At 0800 EST in the USA on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its 16-artist Nominees List from which five to seven will become members of the Class of 2021 Induction Class for the Hall. And, every year, a coterie of rock music aficionados, loosely known as The Hall Watchers, will converse through various modes of electronic communication, though we mostly found on Twitter waxing poetic about our favorite artists we swear is being snubbed the most by The Hall’s Nominating Committee. I must say that this loosely organized covey consists of some very fine people with interesting occupations, all of whom have a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame fetish.
To be perfectly honest, I have learned a cornucopia of information about the inner workings and politics of the Hall, as well as gained some insight concerning the nomination process. Yet, for all the faults built into the Hall, I still love it. Back during my college days, I read an article in Rolling Stone magazine that the rag’s owner, Jann Wenner, wanted to head a monetary drive to open a Hall of Fame for the world of rock music. The vision of the place would be a museum with displays honoring artists from all eras, covering the pre-rock & roll Fifties up to and including the most current flavor of the moment. And, if you have ever visited the place, located in Cleveland, Ohio, it is truly magical. So much so that even my lovely wife, who only has a passing interest in music, found the Hall to be one of her favorite places we have ever visited, which includes her beloved Disney World. And, she still puts the RRHOF ahead of Magic Kingdom and the rest of the sprawling land containing the so-called “Happiest Place on Earth” (my boys, during their teenage years, would beg to disagree). The Hall, on the other hand, was just breath-taking.
Over the years, we have told our friends that they would love the place. So much so that after the pandemic so been slowed enough, there will be a caravan of crazies from Central Indiana making our own pilgrimage of sorts to Northeastern Ohio to visit this I.M. Pei shrine to the most influential artform of the twentieth century. I really want this trip to be my entry back into the world of humanity.
Anyway, every year, my social media friends and I write our annual blogs or create our annual podcasts as to our predictions for the Nominee List for the RRHOF. And, every year, each of us praise some of the choices on the list and bemoan those whom have been snubbed. Personally, I love to see how many of the artists I predicted actually end up on the list. Now, I always have one artist that is a personal favorite of mine who I become known as that person’s biggest fan. Up until their their 2016 induction, I kept adding Cheap Trick’s name to my list, even telling my boys that I would boycott the Hall until the band from Rockford, Illinois were finally let into the place. So, since 2016, my boycott is over, and Cheap Trick is an inducted member of the RRHOF. Since that time, I have placed The Jam, my beloved artist Paul Weller’s FIRST induction-worthy band, on my prediction for that year’s Nominee List. Unfortunately, The Jam’s snubbing continues into 2021. C’mon people! Ya gotta induct The Jam, then solo Paul Weller, then, when the world finally catches up to the visionary work of his Eighties band, The Style Council. And, right now, I am suffering a little bit more each year The Jam is left off the ballot for induction. Watch out friends! I may have to turn up the heat a bit for this terrific first-wave punk band.
So, let’s review my list from 29 October 2020. On that day, I wrote a blog entitled “Will Anyone Listen to Me? My Picks for the Nominees List for the 2021 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.” First off, what a long, meandering headline! What was I thinking? No wonder few people actually read the damn thing! Oh, Christ! Anyway, who was on my list? Here it is! I predicted the Nominee List would consist of the following artists: Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, heavy metal gods Judas Priest, dark prog rockers King Crimson, German synthesizer pioneers Kraftwerk, 80s rap god LL Cool J, 60s political proto-punks MC5, 80s hard rock pioneer Pat Benatar, 70s funkateers Rufus & Chaka Khan, Seattle grunge gods Soundgarden, New Wave dance gurus The B-52’s, punk pop pioneers The Go-Go’s, my punk faves The Jam, rock’s greatest comeback queen Tina Turner and my other favorite, rock & roll producer/rocker/video visionary and all-around Renaissance man Todd Rundgren. That means that I got 6.5 correct out of my 15 choices, which, in my mind, sucks.
To begin with, how can Pat Benatar and Soundgarden get left off the 2021 after having Top 5 showings in the Fan Voting in 2020? That is an insult, especially to Benatar after finishing second in that balloting. Next, Kraftwerk was just ONE ballot away from getting an automatic induction into the Hall if they had made the Nominee List in 2021. This is known as the seven consecutive nominations rule. Get nominated seven times in a row, and you get an automatic induction. Guess we couldn’t allow that to happen, exactly the same thing the Hall did to Chic, whom have not been nominated since 2016 when the Hall, in its infinite wisdom, inducted band member Nile Rodgers while thumbing their collective noses at the rest of the band. That was bad form!
So, here are the 16 Nominees for the 2021 Induction Class for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The five to seven nominees will be announced sometime in May 2021 with the induction ceremony to take place in Cleveland in November 2021. After many complaints, the Nominating Committee finally put together a very diverse list of men and women, straight and otherwise and of various nationalities and races. For that I am thankful and pleased. And, the quality of the nominees is terrific, covering many genres within the rock world.
And, the nominees are…
Mary J. Blige. This is Miss Blige’s first nomination. She is the Voice of the Nineties and the diva from Generation X. What made her a more approachable diva as opposed to Mariah Carey is that Blige has much more street cred. She was never afraid of acknowledging that in her music, which transposed her peerless vocals against music grounded in hip hop. She is very deserving of this nomination, but it just is not her year…YET!
Kate Bush. Miss Bush hit my radar in two ways. First, I had a pen pal from Australia who was fanatical in her devotion to Kate Bush. Then, I saw her perform one very quirky near-art performance of her British hit song at the time on SNL. Of course, being a teenage male, I was taken immediately by her beautiful. Then, her unusual singing style immediately hooked me. In the Eighties, Bush developed a cult following in the US, while attaining star status in the UK and throughout the British empire. I still think her cult status here in the States will hurt her induction chances this year. Yet, I do envision her induction one day. Unfortunately, she is suffering due to the stupid backlog of worthy artists that needs to be rectified by the Hall ASAP.
Devo. If you were a teen in the late-70s/early 80s, you were taken by the whole performance art schtick of Devo immediately after seeing them deconstruct “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” on SNL in 1978 and then again in 1980 when the performed a rousing version of “Uncontrollable Urge” on the late, great ABC late night sketch comedy show Fridays! A whole generation of computer geeks got sucked into Devo’s world, not unlike we got sucked into “Dungeons and Dragons” back in the day. This band is on the edge of getting the call and being left out again.
Foo Fighters. Nobody is surprised that Dave Grohl’s second band was nominated during their first year of eligibility. My older son has described Grohl as being the last of the traditional rock stars with a dynamic stage presence. The last thing about these Nineties alternative nation survivors is they are still creating excellent music, as heard on their brand new LP called Medicine at Midnight, which happens to be one of the best albums ever. The Foos are a slam dunk to be inducted.
The Go-Go’s. This band became a trendy pick for nomination after all the positive reviews and stories of their excellent documentary The Go-Go’s. By now, you know they were the first all-female band who wrote their own songs to have a number one album on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums Chart back in the spring of 1982. After Joan Jett and Heart, you cannot underestimate this band’s lasting impact. Just ask recent inductees Green Day who one of their biggest influences are. The Go-Go’s will definitely be one of that band’s bigger influences.
Iron Maiden. Heavy metal has be unfairly marginalized. Sure, Sabbath, Zep and Metallica are all in, along with hard rock stalwarts AC/DC. but recent nominees like Judas Priest, Motörhead and Thin Lizzy have been unfairly passed over. Could Maiden’s first nomination be enough to get the boys in the Hall? I think it could.
Jay-Z. Arguably one of rap’s greatest MCs, Jay-Z should be a slam dunk for induction during his initial year of eligibility. It doesn’t hurt him that his Mr. Beyoncé either.
Chaka Khan. This poor woman! Sometimes she has been nominated with her former band of funk masters Rufus, and other times as a solo artist. She should be inducted in both manners. Her non-induction should be remedied soon. Unfortunately, 2021 won’t be the year for her.
Carole King. Can you believe this lady has NOT been inducted as a performer yet? This has been one of the biggest outrages of the past 30 years. She should be in the Hall if she had only recorded Tapestry. When she is inducted, this will become her second induction, with the first being as a songwriter with her ex-husband and former songwriting partner Gerry Goffin. Many have been yelling sexism concerning her exclusion. I expect this oversight to finally be rectified this year.
Fela Kuti. Few artists of color have done more for the music of their country outside of Bob Marley and Jamaica than Kuti has done with funkified versions of his native Nigeria’s music. World music artists have long been overlooked outside of a couple of reggae studs. Fela’s nomination was the feel-good left field nomination we get each year. Now, people will stream his long-deserving material much like everyone (re)discovered John Prine after his surprise nomination a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, Kuti will not be inducted this year, meaning the backlog of deserving artists continues to grow.
LL Cool J. One of the first transcendent hip hop stars of the Eighties, LL has been overlooked for a very long time since he has been concentrating on his acting career. But, back in the day, he was every bit as good as Run-DMC and Kurtis Blow (another overlooked rapper). He was dominate in the Eighties, at least until Eric B. & Rakim and Public Enemy came along. And they inspired LL Cool J to greater heights with Mama Said Knock You Out. Unfortunately, with Jay-Z on the ballot, LL will be outside looking in again.
New York Dolls. So what?! They dressed up like women. Everyone does that now and again. However, not in the Seventies. Therefore, no one, especially in the Midwest, took the band seriously. If they had just debuted three years later, they would have been punk heroes. Instead, they are another of the proto-punk bands beloved by those in the know, like we love The Stooges (inducted in 2010) and MC5 (still not in either). This band is on the fence for induction.
Rage Against the Machine. The band took the political fury of MC5, The Clash and Woody Guthrie, set it to metal music with a guitar that could sound like a scratching turntable in hip hop and hip hop rhythms to create something totally new and unique. RATM is yet another band that is straddling the fence this year.
Todd Rundgren. Rundgren is still one of my personal all-time faves, so I think he should be inducted. And, honestly, I believe things are breaking his way. He just might be inducted, whether he says he cares or not.
Tina Turner. That’s right! She has not been inducted for her stellar solo career. Oh, she was inducted as part of Ike & Tina Turner along with her asshole ex-husband who made Tina into a punching bag during their marriage. But, Tina ran off in the middle of the night in order to escape Ike, resumed her career, and became one of the best artists of the Eighties.
Dionne Warwick. This woman made Burt Bacharach’s middle of the road music come alive, with a touch of soul. Dionne’s craft was one of vocal restraint and not fireworks as her niece, Whitney Houston, made as her calling card. Warwick is another singer that people will find surprising that she is not an inductee. Since becoming a witty Twitter user over the winter, Warwick’s presence is at an new high, which means that she just might get inducted.
So, which of the outstanding 16 acts do I believe will be inducted? Usually, when choosing, we only go with five acts, since that was the policy of the RRHOF that caused this massive backlog of uninducted artists. Personally, I believe there are four slam dunks: Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, Carole King and Tina Turner. My fifth is Todd Rundgren. If the Hall went with six inductees, as they have the past few years, I believe The Go-Go’s will get in. After that, I put the rest in this order of their chances: Dionne Warwick (7), Devo (8), Iron Maiden (9), New York Dolls (10), Rage Against the Machine (11), Chaka Khan (12), Kate Bush (13), LL Cool J (14), Fela Kuti (15) and Mary J. Blige (16).
This does not mean I dislike any of these fine artists. I just believe some of these people have a better chance of induction right now than some of the others. I can’t wait to discover just how wrong I have been!