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?

Stocking Stuffers – The Best CDs of 2021

It is that time of year again – the air is crisp with a chill, people are out buying their Christmas trees, and, for my Jewish friends, their menorah is lit a little early (Happy Hanukkah, guys and girls!). One thing that everyone is looking for, however, is ideas for presents. I have come up with a list that, just as a coincidence, also happens to be my picks for some of the best CDs that were released in the past year. There is something here for everyone, so take a look at the roster of albums I’ve selected and perhaps you’ll be able to take someone’s name off your list!

(As an aside, I DO NOT receive any money for these selections, even though you will find a link to how to purchase these items – these are truly some of the CDs that I have enjoyed over the year and think very highly of them.)

Let us get it started, shall we?

Up first we have a brand-new band that hit the scene like a hurricane in 2021 (no insult to Nita “Hurricane” Strauss intended!). Plush is a band that came together rather quickly in 2021, with all four of its members UNDER the age of 21 – that’s right, they cannot legally drink when they are out on tour! Singer/guitarist Moriah Formica, lead guitarist Bella Peron, bassist Ashley Suppa and drummer Brooke Colucci blew people away with their first song “Hate,” and followed it up in October with their self-titled debut CD.

This CD rocks from start to finish, but I came to a discovery. While listening to the song “Athena,” it finally hit me who Formica reminds me of as a vocalist. She is quite comparable in style, quality and strength to Ann Wilson of Heart. Add in the virtuosity of Peron, Suppa and Colucci on their respective instruments and they offer us a relived glimpse into the future of what rock music might look like. Plush just finished an opening tour set with Lzzy Hale and Halestorm and Amy Lee and Evanescence – if you are opening for bands like that, they also think you have got some talent!

I will be honest on this one…I was not initially sold on Wolfgang Van Halen, the only son of the late Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli. His work with his father and uncle Alex in the revamped Van Halen really did not show much of what he could do, thus I was skeptical when I heard he was coming out with his debut CD following the passing of his dad in late 2020. Let it be said now that I have been converted.

Mammoth WVH (Mammoth was the original name of Van Halen that Wolfgang asked if he could use for his group) was completely the work of the younger Van Halen, who played EVERY instrument on the record. Over six years, he slaved over the album and the time taken was well worth it. The self-titled debut is a perfect record, from the strains of “Don’t Back Down” to the tune that Wolfgang wrote for his father, “Distance.” The ONLY issue I can see is that this record sets the bar EXTREMELY high for Wolfgang when he comes down to doing the follow-up.

This list is not all about established artists. Through my work, I have been exposed to some independent artists that are putting their blood, sweat and tears into their music and trying to work their way up to multi-platinum albums and stadium shows. One of those groups that I have found is Austin, TX’s The Metal Byrds, who put out arguably their best effort in their fourth career album, naturally titled 4.

Vocalist Suzanne Birdie and guitarist Sly Rye both carry full time jobs (Rye is a first responder, Birdie works with an airline) while they pursue their dreams of musical glory. They write about many different issues on 4, from paying tribute to a young fan on “Spitfire Pete” to enjoying their time away from their “day jobs” with “Life of the Party.” The download can be found on Bandcamp (a GREAT place to find lots of new music), where you can also pick up some of the other music from The Metal Byrds. These guys deserve to get that major label deal – they have the talent, they’ve got the drive, and they’ve got the substance from their catalog.

Up next might be a surprising choice from me, at least to those that know me. During the pandemic shutdown, Americana legend Lucinda Williams did shows called “Lu’s Jukebox” where she performed music that has shaped her musical stylings. Those pandemic recordings have become a six-part series of CDs, with five of them already out and the sixth, a tribute to The Rolling Stones, coming out in 2022.

Of the efforts, my personal favorite has been Williams’ tribute album to the late Tom Petty. Running Down a Dream: A Tribute to Tom Petty took Williams a bit outside her comfort zone, especially when attacking such rock classics as Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” and “You Wreck Me.” But she did an outstanding job throughout the album, which was the first one released of the series. You would be well advised to pick up ALL of the CDs, but especially Williams’ tribute to Tom Petty (in the series she also covers country music tunes and Bob Dylan).

OK, just suggested six CDs in that last segment, so I am going to name two in this one because the ladies are quite similar in their approaches. First up is the return of 90s spitfire Liz Phair, whose 2021 CD Soberish deserves a place on every “top album” list for the year. After a decade away from the game, Phair showed that she had not lost any of her prickly nature, nor her ability to craft a song. The title track in particular was outstanding, as was her ode to Lou Reed, “Hey Lou.”

The tandem partner to the Phair CD would be another discovery I found during my radio work this year. Tamar Berk’s the restless dreams of youth (yes, Berk is a Rush fan!) was simply an excellent demonstration of crafting an album. With turns of phrase that remind you of Phair, Berk still makes her music her own, especially on tunes like “Socrates and Me” and “Shadow Clues.” This is an artist that deserves more attention for her efforts – get to Bandcamp and give Berk’s work some love.

As Monty Python used to say “And now for something completely different…”

The band Ice Nine Kills carved a niche out in hard rock three years ago with an album called The Silver Scream. The 2018 album was Spencer Charnas and Company’s interpretations of classic horror and slasher films in a musical context. They did such an excellent job with it that it deserved its own sequel, as horror and slasher films are wont to do – hence, Welcome to Horrorwood: The Silver Scream II makes an appearance on our list.

You might think they would run out of ways to do these songs, but INK continues to produce inventive and entertaining ways to interpret these compositions. On The Silver Scream II, most notable are “Hip to be Scared” (an ode to the movie American Psycho), “Rainy Day” (taking on the Resident Evil franchise) and even the classic “The Shower Scene” (yes, about the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho). Can Charnas and Ice Nine Kills continue with the sequels? As they say, let’s tune in a couple of years down the road.

You cannot put together a “best of” list for 2021 without including Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters. Just when you think they are getting too old to play this game anymore, they come up with one of their best efforts in years in Medicine at Midnight. It has been a fantastic year for the band, with their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and other accolades, and the success of Midnight is well deserved.

This is another group that I found through my efforts in radio, coming out of Canada. Sumo Cyco is like No Doubt and Slipknot had a baby, and the resulting album this year, Initiation, was perfectly crafted to display the skills of the band. Such tracks as “Vertigo” and “Bystander” should have gotten much more airtime from mainstream radio – that they did not is a huge crime.

We are going to wrap this up with a couple of bluesy acts.

First up is the Jamie Porter Band, who released their latest CD MMXXI just last month. The band often gets lopped in with the NWOCR category (New Wave of Classic Rock) that is quite popular in the United Kingdom, but I think that Jamie Porter and his entourage just do some damn great blues rock. “Save Me” and “You Can’t Bring Me Down” are the best efforts off this CD, but the entirety is a joy to sit back and listen to with a drink in hand.

Finally, we have guitarist Samantha Fish, who released her newest CD Faster in the final quarter of 2021. Fish has already gained acclaim for her guitar prowess, and she is taking that talent to the next level in working with differing sounds and genres. She caught a little flak from the blues community for working with Tech 9ine on one of the best tracks on the album, “Loud,” but Fish was stubborn in her insistence on collaborating with the rapper. “All Ice No Whiskey” and “Crowd Control” further demonstrated that Fish is continuing to expand her world beyond just the blues box.

While these are the “best of,” I would be remiss if I didn’t name a few “Honorable Mentions” to the roster. Check these albums out too:

Lilith Czar, Created from Filth and Dust
Halsey, If I Can’t Have Love, I Want Power
Black Veil Brides, The Phantom Tomorrow
Garbage, No Gods No Masters
Chevelle, NIRATIAS

With that, go forth and do your shopping! Oh, and while you are doing that, what were some of your choices for the best albums of the year? It is always good to hear what others might think!