Well now that the NomCom is actually meeting, time to stop pondering and get going!
This year’s list is an actual prediction (guess) list, although it never gets any easier. It’s easy to get paralyzed by the possibilities, so I find it’s easier to just go on feel rather than try to analyze the proclivities of who we know to be on the Committee. Looking at the lists published so far, there are some clear trends that have been bubbling under since last year, and more than one shows up here.
Critics like to jab at the number of inductees, but when you try to make any kind of list and keep it under 20 names, you realize how constricting it is. I think most of us still operate under the idea that there are limits for women, artists of color and genres outside the boundaries of classic rock, which just shouldn’t be. I went without an R&B, singer-songwriter, or alternative entry this time around, regretfully.
A few random thoughts: cynical as it may be, I don’t think the Hall is going to make significant concessions to the calls for more women on the ballot. I think that unless it affects attendance at the Museum, they’ll stay on the present course. I had four but cut Kate Bush at the 11th hour and am down to three. I’ve been an advocate for Pat Benatar the past two years but I have to admit I think she’ll wait another year – maybe my dream of a duet with Kate Bush on at least a few bars of “Wuthering Heights” can stay alive.
That brings me to the subject of Cher. Which brings me to the topic of the kiosks. Gosh knows, I adore her. Have since I was 9 years old, which makes it…a really long time. She’s a goddess. If she’s nominated, I’ll send some votes her way. And I’d love to be there to witness her speech before the HBO standards and practices crew gets to. She’ll sell tickets, would likely show up and perform, and draw a big-name inductor. But on musical merit, so many artists deserve it more. This could be the litmus test for the role the kiosk vote will play in ballots going forward. Either way, there’ll be a discussion that deserves its own post.
Without further ado:
- Todd Rundgren: He has a vociferous fan base (if you’ve seen him live, you know just how much) that buoyed him up in the fan vote last year, although it’s not clear how he did with his peers after an often-fractious career. He IS the individualist. But his recent tour underscored the breadth and depth of his body of work as well as his performing ability at age 71. His run-ins with his peers are more of an impediment than any grumpiness about the Hall, but hopefully that fan base can persuade him to play if inducted.
- Nine Inch Nails: Trent Reznor hit all the right notes with his induction speech for the Cure this year, he’s an Ohioan, and the NomCom clearly wants him.
- Doobie Brothers: Can the Azoff lightning strike over two consecutive years? The Doobies are still active and sound good, and they’re clear favorites of the still-powerful Boomer demo.
- Duran Duran: Yes, they were inductors just last year, but the Hall’s been on a Brit-centric tear, the band has a huge and enthusiastic fan base, and the band they inducted – Roxy – opened the door for them.
- The Go-Go’s: They were my last-minute cut last year, but the buzz about them hasn’t diminished.
- Chaka Khan: Janet’s in now. Questlove will beat the metaphorical drum; just hard to say if they’ll try again with Rufus or go with her as a solo. Either way, it’s time.
- Motley Crue: I’ve been expecting them to show up on a ballot for a few years now, and now that Bon Jovi and Def Leppard are in, they’re a logical choice. They had the hits, and their crude behavior towards then-Elektra Records head Sylvia Rhone won’t hurt them, although it should. In this instance, the kiosk vote is gravy.
- Kraftwerk: One of the Hall’s most egregious snubs, and the NomCom’s been trying to rectify it. They’ve had an every-other-year pattern, but they may just try to push it through this year.
- Devo: Like NIN, native Ohioans, which could bode well for them.
- T. Rex: Again, the Hall’s been on a run of British artists, and many of those who’ve gone in — as well as their American counterparts — have been upfront about their debt to this band. In their short career, they left a lasting mark and are one of the Hall’s top five –maybe top three – snubs. If they’re on, they’re in.
- Cyndi Lauper: Her body of work more than stands up, and Seymour Stein was the executive producer for her 2016 country album, Detour. If the committee really does opt to focus on women, he could throw his influence behind her. I’ve been pushing for Pat Benatar for the past two years, but I think she’ll be a bridesmaid this year with a good shot at next year. Just as an aside, she featured prominently in the “Stay Tuned: Rock on TV” exhibit that just wrapped at the Museum and was on the cover of the visitor guide last year for the period covering Member Appreciation Day.
- Rage Against the Machine: Third time will be the charm. Maybe as an inductee/NomCom member, Morello can advocate for Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Motorhead.
- Depeche Mode: Chart hits, sales, longevity, and undeniable influence. It’s time. I’m probably overstressing the Hall’s recent Anglophile streak, but if it’s still in effect, it certainly can’t hurt. They may just have five additional votes on the committee in the members of Def Leppard, fans who’ve covered “Personal Jesus” andused the song as pre-show warmup. Is it realistic to think that Kraftwerk, NIN, and Depeche could all be on the same ballot, let alone class? Think of the all-star jam. That’s still a thing, right?
- Notorious B.I.G.: An FYE, as they say on “Who Cares About the Rock Hall? You have to wonder though if LL Cool J’s moment is over. And when will it be ATCQ’s turn? Or Queen Latifah, Salt n’ Pepa, and MC Lyte?We shouldn’t have to feel that only one hip hop artist will make the ballot in a year, but it still feels like it’s a truism.
- J. Geils Band: Let’s just get it over with already. They’ve got friends in high places and it just seems like this could be the year. They’re NOT without merit, and they’ll kick the ceremony into another gear, but it just seems like there are so many other artists that deserve to go in ahead of them.
If we do get a couple more names:
- Bad Company: They score on the longevity, sales and chart hits fronts. But in truth, it would be a nod for Paul Rodgers’ career in toto, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. And again, Boomers.
- Lionel Richie: I’ve had him on my long list for the past three years now, and really think he’ll show up at some point. While the Commodores scored their first Grammy without him, he has four of his own, is in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and is a Kennedy Center honoree. Not sure who’d go to bat for him on the Committee but he’d be well received at the ceremony.
There it is. On the core 15, eight returnees and seven newbies (eight and nine counting the extras). Who might make it from this list? Crue, Biggie, Duran2, Chaka, and the Doobies, with Cyndi and NIN in there if we get a bumper class.
Here’s to a a great ballot!