It’s no secret among followers of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, that the long held induction process is flawed tremendously. Myself and many other Rock Hall bloggers and journalists have highlighted many of these flaws over the years, and while the Hall has slowly improved from the disaster era of the mid-to-late 2000’s period, it still has a long way to improve things. The biggest issue that has led the Hall to have all of the problems it has today was the shortening of induction classes starting with the 2005 class. During the Hall’s heyday of greatness in the 1990’s, usually 7-9 artists were chosen for induction each year, allowing for at least 75% of the worthy candidates of the 1950’s and 1960’s to be inducted within the first 20 years of the HOF. As we reach over 30 years of the HOF in existence, that number has increased to roughly about 85% of the widely regarded worthy candidates seeing induction.
So another year has passed (yay for getting older…..) which means another class for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been announced. Yes, a week or two before Christmas, it was announced that 2018 will see The Moody Blues, Bon Jovi, Dire Straits, the Cars, and Nina Simone be inducted as “Performers” in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Sister Rosetta Tharpe will be inducted in the “Early Influences” category. I’m also late in expressing my thoughts on the class, which I’ll touch on briefly in this blog, though this blog is about a much bigger issue for the HOF.
My thoughts on the class is that overall it’s solid, but is also underwhelming and extremely predictable. I was expecting there to be 6 inductees and so I missed on my 6th prediction (which was Radiohead), but other than that mishap, the other 5 artists were the ones I predicted. So besides getting the amount of inductees wrong, I was 5/5 for my predictions for the second year in a row.
Most people on the internet and among the Rock Hall Community are not happy with the class as it continues the trend of classes being dominated by populist 70’s/80’s classic rock bands, and that’s certainly the case here. My feelings on this class, though, are that when you take out the social dynamics and the other acts that were snubbed, all choices are solid and deserve to be inducted, even Bon Jovi who has received the most criticism. The Moody Blues have been in my top 5 snubs for the last 10-15 years, as they were one of the most groundbreaking and innovative bands in the late 60’s, an era where about 60% of the acts that emerged in that time were groundbreaking and innovative. The Moody Blues helped lay the foundation for an entire sub-genre of rock music (Progressive Rock) which to me means they should’ve been inducted decades ago. The Cars were one of the great bands of the 1975-1985 period as they bridged populist classic rock sounds inspired by 60’s rock with the newer, innovative synth-pop style. Dire Straits absolutely define the term “musical excellence” as they weren’t exactly innovators or groundbreakers or extremely influential per se, but their music was very good and memorable regardless. Bon Jovi, who has received the most criticism, are one of the most commercially successful bands in rock history, played a major part in making hard rock a major force on the pop charts, defined the biggest genre of rock music during the 1980’s decade (hair metal, along with Def Leppard and Motley Crue who I do agree should’ve been inducted first), and became the only band of that genre to survive it’s downturn and remain one of the most relevant and successful bands some 25 years after the fact. Nina Simone who was the least “rock” act on the ballot probably was one of the most socially important artists of her time and who’s influence and impact has only grown in ensuing decades. Her music has inspired musicians of all genres and has been heavily sampled in hip hop music. She was a trailblazer when it comes to musicians addressing social issues and of all R&B and jazz artists of that time was far more blunt and straightforward in expressing her views than other R&B and jazz artists of that time. So even though the class was predictable, even underwhelming, there’s no undeserving artists in that bunch. And with the exception of Bon Jovi, I haven’t seen much argument against any of the acts being inducted.
My two biggest criticisms of the class is the fact that the most important and greatest rock band of the last 25 years, Radiohead, was not inducted possibly for political reasons (them deciding to not show up to the HOF ceremony even if they were voted in), and my usual, yearly complaint, the class being way too small. I can’t for the life of me understand why the HOF has increased the amount of nominees each year and yet stubbornly sticks to the philosophy that the “Hall should be exclusive” and only induct 5 or 6 at the most acts per year. This year’s ballot like most in recent years featured virtually all deserving artists (J. Geils Band aside, IMO) and to only induct a handful of those acts again makes the backlog of deserving artists grow for another year, makes the Hall look out of touch and to the most pessimistic, prejudiced. Those are the biggest problems facing the Hall each year, and yet the easiest solution to fixing those problems, by having bigger more diverse groups of inductees, is something the Hall continually refuses to do to appeal to the Robert Hilburns of the world (those who feel only a select few artists should be inducted).
The biggest criticism of the class and maybe now for the Hall overall is the trend over the last 5 years or so of the Hall playing “catch up” on long snubbed populist classic rock acts. Acts the Hall should’ve been inducting 10-20 years ago but were mostly ignored. It’s no secret that these groups mostly consisted of white males either American or British, and every year when the classes are dominated by these type of acts, while black and female artists are snubbed, it only makes the Hall look more prejudiced, sexist, and racist to many people. This class is no exception as 4/5 acts are all white, male rock bands just like the 2016 class.
Which brings us to the subject of this blog. The Hall of Fame has a major problem on their hands. I’m gonna call it the “Classic Rock Dilemma.” To get us to where we’re at today, let’s briefly go over the history of the HOF. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was founded in 1983 by Ahmet Ertegun (one of the heads of Atlantic Records), Jann Wenner (the founder of Rolling Stone magazine), notable attorney Suzan Evans, and other notable figures in the music industry. The first class was inducted in 1986 and featured the majority of the most important founding figures of rock and roll in the 50’s including Elvis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Buddy Holly, and James Brown just to name a few.
For about the first 15 years of the Hall, there wasn’t much controversy or questioning and suspicion about the induction process. The classes were inclusive, diverse, big, and right on the money for inductions. I mean when each year you’re having Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Ike and Tina Turner, Jimi Hendrix, the Doors, John Lennon, Janis Joplin, and Led Zeppelin becoming eligible with each new year, it’s kind of hard to make mistakes really. When it comes to the music scene of 1955-1970 it’s pretty obvious who should be inducted, and most importantly of all, those on the Nominating Committee and Voting Committee were people who grew up on that era of music and were truly experts on it. So they didn’t make many mistakes or bad biased decisions.
Of course there were some exceptions like Chubby Checker, Link Wray, Dick Dale, the Crystals, the Monkees, the Ronettes, and the Moody Blues (the latter two would eventually be inducted in 2007 and 2018 respectively), that were either overlooked or held back due to personal issues with some on the Nominating Committee (one example being Phil Spector who was once married to Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes and who ended up having a nasty divorce, held enough of a grudge against his former group that he held them back from ever being nominated and pretty much no one on the committee argued with him over it, they were probably afraid of being shot). But for the most part things were pretty steady and uncontroversial.
Then you get to the early 2000’s when artists from the mid 70’s started becoming eligible and that’s when things get far more murkier. First off, by the mid 1970’s, the music scene was already starting to become far more diverse and removed from the “glory years” of the first decade and a half of rock and roll. New genres like punk, heavy metal, electronic, disco, reggae, new wave/synth-pop, and hip-hop were coming to fruition, and many of the critics of the time who didn’t want to let go of the rock music of their youth in the 50’s and 60’s pretty much dismissed those genres and the artists of those genres. And the critics and artists that were dismissing these genres at the time were the same people that now ran the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee and were voters. And thus throughout the 2000’s, classic rock acts in the more hard rock or metal style as well as progressive rock style, which critics always hated, were shunned for 2nd and third tier acts from the 50’s and 60’s. And the 80’s as an entire decade, no matter the genre, were completely ignored with the exception of megastars like Michael Jackson, Prince, U2, R.E.M., Metallica, and Madonna who no one in their right mind could ignore.
At the same time, the Hall decided to go the route of having smaller classes. There were a lot of people on the Nominating Committee who at the time felt the Hall should be exclusive and only induct a select few and by the mid 2000’s they finally got their way. Now while this isn’t confirmed and is solely my speculation and opinion on this, I think the biggest reason that the Hall started going to smaller classes is that many on the HOF Nominating Committee and the HOF itself felt that there were far less worthy artists than the previous decade or two and thus it was time to make the classes smaller. These were the people that felt rock and roll was at it’s peak from 1955-1975. Their view was that they only needed to induct a few punk and rap acts to represent those genres then forget them, progressive rock and metal wasn’t worthy, disco and dance-pop acts were also not worthy outside of Michael Jackson and Madonna and the Bee Gees, R&B music didn’t matter after 1975 once Motown and Stax and Atlantic Records weren’t relevant anymore, with the exception for the aforementioned megastars, and they had inducted most of the major worthy 60’s and 70’s acts already, so it was time to make the classes smaller so they didn’t “ruin the integrity” of the Hall by voting in acts that weren’t worthy in their view. You can imagine people like Dave Marsh are barfing anytime someone brings up the HOF to him over the fact that KISS and Journey are now inductees.
Those two things led us to the problem we’re at today. The Hall for the last 5 years has played catch up on classic rock acts that should’ve been inducted in the 2000’s and early 2010’s (and even a few back in the 90’s like the Moody Blues and Deep Purple) because it took decades for the Hall to get younger, more diverse, and more open minded to music after 1975, and they’re still not nearly enough there. Since 2010, classic rock and pop acts, whose primes were between 1968-1985, such as Genesis, Abba, Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Rush, Heart, KISS, Hall & Oates, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, Cheap Trick, Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, Journey, Dire Straits, the Cars, and the Moody Blues have been or will be inducted. With the exception of Dire Straits, the Cars, Cheap Trick and probably Steve Miller, all of those were acts that critics of the 60’s/early 70’s era long hated and were disgusted by. And in the process more modern genres like R&B after 1975, synth-pop/new wave, disco/dance-pop, alternative rock, punk rock, hard rock/heavy metal, reggae, and hip-hop to a lesser extent have had little room to be represented each year. And because of this the Hall of Fame is starting to get the reputation of being a “dad rock” club, or a club for just white male “rawkers” and excludes black artists, and especially female artists, and artists of more modern genres. The Hall is looking more and more out of touch with younger music fans each year.
And to many people it’s only going to get worse because of one of the original guidelines of the Hall of Fame that is in existence to this day. Every living inductee gets to vote each year on the ballot. So every artist inducted into the HOF gets a say in who goes in each year. Now you would think musicians would be the most broad and opened minded people that vote compared to regular people and would appreciate artists from genres or eras that they weren’t necessarily a part of. And this is the case to some degree. Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney and the sadly deceased David Bowie and Prince are/were good examples of artists that aren’t/weren’t just musicians but are/were big, knowledgeable music fans that aren’t afraid to go out of their comfort zones and explore music of genres and eras that don’t necessarily belong to them. But the majority of living inductees are honestly not exactly the most open minded people to vote. Most vote for what they know, meaning artists from their era that they worked together with or toured with or were fans of, aka: their peers. Artists that were long past or before their primes are not likely to get their attention. For example, it’s highly unlikely that Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard know or care to know who Depeche Mode and the Cure are, and in the same token, it’s doubtful that Dave Grohl or Flavor Flav are gonna take a second look at Chubby Checker or the Clovers.
All of us, as music fans, have our particular tastes and biases. For example, if I was a voter, I just can’t imagine myself ever voting for My Chemical Romance, Justin Bieber or Lil’ Wayne 20 years from now when they become eligible. That may not be right and maybe they’ve made enough of an impact on the modern music scene or the music scene to come to deserve induction (admittedly, Lil’ Wayne has for sure), but for me I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’m sure plenty of British rockers feel the exact same way for rap artists or female pop artists. Do you really think Jeff Beck or Gregg Allman, for example, would’ve ever voted for 2Pac or Janet Jackson? I highly doubt it. Heck, they probably didn’t even give Madonna a second look.
And while many artists have their tastes based on genre and style, honestly many probably also have their biases based on gender, country, and even race. No one will admit that of course, but especially for male artists that came of age in the 60’s and 70’s, to them, women were nothing more than sex objects and didn’t belong in the male dominated music scene unless they made “sissy music” (aka: soft singer-songwriter rock, or disco- dance pop), and I’m sure many of those same male artists deep down hold those same views today even though they won’t admit it. And of course there’s the long-held prejudice against rap music by older rock artists and it’s fans. You know, the whole “rap is crap” spiel. That bias will never go away, let’s be honest.
And with the onslaught of male classic rock artists who were born between 1940-1955 being inducted over the last 8 years, this has only brought more of these type of people onto the Voting Committee, which bodes well for their peers of male “classic rock acts” and not so well for artists who came along after 1980. And while the most obvious bias will be against rap, pop, and R&B it’s not strictly racial and gender bias, it’s genre and era-based too. The musicians in Depeche Mode and the Cure and Soundgarden are all white males too, and it’s just as likely that Jeff Beck, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Eric Clapton aren’t going to give them a look either. So while most are looking at this problem as a race issue and gender issue, while those are indeed issues, overall it’s really an era issue. With more and more male rock artists who were born in the baby-boom era it’s gonna get harder and harder for artists that emerged after 1980′, no matter their race, gender, or genre to get enough votes to be inducted.
For the Hall of Fame this is a major problem and dilemma, and for me personally I’m torn on it too. Even though I was born in 1984 on the tail end of the classic rock era, and I’m a Millennial who grew up when alternative rock and hip-hop were the dominant genres in the 90’s and 2000’s, but I’m a classic rock music fan at heart. Like many young music fans I got hooked on “classic rock” of the 60’s and 70’s in my teens thanks to “classic rock radio” and I came to love music because of it. So each year when more of the “classic rock” acts get inducted, on a personal level I’m happy as can be. To me Genesis, Chicago, Alice Cooper, KISS, Deep Purple, Electric Light Orchestra, and the Moody Blues were long overdue by the time they were inducted and extremely deserving. Steve Miller and Cheap Trick aren’t among my absolute favorites, but I think they’re deserving inductees nevertheless. But at the same time I’m in full agreement with everyone that the classes are getting dangerously too close-minded and not diverse enough.
Now many are looking at this from a social issues standpoint and looking at this purely as racial and gender-based. Again, those are worthwhile ways of looking at it, but for me the most important thing about this is musical integrity. I’m liberal as liberal can be, but I take music just as seriously and I also don’t want artists that aren’t worthy to be inducted just so the Hall doesn’t look racist or sexist. Sorry, but I don’t buy Nelly or Jessica Simpson getting inducted in the next decade or so. I’d rather have an all white male class of acts like Radiohead, Beck, Soundgarden, and the Monkees than a class of Master P., Nelly, Jessica Simpson, and the Spice Girls (not meaning to discredit those artists, but to me they’re examples of artists that aren’t HOF worthy though the Spice Girls are borderline as they had a big impact on music in the late 90’s).
For me, the biggest danger here is that the true story of rock and roll is being neglected. Yes it’s great that many of the artists of the classic rock era that should’ve been inducted decades ago are finally getting their due, but at the same time genres like punk rock, alternative rock, disco, dance-pop, reggae, rap, and heavy metal are being ignored. The 1980’s and 1990’s are being completely shafted and that is not a good thing at all. I’m worried that we’re gonna be at the point 10 years from now where acts like Arcade Fire, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and Beyonce who even at this point are first-ballot HOFer’s are gonna get shafted because the Hall still has to make room for Soundgarden, Jay-Z, Alice in Chains, Mariah Carey, and Daft Punk.
However, I do see light at the end of the tunnel, as long as the Nominating Committee plays their part. The Hall has made an extreme headway in covering classic rock from the 1960’s and 1970’s (still some work for the 1980’s: acts like Def Leppard, Pat Benatar, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Phil Collins, and Motorhead need to be inducted soon), and they’re pretty much at the point where in my view there’s really no one left that are borderline upper second tier classic rock acts left. The only ones that fall in that category to me are the Monkees, Jethro Tull, T. Rex, Bad Company, King Crimson, the Zombies, the Doobie Brothers and maybe Boston, the Guess Who, and Rainbow (mainly just to get Ronnie James Dio in the HOF who should’ve been inducted with Black Sabbath in my view). After that you start getting into notable classic rock acts that are more in the lower second to third-tier level of classic rock groups and can have solid cases made for them but aren’t exactly top-tier acts. Acts like Foreigner, Grand Funk Railroad, Rainbow, UFO, Thin Lizzy, Blue Oyster Cult, Jimmy Buffett, Emerson, Lake, & Palmer, Mountain, Quicksilver Messenger Service (whom I’m a major fan of), Foghat, Badfinger, Steppenwolf, etc. I’m a fan of a lot of those acts, but I’m unbiased enough to acknowledge that they’re not exactly top priority acts for the HOF to get to, especially compared to all of the worthy acts from the 80’s and 90’s now eligible.
Now if all of these acts end up on the ballot, their chances of getting inducted are higher in this day and age than they would’ve been 10 or even 5 years ago. But if the Nominating Committee starts to lessen the amount of classic rock acts on the ballot for the Voting Committee to choose between, and instead puts more modern acts on the ballot, the Voters will have to start voting out of their comfort zone or just not vote at all, thus leaving room for more modern acts to make their way into the Hall. Now the most pessimistic Rock Hall watchers might say we very well could see a ballot with 7-8 of those third tier classic rock acts on the ballot in the next few years, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen. The Nominating Committee is running out of top tier classic rock acts to put on the ballot and sooner or later classic rock from the late 60’s and 70’s is gonna become like music from the first decade of Rock and Roll, only having 1-2 acts at most on the ballot each year.
The Hall has tried to put more younger, modern voices including younger critics and bloggers online on the Voting Committee in the last year or two (Hey Hall, I’d love to vote, just saying! lol), but as long as there continues to be 7-8 highly qualified classic rock acts on the ballot, it’s likely the classes will be made up mostly of those acts, because even younger music fans like myself will still vote for those acts on the ballot (I voted for the Moody Blues every day on the Fan Vote and also voted for the Cars, the Zombies, and Judas Priest quite a bit as well until they didn’t need my votes anymore), so I think it’s gonna take the Nominating Committee to put a stop to this trend and they have a much higher chance of making a difference than the Voting Committee does. The Nominating Committee has been excellent over the last 6 years or so with so many of the older Rolling Stone crowd of people that felt music after 1975 didn’t matter being dismissed from the Committee and more younger, diverse voices being added on. However, the Nominating Committee is not perfect as it is still heavily skewered toward the male viewpoint of music. There is simply not enough females on the Committee. Sure there’s a few, but there isn’t a single female musician/artist on there and that needs to change. Anyone from Sheryl Crow, Melissa Etheridge, Missy Elliott, or Lauryn Hill, or even Carole King who is much older than those other artists but nontheless, would be an absolute breath of fresh air to put on the Committee. It needs more female voices to bring a new viewpoint and perspective on music and what artists mattered and deserve to be in the HOF to the Nominating Committee.
I have more ideas on how I think the Hall can fix this dilemma, which I will discuss in future blogs. But for those that are worried about this trend, I do see light at the end of the tunnel. The Hall is running out of worthy classic rock acts to put on the ballot which is only gonna bode well for acts from the 80’s and 90’s sooner or later.
But I will leave this blog on a “WTF” note. How is it that the HOF inducted Green Day on their first year, but Radiohead were passed over? Don’t get me wrong, I love Green Day, and they deserve to be in the HOF, but over Radiohead? Go home Rock and Roll Hall of Fame voters. You’re drunk! Or old. Or both.
Wow, this is the first post I’ve made on my blog all year! I’ve been spending most of the year working and playing video games, so I’ve been away for awhile, but with Rock Hall season upon us, it’s time for me to make my return to the blogosphere! Not to mention, I have other music-related blogs in mind to make, so I’m hoping to be on here more frequently than I’ve been throughout the year.
Anyways, enough of the small talk. Let’s get to the reason why you’re reading this blog, my predictions on the next Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of course! As is becoming the norm, I’m really late to the party, even later than usual. Part of it is just general laziness, while the other part is me liking to see whom all of the other Rock Hall watchers and pundits are predicting. Plus, I like to read as much information online as possible for hints at who those on the Nominating Committee will be pushing for. I, of course, want to get as many predictions correct as possible, right?
After a few months with Christmas season coming and going, I finally have enough time to unveil the conclusion to my grand project of remaking the 30 year history of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In two previous blog entries, I remade the list of nominees and inducted artists of the Rock Hall through the years 1986-2005. I changed the format of the Hall by nominating 30 artists each year and choosing 10 for induction. Once an artist gets nominated, they essentially stay on the ballot each year until receiving induction. Meaning each year, 10 new artists joins the ballot. With this format, I’ve managed to get the majority of worthy artists inducted into the Hall and inducted within a few years of being eligible, while doing a solid job of telling a truly chronologically accurate account of the history of rock and roll through the yearly inductees. Obviously it’s not perfect as not every single notable artist is inducted, and some artists did have to wait a bit longer, but it’s certainly a vast improvement from the real HOF. In the third and final part of this 3 series blog, I will highlight the last decade of the Hall, a decade where alternative rock, hair metal, new wave, and rap music came to the forefront of music and thus started becoming eligible for the Rock Hall. This decade is arguably the most controversial in the Hall’s history as it was at this point that social media came to dominate the world landscape and brought to light many of the negative practices of the Hall itself. The lack of acknowledgement for MTV-era music, and the lack of acknowledgment of massively popular 70’s classic rock bands, and then in a turn-about the arguable over-saturation of those types of artists in the second half of the decade. Back-door politics and deals that threatened to undermine the integrity of the Rock Hall. Thus this will probably be the most interesting part of my 3 part project/blog as this will be the toughest to fix. But I feel I’m up to the challenge and managed to make the Hall even better than I did in the previous two decades.
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!!!!!
A few weeks ago I posted the first of three parts of my project of remaking the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I appreciated all of the feedback to the first part which was mostly positive with some other interesting points brought up. However, realistically, that was the easy part as the first decade of the Hall of Fame honestly didn’t have much wrong with it, as again pretty much everyone inducted were no brainers, and the Hall after the first couple of years found a great format as far as amount of inductees per year goes. However, with the second part, this is where it’s about to get interesting. In this part, you’re going to begin seeing many artists inducted in my re-made Hall of Fame that either took 10-20 years in real life to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, or even worse, still haven’t been inducted. This is the part where you’re really going to see the positive effect my inducting 10 acts per year has on the induction process.
So on October 18, the long, national nightmare of followers of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was finally over. The nominees for the 2017 class of the Hall of Fame were announced, and like every year, there were plenty of surprises thrown at us. In the months leading up to October 18, many Rock and Roll Hall of Fame aficionados, along with myself, went through our yearly ritual of trying to analyze and predict what direction the Hall of Fame was gonna go with for the following year’s class, and also which artists would make up the nominees list for the 2017 class. There were two things we all knew to expect. 1. Pearl Jam and 2Pac will be nominated; 2. Expect the unexpected. Every year, we think we have the Hall of Fame down to a science and hope we’ll get it completely right. And every year, the Hall always throws us curveballs and makes us have to re-think how we analyze the HOF and the Nominating Committee, and sure enough this year was no exception.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of the most controversial, but fascinating institutions in American pop culture. Every year a slate of artists from the last 60 years of music are considered for the illustrious honor of joining the likes of the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and Nirvana in the Hallowed Hall of Fame, and even less are ultimately chosen. In the meantime, hundreds of legendary and popular acts are passed over, much to the dismay of hardcore and passionate music fans across the globe. In the early years of the HOF, there wasn’t much controversy, as in the beginning, only artists from the 1950’s and early 1960’s were even eligible, so there really wasn’t much to complain about as the inductees for the most part were no brainers. As the heavyweights of the British Invasion, Motown, and the late 60’s hippie-era American rock groups became eligible, again little controversy was generated as all of these acts being inducted were no-brainers for the most part.
It’s early September. Fall begins in about a week. School started for most children almost a month ago. Football season started a week ago. My birthday is in two days. Lots of stuff going on. So what else is coming up? While, it’s “Christmas time” for enthusiasts and “budding-experts” of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as it’s about the time that the Nominating Committee for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame meets to discuss their chosen artists they want to see be nominated for the next class of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! I’m among the last of my fellow Rock Hall enthusiasts to get around to making their predictions, but at long last, I’ve finally gotten around to it.
September-December is always my favorite time of the year for many reasons. Weather wise, those are my two favorite seasons. Football and basketball seasons start. My birthday is on September 15. Christmas, my favorite holiday, takes place in December. Peak season takes place at Amazon (where I work), which is the time of the year I make the most money. But most importantly of all, September-December is Rock and Roll Hall of Fame season!