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:
Rage Against the Machine
New York Dolls
“Big Mama” Thornton
Award for Musical Excellence
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:
New York Dolls
A Tribe Called Quest
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.