I cannot get a handle on the 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees list. Upon first glance, the list appears to be full of deserving artists. But, as the hours and days past, the nominees’ histories seemed to all be very similar. If one takes an objective point of view, none of the artists are truly what I would call a “slam dunk pick.” So, with my limited knowledge, I began with the experts with the intention of coming up with average odds for each artist. Well, the experts are all over the place, with very little consistency. Believe it or not, no love was given to any of those artists who were eligible for their first year, such as artists who have always appeared to be future inductees like Beck and Outkast. Then, there are no Nirvanas, Pearl Jams or Green Days, who were obvious inductees.
Right now, the early leader in the Rock Hall’s fan voting is Stevie Nicks, which was totally a surprise to me. She has been inducted with Fleetwood Mac, yet I felt her solo career was one awesome album (Bella Donna) and a bunch of fair LPs, much like Sting’s solo career away from RRHOF Inductees The Police. However, it appears that Nicks’ popularity with her rabid fans may carry her into the Hall of Fame. Yet, on the other hand, another fan ballet is being conducted by Future Legends, which has Nicks in ninth place, so go figure.
Then, there’s Janet Jackson and Def Leppard, those stalwarts of Eighties music. First, Jackson is sixth in the Hall vote and fifth in the Legends survey. All the while, Def Leppard is a close second in the more important Hall vote and third in the Legends. So, as far as popularity goes, we can look to Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard and/or Janet Jackson getting in individually or all together.
To continue the effort by the Hall to drive me insane, they nominated two of the most notoriously and overtly political artists of the rock era with MC5 and Rage Against the Machine. To begin with, MC5 is from the Sixties and had little financial success. Yet, their ideals and militant-sounding proto-punk rock/metal hybrid paved the way for both metal and punk, especially their most obvious god-child, RATM. So, they seem like they will cancel each other out.
Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan is becoming a regular nominee, much like Chic before them. Chaka Khan has been nominated several both with and without her first band Rufus. Yet, the increasing notion that R&B, Soul, Funk, Pop and Hip Hop do not belong in the RRHOF, one thinks the band will never get the call. And the same goes for LL Cool J, whom people have forgotten was the premier rapper of the mid-Eighties, who recorded one of rap’s milestone LPs, Mama Said Knock You Out. Come on! It’s all been replaced by his acting career.
Every year, you can expect some crazy, off-the-wall nominees to be on the list. Not so much this year. The closest to that are excellent singer/songwriter John Prine, who has overcome some health issues to release one of his finest albums to date. And then there’s The Zombies, one of the Sixties holdovers who have not been inducted, just like Paul Revere & the Raiders and Procol Harum. As much as these two have influenced music, I just cannot bring myself to get excited about either.
Likewise, Radiohead, the critics’ current rock darlings. I have never been excited by Radiohead, even after I saw them open for R.E.M. in 1995. Their success signaled the ending of my cutting edge days.
All of this leaves me with some personal favorite artists who remain important to me. No artist is as significant on this list as Todd Rundgren. The man is a musical genius, yet the public remains ignorant of all of his contributions. The nominees also contain the names of electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk and Devo. My loyal readers will all remember Devo’s place in my heart, and how significant the work of Kraftwerk was to my beloved Eighties music.
As a child of Eighties music, Roxy Music played a huge role, even releasing one of the classic albums during the heady days of their New Romantic influence. And, of course, one cannot think of the Eighties without The Cure coming up in conversation.
So, there you have it. A group of nominees who are all good, even worthy of RRHOF induction. Yet, these artists are so evenly matched that it is difficult for me to predict who will be inducted. Personally, I would love to see the Hall actually induct seven of these artists, which would make for an entertaining evening and terrific performances that would translate to an exciting HBO program next Spring.
With that said, here are the seven artists that I would love to see inducted with the Class of 2019 into the RRHOF: Todd Rundgren, Devo, Janet Jackson, Roxy Music, Def Leppard, Rage Against the Machine and The Cure. But, if I take my heart out of the equation, my five are Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, The Zombies and Kraftwerk.
It’s only rock and roll, but I like it, like it, yes, I do!