few oversights here by inducting both Chaka Khan (but not Rufus, surprisingly) and Bernie Taupin (writing partner of Elton John), who needed to be in the Hall. The inclusion of Al Kooper was a bit of a surprise since there hadn’t been a huge drive for his induction, but it is a welcome addition; Kooper’s legacy of work and influence are worthy of induction.
5) Equally as excellent as the AME were the choices for the Early Influences and the Ahmet Ertegun Award. DJ Kool Herc was the originator of rap, way back in the early Seventies, but it is a bit odd to see him go in and not alongside his longtime performing partner Coke La Rock. Link Wray is another one of those “oversight” corrections that the Hall takes care of through this manner, but it is also a well-deserved induction (and, we must note, if you’re going to have Duane Eddy in the Hall, then why not Wray?).
While I would have liked to have seen the Ertegun go to Rick Rubin, the choice of the creator of Soul Train, Don Cornelius, is a BRILLIANT move. Many people point to American Bandstand and its influence on the culture. Soul Train was just as big, if not more influential, in its impact on R&B, soul, rap, and culture overall. It’s too bad that Cornelius is no longer with us – I am sure that he would have delivered a FIRE induction speech!
Overall, the Class of 2023 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame isn’t bad, but it’s not as great as it could have been. There are a few trends now, three years into the reign of Hall chairman John Sykes, that can be identified, but we’ll save that discussion for another time. For now, we can enjoy and congratulate those that were inducted and commiserate with those that were not.
It is getting closer to a day that all fans of rock and roll genuinely enjoy. Besides the Induction Ceremony and the unveiling of the nominees, the announcement of the vote for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and its latest Induction Class is one for celebration. Since the nominees were announced in February, there has been a great deal of speculation over who will get in as Performers and who might get in through the “non-voting” methods – and at the start of May, we will learn those names who will make up the Class of 2023.
There is a wide-ranging variety of choices this year for the Performers class. One thing that can be counted on from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame voters is that they will choose between five and seven inductees that will enter as “performers” into the Hall. The other nominees can still get in through the “non-voting” means, which is the way that Judas Priest entered last year, and LL Cool J entered the previous year (both through the Award for Musical Excellence). The Voting Committee, however, are the ones who will choose the “Performer” inductees.
Those “non-voting” methods have come under fire of late. Because they go through a committee selection process, rather than the 1100-member Voting Committee, it is thought that these selections are “lesser” than the Performers. The Rock Hall disavows this statement, indicating that the AME, the Ahmet Ertegun Award (for non-musician contributions to rock and roll, like managers, producers, and industry personnel), and the Early Influences Award (for contributions to rock and roll BEFORE it was rock and roll) are equals of those who were voted in. The stigma still exists, however, no matter how undeserved it is.
Before we go on, we should look at the nominees for 2023. That list (in alphabetical order) looks like this:
A Tribe Called Quest Kate Bush Sheryl Crow Missy Elliott Iron Maiden Joy Division/New Order Cyndi Lauper George Michael Willie Nelson Rage Against the Machine Soundgarden The Spinners The White Stripes Warren Zevon
With this information, we are now going to look at those who are going to be voted into the Rock Hall as Performers. We will also take an educated guess as to those who might be chosen through the non-voting methods; in the past, usually only one inductee was chosen for one of the three processes. Since the ascension of John Sykes to the Chairman’s seat of the Rock Hall, however, he has utilized the non-voting methods to “clear the decks” of artists and groups that were not getting the support from the Voting Committee. I would like to see each of the three put ONE entry in, but we are going to play from the previous indicators that have been set for the past couple of years.
So, here you go…these are this writer’s choices for induction with the Class of 2023 of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!
Willie Nelson – Much like Dolly Parton last year, if there is one bona fide lock for this year’s induction class, it would be the “Red-Headed Stranger” himself. With over 70 years in the business, having written classic tracks that range from Patsy Cline (another act that should be inducted into the Rock Hall, but I digress) to Snoop Dogg (“Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die” is a Willie classic), Nelson and his “outlaw” attitude are more than deserving of enshrinement in Cleveland. As of 2022, there are fifteen country artists and groups that have earned their induction into the Rock Hall – Nelson should make it sixteen.
Warren Zevon – When the nominees’ list was first announced, I was extremely thrilled to see Zevon on the list. I also thought that he would be inducted with ease, and the Fan Vote currently has him in the Top Five. Then why do I have a nagging feeling that Zevon will be bypassed by the Hall for induction? Zevon’s credentials should have gotten him inducted a long time ago, but the Rock Hall is not known for making the “right” decisions.
Sheryl Crow – A first-time nominee for the Rock Hall (despite being eligible since 2018), Crow is the epitome of the Nineties rock star. It was an era when women were REALLY beginning to flex their muscles (courtesy of such luminaries as Madonna and Crow’s fellow 2023 nominee Lauper), and Crow has gone on to work with the legends of the business. For the voters to pass her over would be surprising.
Joy Division/New Order – Another first-time nominee, the dual entry of these bands would be the first time that a combo entry has been inducted since The Faces/The Small Faces back in 2012. Joy Division was one of the early progenitors of what would eventually become the “New Wave” movement. After the suicide of singer Ian Curtis, the remaining members of the band felt they could no longer go on as “Joy Division” and instead rechristened themselves as “New Order.” Regardless of the name, the band continued to be a groundbreaking force in the Eighties rock scene and should be honored with induction.
Missy Elliott – Of the eight elected inductees from the rap and hip-hop world (nine if you count LL Cool J’s Artistic Excellence induction), none of them have been female. This should be corrected this year as Elliott earns a seat in the Rock Hall (I would have rather seen Queen Latifah get in, but…). Elliott has been a force in the rap community and, through her music and her philanthropy, has brought attention to women’s issues and the plight of the inner city. An excellent choice.
Iron Maiden – This one could go either way. Long dismissive of the Rock Hall, Iron Maiden deserves induction themselves, alongside their contemporary Judas Priest (the AME again). There is that old issue with hard rock/metal acts being inducted, however, which may keep one of the formative acts of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) out of the Hall.
This is where we start to get into some speculation!
The three non-voting methods have, in the past, been sparingly used. Under Sykes, however, each of the three methods has inducted two or three members (2021 and 2022) each year. We can debate the logic of this (circumvention of the Voting Committee, or rectifying oversights by the Voting Committee), but that is for another time. For this year, let us figure that one each in the three categories will be a “Wild Card” entry – someone that isn’t even on the radar – and come up with two potential inductees for each category.
Award for Musical Excellence – This is where two of the 2023 nominees are going to go in through. Bush and Rage Against the Machine have been nominated on multiple occasions and, whether it is because of the competition in the years they have been nominated or (possibly) the Voting Committee does not feel they are “worthy,” both acts have yet to be inducted. This is the year that Bush SHOULD be voted in but, if she is not, then the Hall will put her in through this manner alongside Rage Against the Machine (which guitarist Tom Morello has fought against but will accept after several fruitless nominations).
Early Influences – This is a bit tougher to come up with because there are still so many from the “early days” of rock and roll that are deserving of being honored. Topping that list would be “Big Mama” Thornton, who was the prototype for the rock and roll “belter” from the vocal sphere. A second choice? How about MC5, who has gone through the nomination wringer way too many times (six, to be exact)? As the originators of the “garage rock” sound (they could also be viewed as punk rock forefathers), MC5’s exclusion from the Rock Hall should be rectified this year.
Ahmet Ertegun Award – If there were one of these categories that should only have one inductee, it would be this one. It is not because non-musical people aren’t important to rock and roll, it is because you must have done something OUTSTANDING to be considered for the honor. A look at those who have been previously honored (including Bruce Springsteen manager/producer Jon Landau, label exec Irving Azoff, and the legendary Quincy Jones) indicates the gravity of this category.
My first choice for this induction would be producer Rick Rubin. From the creation of his own label (Def Jam Records) to his production work with artists across the board (Run-DMC to Johnny Cash), Rubin has been one of the most impactful “behind-the-scenes” performers in the history of rock and roll. Not having him as a part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is an oversight in definite need of correction.
For my second choice, I am going to go with two because I cannot decide between them! First up is Malcolm McLaren, who was responsible for the “punk rock” attitude of the Seventies and whom without we would have never heard of The Sex Pistols, New York Dolls, Bow Wow Wow, or Adam and the Ants. Second on my list would be Bill Aucoin, the legendary manager of KISS. Without Aucoin, would KISS have been as monstrous as they were?
There you have it! Your Class of 2023 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is:
Willie Nelson Warren Zevon Sheryl Crow Joy Division/New Order Missy Elliott Iron Maiden Kate Bush Rage Against the Machine AME WILD CARD “Big Mama” Thornton MC5 EARLY INFLUENCE WILD CARD Rick Rubin Malcolm McLaren OR Bill Aucoin AHMET ERTEGUN WILD CARD
That’s a pretty solid fourteen-member class, wouldn’t you say?
Now we will have the other fun part about the inductions into the Rock Hall – the debate over who gets in or not! What are your thoughts for 2023?
The Year in Rock 2022 has been punctuated by a bit of everything. There’s been some tragedy (the passing of Meat Loaf, Taylor Hawkins, and Christine McVie, among others), some truly memorable events (can anyone forget Wolfgang Van Halen ripping his dad’s “Hot for Teacher” licks at the London Hawkins tribute show?) and some great comebacks (Rage Against the Machine FTW!). But the one constant over the course of the last twelve months has been great rock and roll, from the independents to the newcomers to the venerable monoliths of rock history.
Over the next few paragraphs, we’re going to look back at the CDs that were released in 2022. Whether they were the “old guard” of the rock world or the brashest of newcomers, they all have added to the great tunes that we all love. Perhaps you’ll find a few of your favorites from the past year here – and, if you don’t, let me know what you think! (Hover on the album title for each artist to get a link to purchase, should you desire – I do NOT receive anything for this!)
Without further ado, let’s get started (and in no particular order)!
After last year’s Ordinary Man, there isn’t a soul on Planet Earth that would have denied the opportunity for Ozzy Osbourne to stride off into the sunset. Instead, Osbourne came out with arguably one of the great albums of his solo career. Patient Number 9was a tour de force from a true legend in rock history and he used that legend status to bring in a wealth of talent to work with him.
The reunion of Osbourne with his Black Sabbath mate Tommy Iommi on “Degradation Rules” was utterly outstanding, and even The Prince of Darkness’ turn with “Slowhand,” Eric Clapton (who had his own nuttery in 2022), on “One of Those Days” turned out excellent. Add in work from another Osbourne alum, Zakk Wylde, and the late Taylor Hawkins, and Patient Number 9 turned out to be one of the best albums of 2022. With 74 candles on his last cake, we must learn how to appreciate these efforts from Osbourne; there might not be many left.
I wrote about it in an issue of Rock at Night magazine and have often railed about it elsewhere. Rolling Stone hit on it recently, too. What is the subject? How “legacy” bands – bands that have been around since the Seventies (or even earlier) – continue to perform and just how many original members of a band constitute “the original band.” There was a tour this year that touched on this issue.
The massive summer stadium tour by Mötley Crüe, Poison, Def Leppard, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts showed why these older acts continue to go out on the road – there’s still money out there! Only one of these groups, however, released new music in 2022, and it turned out to be a strong part of the legacy of the band. Def Leppard’s Diamond Star Halos would compare easily to any of their late Eighties work – think the Hysteria era – and served to remember why these bands are so beloved.
Diamond Star Haloswas from front to back an exercise in excellence from the boys from Sheffield. The lead track from the album, “Kick,” would have plunked you back down in the late Eighties if you closed your eyes long enough. My personal favorite from the album was “SOS Emergency,” which was a driving piece of rock and roll that echoed their NWOBHM heyday. Get your spandex out, get the Aquanet, and take a trip back in time with Def Leppard on what was a big surprise in 2022.
Coming out of the indie world (indie meaning not a part of the major label system), the Texas band Tough on Fridays has been plying their trade for some time. It has paid off in spades with the release of their new CD The Encore You Didn’t Ask For. An effort that was entirely crowdfunded, the CD release allowed the band to reach a new audience and set them up well for 2023.
The big tunes from the band were “Overboard!” and a “reimaging” of one of the band’s older songs in “Lush,” but the rest of the CD cannot be overlooked. It is these types of bands that are going to carry rock music – be it alternative or otherwise – into the future. Without them, rock and roll withers on the vine and they need our support, even more so than the established artists and bands do.
After the leader of the Heartbreakers, the eternal Tom Petty, passed away in 2017 (yes, it has been five long years), guitarist Mike Campbell could have been forgiven if he had just ridden off into the sunset. Instead, Campbell picked up with Fleetwood Mac after the dismissal of Lindsey Buckingham and advanced his pet project, Dirty Knobs, which carried a bit harder edge than his Heartbreaker or Mac days. That paid off in 2022 with the sophomore effort from Dirty Knobs, External Combustion.
Campbell and the Knobs came up with a jewel of an album, most notable by the track “Wicked Mind.” It is a tune that you could have easily seen fit into the Heartbreakers catalog without a great deal of imagination. The rest of the CD, however, delivers the goods with tracks like “Brigitte Bardot” and “Dirty Job” (featuring an assist from Ian Hunter). Rather than retiring, Campbell is going stronger than ever.
The genre of surf rock has a long legacy, back to the days of Dick Dale, Duane Eddy, and Link Wray, but there are few excellent practitioners around today (Southern Culture on the Skids comes to mind). Tampa’s Black Valley Moon enters the conversation here with an amalgam of genres on Songs from the Black Valley. You just don’t hear this type of rock anymore – is it surf rock? Is it punk? Is it goth?
It is all of that and more. If you want to gravitate to the more traditional “rock” sound, you can go for “Blackest Night.” If you do that, you’d be missing out on some entrancing overtures elsewhere. My personal favorite was “Don’t Lie, My Succubi,” and the band even opens up their Christmas spirit with a holiday tune – although it has their own twist on “Christmas Time in the Castle of Blood!”
The Warning is a band that has come up from their independent beginnings out of Mexico and become one of those banner carriers for the future of rock and roll. None other than Disturbed’s David Draiman has bestowed upon them the “future of rock” mantle, and the band has held their own with such powerhouse groups as Halestorm, Evanescence, and The Pretty Reckless. Halestorm’s leader, Lzzy Hale, even went as far as to bestow upon guitarist/vocalist Daniela Villareal one of her signature guitars – one of the utmost compliments that a musician can give to one of their own.
On their 2022 release ERROR, The Warning has come up with a pinnacle achievement of their career. The track “MONEY” is a foot-stomper that indicts the materialistic desires of people, but it was “CHOKE” (yes, the all-capitals titling is specific to the band) that put them on the map. If this is the future of rock and roll, then sign me up for the trip!
Last year Berk released a simply masterful CD, the reckless dreams of youth, that demonstrated there was a voice of maturity in the world of rock. Berk’s life experiences were visible through every thread of that disc, and she could have sat back and just enjoyed the ride in 2022. Instead, Berk emptied her emotional suitcase and came up with an equally (if not better) effort in 2022’s start at the end.
Berk’s emotional vulnerabilities are everywhere on the new CD – from her pleadings on “your permission” to her laments on times passed in “tragic endings.” Berk purges her soul of her worries, her confessions, and her intimate thoughts, and the journey is nothing but fascinating. If you are a fan of Liz Phair, this is another artist you should be checking out.
We’re going to go off the beaten track here – hey, how often do YOU think of Viking death metal? Amon Amarth has been a part of the metal scene for quite some time, but it wasn’t until this year that I found the Swedish band with their tune “Put Your Back into the Oar.” That led me to their latest release, the outstanding The Great Heathen Army.
To call them “Viking death metal” is perhaps a misnomer – they’re just a damn good rock band, a little bit of an edge, but not tremendously over the top. The song “Find a Way or Make One” is definitely a track that will get your workout moving, and their current release “Oden Owns You All” offers a punishing pace while maintaining its musicianship. Know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but Amon Amarth is good when you just need to get some aggression out.
Keeping our frame of reference on the European continent, I had to give some kudos to the Finnish band Stolen Organ. Holding up the legacy of the Eighties “hair metal” era, Stolen Organ doesn’t hesitate to do their homage to bands like Guns N’ Roses, but they also put their flourishes on the album Have You Seen Justice.
Tracks like “Booze Devil” could have come straight out of Central Casting if you said “hair metal band from the Eighties” but the group establishes themselves on some of their more bluesy work. “Land of Glory” is particularly notable in this regard. While many might have been honed on British or U. S. rock, it is obvious that Europeans are catching up – and quickly – to their brethren that had a massive head start.
Most notable for her own blues work and her collaborations with guitarist Joe Bonamassa, Beth Hart has long been notable for her powerful vocal stylings. While many have lauded her solo work, it was a tribute album that Hart put together that finally drew her mainstream attention. That album, A Tribute to Led Zeppelin, simply knocked you on your ass with Hart’s interpretations of classic Zeppelin tunes.
Of note on the record were Hart’s takes on “Whole Lotta Love” and “Black Dog,” which Hart powered through with attitude and virtuosity. Yes, the ubiquitous “Stairway to Heaven” is here, but Hart’s interpretation of the work will give you a whole new appreciation for it. While it is great that Hart now has some eyes on her because of this CD, can we get some new tracks, please?
More in the traditional blues arena is Detroit vocalist Eliza Neals. Neals takes a blues style and melds it with a dash of Motown soul, opening new avenues for both sounds. On her album Badder to the Bone, Neals has reached new heights with her musical direction.
“Queen of the Nile” is the first track that grabs you off this CD, but Neals has a whole litany of tunes that can pull you in. “Fueling Me Up” is another outstanding track on the disc, with Neals blasting away with her tough yet tender soul/blues voice and a top-notch band backing her up. Keep an eye out for Neals if she comes into your area – her live performances are as good, if not better, than what you hear on the albums.
If your tastes run more toward box sets, there are two that were particularly noteworthy in 2022. First was the collection of bassist Suzi Quatro. The Rock Boxencompassed the entirety of her Seventies works, including the groundbreaking “48 Crash” and her dubious Top 40 hit “Stumblin’ In.” Overlooking that, however, is the fact that it is a comprehensive collection of Quatro’s effects on Seventies rock – and a firm definition of why she should be considered for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The other notable box set from 2022 is the work of Blondie. On Against the Odds 1974-1982, the early career of Deborah Harry and Company is espoused in full detail. The first five albums from the group, including Parallel Lines, Eat to the Beat, and Autoamerican, are here in their entirety, but also included are fascinating outtakes and early working versions of many Blondie classics. If you enjoy the work of the New York City legends, then you need to have this box set in your rack.
There you have it! Your Christmas list is compiled (if you’re looking for books, you should check out Bono’s Surrender, Rob Halford’s Biblical, and Stevie Van Zandt’s Unrequited Infatuations) or, if you have a music aficionado in your life, you now know what to get them. But what was YOUR favorite album from 2022?
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame honored its Induction Class of 2022 last Saturday, a stirring list of performers that saw one of the most diverse classes in Hall history enshrined. Now, however, it is time to shift our view to the nomination process for the Class of 2023, which will probably be announced in late January or early February. In the final part of our series on the prospective 2023 class, I am going to look at those who might have fallen through the cracks in the Hall’s pursuit of rock and roll’s Parthenon.
Here’s the thing with those who have “fallen through the cracks.” In some cases, they are extremely borderline calls. The Hall has already gone through much of the early history of rock and roll and pulled the crème of the crop from the rosters. Anyone that is left is a tremendously flawed candidate – they may have been great at the moment but, compared to the overall history of rock and roll, they have faded in significance (that’s right…we see you over there in the corner, Steppenwolf, Three Dog Night, and Badfinger, among MANY others).
Thus, this means that the Fifties are done. There will not be another performer inducted into the Hall from that decade unless they are named through non-voting methods. That goes for the Sixties too – that decade has been thoroughly gleaned and cleaned of viable candidates for the Hall. The Seventies are getting close to that point also.
Think about it for a second – those artists that came out in 1985 have been eligible for the Hall since 2010. In many cases, they haven’t even received consideration for nomination, let alone induction. That’s why the Hall Induction Classes since 2020 have seen artists and groups from the Eighties and Nineties dominate the election process – The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Tupac and Biggie, and many others, including Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo (and let me note here – I was glad to hear that my long-standing contention that Benatar was holding up her induction until they also included her husband Giraldo was true!).
Here in this segment, I’m also going to include those artists that usually send the “RAWK” people into a spasmatic fit. That means country artists, pop princes and princesses, R&B crooners and groups, and rappers. Whether you like it or not, all those genres (and plenty of others) are a part of the rock and roll umbrella. As such, the best from those segments of the tree should be honored as a part of the rock and roll family – anything else would be disingenuous in an examination of “rock and roll.”
With the prerequisites set for Part III, let’s get started!
The Hall is known for putting out some nominations that make the average person say, “what the fuck?” or even question the Nomination Committee’s sanity. In the past, the picks of Fela Kuti and Sister Rosetta Tharpe fell into that category. Now, Tharpe is in the Hall (deservedly) and Kuti should be (and probably will, through the non-voting categories, this year or next). But who is that choice this time around?
I have two potential candidates in that arena that reach back into the foundations of rap. Long credited with the creation of the genre, DJ Kool Herc and Coke La Rock were the Brooklyn duo who were the first practitioners of “rap” styling. Herc would spin the discs on the turntable to provide the backbeat while La Rock spoke over the bass lines, detailing life in the inner cities and the struggles that were faced by those in dire situations. There was also a great deal of braggadocio, which was a staple of early rap. Any rap artist in the Hall now, and several rock acts also, owe a debt of gratitude to these men for their work.
Continuing in the rap vein, to this point in Hall history there have only been male rap artists that have been inducted. This is the year that the Nomination Committee should take care of that lack of female representation by nominating Queen Latifahm Missy Elliott, or MC Lyte for induction. Both ladies have been the benchmark that female rap artists have been judged against and for good reason – they are the pinnacle of the genre.
With the induction of Dolly Parton in 2022 (and, I’ll be honest here, I think Dolly might have been a WTF nomination that just happened to garner more support than the Hall expected), this opens the door for a plethora of country artists to get their due from the Hall. First on that list would be Willie Nelson, who has penned some of the greatest tunes in the history of music. His “outlaw” persona has always gone against the grain of the staid country establishment, making him more “rock and roll” than some “RAWK” artists and groups that have already been inducted.
The other from the country pool to be duly recognized would be Patsy Cline. Cline set the standard for a female vocalist in the early Sixties, regardless of the genre that you’re speaking of. Her life was cut tragically short, otherwise who knows what greatness would have come out of her. There are plenty of people who have been inducted into the Hall that would vouch wholeheartedly for the inclusion of Cline in the Hall.
If the “RAWK” crowd isn’t howling and hyperventilating by this point, they will after the next couple of passages. Even though she wouldn’t be my first choice for induction into the Hall, Mariah Carey punches all the boxes when it comes to being worthy of being a member of the Hall. A record-breaking performer, with crystal-clear vocals that have been the benchmark of excellence for years, and a legacy of success state that Carey should be considered if not inducted into the Hall.
There are a couple of R&B groups that would also be worthy of consideration. The Spinners are an outside choice for induction, but The Commodores would be an even more logical selection. What might stop The Commodores from receiving their due is the induction in 2022 of their de facto leader, Lionel Richie. Here’s a shocker for you too…The Fifth Dimension is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! That should be rectified tout de suite.
With all these artists and groups mentioned, there are still viable rock artists and groups that bear mentioning for induction. There’s a whole list of singer/songwriters from the Seventies – Jim Croce, Harry Chapin, Nilsson, Dan Fogelberg, Warren Zevon, Jimmy Buffett – that would be worthy considerations. There are bands such as WAR and Blood, Sweat, and Tears, that have been overlooked. And hard rock/metal’s list of talent might overshine everyone on this list – Thin Lizzy, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer…I could go on, but I would just be making our metalhead friends angry!
The thing is, in a year when there isn’t a wealth of FYE (first-year eligible) contenders that will be automatic choices for induction (like Eminem in 2022, or Foo Fighters in 2021), that is the time to try to clear some of the backlogs from your rolls. 2023 is one of those years that the Hall gets a chance to reexamine some of those from the past that might be worthy of consideration and give them their shot for induction. The more time that goes by, the chances grow smaller for these artists and groups to be recognized.
So, let’s choose some of those “forgotten ones” to include here in 2023. How about:
Willie Nelson DJ Kool Herc and Coke La Rock Queen Latifah Motorhead Warren Zevon Mariah Carey The Commodores The Fifth Dimension Patsy Cline
And these are our prior selections from Part I and Part II for the Nomination Class of 2023 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
Rage Against the Machine New York Dolls Kate Bush Dave Matthews Band John Prine Jane’s Addiction Fiona Apple Jewel Sheryl Crow Korn Liz Phair
Not too shabby a list, huh? But I am sure that there are some selections that I might have missed, and I am always open to hearing other suggestions! It’s also a 20-person nomination class; in the past, the Nomination Committee has usually kept the number between 15-18, so I am probably going to be disappointed in a couple of areas – at least!
We’ve got a few months to debate this issue, however. The Nomination Committee usually discusses potential nominees over the course of the year, but its pace picks up after the Induction Ceremonies. Usually, by the end of January/beginning of February (in 2022, the nominees were announced on February 2), the Hall will announce who is under consideration for induction. Then the game begins again as to who will be a part of the Induction Class of 2023 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
With the 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies in the books, it is time for one of the other “big things” in the Hall timeline. Debating who will be the nominees for the upcoming class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ranks up as an activity with who will be inducted next spring, as it gives many a chance to debate for their favorites. It also allows for the Hall to take care of past business, in particular with those it has nominated before.
Simply being nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a noteworthy achievement. As we pointed out yesterday, there are a plethora of artists who are considered each year when they come eligible, alongside those who currently are eligible for consideration. We also noted yesterday that many of those who are newly eligible have absolutely no chance at being nominated. Considering that only fifteen to eighteen artists and groups are considered each year by the Voting Membership of the Hall, it is arguable that it is more impressive to even be considered for the Hall.
But that doesn’t soothe many artists, bands, or their fans. There is a litany of candidates that have been nominated multiple times and have not been elected. The band Chic would fall in this category, garnering ELEVEN nominations in their time. Once Nile Rodgers was inducted into the Hall (via the Award for Musical Excellence in 2017), Chic has never appeared on the ballot again.
You also must be on the ballot to be considered. Thus, previously nominated candidates for the Hall have a “leg up,” you might say, over other acts that have never been considered or are newly eligible. Every year some artists or bands are on the nomination list that has been down this path before – don’t expect that to change in 2023!
Without further ado, let’s look at some of those who have been nominated in the past and whom we might see again in 2023.
After Chic, who are the bands with the most nominations? That dubious honor would fall to the Detroit punk rock progenitors MC5 and R&B master Chuck Willis – both of those choices have been nominated six times previously without being inducted. I don’t see either of them earning another chance in 2023 (MC5 may only get in through one of the non-voting methods, and Willis probably never), much like I don’t see Joe Tex and the J. Geils Band (five nominations each) finding their way to the ballot again.
Of those who have been nominated recently – and within the last five years, because it is important to be in the minds of the voters – the best bet for another nomination would be Rage Against the Machine. Long considered one of the originators of the rock/rap sound melded with searing political commentary, RATM has earned four shots at induction, the latest just this year. I think it might take one more shot for the group to get in, otherwise, we’ll be looking at a non-voting method for them to enter the Hall.
Another group that might have a better shot at getting in on the 2023 nomination cycle is New York Dolls. Once again, they were just on the ballot in 2022 and have three prior nominations under their belt. Here may be the kicker for the group – in 2023, the Induction Ceremonies are due to be held in New York City. What better way to honor the punk rockers than an induction in front of their hometown crowd? In 2023, New York Dolls are going to go into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame…in one way or another. (As a side note, look for Devo to earn induction during the next ceremonies that are held in Cleveland.)
There’s a third choice from 2022 to return to the ballot in 2023, and that would be the British chanteuse Kate Bush. She has also racked up three previous nominations for the Hall and has yet to be inducted. I have mentioned previously that, if the Hall were in London instead of Cleveland, then Bush would have been an FYE inductee. Alas, Bush has had to struggle through more popular choices like Tina Turner and Stevie Nicks (both deserving inductions, don’t get me wrong) while waiting for her name to be called.
What about choices before last year? There is a list of artists who have been tapped previously that are waiting to be called again.
Since 2016, there have been 117 nominations made. From those, many have earned induction over the six years since then (by my highly unofficial count, 66). I could see a band like DMB making a return trip to the nominations list, especially after the outcry in 2020 over their winning the Fan Vote and being passed over for induction. There has also been a great deal of attention paid to 2019 nominee John Prine, who has been lauded of late for his lifetime of work.
There are three others that I’m looking at that should also merit discussion. Jane’s Addiction and Bad Brains were both nominated for the first time in 2017 and were bypassed, as was 2016 nominee Los Lobos. Of these three, it is easy to conceive that Jane’s Addiction would get another nod and be considered a strong contender for potential induction if they got the call. While Bad Brains and Los Lobos both are extremely qualified and, in my thoughts, deserve to be inducted, it might be a non-voting path for those bands.
Thus, at the end of the day, who do we have from the “previously nominated” list taking another stab at the biggest honor in rock and roll? How about:
Rage Against the Machine New York Dolls Kate Bush Dave Matthews Band John Prine Jane’s Addiction
That brings to a total of eleven of my nominees for the 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Class. We’ve got to look towards those that might have been bypassed in the past plus those that don’t tick the typical “RAWK” checkbox on the list (think R&B, country, rap, and other acts). In our third and final part, we’ll consider those choices and come up with a highly preliminary list (that could change, to be honest) before the announcement of the nominees in January or February 2023.
On Saturday night in Los Angeles, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame welcomed its 2022 Induction Class into the fold. And what a night it was! The highly diverse induction class featured plenty of worthy entries and, as a bonus, also provided some once-in-a-lifetime moments on the stage. The robust power of Judas Priest, complete with the proverbial “prodigal son” guitarist K. K. Downing and drummer Les Binks, demonstrated why they should have been inducted as Performers, while Priest frontman Rob Halford’s duet with Dolly Parton on “Jolene” demonstrated the stretches of rock and roll’s coverage. Finally, two-time Hall inductee Dave Grohl’s work with Lionel Richie was memorable, as was the very-in-love Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo’s acceptance speech and blistering performance.
Alas, however, the show has come to a close. It is now time for the pundits to start to consider who might be in line to join the Hall in 2023. My punditry is going to be broken down into three parts. Up first, we’ll look at the potential newcomers to the list – who might break through that has come eligible in the past few years? In Part II, we’ll examine those who have been nominated in the past. Finally, in Part III, we’ll look through the decades for those who might have been overlooked – and many have.
Without further ado, let’s get it on (tell me you didn’t think of Marvin Gaye?)!
As we get ready to look towards 2023, that means that artists who made their first recordings in 1997 are now eligible for induction. Several viable choices might come from that year, but the reality is that only a few of them will make the grade. A look at past years will show that the success rate is low.
Looking back at the year 2000, how many artists that became eligible that year do you think have made it into the Hall? If your answer was “zero,” then you’re as much a rock historian as I am. That’s right, the Class of 2000 has inducted nobody, although members of Jefferson Starship and Marc Bolan (with T. Rex) have been ensconced in the Hall. This includes such fan favorites as Bad Company, The Commodores, and KC & The Sunshine Band, plus critically acclaimed artists such as Brian Eno, Ian Dury and The Blockheads, The Residents, and Robert Palmer.
In looking at those newly eligible in 2022 (for the 2023 class), there aren’t names that leap out at you as surefire nominees. Perhaps it is because 25 years is such a brief time in life, it doesn’t seem like it should be a guideline for someone’s career to be judged. That is the standard that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame uses, however, so we must abide by that – until they up it to thirty or, maybe even forty, years.
According to Future Rock Legends, there are SEVENTY artists and groups that are newly eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Naturally, there are some of these artists that have no chance in hell of even entering the Hall, so we can immediately issue the “thanks for playing” card to artists like Duncan Sheik, Foxy Brown, Tech N9ne, Busta Rhymes, and groups like Apocalyptica, Fastball, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, and Nada Surf. There is a handful, however, that bear a little more thought.
Two of those choices will send the “RAWK” denizens screaming into the night. Both N*Sync and The Spice Girls are newly minted “first-year eligible” members of the class of 2022 and both bear some thought. Both bands were practitioners of the “girl” or “boy” group sound that has become even more prevalent in today’s music world, with bands like BTS and Blackpink making their impact known. In 2021, however, Backstreet Boys didn’t even get a breath for an induction, so I am not expecting to hear either of these groups called up come January 2023.
There are three members of the hard rock/metal community that will bear watching. The Christian rock band Skillet, Iowa’s Slipknot, and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra all are eligible now for induction into the Hall, and two of them I view as potentially viable. Slipknot is a given, with their impact on the hard rock world still being felt today. The other is TSO – I know, that may sound like a stretch, but the development of symphonic metal has been greatly advanced by TSO over the years. Although we’ve advanced a couple here, we’ve got to also recognize the anti-hard rock/metal bias that the Hall has – and we’ll have to table these two until we put together the entire list of potential inductees.
There are four left that might have a chance at being an FYE nomination. Two of them are critical darlings, Fatboy Slim and Fiona Apple, whom the Hall would absolutely love to induct. Their problem, however, is not an extensive amount of commercial success for either act. The other two have the exact opposite problem – Matchbox Twenty and Nickelback have long been fan favorites (even Nickelback), but their critical acclaim is lacking.
So, let’s move on to the other years, shall we?
In 2021, we’ve already talked about Backstreet Boys, but The Chemical Brothers were also newly eligible. Electronic music, alas, is having almost as hard a time getting recognized as hard rock/metal, as we’ll see in a bit. Jewel and Garbage are both viable choices, with equal parts critical and commercial acclaim, with Deftones and Gov’t Mule having a humongous critical acclaim to post their resume on.
2020 saw the first-year eligibility of bands like Oasis (should have at least been nominated), Korn (likewise), Daft Punk (sensing a trend here), Sleater-Kinney (geez, what IS the Nomination Committee looking for?), Weezer (ditto), and Wilco (hey…), but the Hall has overlooked them so far – is another year of waiting in the offering? Finally, the Hall Nomination Committee has bypassed 2019 FYEs like Liz Phair, Outkast, Sheryl Crow, Snoop Dogg, and the Dave Matthews Band (previously nominated).
As to our “newcomers” list, who comes out alive?
If there is an FYE nominee from the 2022 list that might make the nominations, it would be Apple. Her career has been one that the Hall loves to acknowledge and, with the current vibe of the Hall towards nominating more women for induction, Apple would be a logical choice for nomination if not induction. You MIGHT see Slipknot get the nod to soothe the savage hard rock/metal beasts out there, but that might be as far as Slipknot gets (for now).
From the other years, it is about time that Jewel and Crow get their fair due. Once again, riding on the trend of inductions of women into the Hall, they would be the most likely choices. Sleater-Kinney might make it in here, but they may be a bit too obscure for some to get behind them. I’d love to see Daft Punk, Korn, Phair, Outkast, and Snoop all get the call for nomination, but I also understand that the Hall isn’t my personal jukebox. If one of them got chosen, I’d be happy.
For Part I of our choices for the 2023 Nominations List, here’s what we’ll start with:
Fiona Apple Jewel Sheryl Crow Korn Liz Phair
Here’s the thing, though…we’ve still got two more groups to consider! In the next part of this series, we’ll look back at those who have been previously nominated. In many cases, it takes multiple nominations before an artist or band is inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Who do you think might be the ones who are nominated for 2023 that have been nominated before?
***WRITER’S NOTE*** I originally did this series on my personal website. As it deals with music and its history, I felt that I should have it here too. You can catch up with the rest of the entries at the end of this essay!
There is a term in the music industry – a “one hit wonder” – for an artist or a band that has one massive hit that simply overpowers everything that the act does for the rest of their career. But there are also those that had that one massive hit and, despite their best efforts, are unable to equal the quality or success of that masterpiece. The self-titled album from the band Boston falls into this category.
Released in August of 1976, Boston was a monumental occurrence in the world of rock and roll. What makes it even more impressive is the backstory to the album. That backstory would not have been heard, however, if it weren’t for the fact that the record was an immense moment in the passage of rock and roll time, making it truly memorable and worthy of this list.
In the early 1970s, guitarist Tom Scholz and singer Brad Delp had put together several songs that made the rounds of the labels, but there were no takers for what they were offering. Their demo tape would eventually make its way to Epic Records, who took a flyer on the duo and signed them to a deal. Indicative of the upcoming history of the band, the issues started almost immediately.
Epic, having spent the money to sign the duo, naturally wanted to keep an eye on their purchase in having them record in Los Angeles. Scholz wasn’t having that, however, preferring to work in his sanctuary of a home recording studio back in Boston. Scholz was not just being a tempestuous artist – he actually had developed recording concepts, without the usage of synthesizers, keyboards storing sounds or other electronic trickery, which could only be recreated in his basement studio, thus requiring the creation of the album on the East Coast instead of the West. Using his co-producer, John Boylan, as an intermediary with Epic Records, Scholz set about recreating the demo tapes for the inaugural album.
Scholz played nearly all the instruments on that debut album, with Delp’s soaring vocals carrying the tunes to meteoric heights. There were other players who would contribute to the record and, in fact, be listed as members of the band “Boston” (including Barry Goudreau on guitar, bassist Fran Sheehan, and drummer Sib Hashian), but the original work was all Scholz.
The album was an instant success. Boston would go on to become, at the time, the biggest debut album in the history of the industry, eventually selling over 17 million copies. All eight of the tracks on the record were constantly played on Album Oriented Rock (AOR) radio, and three of the songs, “More Than a Feeling,” “Long Time” (often played with its intro, “Foreplay,” on AOR radio), and “Piece of Mind,” were Top 40 hits. The band Boston would become a touring force on the “arena rock” circuit, alongside such bands as Foreigner, Kansas, and REO Speedwagon.
So, what made the album so special? It is difficult to quantify this, but simply put each song on Boston was given meticulous attention by Scholz to make it as perfect as possible. Part of the charm of the album, especially in the era of disco and its overdubbed drums and bass beats, what the factor that there was no computerization or electronic effects on the record. It was purely Scholz and Delp, doing what they did best.
It certainly helped that each song would have been a singular masterpiece in its own right. “More Than a Feeling” kicked off the record, followed up by the acoustic/electric work on “Peace of Mind.” Then you had the epic “Foreplay/Long Time,” which would have been a wasteful excess in the hands of another artist but served as a triumphant and exciting close…to just the first side of the album.
The second side of Boston could have been forgiven if it were filler, but Scholz’s meticulous nature would not allow that to happen. In fact, the second side of this album puts to shame pretty much anyone else’s FIRST side of an album. You had the dual guitar rockers “Rock & Roll Band” and “Smokin’” to lead off Side Two, before segueing in to a slowdown to the ending climax in “Hitch a Ride” and “Let Me Take You Home Tonight” (“Something About You” would have been better placed ahead of “Hitch a Ride,” but this is a quibbling point).
To put it bluntly, it was eight songs of excellence from a perfectionist (maybe two, counting Delp). But it was also unsustainable.
When you have the type of success that Boston did, it was almost automatic that you would be back in the studios to do a follow up. Scholz, Delp and Company did just that, following up this masterpiece two years later with a decent but uninspired Don’t Look Back. It had its share of success, especially with the title track, but it did not have the same cachet that the Boston album garnered.
Then began Boston and Scholz’s Long Exodus. Frustrated with the pace that Epic wanted regarding the band’s album releases and touring schedule, Scholz would enter the courtroom to battle it out with Epic (the band and Scholz would eventually win the lawsuit). A long eight years would pass before the band Boston would release another album (the intriguing Third Stage) but, by that point, the music world has passed the band by.
It would be another eight years before the final Boston album was released, 1994’s Walk On, which was empty with the lack of Delp on the vocals, and Boston was essentially over. Sure, Scholz has continued to issue albums under the Boston moniker, but they lack the same vitality that was found in the early work of him and Delp. The last album by this version of Boston, Life, Love & Hope, was released in 2013.
Here is a subject that comes up frequently when Boston, the band, is discussed. If their debut was such an impressive album, why aren’t they feted with induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? The reason is a simple one – the music that the band performed didn’t break any new ground, they were minimally influential, and they did nothing to change the direction of “rock and roll.” Boston was a good rock band, but they were far from an immortal (you could also discuss Scholz getting more attention for his production and guitar innovations, but that is a subject for another time).
There is no shame is having one of the great albums in the history of rock and roll, however, and that is what Boston, the album, was. The record was a monumental piece of 70s arena rock folklore that deserves to be respected. It is also critical that any record collection should have the album to capture that snapshot in time.
There’s approximately two weeks to go in the Fan Vote for the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Currently leading the way is first time nominee Duran Duran, who is dominating the standings with almost 850,000 votes. In a distant second is Eminem, who has gotten an impressive 650,000-plus votes, while Pat Benatar hangs in third with slightly more than 559,000. Rounding out the Top Five are Eurythmics and Dolly Parton (who, despite her protestations, might have to live with the title “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Member”).
The reason this Top Five is important is that those finishers will each earn one more vote onto their total from the overall Voting Membership towards induction into the Rock Hall. That single vote is unimportant – the 1200-member Voting Membership’s decisions will not come down to one vote, to be honest. It is important, however, in setting the tone for what “the fans” want as far as the Rock Hall goes.
But who is going to be elected to the Rock Hall? We are going to look at that here, but first we must set a couple of criteria.
There is absolutely no clue as to how many people will eventually earn induction into the Rock Hall. It should hold true that six new Performer inductees will be named – that is what has consistently happened since the Hall was created. What will be the “wild card” is will the non-voting committees – the Ahmet Ertegun Award, the Award for Musical Excellence, and the Early Influencers – receive the same credence that they got in 2021.
Last year, those non-voting inductions accounted for more than half of the new inductees into the Rock Hall. Previously, the non-voting inductions were rotated between years, so as to give respect to those inductions. But 2021 blew that out of the water…it was a way for John Sykes (the new Chairman of the Rock Hall) to “clean the slate” (so to speak) by getting in several contentious and problematic induction issues. A band like Kraftwerk or an artist like LL Cool J, who had multiple previous nominations without induction, were able to bypass the vagaries of the Voting Membership and were inducted.
But will that hold true for 2022? I could see it going either way. For our purposes here, though (and to be able to get in as many people as possible), we are going to assume that the Hall will have the “mega-class” once again for 2022. That means we will go with six Performers inductees, three Early Influencers, three AME inductions, and a solo Ertegun honoree.
So, who is going to go in as members of the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? I have always had two lists for these types of issues – a list of who SHOULD be inducted and a list of who WILL be inducted. These two lists are extremely different, so it might be said that the “should be” list is my personal preferences, while the “will be” list is the one the Rock Hall’s Voting Membership will go towards.
Thus, without further ado, here is the list of who SHOULD BE inducted as the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
Judas Priest Pat Benatar Kate Bush Rage Against the Machine Eminem New York Dolls
MC5 “Big Mama” Thornton Dick Dale
Award for Musical Excellence
Warren Zevon Thin Lizzy Jimmy Buffett
Ahmet Ertegun Award
Rick Rubin, producer/label executive
The Rock Hall has been under consistent attack over the past few years for their “non-rock” inductees. Thus, I think this year they will try to lean towards the more “rock” oriented members of the nomination class. Even though Eminem will get in (he is on both the “should be” and the “will be” lists), the Voting Membership will push for more rock artists and bands like Judas Priest, Benatar, Rage, and the Dolls to get in (right now, Judas Priest is lurking behind Parton in the Fan Vote).
Taking MC5 in as an early influence for “garage rock” seems like a logical step because otherwise the band is not getting voted in. There just aren’t enough fans of that style of rock to get MC5 voted in as performers. Thornton has been overlooked for far too long for her influences on rock and roll. Finally, if you are going to have Duane Eddy in the Rock Hall, you also must have his cohort in the development of the “surf sound,” Dale, in there beside him.
Taking the trio of performers in with the Musical Excellence award – Buffett, Zevon, and Thin Lizzy – bypasses the issues that they have had in earning induction as performers. Both Buffett and Zevon have legacies and contributions far too numerous to mention here (it is arguable that, without Zevon, you do not have the “California sound” of Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, and others, while Buffett created a music genre of his own in tropical, or “trop,” rock). Thin Lizzy might be the weakest entry here, but if they are going to go in, it is going to be through a non-voting mechanism.
Rubin as an Ertegun inductee is something that would take the Rock Hall a bit of pushing to do. Rubin, as the creator and leader of Def Jam Records and the producer behind a slew of top rap acts, would not be the first choice of many in the music world. But the world of music would be lesser without his work and his influence on the industry, thus he is deserving of induction.
That gives us a list of thirteen artists, groups, and other miscellaneous entries for the SHOULD BE Class of 2022. But it is not likely to happen…not this year at least!
Now, the moment for which you’ve been waiting! Here are the people who WILL BE inducted in May as the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
Eminem Dolly Parton Eurythmics Pat Benatar Judas Priest Beck
MC5 New York Dolls **WILD CARD**
A Tribe Called Quest Thin Lizzy **WILD CARD**
Sylvia Robertson, founder of Sugar Hill Records
Eminem is a lock for induction in 2022, whether people like it or not. He has been one of the iconic figures of rap in the past 25 years, has brought attention and acclaim to his work, and has been a groundbreaker in many ways. Beck is in a comparable situation – he has been a formative figure in alternative rock, someone followed by many in that genre, and he has been an innovator in his field.
Judas Priest SHOULD already be in, but this could just as easily go to Rage Against the Machine. I am giving Priest the edge for their longevity and their body of work. And the Rock Hall still has the ringing in their ears for not inducting Benatar back in 2020; they will fix that this time around.
Much has been made about Parton’s nomination and potential induction into the Rock Hall. Whether she (or those who want to deny her history) realizes it or not, Parton has been a figurative force in the world of music, breaking ground for women in a male-dominated field (the same could be said of Benatar). If she does not go in through this manner, she could very well be one of the “wild cards” in either the Early Influencers or the Musical Excellence fields.
A Tribe Called Quest is a rap act that would probably never earn their induction through the Performers vote. Thus, it is time to nip this one quick and put them in with the Musical Excellence category. In fact, you could do this with several deserving rap acts, such as DJ Kool Herc and Coke La Rock, Eric B. and Rakim, and Kurtis Blow, to recognize their influences.
Robinson is a woman who took rap from the streets to the record stores in the 1970s and 1980s. Her creation of Sugarhill Records brought about The Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and Funky Four Plus One, icons in the world of rap (and, in the case of Grandmaster Flash, a Rock Hall inductee). The label was integral to the development of rap in the United States and Robinson should be recognized for what she did.
Finally, the reason that there are two WILD CARD choices there is for the simple fact that the Rock Hall can sometimes simply pull a rabbit out of the hat on the fans, especially with the non-voting inductees. Last year, for example, Randy Rhoads, Billy Preston, and Kraftwerk going in through the “side door” completely ambushed the fans. It is highly likely that we see something like that happen again with artists that weren’t even on the radar for this year’s inductions.
We will find out in May who will make up the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Then the debate will start on who is deserving of the honor, how the Rock Hall is a “sellout,” how the Rock Hall isn’t “rock”…you know, the regular ad nauseum criticisms that the Rock Hall receives. One thing is true, however – whoever is announced as the Class of 2022 will be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this fall and take their rightful place beside the legends of rock and roll, regardless of what the critics or especially the fans think of the vote.
It is that time of year again, one that brings with it its usual grousing and celebrations. Awards season is underway with the Oscars this last Sunday (did something happen that was noteworthy?), and it will continue with the Grammy Awards this week. The crème of the music world will arrive in Las Vegas (it was supposed to be held in Los Angeles back in February, but COVID guidelines at that time forced its move) on Sunday night, looking to celebrate the best in their industry (and hopefully not smacking the shit out of each other).
I always look forward to the Grammys, so I do not want to hear a lot of bitching about “rich, successful people patting each other on the back.” OF COURSE, it is rich, successful people patting each other on the back. These people work incredibly hard on their craft, not to mention the songwriters, producers, engineers, and other industry people who put together these musical creations for our entertainment. Why else do you think they give out MVP awards in professional sports? It is their way of honoring the best – and that is what the Grammys do.
Because my knowledge of the industry is in the rock field, I am going to concentrate on those categories first. At the end, I am going to offer my prediction for the four major awards – Album of the Year, Song of the Year, Record of the Year and Best New Artist. SPOILER ALERT!! It is going to be the same person, because…
Wait, I am getting ahead of myself. Here are my predictions for the major rock and metal awards for the Grammys 2022.
Best Rock Performance
“Shot in the Dark,” AC/DC “Know You Better (Live from Capitol Studio A),” Black Pumas “Nothing Compares 2 U,” Chris Cornell “Ohms,” Deftones “Making a Fire,” Foo Fighters
SHOULD WIN: “Ohms,” Deftones WILL WIN: “Shot in the Dark,” AC/DC
With the passing of drummer Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters VERY recently, there is going to be a strong call for the group to be feted in some manner. Likewise, the posthumous release of cover songs by Cornell, the former singer for Soundgarden and Audioslave who committed suicide in 2017, is sure to draw some support. “Ohms,” however, was a magnum opus from Deftones and it should win…but it won’t.
That honor is going to go to AC/DC, who has been around now for 50 years and have only once taken home the trophy (for a rather subpar “War Machine” in 2009 for Best Hard Rock Performance). “Shot in the Dark” was an outstanding comeback for the group and it gives the voters in the Recording Academy an opportunity to say “Hey, we’re hip with the hard rock!” I’ll leave out my healthy does of sarcasm on this one!
Best Rock Song
“All My Favorite Songs,” Rivers Cuomo, Ashley Gorley, Ben Johnson and Ilsey Juber, songwriters (Weezer) “The Bandit,” Caleb Followill, Jared Followill, Matthew Followill and Nathan Followill, songwriters (Kings of Leon) “Distance,” Wolfgang Van Halen, songwriter (Mammoth WVH) “Find My Way,” Paul McCartney, songwriter (Paul McCartney) “Waiting on a War,” Dave Grohl, Taylor Hawkins, Rami Jaffee, Nate Mendel, Chris Shiflett and Pat Smear, songwriters (Foo Fighters)
SHOULD WIN: “Distance” WILL WIN: “Find My Way”
“Waiting on a War” wasn’t even the best song on Foo Fighters’ “Medicine at Midnight,” so we cannot consider it here. Weezer and Kings of Leon are not going to get the award. It should go to Wolfgang Van Halen for the outstanding ode to his father, the late guitar wizard Eddie Van Halen, from Mammoth WVH’s debut record. It was a masterful piece of work that should be recognized (even though I think “Don’t Back Down” was a better song).
The rule with the Recording Academy is “if you can honor a Beatle, you do it.” And that’s why McCartney will win this award. It was not because it was a great song, it was not because “McCartney III” was a great album. It is simply because McCartney is, well, McCartney. I would love to be proven wrong, however.
Best Rock Album
“Power Up,” AC/DC “Capitol Cuts – Live from Studio A,” Black Pumas “No One Sings Like You Anymore Vol. 1,” Chris Cornell “Medicine at Midnight,” Foo Fighters “McCartney III,” Paul McCartney
SHOULD WIN: “Power Up” WILL WIN: “McCartney III”
See above. While I personally believe that “Power Up” was the best record AC/DC has released in some time (arguably since “The Razor’s Edge”), this is where Foo Fighters would be best considered. “Medicine at Midnight” was a complete record, front to back, and this might be where they will slip in.
Unfortunately, McCartney is there too…
Best Metal Performance
“Genesis,” Deftones “The Alien,” Dream Theater “Amazonia,” Gojira “Pushing the Tides,” Mastodon “The Triumph of King Freak (A Crypt of Preservation and Superstition),” Rob Zombie
SHOULD WIN: “Amazonia” WILL WIN: “Genesis”
The category is Best METAL Performance and, as such, the only qualifier in these five songs would be Gojira. Gojira was nominated twice in 2017 for Best Metal Performance and Best Metal Album (not awarded any more), and they are more than deserving of recognition for their work. I would like to see Dream Theater or Mastodon get some respect, too, but they may be too much on the peripheral of some voters for consideration.
This one will probably be a makeup call for Deftones not winning in the Best Rock Performance category. Although I have always considered Deftones more on the alternative edge, Grammy voters are not known for their knowledge of musical genre (remember, these voters once “honored” Jethro Tull over Metallica for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance). Thus, this is the place where Deftones will probably be receiving their award.
Now, as to the Big Four…
Last year, it was a bit of a surprise. For the first time in 40 years, the Big Four awards – Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year and Best New Artist – were all taken home by the same artist, Billie Eilish. The last time that it occurred was in 1981, when Christopher Cross walked away with a truckload of Grammys for his song “Sailing,” and proceeded to be crushed by the MTV steamroller when it debuted in August of that year.
We’re not going to have to wait as long this time for it to happen. Olivia Rodrigo and “Driver’s License” was a MONSTER through the year, and the album it came from, “Sour,” provided a plethora of top hits. You might be able to question Rodrigo on her propensity for “borrowing” sounds from other artists (Taylor Swift, Hayley Williams of Paramore and Courtney Love of Hole is just a small list), but she has been able to concoct a debut CD that blew up the charts.
If you want to look beyond Rodrigo, there are two choices that are very apparent. The collaboration of Lady Gaga and the legendary Tony Bennett on their CD “Love for Sale” would be good candidates in the Record and Album categories as a sentimental “lifetime achievement” statement for Bennett. Meanwhile, Lil’ Nas X might make a run at a trio of awards (Record, Album, and Song of the Year) with “Montero.”
Unfortunately, a couple of the big favorites pre-Grammys are going to be overlooked. Jon Batiste and H.E.R. both received numerous nominations (eleven for Batiste, eight for H.E.R.), but I do not believe that either will crack through in the Big Four categories (they aren’t eligible for Best New Artist). This is unfortunate as both Batiste and H.E.R. have demonstrated their virtuosity as musicians and should be recognized for their outstanding work.
Set your DVR now if you do not plan on watching the 2022 Grammy Awards live – it is Sunday night at 8PM (EDT), airing on CBS. Musical performances lined up include Silk Sonic (Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak), Batiste, Eilish, H.E.R., Lil’ Nas X, Rodrigo, Chris Stapleton, John Legend, and Carrie Underwood (Foo Fighters were scheduled to be on the bill, but the death of Hawkins – which will have a “tribute segment” during the ceremonies, according to producers – has caused the band to withdraw). It should be a helluva show!
It has been nearly two weeks since the Rock Hall Nominating Committee, under the auspices of Jon Landau, Tom Morello, Questlove and twenty-some odd other people, released the names of the artists and bands that are nominated for this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Class. It is arguably the best class that the Nomination Committee has produced in ages, giving the Voting Committee several differing artist and groups to consider for their place in the pantheon of rock and roll. In fact, it is going to be extremely difficult for the voters to pick only five choices for their ballots (traditionally the Voting Committee members are limited to only five votes).
Before we get into ranking the nominees for the Class of 2022, we have got to set one thing in stone. This is the ROCK & ROLL Hall of Fame, not the “Rock Hall of Fame.” Rock and roll is the overarching musical styling that has been popular since the 1950s, incorporating all forms of music including rock, jazz, country, folk, blues, electronica, funk, R&B, soul…I could go on all day listing the ingredients to the rock and roll gumbo, but we would never get to the actual point. “Rock music,” in fact, is only but a SMALL PART of what “rock and roll is.”
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame was not created to be the personal jukebox of anyone. It is there for several purposes, none of them someone’s own personal glory. One of them is to honor those that have truly innovated in the world of rock and roll, those who had a massive impact on the music and society. Another purpose is to serve as a repository for the historical recording of these artists and the incredible music that they have done. The final, and arguably the most important part, is to serve as an area where this history can serve as a learning mechanism for those who come after us.
It is not about ticket sales. It is not about a great concert tour. It is not about being shit hot for three or four years. You have to have made your impact on rock and roll for a lifetime, not a flash in the pan. That is why many acts that people scream about have NEVER been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and, in all actuality, probably never will.
On that note, let us take a look, in reverse order, at the nominees for the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is going to be one of those things that, even if you are the worst, you are still in a rarefied air of a nominee, at the minimum.
17. Dionne Warwick – Back for another run at induction and, just like last year, I’ve got to wonder why. Is this like the brothers in Trading Places, wagering on whether they can make a bum into a Wall Street fat cat and betting each other a dollar on the outcome? I could imagine Tommy Mottola and David Geffen making this bet with each other, with one advocating for Warwick and the other against.
Look, Warwick is a pleasant voice. She has had an extensive career. But there are several downsides to her even being considered. She does not even have the best voice in her own family – that would go to Whitney Houston, hands down, and Sissy would even give a run. Another fact is that, on her popular tunes, she was not even top billing – on “That’s What Friends Are For,” she tagged on the coattails of Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight. No, Warwick is not deserving of induction and, since someone has to take the bottom rung of the ladder, this seems like a good place to start.
16. Carly Simon – After Carole King’s induction last year, Simon has become the cause celebre of many in the music world. This is Simon’s first nomination for induction and, on the surface, she would appear to be worthy of being higher on the list (writing and performing the classic “You’re So Vain” will do that for you). But if you look deeper, you will see the score isn’t quite as high as many think it should be.
Simon’s timeframe of success was actually shorter than you would expect for a vocalist. She was only truly successful from 1972-1978, and when the songs she performed were hits, they sometimes were not even her own creation (“Nobody Does it Better,” arguably her most noted hit outside of “Vain,” was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager). Simon’s career is a case of one of those sayings that I often use – it is the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, not the Rock & Roll Hall of Pretty Good.
15. Lionel Ritchie – I put Ritchie this low because he is not being inducted in the right manner. Yes, his solo career in the 1980s was quite good, one of the biggest pop stars of the era. But it is the complete and utter disregard of his early career’s work – and what he should be nominated for – that is my cause of disagreement.
Ritchie should have been nominated with The Commodores, the R&B/funk act that were one of the groundbreakers in the world of music during the 1970s. There are a few others that fall in this category – Parliament/Funkadelic is already in, while Kool & The Gang and the Ohio Players should be considered (and there is always the argument for Rufus and Chaka Khan) – and to bypass The Commodores and just put Ritchie in on his own completely overlooks this group that put him on the map. It is an error that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame makes FAR too often, not looking at the linear time of history, and one that should be rectified with the organization.
14. Beck – This is NOT an indictment of the talent, innovation and creativity of the artist known as Beck. It is more of a statement about the quality of the nomination class overall. SOMEBODY has to take the lower edges of the rankings and it sometimes comes down to individual preferences.
Beck has been one of the most creative artists of the 90s, but he always seems like he DOESN’T want the respect of anyone. If critics start to like him too much, he goes poppy. If he gets too popular, he breaks from his fans with a critically acclaimed effort. This constant zigzag of a career will allow you to make some really groundbreaking music, but it does not exactly endear you to anyone.
13. Devo – I can hear some wailing over this one right now. Devo has long been overlooked as one of the bands at the forefront of the synth rock/electronica era, serving as an influence on many who came after them in the 1980s and 90s. You could probably lay the inductions of The Cure and Nine Inch Nails on the mantle of Devo breaking the barriers.
Their minimalist stylings and quirky stage shows made the name of Devo in the late 70s/early 80s. But they were not really able to sustain that effort for an extended period. Mark Mothersbaugh, the founder and chief creator of Devo’s sound and vision, moved on to doing movie and television soundtracks, which might be where many know him best. I could see them being inducted if the ceremonies this year were held in Cleveland; as it is in Los Angeles, I think the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame might hold them off for a couple more years.
12. A Tribe Called Quest – I am going to be honest about this one from the start. My knowledge of rap is not outstanding, but I have heard of and recognize how influential the work of ATCQ has been. Because of my lack of knowledge, however, I cannot rank them any higher, especially with the talent that I believe is ahead of them.
The band incorporated different musical stylings into their rap product, with jazz and alternative music influences showing up in their tunes. They also took a different lyrical approach with some very astute commentary on inner city life and other social issues. Overall, they were a tremendously smart rap band and one that is deserving of a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – just not this year (or at least by the voting method).
11. Fela Kuti – There were a whole bunch of people who said “who?” when Kuti was nominated in 2021. He has long been advocated for induction by Nomination Committee member Questlove and I am sure that Questlove does not get people nominated to not take them all the way to induction. Kuti is one of the people on the list of nominees who could very well take the Early Influence route to induction, especially if it does not look like he will be voted in.
You can hear the Afrobeat stylings that Kuti originated in many performers that have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. David Byrne of Talking Heads has called Kuti an influence on his musical stylings, and Peter Gabriel falls in that camp also. Is this advocacy enough to get Kuti over the hump? That is definitely a question that needs to be answered.
10. MC5 – Garage rock is one of the genres that you can certainly say has been shorted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. MC5 is arguably one of the originals in that genre, along with some of the tunes from The Who and The Kinks, two of the British purveyors of what might be called “garage rock.” Mixing up surf stylings with their native Detroit R&B sound (and a heaping helping of political commentary), MC5 certainly set themselves apart from the pack in the 60s.
MC5, unfortunately, burned out rather quickly. They only got three albums under their belt in a brief three-year career and they’re basically known for one song – “Kick Out the Jams.” This seems more like a worthy entry for the Singles category (after not nominating any songs in 2021) rather than a full-fledged induction of the group.
9. Dolly Parton – What’s that? More screaming from the readers? This is why I made the statement I did at the start of our trek in this essay. Country music is an important part of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. To be honest, there should be more members of the country community inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – I can think of Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and even Hank Williams, Jr. and Garth Brooks as worthy of consideration.
But it should all start with inducting Dolly. She has had a monumental impact on music and her songwriting efforts are beyond compare. Her philanthropy is legendary (I wouldn’t want something like that to become a criterion for induction, but it works in Parton’s case). Considering that there are only 11 inductees from the country music realm among the 338 individuals and groups that have been previously into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I think it is time we considered some more.
8. Eminem – A first year eligible nominee, you are also going to see Eminem inducted come November. I will say this right now, he is the only lock that is in the 17 nominees for this year’s class. He has been a critical and commercial juggernaut and has helped to further music and, yes, has been the controversial figure that traditionally is needed in music – what is more “rock and roll” than that?
So, you might ask…why is he rated so low? It is something that also applies to several others on this list. The overall excellence of the roster is going to push some artists/groups down the ladder. I get that some may have Marshall Mathers up higher than this, and I respect that. It is a situation where I felt the artists/groups ahead of Eminem were more deserving.
7. New York Dolls – Another one of those long-overlooked acts that should have been inducted many years ago. This is something else that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has become famous for – bypassing the forebears of a musical styling while inducting those that come after the fact. Don’t hold your breath on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame changing this any time soon, either.
The Dolls were the forerunners of the glam rock/punk movement in the U. S., much like T. Rex pushed the genre in the U. K. The downside once again is a lack of longevity, something the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame voters like to take under consideration. But give kudos where they are due – New York Dolls are more than deserving of entry.
6. Rage Against the Machine – The four-time nominated band out of Los Angeles would seem to be a lock for induction. They said that back when they were first nominated in 2018…and in 2019…and in 2021. What could be holding RATM out? Could it be the fact of Morello’s involvement in the Nomination process? If so, that is a pretty shitty reason.
Combining the stylings of rap and rock into a potent and explosive brand of rock and roll, Rage Against the Machine pointed out the hypocrisies they saw in the world, whether it is the financial system or politics as a whole. These ideas don’t come from the void – Morello is a Harvard educated political science graduate, and he is well versed in pretty much every area that the band offers commentary. They might be denied entry is because of that dreaded “lack of longevity” – four albums in eight years before they broke up – but they burned bright when the fire was on.
5. Kate Bush – I have often said that, if the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame were located in London rather than Cleveland, it would look tremendously different. There would be many artists that would be inducted if it were in England that cannot seem to crack through the wall here in the States. Bush would be one of these artists.
With her ethereal voice and offbeat musical styling, Bush has set her own course throughout her entire career. She worked with David Gilmour and Peter Gabriel before striking out on her own and her music has incorporated literary classics into a perfect setting (“Wuthering Heights”). Bush should be inducted, sooner rather than later, to pay tribute to her outstanding body of work.
4. Eurythmics – You might put this band down lower, but the reason I hold them in the regard that I do is that they were at the forefront of a musical revolution. They not only added to the “MTV Generation” of rock and roll, Eurythmics also benefitted greatly from that exposure. Along the way, they touched on every form of music and did so outstandingly.
Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart had their hands in electronica, synth rock, R&B, soul, ballads, even just plain ol’ rock and roll, and they excelled in every area. Stewart’s mastery in the studio was overshadowed by Lennox’s simply mesmerizing vocal abilities, but one would not have been as great a success if they hadn’t joined with the other (at least in the early 80s). You might suggest that Lennox get a solo induction, but the way she should enter the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is with Stewart and for their work in Eurythmics.
3. Duran Duran – Another beneficiary of the “MTV Generation,” it is hard to believe that this is the first nomination for Duran Duran to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Why? Well, from what many have said, their “pretty boy” looks were held against them. Furthermore, they were not looked at as “serious” musicians, despite the fact that the band were true musicians and not a “front” group for session acts.
The musical styling of Duran Duran was diverse also. They could hit you with a great rock song, then come with a ballad, then deliver the pop side of the equation. The one constant was that they did it all excellently. And let us not forget the standard they set with their video work – the Rio album alone, and the videos done for that disc, should be enough to punch the ticket to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
2. Judas Priest – If you look up “oversight” in the dictionary, you will find a picture of Judas Priest. They have been eligible for the Hall since 1999 and, in the time since then, have only earned TWO nominations, in 2018 and 2020. This third nomination should be their last, concluded with their induction.
Heavy metal would not be what it is today without the input of Judas Priest. From the “chains and leather” look to the driving, unruly sound of the dual guitar attack of Glenn Tipton and KK Dowling, it could only be topped with the operatic wail of Rob Halford to truly take it to the stratosphere. I would list the songs that would qualify them for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but we’d be here for hours if I did.
1. Pat Benatar – Benatar should really be a lA to Priest’s 1B, because both acts have been abused by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame oversight in ignoring their contributions. If the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is serious about inducting more women into its entourage, then why haven’t you already put in THE predominant woman rock star of the 1980s? If you talked about rock in the 80s, the conversation started with Benatar, and it finished there.
If there was one thing that is keeping her out, it would be a “conspiracy theory” that I’ve heard. Benatar, despite her greatness, might be holding out for having her husband/guitarist Neil Giraldo inducted alongside her. To put it bluntly, she might not take the induction if he is not inducted with her. I certainly hope that I am wrong in this case because, if it is true, it seems to be a rather silly reason (on both sides) to not induct such a legend.
This is the “best to worst” rankings of the nominees for the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It is in NO WAY what I think is going to happen when the inductions actually come down, however! The issue is that I have “my list” of who I would like to induct, and then there’s the “reality check” of those who actually will be inducted. We will get to that another time, probably before the announcement in May of the Class of 2022, but we’ve got enough meat to chew on here for discussion for quite some time!