Hello rock fans! I was not planning to write this week, but circumstance have arisen for me to take a quick break from a little vacation to throw my two-cents in the ring concerning today’s announcement of the list of nominees for the 2019 Induction Class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This year, fifteen artists were nominated, which probably signifies that only five to seven of them will get the call for induction. Unfortunately, the list is super-light on African-American nominees (three!), with no Hispanics nor any other minority represented. Once again, the list is mainly dominated by classic rock artists. Today, I will NOT be making predictions about who I think will be inducted, I will simply be presenting the merits of each artist, along with their ranking according to Not in Hall of Fame (http://www.notinhalloffame.com/rock-and-roll), a fantastic website which ranks all artists currently not in the RRHOF according to their worthiness. Check it out since it’s one of my favorite Rock Hall-related websites, along with Future Rock Legends site.
Starting alphabetically, the first nominee is Def Leppard, the innovative UK pop-metal band that unwittingly jump-started the whole New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement of the late-Seventies and Eighties. Of all the groups in that particular genre, they were the illest fit, as they wore their Glam Rock influences on their sleeves. If Bon Jovi would just admit that his career was simply an imitation of the Leppards, along with a touch of Loverboy, I would have more respect for them. Leppard’s shortcomings was the lack of output of music while they were at the top of their game. But, when you almost lose your drummer in a car accident, while he does lose an arm, and he re-learns drumming from a whole new perspective and did it flawlessly. This is not a difficult prediction, but Def Leppard will win the Fan Voting.
Next, and it’s about time, is punk and new wave innovators Devo. This band was so far ahead of the game back in the late-Seventies that musicians are still trying to catch up to them today. They were one of the first artists to embrace a relatively new medium called the music video. Plus, what seemed as sarcasm at the time, their “Theory of De-Evolution” is proving to hold in the day of Trump and FOX News.
The next artist is ranked #18 on Not in Hall of Fame, Janet Jackson was one of the most important and commercially success artists of the Eighties, who was actually able to compete with both Prince and brother Michael critically and commercially. She could win the Fan’s Voting.
Little know singer-songwriter, and one of a long line of “the next Bob Dylans” that came along in the Sixties and Seventies, John Prine has remained a critical favorite over the years with his brand of literate lyrics set to folk music. Prine, unfortunately, is not well-known to the commercial music fans.
Just because they hail from Germany, Kraftwerk has continued to be an innovative source in the electronic music world. Although they had little success here in the States does not diminish them one bit as Not in Hall of Fame (NHF) ranks them #2 on their list of artists deserving induction. If it wasn’t for their synthesizer work throughout the Seventies and Eighties, we might never have heard synth pop, David Bowie, EDM, Daft Punk, LCD Soundsystem and Devo, to list a few.
As the only rap artist nominated, LL Cool J has been overlooked for far too long. Many have forgotten how important he was to the early days of rap. Plus, his Mama Says Knock You Out LP remains one of hip hop’s greatest artistic statements of all-time.
Back in the late-Sixties, young people were protesting for all kinds of social change. Of all the artists of the day, the most militant of them all was Detroit’s own MC5. These guys bridge the gap between punk and metal that will come to a head in the Nineties with bands like Rage Against the Machine. They may not have sold any records, but they are great nonetheless. NHF ranks them at #6.
Back in 1995, when I saw them open for R.E.M., I would have never predicted that Radiohead would have become the powerful artist they are today. They are so widely acclaimed that NHF puts them #1 on their list of artists deserving induction. I really thought they were a slam dunk for induction last year, so do not be surprised to hear their name listed for induction.
Rage Against the Machine has once again been nominated, and they will eventually be inducted. They remain one of my five favorite artists from the Nineties, along with Pearl Jam, Green Day and Nirvana, all of whom have been previously inducted.
People have been clamoring for years for the induction of Roxy Music. And, the band is so widely regard that NHF has them ranked #5. They were one of the few Glam Rock bands that were so highly regarded and embraced by the punks, new wavers and New Romantics to survive the movements to actually be included.
In a minor surprise, Fleetwood Mac enchantress, singer, songwriter and Heartbreaker-wanna-be, Stevie Nicks’ solo career is well known to those of us in our mid-Fifties. Her influence has been quiet, but when you look around, you see artists like Sheryl Crow, the Dixie Chicks and so many other female artists sing her praises.
Once again, The Cure has been nominated to appease the few Gen X-ers, such as myself, that feel “our” artists are being overlooked (The Smiths, anyone?). But, the world view of The Cure is so strong that NHF puts the band at #11 on their list.
When this man’s name is brought up, most of the responses I hear are, “He’s NOT in the Hall of Fame?” I am talking about rock music’s one true Renaissance man Todd Rundgren. The man has done it all: solo hits, hits with his band Utopia, album engineering (The Band’s Stage Fright), production work (to name a few, XTC, Meat Loaf, New York Dolls, Patti Smith Group, Grand Funk) and even video work before the days of MTV. Rundgren is highest on my personal list of artists to be inducted. But, don’t just listen to me, because the kind people at Not in Hall of Fame have Todd ranked at lucky 13. Not bad for a guy who just wants to bang on the drum on all day.
Now that Nile Rodgers of Chic has been inducted, the voters are going to continue to overlook that band and turn their attention to their other favorite to nominate but not induct, Rufus and Chaka Khan. Either put the whole band in or at least get Chaka in, and stop this madness! Unfortunately, this is only the third African-American act on the list! Diversity! The Hall needs to get back to diversity!
Last but not least, we have Sixties British Invasion band The Zombies, who happens to be voter Little Steven Van Zandt’s big push. The Zombies were fairly nondescript until they released a transcendent album Odessey and Oracle, AFTER the band had imploded. However, the album continues to grow in influence as younger artists began to listen to it and use it as a jumping point in their careers (Flaming Lips, anyone?). They remain a long shot at best.
So, rock fans, there is the 2019 Nominees for Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction. All of the artists are worthy this time around, but, unfortunately, the Hall seems to enjoy frustrating fans like me with a limited number of inductees. If you want to read my “fix” for the Hall, just go back a month or so to see my suggestions for a better induction of artists. We are now two months away from learning who will be inducted as the Class of 2019. Exciting times ahead!