For the fourth year in a row, we here at Notinhalloffame.com will be predicting whom the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will be naming as Finalists for the next class.
This year, I am joined again by our own DDT and Spheniscus and we will see which one of us can correctly predict the Finalists of the most debated Hall of Fame worldwide.
All of us clearly took different approaches as to how we came up with up our projections, and hopefully you will be entertained by our varying processes.
Follow along with us, and let us know who you think will be the final 15!
I have to ask myself do I want to have the same thought process as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Committee? It was their ineptitude that begat this website in the first place!
Still, the massively competitive nature dictates that I feel the need to go 15 for 15, no matter how much lack of pride I should feel about that.
So does that mean I will come up with my prediction with my head firmly in my rectum?
No, but only because my abilities as a contortionist is lacking.
What it does mean is that due to my competitive nature I will try to answer based on the “Categories” that the Rock Hall committee seems to follow and throw in my par of pennies here and there…
Although I should point out that in my native Canada, we don’t have pennies anymore so I might have to add another so that it rounds up to an even nickel; which we still have…for now. Have you seen our exchange rate?
1. The First Year Eligible, First Year Inducted Nominee: Pearl Jam.
I hate using the term no-brainer, especially with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame committee, but this has everything they could possibly want. With Pearl Jam, you have your headliner with a still loyal following. You have a band that meets significant commercial success that the casual fan can wrap their mind around. Pearl Jam gives you an inductee that the hard rock/metal set would not complain about inducting and we are now entering a stage where we have to consider annual or bi-annual grunge entries to properly represent a genre that fits another key criteria, the rock and roll critics loved them! Eddie Vedder can start penning his sanctimonious acceptance speech now.
2. The Hip-Hop Representative: Tupac.
There is a strong possibility that the deceased legend could be a first ballot entry, and frankly, he probably should be, but each year there is a strong Hip-Hop candidate on the ballot, and the man who still makes appearances via hologram is the strongest of the lot.
At this point for those of you reading this and are shaking your head bemoaning how rap or anything of its ilk is not Rock and Roll and you agreed with Gene Simmons last year, you are what I like to call one thing…
With all due respect to Gene (and by the way I have seen Kiss in concert five times) the definition of rock and roll is not, nor has ever been clearly defined. If you are one of those waiting for Cleveland to alter that mode of thinking you are better off waiting for betamaxes to make a comeback.
3. The Return Nominee who will eventually get in: Nine Inch Nails.
This will be the third consecutive nomination (if I’m right) for Trent Reznor and this could be the year for hm. The 1990’s alternative scene was impactful and NIN fits along perfectly with Pearl Jam as representatives from my college years.
Sorry, just realized that my college sensibilities don’t really matter in this argument does it?
Whether or not Trent Reznor enters the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year might be in doubt, but I feel very confident in saying that he will be the only “Industrial” artist to make it.
Honestly, one is all that is necessary…but it is necessary!
4. The Return Nominee who will never be inducted: Chic.
I am tired of the Susan Lucci references.
I am tired of the constant nominations and subsequent rejections.
I am tired of seeing Chic as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominee.
It is not that I don’t think that there is merit towards Chic being nominated. I do, and I legitimately think they will be here again.
However, let me make this proposal to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Committee:
Induct Nile Rodgers via the Award for Musical Excellence.
For those who don’t known what this is, it is replaced the “Sideman” category in 2011 and has inducted such luminaries in the past like Leon Russell, The E Street Band and Ringo Starr.
Wouldn’t Rodgers fit such a criteria?
Of course he would, and you wouldn’t have to keep nominating Chic, who constantly gets beat out by bigger names.
Will this make sense?
Can we just induct Rodgers, who has remained relevant in past years with his work with Daft Punk and be done with it?
Never mind and pass me a beer.
5. The Return Nominee who doesn’t care, and neither do their fans: Kraftwerk.
For the record, I am a massive Kraftwerk fan and when this site originated, I pushed for this band to be ranked #1 on the list. That year, I got my way, and the Germans bounced up and down but never out of the top five.
While I state this, I know this:
Most Kraftwerk fans give zero thought about this group entering Cleveland. We suspect that neither does the band.
Either way, Kraftwerk BELONGS in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but their acceptance speech should it ever happen will be as interesting as watching a coffee table.
6. The First Time Nominee after decades: The Moody Blues.
Honestly, I am going by all of you on this one. The article that has the most comments on Notinhalloffame.com is that for Moody Blues, and unilaterally it is beset with anger as not only have they not been inducted but have never been nominated.
If they do get nominated there is an excellent chance they will get in. When looking at the past five years, such rock and roll heavyweight like Rush, Alice Cooper and Chicago were finally nominated on their first turn as a Finalist after a very long wait. Steve Miller did too, but this may not be a memory that Jan Wenner wants to remember.
I don’t see this group being nearly as surly if thy get inducted.
7. The Motown Representative: The Spinners
While I know that The Spinners really became stars in Philadelphia, they began in Detroit, thus giving the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the opportunity to honor the musical hotbeds of Motown and Philly Soul. The Spinners have been nominated before and another nomination and subsequent failure could put them on a Chic path, which I definitely don’t want to see.
I do have respect the Spinners, but frankly would rather see Mary Wells or the Marevlettes in this spot.
8. The Progressive Rock Nominee: Yes
Prog Rock has been the pariah of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While bands like Yes, Jethro Tull and ELP are staples on classic rock radio, these are musicians who are clearly talented but are despised by many of the rock critics.
I get it. Their argument is that bands like Yes can become self-aggrandizing and boast their instrumental prowess too far to the point where the spirit of Rock and Roll is lost. In basic terms, it is why they love the Sex Pistols and glorify people who couldn’t play more than three chords over true virtuosos of the instrument.
Still, Cleveland should house both styles and Yes would be a great fit.
Now which members would it be?
9. The “Ethnic” Nominee: War
I hate the qualification I just made, but I don’t think I am exactly wrong.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame likes to nominate somebody/a group that does not fit the traditional Rock and Roll boundaries. That fit when Los Lobos, was nominated in the past and the multi-ethnic group, War was nominated previously.
Since I don’t see them nominating both, I will select War this time around and again watch them be passed over.
10. The Strong Female Nominee: Janet Jackson
I have been an advocate of Janet joining her brothers into the Hall of Fame and personally I hope not only she is nominated but gets in.
Rather than extoll Janet’s RRHOF resume, I am going to ask all of you to take a look at Mike Litherland’s “Induct Janet” campaign that has gained a lot of press, including a little help from us here at Notinhalloffame.com.
For those of you who are trying to get your favorite musician into Cleveland follow what Mike had done. Not once has he trashed the institution (KISS fans, I am looking at you) but has meticulously outlined why she belonged based on who she influenced and what she accomplished.
His formula got him national press, support from Janet’s producers (Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis) and has created a template that should be followed.
Janet is going to get in and I hope that Mike gets a shout out. He deserves it, but in the little I got to know of him over becoming Facebook friends, he won’t ask for it once.
11. The Second Female Nominee: The Eurythmics
Yeah, I know. This isn’t exactly an all female act, but it does have a strong female lead (Annie Lennox) and a decent body of work that people remember and won’t exactly make people upset if they get in.
If they do get nominated, and/or inducted, Lennox would be the key, hence why I placed the Eurythmics as the second female act. Those young enough remember the first time they saw Annie with her orange crewcut, androgynous look yet undeniable sex appeal…even if you couldn’t understand what that appeal was. This is one powerful woman with an even more powerful voice who fits an establishment that craves strong female musicians.
This may come as a slight to Dave Stewart, who is someone I have always considered brilliant, but we all know (and so does Dave) who the star was in that duo don’t we?
12. The 1980’s British Alternative Nominee: New Order
The Smiths were nominated last year. The Cure have been nominated previously. The Jam have never been nominated. New Order have CRIMINIALLY never been nominated.
A near equal case can made for all four, and if you want to say the strongest case is with New Order (before you merge them with Joy Division) I will agree with you.
Is that why I am selecting them here?
It is, with the hope that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Committee will continue to put forth one of these bands and that this time and this is the most deserving. Those of you who have been to the Rock Hall know that these are acts that have exhibits in Cleveland, which is nowhere near the one they have for Percy Sledge.
13. The Mainstream Nominee: Bon Jovi
When Bon Jovi was nominated a few years ago I was surprised they didn’t get in. I was actually more surprised that there wasn’t more of a push from their fans demanding it.
I can’t figure it out. I have met, and continue to know some fervent fans of Mr. Bon Jovi and this remains an act that could sell out an arena tour. Why doesn’t this group care more about Cleveland? I come from Toronto where the Air Canada Center actually retired the band of sorts by putting up a banner commemorating the band. Granted that was more due to a local push from the lead singer’s then desire to help relocate the Buffalo Bills to Toronto, but nevertheless the banner is still there, and Bon Jovi’s place in the Hal is not.
In years past this slot has gone to J. Geils and most recently the Cars and while those three bands are not the same they are all mainstream in their own way, so why not see if they can get in. If they are nominated that will get them “half way there”.
You finished the rest of that song in your head didn’t you?
14. The “Indie” Darling Nominee: Big Star
You don’t have to be commercially successful to make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Ask the Velvet Underground, who made it immediately. The Hall’s only defining criteria is “influence”, which the Velvets had in droves, though I guarantee when they got inducted there were quite a few people who viewed themselves as seasoned rock and roll fans who had no idea who they were.
The same would have been said of Gram Parsons and the Replacements who are previous (yet not inducted) nominees. In keeping with the Hall’s recent tradition of coming up with new nominees, I am going with Big Star, who if they get nominated might finally get the respect they deserve.
Actually, they really won’t.
15. The Headscratcher: The Grass Roots
Last year, I saw the biggest headscratcher when the J.B.’s were nominated, thus marking the first time an act that was not in our top 500 were nominated. I will call that a one-off and I doubt we will see that again, but Spheniscus after that my Fela Kuti prediction of a few years ago seems pretty smart right?
Anyway, with that knuckleball last year I threw a dart and came up with The Grass Roots. A decent band with a few hit songs and could fit the “Forgotten 60’s Band” Nominee.
Seriously, I really did throw a dart at a board and went with this one. Damn, I wish it landed on Grace Jones.
That’s it for me. Gentlemen, can you do better?
The best thing that happened to the Rock Hall in the past year is that the nomination process was exposed for how dumb it is. There are either somewhere around 25 members of the Nominating Committee, each gets to bring two names, who then get debated behind closed doors until only 15 candidates remain.
The problem with this process is that it promotes pet projects (that’s an alliteration so it must be true). There are rumors that Green Day almost didn’t get nominated last year because no one wanted to waste one of their two precious nomination spots on them. That is dumb.
We have been seeing a spate of acts who get in after waiting for years and years. In the last few years we have seen Cheap Trick, Chicago, Steve Miller, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Hall and Oates, Linda Rondstadt, Peter Gabriel, Albert King, Rush, Freddie King, The Faces, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, and Tom Waits all wait years and years before getting in on their first shot. Why were they all waiting so long? Too many pet projects from powerful people is my reason. Regardless it shouldn’t have taken any of them that long to be considered.
The good news is that last year this flawed process ended up with a good group of 15 nominees. Well, 14 plus the J.B.s., which was clearly a pet project. How far outside the group were they? I have a spreadsheet with over 1,800 musical acts that I go through each year. The J.B.s. have never shown up on it. I don’t expect them back, but with this system it is possible.
So while my nominees would be 2Pac, Cher, Diana Ross, Dire Straits, Gil Scott-Heron, Herbie Hancock, Janet Jackson, Judas Priest, New Order, Patti LaBelle, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, Sonic Youth, Tina Turner, Tommy James & the Shondells, and Warren Zevon … this is who I expect to get through the process this year…
FIRST TIME ELIGIBLES
After a four-year run of worthy first ballot Hall of Famers (Guns ‘N Roses in 2012, Public Enemy in 2013, Nirvana in 2014, and Green Day in 2015) the leaders of last year’s class (Smashing Pumpkins, Alice in Chains, Blur, The Black Crowes, A Tribe Called Quest, and I dunno Celine Dion or Mariah Carey?) left their first year of eligibility without as a nomination.
We will make up for that this year, just not the Class of 2016 who I think will still be without a nominee. The Class of 2017 will have 2.5 first ballot Hall of Famers. How do we get 2.5? One gets an asterisk as you will see below.
1. PEARL JAM
This is the Ivory Soap pick of the year. While you can’t go 100% on any nominee (after all Green Day almost didn’t get nominated in 2015 due to the stupid way they do the Nominating Committee process), Pearl Jam is as close as you are going to get to automatic.
Odds of Nomination: 99.44% (Same as the purity of Ivory Soap, at least according to their marketing department)
Odds of Induction if Nominated: Same
2. TUPAC SHAKUR
Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, Run DMC, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, N.W.A. The question of rap artists in the Hall has long been answered. And even if it were still in doubt, you’d have to be one of those Japanese soldiers still defending their island years after WWII to have a problem with Tupac being nominated. Both he and Biggie, when he is eligible in a couple of years will be first ballot nominees.
Odds of Nomination: 95%
Odds of Induction if Nominated: Ivory Soap
3. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE***
This is the half nominee from the Class of 2017. Mainly because I believe that Rage Against the Machine should be a member of the Class of 2018. Generally the rules state that it is 25 full years from your first major label release. That means that the Class of 2017 released their first albums in 1991. Rage formed in ’91 and released a demo tape, but they didn’t have their eponymous first album released until 1992. For some reason, the scuttlebutt out there is that they are being considered to be eligible this year. If that is the case with the normal Nominating Committee they would be getting a nomination.
But this is not a normal Nominating Committee. This is a Nominating Committee with Tom Morello on it. The same Tom Morello who was a founding member of and played lead guitar for Rage Against the Machine. And the thought is that Morello doesn’t think that they should be eligible either and would prefer to leverage this into getting his personal favorites through rather than have Rage nominated this year. And it is not like either this year’s class with Pearl Jam and Tupac or next year’s class with Radiohead and Beck are short on star power.
So what to do with the percentages? Split the baby.
Odds of Nomination: 49.72% (halfway point between 0% and Ivory Soap)
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 70%. Three first ballots might be too many for the electorate and if so, Rage Against the Machine would clearly be the third choice.
RETURNING FROM LAST YEAR
As I said, I think that the Committee did a really good job with the nominees last year and I expect most to return. Expect one or two of these acts to get the nod to the Hall this year.
Little known fact, Chic is actually French for musical déjà vu. You know, that sense that the same band will get nominated over and over again without actually ever getting elected to the Hall. If they get nominated this year, it will be their 11th nomination. A new record. The only other act to go as many as 10 nominations is the late, great Solomon Burke who got in on his 10th bite at the apple.
Will Chic get the nomination this year? It seems likely. They have been nominated in each of the past four classes and 10 of the 13 years they have been eligible. So why has it taken so many times? They were first ballot nominees along with The Clash, The Police, and Elvis Costello and the Attractions. So they may have gotten lost among that star power. But ultimately, it comes down to the disdain for disco. After all, Donna Summer had to die before they’d let her in. Nile Rodgers has survived his health scare. I hope he gets in while we still have him.
Odds of Nomination: 78.57% (11 out of 14)
Odds of Induction if Nominated:: 7.14% (1 out of 14) Basically what their batting averages would be for both if they got in this year.
5. JANET JACKSON
How did she not get in last year? I understand that the NomCom did a really good job with their nominations. But after waiting for eight years for her first nomination, she looked like a lock to get in. I was shocked she did not. And there was not a single female who entered the Hall last year.
The Hall tends to do a terrible job when it comes to female artists. They will pick one or maybe two and keep nominating them over and over until they get in and they move on to the next artist. So I would be shocked if she doesn’t reappear this year. She deserves it. She also deserves to get into the Hall this time.
Don’t screw this up voters!
Odds of Nomination: 85%
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 90%. I want to put this higher but they screwed it up last year and there are likely to be more women on the ballot this year. The last time two female artists made the Hall was 2013 with Donna Summer and Heart. The time before that was 2007. Before that was 1999. Multiple women being nominated make it harder for deserving female acts to go through. It is dumb, but that is the way it has been historically. And I expect to see at least two female acts on the ballot this year.
For the past four years, Yes and Kraftwerk have been alternating on the ballot. With Yes having appeared last year, many people are picking Kraftwerk to return. I disagree. I think that the Committee will put Yes up again this year and next if necessary in an effort to get them in the Hall. Then go back to concentrating on Kraftwerk. While this is just a gut reaction, there are a couple of things that do back this assertion up.
Part of it is the rumor that they only didn’t get in on their first nomination in 2014 because the induction ceremony conflicted with their tour schedule. The main part is the reuniting of Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman with Trevor Rabin under the name ARW. This is basically a reuniting of the old and new versions of Yes. While guitarist Steve Howe is still touring under the Yes moniker, ARW having a worldwide tour and (allegedly) putting out new music.
Their activity puts them one up on Kraftwerk who tour in small batches, usually in Europe, but are notoriously reclusive as a band. Concentrating on Yes for a couple of years will make it easier to get both in.
Odds of Nomination: 50%. I mean it’s going to be one of them, right?
Odds of Induction if Nominated: I’ll say 25%. A full year of touring and a new album would definitely help them for the class of 2018 though.
7. NINE INCH NAILS
Trent Reznor is one of the most important people in the development of music over the past 30 years. There is almost no way NIN does not continually get nominated until they (he) gets in.
Odds of Nomination: 80% This will be the third straight. If they don’t get in this year, they’ll be back next year.
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 60%. It is a little strange it has taken him to a third nomination to get in at this point.
8. THE CARS
I know I am biased being from Boston originally (I have moved to Chicago since the last nomination process took place), but I was shocked that it was Rockford, Illinois’ Cheap Trick and not the good Boston boys The Cars who got in last year. Particularly with Chicago on the ballot already.
With no first time nominees, last year’s ballot was heavy with popular groups who had been snubbed by the NomCom for years. It is possible that The Cars just got lost amongst Chicago, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, and the Steve Miller Band (I know only Steve Miller got in, but that’s only because his band had so many members it deserved its own zip code and the Rock Hall didn’t want to deal with who was getting inducted and who wasn’t).
This year, the number of quality first time candidates will limit their competition. Like Deep Purple, they are one of those bands that once nominated, will be nominated again and again until they do get in. Without direct peers on this ballot (well, my ballot anyway), their chances appear to be pretty good that they will get to “Drive” right down I 90 to Cleveland this year.
Odds of Nomination: 55% Anything can happen, but now that the NomCom has found them, they are more likely than not to be back this year.
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 40% Only because this is going to be a tough group.
9. THE SMITHS
I want this spot to go the New Order or Depeche Mode or The Cure, who got one bite at the apple five years ago. But it appears that Morrissey and The Smiths are going to be the band the committee keeps nominating until they get in. The problem is that I don’t think their particular brand of angst is going to move the voters to give them the nod.
Always more popular in the U.K., they only had one top 40 hit in the U.S., “How Soon is Now”, which peaked at #36 in 1985. And no joy and few hits makes it difficult for people to vote for them when there are so many other great groups out there. Do I think they are deserving? Yes. Do I think they’d have a better chance if one or more of the bands I previously listed got in first? Yes, I do. If The Cure and New Order were already in, The Smiths seem like someone who belongs in the Hall with them. Without their peers they may be the newest version of Chic.
Odds of Nomination: 26% They will pick one of those four bands, since they were the choice the last two years, they get a slightly better than 1 in 4 shot.
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 5% I just don’t see it.
10. LOS LOBOS
When Los Lobos were nominated last year for the first time, my first reaction was really? If not for the presence of the J.B.s I would have thought them to be the weakest act on the ballot. After further examination this year, it is pretty clear I was wrong.
Their biggest hit was a cover of Richie Valens’ classic “La Bamba”. It doesn’t seem that would be enough to get a band past the Halls. But they are multiple Grammy winners and have been putting out their own incredible brand of music over 22 albums since the early 70s. A mix of native Latin music with well, pretty much every other type of music you can think of. They are incredibly talented, they have friends on the committee, and they will be nominated again.
Odds of Nomination: 75%
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 35% There is a ton of competition, but there isn’t anyone else really like them who is likely to be nominated. So they have better odds than most of the longer shots who will be nominated.
11. THE SPINNERS
The Spinners are awesome. The Spinners should be in the Hall of Fame. They have been nominated three of the past five years, including the past two. It appears that even with the revamping of the Nominating Committee a few years ago, they still have their supporters. I fully expect that they will be up again this year.
Odds of Nomination: 66%
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 20%. I think that this is a long term process. They will get in eventually, but it seems like this will be a five nomination or more type of induction.
RETURNING FROM PREVIOUS BALLOTS
This is tough, there are lots of candidates, but with the number of acts who will be returning from last year there just won’t be that much space. So while I considered LL Cool J, Link Wray, Joe Tex, The Meters, and The Marvelettes, only one made the cut.
This is actually a little early for them to come back up. They were first nominated in 2009, then again in 2012, then in 2015. That’s every three years for those of you counting at home. So why do I think that this is the year they’ll be back? Mainly because they cleared out so many other of their peers last year.
With Chicago, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, and Steve Miller now members of the Hall it becomes easier to compare those who are on the outside with those inside. War really sounds nothing like any of those individual bands. But they had musical excellence and a string of hits around the same time. And they were one of the first truly ethnically integrated Rock bands. And with the political climate in 2017, that is more important than ever before to many voters.
Odds of Nomination: 10% It’s going to be someone from before, but who knows who.
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 56% A vote for War is a vote against one of the presidential candidates so this percentage is the inverse of his current polling numbers.
FIRST TIME LONG TIME
There are so many great bands and solo artists that need a shot. The Moody Blues, Dire Straits, Paul Anka, New Order, Journey, Diana Ross, Iron Maiden, Bad Company, Willie Nelson, The Grass Roots, Pantera, The Doobie Brothers, Kool & the Gang, Motley Crue, The Go-Gos, Tina Turner, Cher, Peter, Paul, and Mary, Joan Baez… and about 100 others. This time, I think only four get through.
13. THE MONKEES
Call it the Fictitious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame bump. The Monkees have always been seen as something of a novelty act. Created for a TV show (hence their being elected as First Ballot Fictitious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members by the users of this site), they seem to lack the musical “gravitas” or “musical excellence” that is part of the Nominating Committee’s criteria. So they have been largely ignored.
For some reason, this year that is simply not the case. There has been a groundswell of support online and it appears to be putting a bug in the ear of People Who Know Things tm. Maybe it is because previously blacklisted acts like Rush, KISS, and Deep Purple have been cleared out of the way. Maybe it is the power of this website. Who knows? Whatever the reason, their odds have never been better. And what are those odds?
Odds of Nomination: 30%
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 40% This is a tough one. If they are there, it is possible that the 60s nostalgia and even folks like me in their mid-30s who loved The Monkees and caught the reruns of their TV show will vote for them. It is also equally possible that they are still seen as a novelty act by the voters. So it is 50-50 they’d get in. Minus 10% for how stacked this ballot is likely to be.
14. JUDAS PRIEST
Alice Cooper, KISS, Deep Purple… finally the Rock Hall is getting the Hard Rock/Metal backlog cleared out. That seems to leave a space for a new Hard Rock group to get in. As much as I love Iron Maiden, it kinda has to be the Priest at this point, doesn’t it? Dark Lord knows they deserve it.
Odds of Nomination: 25% It will be one out of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, or Pantera. The spot is there, it just depends on which band has an advocate in that room.
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 55% I would have said the same thing about Deep Purple when they first got in. Although it took 3 nominations to get them in. Once Judas Priest is before the voters they should be in pretty quickly.
15. PAT BENATAR
A decade ago, Patti Smith got in to the Hall on her 7th attempt. Four years ago, the hard rocking women of Heart got their admission into the Rock Hall. Two years ago it was the hard rocking Joan Jett and the Blackhearts who got the nod. It seems about time for another hard rocking lady. And with apologies to Scandal, Lita Ford, and the Runaways, Pat Benatar is the Rock hero we need.
With no women being inducted last year, the Committee is going to feel some additional pressure to get more women on the ballot. And since the process rarely allows women to be nominated with both their band and solo careers (Tina Turner and Diana Ross being two prominent examples), the committee is going to have to turn to an act they haven’t looked at before. While this spot could go to Joan Baez, or Carly Simon, or Cher, or Patty LaBelle, or any number of worthy female artists, Benatar just seems the logical choice based on the results of previous years.
Odds of Nomination: 20% Lots of women to choose from, I just think she has a better chance than most.
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 33% Stacked group. Janet Jackson already on the ballot and likely getting in. Rarely do two women get in the same year. I’ll go one in three. But with a two in three shot she gets nominated again next year.
16. TOMMY JAMES AND THE SHONDELLS
This last spot is going to go to a 60s group. It is just a question of which one. Other than The Monkees, who are their own special category, the two bands getting the most noise this year out of seemingly nowhere are Paul Revere and the Raiders and Tommy James and the Shondells.
Both are long time eligible. Paul Revere and the Raiders have been eligible since 1987. Tommy James and the Shondells since 1992. So this is a coin flip for me. And Tommy James and the Shondells’ 12 Top 40 Hits trump Paul Revere and the Raiders’ 13 Top 40 Hits due to the staying power of their songs. Honestly “I Think We’re Alone Now” and “Mony, Mony” just beat out “Good Thing” and “Indian Reservation”.
Odds of Nomination: 25% There is a pretty strong push behind them this year.
Odds of Induction if Nominated: 50% Another coin flip. This might be another Donovan situation. Someone comes out of the deep bench of the Hall and gets in right away.
When it comes to predictions, I suck at them. Especially about who the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame might put on its 2016 ballot for induction in 2017. Just when I think I might have my finger on the collective pulse of the Hall's nominating committee, I discover that I've been holding the putrefying wrist of some wheezing geezer who thinks that Ice-T is a cold beverage.
Still, like Charlie Brown and Lucy and the football, I'll take another run at this. I'll even leave aside the usual political conspiracy theory about how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the plaything of Jann Wenner and how both the ballot and the voting are rigged to produce favorable turnouts at the televised induction ceremony.
All right, I didn't leave it aside, but let's move forward. First, consider this: Each year brings more eligible candidates, making it harder to determine legacy as the pool expands and the definition of what is "rock and roll" becomes progressively broader and more indistinct. Already there has been talk of "Balkanization," of whether hip-hop and other musical forms should be broken out into separate Halls of Fame.
Let's start by looking at who was on the ballot last year but who didn't get elected. Chic has been on the ballot ten times since its first nomination in 2003. Janet Jackson, eligible since 2007 and first nominated last year, has been considered one of the top recent snubs. The Spinners first became eligible when Ronald Reagan was president in 1986, but they didn't get their first nomination until Barack Obama was re-elected president in 2012; the Spinners returned to the ballot in each of the last two years. However, prospects look brighter for the Smiths, eligible since 2008 and nominated in each of the last two years (and I did predict that they would be on the ballot in 2013), and for Nine Inch Nails, eligible since 2014 and nominated in each of the last two years. And progressive-rock fans may be cheered by the presence of Yes, which, although eligible since 1994, has been nominated in 2014 and 2016.
Adding to the logjam are this year's newly eligible artists: Tori Amos, Aphex Twin, the Cranberries, Cypress Hill, P.J. Harvey, Live, Pearl Jam, the Prodigy, Rage Against the Machine, Tupac Shakur, and the Spin Doctors, among other acts.
They only add to the growing list of acts that have been eligible ever since that act released its first recording at least 25 years ago. To be sure, only a small fraction of the many, many eligible acts are genuine Hall of Fame-caliber acts. All of which illustrates the three distinct but interrelated issues with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which stand in marked contrast with sports Halls of Fame:
1. There is no standard definition of "rock and roll."
2. There are no meaningful objective measures able to evaluate all candidates fairly.
3. Unlike a sports Hall of Fame, which is exclusive and restrictive, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is inclusive and expansive.
To elaborate on that third issue, let's contrast the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Major League Baseball has existed since 1876, yet despite existing for well over a century, MLB is both exclusive and restrictive—there are a limited number of teams in the two leagues, thus limiting the number of possible players, and only players who make it to the top tier, the Major Leagues, are eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and those players must have played in MLB for at least ten years. In general, this holds true for the other sports Halls of Fame: the very elitism of ascending to the top rungs of any sport restricts the eligibility pool.
Moreover, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the other sports Halls of Fame are clearly defined—for instance, the Baseball Hall of Fame has only baseball-specific members. That sounds stupefyingly obvious, but consider that with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there is no clear definition of "rock and roll." What if the Baseball Hall of Fame had members drawn from only the minor leagues? Or who had played in professional leagues other than in the United States and Canada (an issue raised just this year by Ichiro Suzuki)? Or, more expansively, who had been associated with "baseball-related" or "baseball-like" sports, such as softball or cricket?
That is what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame faces even if you do have a broad definition of "rock and roll"—a term that by this point is virtually meaningless. The institution really should be called the Primarily Western Popular Music Made Since the Mid-1950s Hall of Fame.
So, as if throwing darts at a board littered with names, here are my predictions:
First-time Eligibles: Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur.
With its grunge foundation and traditional approach, Pearl Jam appeals to classic-rock and modern-rock sensibilities, and it looks to be the big new name this year. Thanks to N.W.A.'s induction last year, the door may be open for 2Pac, who probably won't get in the first time but who could very well get on the ballot if hip-hop, and gangsta in particular, remains a hot item.
Returning from 2015 Ballot: Chic, Janet Jackson, Nine Inch Nails, Yes.
You get the feeling that Chic will be a ballot fixture until it is finally elected? I do. Maybe Janet Jackson had to serve her probation on the ballot, but she should be back for voters' consideration. Nine Inch Nails has been on the last two ballots after becoming newly eligible and should continue to generate interest as industrial builds support. Yes languished for a decade before getting its first nomination, but it has been on the ballot in two of the last three years—an encouraging sign for prog-rock. With Deep Purple finally getting the Hall nod last year, Yes may find its support building too.
Nominated Previously: The J. Geils Band, Kraftwerk, the MC5
All three have at least one nomination, with J. Geils and Kraftwerk having appeared on three ballots: Geils had a flush of recognition in the mid-2000s and returned in 2011; the band would be this year's de facto blues representative in addition to its classic-rock credentials. Kraftwerk has had a flurry of interest in recent years, and as a formative influence on electronica/electronic dance music, it could see that interest growing. The MC5's only nomination came back in 2003, so it may be taking its turn in the queue for proto-punk bands, and with the Stooges' Hall induction occurring back in 2010, the nominating committee may think that these deep influences are overdue for recognition.
Never Nominated: Blue Öyster Cult, Dire Straits, Jethro Tull, Kool and the Gang, Queen Latifah, Sonic Youth
The grand old man here is Jethro Tull, eligible for 23 years with never a nod. Tull is a quirky animal—is it prog-rock? folk-rock? roots rock? Elizabethan boogie?—but as a classic-rock fixture its first nomination is long overdue. Just a step behind Tull is Kool and the Gang, funk and R&B stalwarts whose legacy began long before "Celebration" became a song you will hear at wedding receptions for the next 50 years. With Blue Öyster Cult recognized as an influence on contemporary stoner metal, combined with a lasting appreciation for its sleek, smart prog-metal albums from the 1970s, it too is hurting for recognition. (Also, BÖC Svengali Sandy Pearlman died earlier this year.)
With its mid-1980s ubiquity, Dire Straits would seem to have had at least one nomination considering the Hall's fondness for classic rock. Maybe this is its year? Or is it money for nothing again? Even with her hip-hop beginnings, Queen Latifah may be regarded more as an actor than a rapper—still, her musical efforts established a distinct female presence in hip-hop. As an overarching presence in the post-punk period, Sonic Youth is overdue for its first nomination considering that the Replacements got an unlikely nod in 2014.
As I leave you to ponder whether my prediction suckage continues, consider the number of acts for the last 30 years—going back to 1986, when the Hall inducted its first class—that have been eligible for the Hall but have never been nominated. Keep in mind that this is a list of artists who have never been nominated. Not once, and although some of them may have been "considered" during the nomination process, they never actually made it onto a ballot. Nor does this list include the 41 artists who have been nominated at least once, and thus were given a shot at the Hall, but as yet have not been inducted.
Eligible for 30 years: Judy Collins, Willie Nelson, and Paul Revere and the Raiders.
Eligible for 29 years: Dick Dale and Peter, Paul and Mary.
Eligible for 28 years: The Crystals.
Eligible for 27 years: The Moody Blues.
Eligible for 26 years: Albert Collins, the Guess Who, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, and the Shangri-Las.
Eligible for 25 years: Tim Buckley, Captain Beefheart, Harry Chapin, Jim Croce, Love, and the Monkees.
Eligible for 24 years: Canned Heat, Country Joe and the Fish, Fairport Convention, Arlo Guthrie, Moby Grape, the Move, Harry Nilsson, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and Ten Years After.
Eligible for 23 years: Blood, Sweat and Tears; Can, Free, Jethro Tull, Spirit, and Steppenwolf.
Eligible for 22 years: The Carpenters, the Chi-Lites, Joe Cocker, Nick Drake, Grand Funk Railroad, King Crimson, Kool and the Gang, Mott the Hoople, Slade, Three Dog Night, and Warren Zevon.
Eligible for 21 years: Ry Cooder; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; Todd Rundgren, Supertramp, Tangerine Dream, and UFO.
Eligible for 20 years: The Doobie Brothers, the Electric Light Orchestra, LaBelle, Little Feat, John Prine, REO Speedwagon, and Thin Lizzy.
Eligible for 19 years: Big Star, Blue Öyster Cult, Peter Frampton, Loggins and Messina, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Roxy Music, the Scorpions, and Styx.
Eligible for 18 years: Bachman-Turner Overdrive, the Marshal Tucker Band, Tina Turner, and Barry White.
Eligible for 17 years: Bad Company, Brian Eno, Judas Priest, and Kansas.
Eligible for 16 years: Journey, Ted Nugent, and Television.
Eligible for 15 years: Boston, Nick Lowe, the Modern Lovers, Graham Parker, the Runaways.
Eligible for 14 years: Björk, the Buzzcocks, Devo, the Jam, Motörhead, Iggy Pop, Suicide, and XTC.
Eligible for 13 years: Black Flag, Kate Bush, Dire Straits, the Fall, Gang of Four, the Human League, Joy Division, Midnight Oil, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Squeeze, the Undertones, Toto, Whitesnake, and X.
Eligible for 12 years: The B-52's, Bauhaus, Pat Benatar, Dead Kennedys, Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, the Specials, and "Weird Al" Yankovic.
Eligible for 11 years: The Go-Go's, INXS, the Minutemen, and Ozzy Osbourne.
Eligible for 10 years: Bad Religion, the Bangles, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, Hüsker Dü, Ministry, Mötley Crüe, New Order, Stevie Nicks, and Lionel Ritchie.
Eligible for 9 years: Marshall Crenshaw, Culture Club, Steve Earle, Ice-T, Sonic Youth, and Violent Femmes.
Eligible for 8 years: Anthrax, Billy Bragg, k.d. lang, Cyndi Lauper, Pantera, Pulp, Queensrÿche, Ratt, Slayer, Social Distortion, and Suicidal Tendencies.
Eligible for 7 years: Nick Cave, the Cult, the Flaming Lips, Whitney Houston, the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Pet Shop Boys, the Pogues, Sade, and Soul Asylum.
Eligible for 6 years: Camper van Beethoven, Dinosaur Jr., Faith No More, Fishbone, Happy Mondays, Chris Isaak, Megadeth, My Bloody Valentine, Primal Scream, Stone Roses, Suzanne Vega.
Eligible for 5 years: Babyface, Crowded House, the Lemonheads, Lyle Lovett, Salt N Pepa, Soundgarden, Matthew Sweet, They Might Be Giants, Yo La Tengo.
Eligible for 4 years: Boogie Down Productions, Terence Trent D'Arby, EPMD, Jane's Addiction, George Michael, Sinead O'Connor, the Pixies, and the Sugarcubes.
Eligible for 3 years: Tracy Chapman, De La Soul, Fugazi, Living Colour, Massive Attack, Morrisey, Mudhoney, the Offspring, Phish, the Traveling Wilburys.
Eligible for 2 years: Garth Brooks, Neneh Cherry, Lenny Kravitz, Manic Street Preachers, Sarah McLachlan, the Orb, Pavement, Queen Latifah, the Sundays.
Eligible for 1 year: Alice in Chains, Blur, the Breeders, Hole, Ice Cube, Moby, Orbital, Primus, Smashing Pumpkins, Teenage Fanclub, a Tribe Called Quest.
Not all these names belong on a ballot. But all of them have their supporters, who in turn can make arguments for why their act belongs in the Hall of Fame. Moreover, I have surely omitted names whose adherents will claim are "snubs" and deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.
And, finally, that list goes back only 30 years—you could add artists whose eligibility is even longer: Joan Baez, Pat Boone, Johnny Burnette and the Rock 'n' Roll Trio, Jerry Butler, Chubby Checker, Patsy Cline, Danny and the Juniors, the Five Satins, and Cliff Richard and the Shadows are among others who have never been nominated.
You try making a prediction from that list. Go on. I dare you.
Which one of us will do best?
What are your thoughts?
As always we look forward to your feedback and we will be awaiting in early October where in the wee hours of the night the Rock Hall announces their Finalists.