It’s finally here. Within the next 30 hours, we will know which artists will be joining the icons of music in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame come 2017. The inductees are set to be announced at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning, via a live announcement on Sirius XM. This has been quite the season for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as the Hall unleashed it’s biggest ballot of nominees since the early days of the HOF. There’s something for everyone on this ballot. If you love the 90’s, you’ve got Pearl Jam and 2Pac to go for, if you love alternative rock and punk, there’s Jane’s Addiction, the MC5, and Bad Brains, if you love classic rock, you have long time snubbed acts like Journey, Electric Light Orchestra, the Cars, Yes, Steppenwolf, the J. Geils Band, and the Zombies to root for. If you love pop and dance music you’ve got Janet Jackson. If you love 60’s folk you’ve got Joan Baez. If you love classic 60’s and 70’s R&B there’s Joe Tex, Chic, and Chaka Khan, if you love electronic music, there’s Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode. The Hall of Fame in recent years have provided for some really strong, diverse ballots of artists for the voters to choose from. The Hall has added some new blood to the Nominating Committee in recent years including Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Questlove of the Roots, and as of this year, Dave Grohl of Nirvana and the Foo Fighters, and it has shown. The Hall this year has also added more younger, diversity-minded music critics and journalists to the Voting Committee (hopefully that will include bloggers such as myself in the coming years, one can dream, right?!) to try to give non-classic rock acts more of a chance of getting voted upon.
The reason for this is because the recent groups of inductees have been classic rock-heavy, which is the result of the major bulk of the Voting Committee being the very inducted artists in the HOF who are more likely to vote for artists that influenced them or their peers, and because the majority of the current living inductees are classic rock artists from the 1960’s and 1970’s, they’re more likely to continue to vote for their long-time snubbed peers, rather than more innovative originators that went unnoticed in their time (ala Kraftwerk, Big Star, etc.), or younger artists that came after them and were of genres that artists from the 60’s/70’s era or rock just never got and never will (ala artists of genres like rap, disco, punk and alternative rock, metal, grunge, electronica, and dance-pop). The fact that Chic has been nominated a record 11 times and still hasn’t been voted in is a direct result of this, as many of the 60’s/70’s rock artists hated disco music in their time and still do to this day (much like the Rolling Stone crowd holding a 40 year grudge against the Monkees for being a “fake” band). The nearly all white, male 2016 class (including Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, and Cheap Trick) was very alarming for many people who want more diverse classes (be it genres, races, and/or genders), including the HOF foundation itself, and thus the Hall has tried to make the Voting Committee more diverse to give other artists more of a chance of being voted in.
Will it effect who gets in? Will we have a more diverse class this year compared to last? We’ll find out on Tuesday morning.
As diverse as the ballot is though, and with how much change has come across the Hall foundation in the last year after embarrassing fan protests, and Steve Miller’s public tirade against the Hall, surprisingly enough, the predictions coming from many of the Hall’s followers online has been pretty, well….safe and predictable. Just about everyone has predicted Pearl Jam, Joan Beaz, Journey, and ELO, while the fifth and final inductee has been the one different for many of the more noted bloggers on the HOF. Some have predicted Chic, some have predicted 2Pac, some have predicted Yes, some have predicted Janet Jackson. Those expecting a left-field shocker of an inductee have predicted the J. Geils Band, and more recently Kraftwerk. Another interesting development is that a number of the new younger, more social media-savvy critics and journalists added to the Voting Committee are posting their ballots online, and almost all of them have included Chic and/or Kraftwerk on their ballots, which is exactly what the HOF foundation was hoping for in adding these people to the Voting Committee. So whereas before most wouldn’t expect acts like Chic and Kraftwerk to be able to stand a change against major pop culture icons like Janet Jackson, Pearl Jam, and/or 2Pac, or typical old styled favorites like Joan Baez or the J. Geils Band, or major popular classic rock acts like Journey, ELO, and Yes, with this younger, more diverse presence on the Voting Committee, anything seems possible now.
Since the fan vote was implemented for the 2013 class, every year the winner of the fan poll has been inducted with Rush in 2013, KISS in 2014, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble in 2015, and Chicago last year (errrr this year). Journey won the fan poll this year, so that’s why many are predicting Journey to win out, but some are already starting to think that an upset might occur and Journey could become the first fan poll winner to not make it in, beings they don’t have the momentum or critical acclaim that the other previous acts have. Though Rush, KISS, and Chicago were by no means ever critic darlings, Journey was probably even more hated by critics than those acts. So who knows. Then there’s the prospect of the Hall finally voting for more than 5 inductees or more. The 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 classes had 6 inductees which was a drastic improvement over the disastrous 2005-2011 run of 5 inductees per class, but then the Hall went back to 5 inductees for the 2016 class and as of now has stated will do so again for the 2017 class. But with having the biggest ballot of nominees in over 25 years, many of us just can’t fathom how the Hall can only choose 5 inductees. Surely they’ll have more, right? We’ll find out Tuesday.
Usually by now, I have my final predictions set, but I’m really not sure who’s gonna make it. I’ve read just about everyone’s predictions and they all make sense. On the surface this seems like such an easy year to make predictions as the aforementioned Pearl Jam, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, and Joan Baez sure do seem like sure things. Pearl Jam, are freakin’ Pearl Jam. Of course they’ll go in right away. Right? ELO are long-time snubbed and their leader Jeff Lynne is one of the most respected musicians of the 70’s classic rock era. The royalty of the rock world loves him as he collaborated with so many like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, and all of the Beatles. Everyone loves ELO and Jeff Lynne. They’re a sure-thing. Right? Journey won the fan poll. That should mean they’re a lock. Right? Joan Baez is a long-time snubbed act who was one of the figureheads of 60’s folk music and basically spawned Bob Dylan (the greatest songwriter of all-time to many people) upon the music world. And she was at the forefront of the political movement of music in the 1960’s, the time in history when music was more important than any other time in history. And she’s still a political activist, even as she hits her upper 70’s. She’s exactly the type of artists that Hall voters have always went for throughout it’s 30 year existence. There’s no doubt, she’s going in. Right? It’s hard to say any of those four won’t make it.
But you also have Tupac Shakur, probably the biggest single icon in the history of rap music, and probably one of the 2-3 most iconic single figures in American music over the last 30 years. Surely he’s going in right away. Right? Then there’s Janet Jackson, after Madonna, probably the most iconic female artists in the modern era of music, who’s also one of the most commercially successful artists in music history of any era. With a younger element to the Voting Committee who will be more willing to embrace R&B, pop and dance music, her chances increase ten-fold. Surely, she’ll make it in. Right? Then there’s Chic who have been nominated 11 times, more than any artist in the history of the Hall, who just about everyone by now thinks should be in. Even people that don’t like them are sick of seeing them on the ballot. And most of the ballots that have been made public have them checked off. Surely they’ll make it in, right? Then there’s the Cars, one of the most popular classic rock bands who also fit well with the 1980’s. Just about any classic rock fan and alternative, electronic, new wave of the 1980’s fan will have them checked off. That could be enough to get them in. Right? Then there’s Kraftwerk, the most important and influential band not yet in the Rock Hall who basically invented electronic music and paved the way for the way music is recorded and sounds today. They could very much benefit from the younger presence on the Voting Committee, and they have appeared on all of the ballots made public in recent weeks. They Could surprise everyone and make it in. Right? Then there’s the J. Geils Band who are, IMO, one of the least qualified acts on the ballot, but who are a prime example of the old-school politics of the HOF voting committee, where being friends or well liked by the most powerful members of the Nominating Committee and/or Voting Committee was enough to get you in. Things have changed though, so the J. Geils Band should definitely not make it in. Right? Or will they surprise everyone and will the old-school ways of the Hall prevail and we get our surprise inductee? Then there’s Yes, a very popular prog rock band who has now been nominated 3 times and many feel deserve in. Can they make it in? And then there’s the Zombies who have enjoyed a critical and commercial resurgence in recent years as many younger artists and music fans have come to see how great and overlooked the Zombies were at their peak, and who were also apart one of the most beloved eras in rock music history, the mid 1960’s British Invasion an era which pretty much always guaranteed an inductee if they had a presence on the Nominating Ballot.
And then there’s Chaka Khan, Depeche Mode, Jane’s Addiction, Steppenwolf, the MC5, Joe Tex, and Bad Brains who round out the ballot, and IMO have very little chance of making it, but even they all have cases on their side for why they could make it. Except Joe Tex and Bad Brains, they’re just not gonna make it. Then again, almost every year there’s an act that makes the final cut that no one sees coming, so it could be any one of those acts. Even Tex and Bad Brains. Ehhhh, probably not those two.
With that said, if you pay attention to small details to what you read, yes I did just highlight the exact order of my predictions for the 19 artists and their chances of making it. So my final 5 predictions are indeed the first 5 artists I talked about. Pearl Jam, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, Joan Baez, and Tupac Shakur. The rest of the order I talked about the artists, is my exact order of ranking. Again my final list reads like this….
Ranking the 19 Nominees In The Order of Their Chances of Making It…
My Final 5 Predictions
1. Pearl Jam
2. Electric Light Orchestra
4. Joan Baez
5. Tupac Shakur
The Next Artists (If the Hall Increases the Inductees)
6. Janet Jackson
8. The Cars
The Surprise Inductees
10. The J. Geils Band
12. The Zombies
13. Chaka Khan
14. Depeche Mode
15. Jane’s Addiction
No Chance in Hell, Right?
17. The MC5
18. Joe Tex
19. Bad Brains
So that will do it for me on my predictions. Pretty safe and predictable, but a sure thing. Right?
Let me know your thoughts and comments. About 28 more hours before we find out the inductees! Yay!!!!!