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?
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?
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 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!
Over this past weekend, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremonies for the Class of 2021 aired on HBO. It was a fine program, with just a few flaws (the Tina Turner tribute fell flat and Drew Barrymore’s drooling over the induction of The Go-Go’s was a bit much), and it seemed that the sellout crowd in attendance at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland had a damn good time. Even before the ceremonies had closed, however, speculation had already begun as to who will be nominated for the Class of 2022.
Considering the fact that this class will not be chosen until late January at the earliest, the speculation seems to be a bit premature. It is human nature, however, to always be looking towards the future. It is also human nature to try to “right wrongs,” as in those that had been nominated in 2021 but failed to get in. The problem with this theory is that those that have been nominated and failed to get in have a much more challenging time as their nominations (and subsequent rejections for induction) mount up – ask eleven-time nominees Chic or Rufus and Chaka Khan about multiple nominations and how that went.
But let us entertain the thought. Here are some of those that were nominated in 2021 and an honest look at their chances to come back to the ballot in 2022.
First off, we can immediately discount four of the 2021 nominees and they are all women, unfortunately. Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Chaka Khan and Dionne Warwick will not be back on the ballot in 2022 for a variety of reasons. For Blige, you only have to look at LL Cool J. “Ladies Love Cool James” had to be inducted by receiving the Award for Musical Excellence and he has had a career that was VASTLY superior to Blige. If there were someone who might have a chance to use the AME like that, it would be Khan, who has been nominated several times as both a solo artist and with the band Rufus. But neither of these ladies will be on the ballot come 2022.
For Bush, it is simply a matter that her incredible talents are more respected in Europe and, in particular, the United Kingdom than they are in the States. If the Rock Hall were in London, she would have been a first year eligible (FYE) induction. Alas, the Rock Hall is on the shores of Lake Erie, thus she will probably never get another chance. Warwick must have been some sort of cosmic joke to be nominated for the Rock Hall…she is not getting another chance.
Noting the longstanding prejudice of the Rock Hall against hard rock and metal, this is arguably the last time you will see Iron Maiden or Rage Against the Machine on the ballot (as you will see, though…that does not stop me from putting some harder edged bands on my choices for 2022). It seems that neither of the bands were able to garner much support for induction, so they might end up like Judas Priest, Motorhead, and Thin Lizzy, eternally on the “outside looking in” at Rock Hall membership, even though ALL of them deserve it.
That leaves three nominees from 2021 that all have a chance to be inducted – Devo, New York Dolls, and Fela Kuti.
These three are going to go in at some point in the mix. Kuti will be inducted, it is simply a question of whether he is elected as a performer or he takes the Early Influence or AME route. Devo is a selection that the Rock Hall Nominating Committee will hold in their hip pocket for an induction ceremony back in Cleveland. Inducting a band created in Akron, OH, would excite the local fans and draw a great deal of media coverage. That also goes for the Dolls, whose induction during a New York ceremony would be massive, not to mention that the Rock Hall may need another 70s relic to induct on some occasion – New York Dolls would cover both bases.
Now that we have covered the 2021 nominees and their chances at getting back on the ballot in 2022, we can move on. Here are the bands that I believe, in this way-too-early selection list, will be the nominations for the 2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The ONLY guarantee for 2022 is Eminem, and he is also a shoo-in as an FYE induction. The former Marshall Mathers is recognized as one of the greatest rappers in the history of the genre and has expanded the scope of the genre into pop and rock effortlessly. The Rock Hall has recognized nine rap acts for induction, and Eminem will be the tenth to take a chair in rock’s Parthenon.
Duran Duran was oneof the seminal 80s acts, and they have surprisingly NEVER been nominated for induction into the Rock Hall. That should change this year, especially with John Sykes, the new Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, now firmly in charge. Sykes made an impact with his first Rock Hall class in 2021 and now, with his history as one of the founders of MTV, will push hard for the inclusion of more of those 80s acts that have been overlooked for far too long. You could also slip Eurythmics or Joy Division/New Order into this slot.
Even though I said it would not happen, I would love to see the Rock Hall give both Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy one final shot. The Rock Hall has made some missteps over the years and, for at least the selection of Judas Priest, they could rectify it with their induction. Motorhead or Iron Maiden might be other selections if you want to have two hard rock/metal acts to choose from (but which in the past may have served as a detriment in dividing the hard rock/metal vote).
There are two acts from the 1970s that are worthy of consideration – War and the J. Geils Band. Both were outstanding acts in the 70s that garnered huge followings, and both had an impact on the development of rock in the decade. I used to be against both bands being inducted, but I took an honest look and spent some expanded time examining their resumes and…guess what? You can change your mind on some occasions!
If we are going full bore on the 80s – and start considering acts that should have been inducted over a decade ago – the place to start is with Pat Benatar. Nominated in 2019 and somehow passed over for induction, the Rock Hall is trying to make up for the lack of female inductees in the building (note the inductions of Tina Turner, Carole King, and The Go-Go’s in 2021). Personally, I think that Benatar should have been there years ago, but I think she might be the one standing in the way of an induction by insisting on being inducted with her husband, Neil Giraldo. If that is the case, that is unfortunate.
There are two men who merit consideration for induction into the Rock Hall. Sting’s solo career was so vastly different from his time with The Police that he deserves consideration for his work apart from the band. Additionally, it is time that Robert Palmer gets some kudos from the Rock Hall. He could croon a ballad with the best of them, could rock it up when he wanted to (“Bad Case of Loving You” and his work with The Power Station) and look oh, so suave as he did it (I am waiting for those fans of Phil Collinsto quit their wails of disbelief).
Now, if you want to get controversial, our final four choices would do it. Separate out the idiocy of their front man over the past decade or so and only look at the work of The Smiths. You will realize that Morrissey and Company were key to the development of alternative rock through the 80s and into the 90s. If you are going to have The Cure and Depeche Mode in the Rock Hall, then The Smiths deserve to be there, too. Additionally, Jane’s Addiction and, yes, Rage Against the Machine deserve to receive their kudos for their intricate and politically powerful work in the 90s.
Finally, if there is one rock band that is newly eligible in 2022 for induction into the Rock Hall, it would be Slipknot. The band fronted by Corey Taylor has many similarities to 2021 inductee Foo Fighters – carrying the rock and roll banner unapologetically for 25 years, sticking to their sound over the years, providing a linchpin between today’s rockers and past greats, and having an enigmatic focal point in Taylor (Dave Grohl did that for the Foos). I will say right now I do not expect them to be inducted even IF they are nominated, but who knows?
That is a total of 13 selections – but the Nomination Class is normally 15 or 16 artists and groups. I am leaving a few slots open for those “wild cards” that the Rock Hall seems to produce out of the blue (see Kuti, Fela and Warwick, Dionne from 2021). Right now, however, the only thing that is guaranteed is that Eminem will be inducted in 2022 – after that, it is a free-for-all.
Wrapping up our two-part series on the nominees for the 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, this time around we’re taking a look at the artists who are probably more recognized as “rock” than those that were featured in Part I. These artists most definitely have the driving guitars, guttural bass and thundering drums that are recognized as being “rock and roll,” but that isn’t necessarily a guarantee for entering the Pantheon of Rock in Cleveland!
Whether it is classic rock, hard rock or even metal, these artists have all paid their dues and are worthy of induction. Who will get in? Could this be the time that a couple of long-overlooked rock veterans in Pat Benatar and Judas Priest earn their entry? Or could relative newcomers like Nine Inch Nails or Soundgarden break through the wall? It will be a hard rockin’ hour-plus of music as we review the final eight nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on the Renegades Radio Podcast!
Recently the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame held its induction ceremonies, enshrining such legends of rock as Stevie Nicks, The Zombies, and Def Leppard into the Valhalla of rock music. Now that the 2019 ceremonies are complete, it’s time to take a look at those who are newly eligible and those that have been eligible for some time but haven’t been voted in. Such newcomers as The Notorious B.I.G., Stabbing Westward and Weezer are all eligible (having released their first album in 1994), while stalwarts such as Warren Zevon, Jimmy Buffett and Pat Benatar all look for their first nominations. Take a listen to the newcomers and the veterans – which ones will be nominated come this fall?
In the latest edition of the Renegades Radio Podcast, we’ll take a look at some of the artists and bands that have, in many cases, NEVER been nominated for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That includes the lady you see above, Pat Benatar, and many others. Listen to find out who SHOULD be in the Hall!