Who Will Be the Nominees for the 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Part III: The Forgotten Ones

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.

Who Will Be the Nominees for the 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Part 1: The Newcomers

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?