For a Hall Watcher, today is much like New Year’s Eve when you’re young and single and ready to mingle: the anticipation is great, the unknown is titillating, the buildup is thrilling, the endless booze is intoxicating but that midnight kiss…well…uh…it was nice but there’s really nothing there. Oh sure, your hormones get everyone through the night, but then at 10 AM on New Year’s Day, you just have that overwhelming sense of disappointment.
You know, upon first glance, my friends and I would believe that my over-inflated ego would be celebrating the fact that I did predict eight of this year’s 16 nominees, with a ninth artist who was on my Honorable Mention list. But, in spite of that good fortune, I am honestly disappointed. My disappointment lies in a couple of areas. Foremost, how could the Nominating Committee, after a year of catching hell concerning the lack of a female presence in the Hall, could nominate only THREE deserving women! Good Lord Boomers! This is the 21st century! Get with the program because women have been dominating rock in so many meaningful ways that I find myself gravitating to younger female artists like Billie Eilish, Charli XCX and Lizzo than any of the male-dominated artists, all of whom remain very redundant to me. And, the other reason is for the nomination of one artist: the Dave Matthews Band. To use one of my dad’s favorite phrase, “For Chrissakes!” Or, how about the modern phrase that my boys used to ask me and their mom, “WTF?!?!?!” With so many more deserving Nineties bands, and specifically jam bands (i.e., Phish!), available, why go with the homogeneous and bland DMB? Hell, I could make a better case for Hootie and the Blowfish or Wilson Phillips than I ever could for DMB. Once you heard “Ants Marching,” you’ve heard the band’s whole career. And you would think my boys would be the perfect targets for that band, but they have complained about DMB since that first album. Actually, my older son, Graham, has the uncanny ability to sing DMB lyrics from one song to another’s tune just to show how all their songs are the same, only slowed down or sped up. (By the way, he does that to Nickelback too. He should be doing comedy with this stuff, but his humor is way too British for America, especially in Larry the Cable Guy country.)
So, instead of Smashing Pumpkins, Carole King (again!), Tina Turner, Big Star, LL frickin’ Cool J, Eric B. & Rakim, Iron Maiden, Alice in Chains, The Jam, Gram Parsons, et. al., we got Dave Matthews Band, the future of bad yacht rock. Okay, Keller, deep breath! Deep breath! Hang on, my back is spasming so bad right now! And, I blame Dave Matthews for that too! As a matter of fact, when I coached, I coached a JV baseball team. We had played three poor road games in a row, when I discovered that some DMB song had been playing on the bus before all three games. I refused to let my team listen to DMB after that. If they came on the radio, the bus driver had to change the stations. I blamed DMB for my team’s crappy play because they all played as if they were asleep! Hang on! Deep breath! I need caffeine, which soothes those of us who are ADHD. No lie! Scientific fact. Ritalin, Adderall and caffeine all act the same way on those with this infliction.
So, besides the artist that I will no longer mention, here are the other 15 artists who have been nominated for the Class of 2020. In parentheses, I have where I ranked the artist in my Top 200, as well as whether I predicted their name on this list.
Pat Benatar – Once described as the 80s’ hard rock vixen, this woman, along with her collaborator/husband Neil Giraldo have been rightly nominated for the first time. (#24, yes)
DMB – ‘Nuff said. Oh, this is their first time too. (not ranked, no)
Depeche Mode – The goth synth rockers of the early ’80s who filled stadiums by the end of that decade. They have been nominated before. (#22, yes)
The Doobie Brothers – Finally, the hardest working band of the ’70s has gotten their first nod. (#12, yes)
Whitney Houston – The heir to, Aretha Franklin’s throne was the voice of my generation. This is her first nomination. (#42, Honorable Mention)
Judas Priest – The metal gods got their second nomination this year. The one time that Eddie Trunk is right. (#18, no)
Kraftwerk – I get it that most of my friends don’t know who they are unless they took high school German, then we ALL knew who they were. This is THE starting point for all forms of synthesizer usage. You don’t have to dig them, but you MUST respect them! They are burning a hole through the whole nomination-and-still-not-getting-induction process that it’s getting as old as Chic was (yet, another sore point with me!). (#1, yes)
MC5 – I’ve lost track of the number of times they have been nominated, so, for crying out loud, just put them in. That way, do the whole thing over with the New York Dolls, The Jam and Big Star. (#55, yes)
Motörhead – Another band that makes one scratch his head saying, “And Metallica is in?!” Don’t be surprised, but this is Lemmy’s band’s first nomination. (#47, no)
Nine Inch Nails – Yes! Again! (#27, yes)
The Notorious B.I.G. – Tupac’s in, so Biggie should follow since they will be forever linked together as the best M.C.s of the Nineties, as well as the whole East Coast vs. West Coast crap. Still, he was a generational talent and deserves the recognition. (#26, yes)
Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – How many more times must they be nominated before the voters put them in? Chaka was a miniature version of Whitney in the 70s. I still love to listen to her music, especially when she fronted one of the hottest funk bands ever Rufus. (#41, no)
Todd Rundgren – Rundgren and Paul Weller to the only two of my all-time favorite artists not in the Hall. He was third in the fan balloting last year and still did not get in. Make this right! (#4, yes)
Soundgarden – I fell in love with Soundgarden in the late-Eighties, and even turned on one of my nephews to them when I bought him a cassette of their Louder Than Love album. They should be the third of the Big Four of Grunge, with Alice in Chains still awaiting their first nomination. (#85, no)
T. Rex – In the States, these Glam band pioneers have been more of a footnote for “Bang a Gong,” but in the UK, they are gods. I am excited about this first-time nomination, especially after Roxy Music’s induction. (#87, no)
Thin Lizzy – This first-time nominee has me over the moon! I have always felt they might be viewed like many viewed my beloved Cheap Trick – a great band but not deserving of the Hall. Still, Cheap Trick got in, so Thin Lizzy, who are much more than “The Boys Are Back in Town,” could be following them soon. (#119, no)
Let the fun begin! And, don’t forget to vote daily on the Rock Hall website for your five favorites. My four locks are Pat Benatar, Todd Rundgren, Whitney Houston and The Doobie Brothers, with Biggie, Depeche Mode, Rufus and Judas Priest battling it out for my fifth vote. But, I will vote for everyone except that one band! FYI: Biggie is a shoo-in!