When the nominee list for this year’s inductee class for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF), I immediately noticed a couple of things. First, finally, there were more women and people of color nominated, as the last decade or so has been fairly whitewashed and definitely been more testosterone-oriented. So, that was a good thing. Second, my beloved Paul Weller or either of his great bands, The Style Council or, more importantly, The Jam were on the nominee list once again. Seriously, no Jam, arguably the third, more successful leg of the English punk movement stool. But, I refuse to be sucked into yet another rant about Paul Weller, The Jam or the criminally overlook Style Council. But, RRHOF, I want it noted that my patience is running thin with you!
So, I know my Hall Watchers peeps out there have the nominees memorized. But, I do have some readers, such as most of my friends and family, who read this blog just dying for me to rehash the list, followed by who I think will get inducted later in the year. On more time, here are the nominees: Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Devo, Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, Jay-Z, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner and Dionne Warwick. If you peruse the names on the list, you first probably cannot believe that some of them are not in the RRHOF, like Tina Turner or Carole King. Also, you might be surprised by those who made a great showing in the fan voting last year, like Pat Benatar and Judas Priest, being completely left off this year’s ballot. But, overall, I feel it is a solid ballot, with all of the nominees being worthy of induction. And, if there were ever a moment in which the Hall could just induct everyone, this is the class that could be done with little bitching from my Hall Watching friends and me.
Let me begin by explaining who a couple of the less familiar names are to the general readers. First, you might be asking, “Who is Fela Kuti?” And, in North America, that is a legitimate question. Well, in short, Kuti is the African version of Bob Marley. What Marley generally means to the Western Hemisphere in terms of political stances, Kuti holds the very same stature on the African continent. But, more importantly for the RRHOF, Kuti, much like Marley did for reggae, essentially popularized the Afrobeat sound that has been incorporated into so many facets of American popular music that it is difficult to actually point all of them out. In my record collection, Talking Heads’ Remain in Light album would have sounded much different if David Byrne and producer Brian Eno had not discovered the music of Kuti. You could say the same thing for the careers of Adam Ant, Bow Wow Wow and a host of R&B and hip hop artists. Kuti did this by incorporating his native African rhythms and integrating the sounds of jazz and funk into his mix. I liken his music to being if Parliament/Funkadelic had grown up in Africa instead of North America. Then throw in his lyrics about freeing his people from European control, and you have a man in music with the political stature of a Bob Marley.
Another artist many of you may be unfamiliar with is British chanteuse Kate Bush. In her native England, Bush is, much like Paul Weller, a national treasure. Her music, much like the music of Peter Gabriel, is very theatrical and poetic. Remarkably, her influence is growing by leaps and bounds these days here in the States as younger artists have been discovering her impeccable catalog. Back during her heyday, I personally on heard her music on college radio and MTV, not the Top 40 or Album Oriented set. Yet, just the other day, I heard her “Running Up That Hill,” the closest thing she had to a hit song here in the States, twice on two different stations in a twenty-four period, so I believe her time is coming.
If the RRHOF were going to actually do something about the massive backlog of deserving artists and had a large class of ten inductees, I would expect both to get the call. Unfortunately, and most frustratingly, the Hall probably won’t do that, which will lead to an outcry from Hall Watchers Nation. Lately, the Hall has gone to six inductees, but I actually have an inner inkling that they might actually induct seven artists and an eighth one for Musical Excellence (the cop-out move they used to get Nile Rodgers inducted without his fantastic band Chic. I am still calling “B.S.!” on that move RRHOF!). I will list my six artists, then ranked the others including designating an artist for Musical Excellence.
After reading article after article, in addition to all the predictions by my Hall Watching colleagues, I believe these six artist will be announced very soon as being members of the Class of 2021. My six inductees are, in alphabetical order, Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, Jay-Z, Carole King and Tina Turner.
As far as Tina Turner and Carole King are concerned, the whole world will unite in saying, “It’s about G.D. time!” Next, The Go-Go’s, you can say what you want about them, but this is the first all female band who played their own instruments AND wrote their own songs to ever have a number one album with Beauty and the Beast all the way back in the spring of 1982. They opened up the door for the likes of The Bangles, Bikini Kill, L7, Sleater-Kinney and HAIM to rock the world. And, with the cries for more female representation in the Hall (it’s a shocking 7% of the inductees are female!) and the critical acclaim for the band’s Showtime documentary, the stars are aligned for The Go-Go’s to finally be inducted.
Both Jay-Z and Foo Fighters have been nominated during their first year of eligibility. Of course, Jay-Z will get in, since he is considered to be one of the greatest rappers of all-time AND has transcended his genre in becoming a mogul. On the other hand, I would have never predicted the Foos being first year inductees, but their stature has grown as leader Dave Grohl’s reputation of being rock’s nicest guy and the band becoming SNL‘s first call öin a pinch to be a musical guest have all conspired to make the band a popular inductee. Plus, who would be better opening the whole ceremonies that Dave Grohl and his gum-chewing smile on stage?
And that leaves the sixth spot for arguably the greatest band from a much maligned genre, heavy metal, to be inducted and that’s Iron Maiden. First, that would shut up the man with the most limited musical tastes in the world, Eddie Trunk, which is enough for me. Second, this would make up for Judas Priest’s snub last year. And, third, but perhaps most importantly, Iron Maiden flat out rocks! They deserve this moment nearly as much as King and Turner. Plus, it might finally open the floodgates for other deserving metal artists like Priest, Motörhead, Mötley Crüe and so others. Plus, they could close the show since the Hall waited TOO LONG to put a healthy Tina Turner on the stage.
There’s my Top Six. Additionally, I do think there will be a Musical Excellence inductee, but I’m afraid that my brilliant colleague Michell Bourg will have to wait for Big Mama Thornton to finally get her overdue induction. Instead, the Hall will use this designation as a consolation award to one of my favorites, Todd Rundgren. I know how cantankerous he can be, I saw it first hand back in 2008 at a venue in Indianapolis with my older son. But, the man has been a part of my life’s soundtrack and has produced some of the biggest selling albums ever (Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf alone has probably paid for every house he has owned over the years).
But, what if the Hall went over six inductees? Who would I expect to see? Well, here they are in order as I see it. The first one in would be Devo, especially since their hometown of Akron, Ohio, has been openly campaigning for their induction. After Devo, I see Dionne Warwick, New York Dolls, Fela Kuti, Kate Bush, LL Cool J, Chaka Khan, Rage Against the Machine and Mary J. Blige, in that order. Would I be surprised if I were wrong? Not all at. The other thing that would shock me would be Tina Turner not being inducted. That would be shocking to me. The rest are interchangeable as far as I am concerned.
Now, if I had all the say as to who the inductees were, I would induct Devo, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden, Carole King, Todd Rundgren and Tina Turner, followed by New York Dolls, Fela Kuti, Jay-Z and Foo Fighters. Honestly, I thought my beloved Weezer would be nominated before Foo Fighters, but then again, what do I really know? That’s what makes this prognostication so much fun.
Now, I’ve done my part to hype this year’s inductee announcement, which could be as early as tomorrow. If I’m right about the day, then I timed this blog correctly. It would be pure serendipity.