Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023
A Few Thoughts About the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominee List
I started to write this blog entry yesterday, but the initial writing was nothing but a jumbled mess with a total disregard for organization. In other words, it was a visual and literary example of my ADHD that travels in my head when I just give up control of it and let my brain perform a thought form of diarrhea to occur. It was messy, stinky and just plain went everywhere. Plus, it was crap, plain crap!
So, I got pissed and just deleted the whole mess. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do that to some babies’ dirty diapers? Believe me, my kids and grandkids can all lay claim to clearing a room with one of their pieces of art.
I think you get the mental picture. I did a little self-editing at the last minute and called it a day. Now, I am here once again trying to tame my over-zealous neurons from going faster than my cortex can organize them. All I can say is to brace yourself as I dive into the big news in the Rock World – the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s announcement of the nominees for induction as the Class of 2023.
Initially, I noticed that only 14 acts were nominated this year, as opposed to the 16 artists nominated the past few years. The second thing I noticed is that several previously nominated artists were not on the list this year. Those missing this year were DEVO, Dionne Warwick, New York Dolls, MC5 and Fela Kuti. Maybe we will see a couple of them inducted this year for Musical Excellence or whatever title the Hall is using this year. That basically means we got some fresh names on this year’s list.
The 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominee list is as following: Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, Iron Maiden, Joy Division/New Order, Cyndi Lauper, George Michael, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, The Spinners, A Tribe Called Quest, The White Stripes and Warren Zevon. At first glance, I see two huge Eighties MTV artists (Michael and Lauper), arguably metal’s biggest band (Maiden), two rap artists (Elliott and ATCQ), two big Eighties college rock stars (Joy Division/New Order and Bush), three huge acts from the Nineties (Crow, Rage and Soundgarden), a recent rock band (White Stripes), a sweet Seventies soul group (Spinners) and an acerbic singer-songwriter (Zevon). That’s not too bad.
Diversity is always an issue, especially since we started diving into artists from the Seventies and Eighties. However, this year, we have six women nominated, with White Stripes drummer Megan White and New Order keyboardist Gillian Gilbert added to Bush, Crow, Elliott and Lauper. Not too shabby. Unfortunately, we are essentially black or white when it comes to race, once again leaving the Latinx world ignored, especially when Los Lobos and War are available from a very short list from the top of my head. The rock purists are all upset that only Maiden, Rage, Soundgarden and maybe The White Stripes are on the list (One friend doesn’t even count the last three. He’s classic rock all the way!). But, if you are like me and a fan of a wide variety of music and see how it all blends into the inclusive thing called “rock and roll,” then you are pretty pleased with the nominees.
My complaints are that arguably the most important hip hop band of the Nineties and into the new Millennium, OutKast, once again were inexplicably left off this list. I guess ?uestlove is simply attempting to get some chronological order going with hip hop artists, so that’s why he’s still pushing behind the very deserving A Tribe Called Quest. On a personal note, I am sick and tired of the Hall ignoring The Jam. They were HUGE in the UK in the early 80s. They HAVE got to be inducted not only because they are the third of the Big Three of London punk (the Pistols and The Clash are the other two), but they are the bridge that connects The Kinks to the whole Britpop explosion of the Nineties. No Jam, Oasis might have sounded much different.
Blah, blah, blah! Okay, Keller, right now, let’s hear you are going to vote for in the fan voting process? Honestly, I may spend a couple of votes simply spreading the wealth around (you can vote at http://www.vote.rockhall.com, but only for five artists). Still, I do have my favorites, and they are Kate Bush, Warren Zevon, Joy Division/New Order, George Michael and Iron Maiden. Surprisingly, I believe at first glance that these five along with Willie Nelson and The White Stripes will be inducted. Of course, I would love to see Cyndi Lauper inducted as well (Believe it or not, she is currently leading the fan vote, followed by George Michael, Willie Nelson, Soundgarden and Iron Maiden rounding out the Top 5.). The crime is that millions of votes will only count collectively as one whole vote for the top vote-getter. That means that the millions of fans around the world are only equal to the same number of votes as Gene Simmons or the more recent inductee Dolly Parton or former Rolling Stone editor Anthony DeCurtis. To me, it doesn’t seem fair. The Hall should have a weighted number of votes for each artist in the Top 5, or something like that. But what do I know?
So, why were these artists nominated in 2023. Allow me to explain a little about each nominee to put their accomplishments in perspective. I know my former athlete and the biggest Aerosmith fan I personally know Curt Martin will disagree with all of this analysis, but that’s exactly why I love this stuff. Mainly, because he and many others are so passionate about there music. Still, he’s probably yelling something about another snub for Ozzy Osbourne right now.
Let’s finish the long-winded post with a little paragraph as to why each of these artists deserve induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Kate Bush – Ms. Bush popped into the consciousness of the UK and its Commonwealth back in the late-Seventies with her dramatic take of art rock filtered through a DYI sensibility. The artists with whom I can best compare her are both solo- and Peter Gabriel-led Genesis, maybe a little Pink Floyd (maybe because of David Gilmour’s influence on her career) or even a little Stevie Nicks in her lyrics. Bush had a huge year in 2022 as her 1985 left field hit “Running Up That Hill” resonated with Gen Y as it was used to perfect effect in the hit Netflix series Stranger Things. The song peaked this year at number 3 on the charts, surpassing the solid number 35 back when I was only married for a couple of months. Bush has been gaining cred with the current batch of solo artists who are gaining a foothold on the current charts, so do not be surprised to see her inducted this year. Best Song: “Running Up That Hill”
Sheryl Crow – Everyone’s favorite elementary teacher-turned-Michael Jackson background singer-turned-solo artist-turned-Nineties sex symbol-turned-musical icon and survivor, Ms. Crow has survived breast cancer and a few soured relationships along the way. Yet, she persevered and thrived through all of it. Now, she is held up with all the other female rock icons in history. Although I do not have her on my list to be inducted this year, she may just be this year’s Foo Fighters or Lionel Richie as an act so beloved that they find their ways into being inducted. If she gets in, it might be at Bush’s or Cyndi Lauper’s expense. Best Song: “If It Makes You Happy”
Missy Elliott – Many of you that are my age may be asking yourself who Ms. Elliott is. My older son, who as a Millennial has that generation’s pulse, believes she is the best act to represent his generation. And, there for a decade that ran from the mid-Nineties to the mid-Aughts, Elliott’s presence on the charts made her seem like a Hall shoo-in. The young lady wrote, produced and performed on her solo albums, while also doing some outside production work. She had the sound of that era. Best Song: “Get Ur Freak On”
Iron Maiden – By the late-Seventies, punk was all the rage in the UK, followed quickly in rapid succession by the similar post-punk and new wave sounds. Although Van Halen saved heavy metal from an early demise, it was Iron Maiden who save British-made metal that took Black Sabbath, added a pinch of punk here and a dollop of Van Halen there, shook it up, plugged in, turned things up past 11, created their mascot Eddie and the rest was history. Along with a solo Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden is THE most important metal act not in the Hall. Enough is enough! These guys are warriors, survivors AND innovators all rolled into one helluva band, regardless of their genre. Best Song: “Fear of the Dark”
Joy Division/New Order – Many of you may be asking why these two bands are being nominated together? Joy Division was a fantastically dark band that arose from Manchester, England, to jumpstart a couple of genres known as post-punk and Gothic rock. Unfortunately, after two landmark albums that have only grown in stature over the decades and a couple of singles, Joy Division’s lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide on the eve of the band leaving for their debut American tour. But, the story did not end their. From the ashes of that band arose New Order, which initially combined the darkness of Joy Division and filtered it all through synthesizers slowly morphing into a dark-yet-danceable Kraftwerk. Three-quarters of both bands are essentially the same; therefore, we should not induct one without the other, much like Parliament and Funkadelic or The Small Faces and The Faces, essentially two bands from the same DNA. Joy Division’s Best Song: “Love Will Tear Us Apart”; New Order’s Best Song: “Bizarre Love Triangle”
Cyndi Lauper – It might be easy for those of us who came of age with MTV acting as our national radio station to blow off Ms. Lauper as a cartoon character. But, there was a deeper message being conveyed by her that was made palatable by her cartoonish antics. First off, Cyndi gave us the first Eighties’ female empowerment song with “Girls Just Wanna Have Some Fun,” rock’s first obvious female masturbation song in “She Bop,” broke the briefly great band The Hooters AND made professional wrestling must-see TV for the youth of America. And, that was just her first album! Now, she’s throwing her celebrity around to further LGBTQ+ rights, as well as be a public voice against plaque psoriasis. Not a bad resume. Best Song: “Time After Time”
George Michael – By 1987, Prince and Springsteen were both backing away from the stratosphere of superstardom, Madonna was just ascending and Michael Jackson was proving once again to be the self-proclaimed King of Pop. Yet, also that year, the former creative mind behind the success of new wave pop group Wham!, George Michael unleashed his first solo album. That album was Thriller-esque in its immediate impact. Within the blink of an eye, George Michael was vying with Jackson for the title of the King of Pop, a crown that Mr. Michael would quickly back away from. With Faith, George Michael became a musical icon and sex symbol. Then, he spent the rest of his career and life working to gain respect as songwriter who should be mentioned along with Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson as one of the all-time greats. I just knew that when the late-Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins mentioned Mr. Michaels’ name as someone who needed to be inducted, that the late-Michaels would show up on a nominee list. He is just too big not to get in this year. Best Song: “Father Figure”
Willie Nelson – Willie belongs right with Dolly Parton as one of music’s most beloved artists, who also transcends their art. Mr. Nelson has been one of the most consistent country songwriters throughout his career, and his influence extends well beyond the country radio to which he has been long tied. You can scan the names of all the artists who claim Willie as an influence as it runs from Waylon Jennings to Kid Rock and all places in between. Plus, no one’s career has been more stereotypical rock and roll than Willie Nelson, from his stripped down, back-to-the-basics sound of his Outlaw Country genre he unwittingly founded to his blatant pro-recreational marijuana stance. Nelson is a huge towering figure to all things music and rock and roll. He has been overlooked for far too long. Willie Nelson is a lock this year. Best Song: “Whiskey River”
Rage Against the Machine – When you think of powerful artists with equally powerful lyrics and music, the shortlist includes Bob Dylan, MC5, Dead Kennedys, N.W.A, Sex Pistols, The Clash and Public Enemy, most of which are in the Hall (except, criminally, MC5 and Dead Kennedys). The next name on the list would be Rage Against the Machine, who artfully and soulfully combined angry political lyrics with a metal and hip hop soundscape that only enhanced the urgency of their statement. They were the truthful voice of the Nineties, and their music and message continues to resonate. We need more earnest artists like RATM today. Best Song: “Killing in the Name”
Soundgarden – Back during the pre-grunge era of the late-Eighties, a few Seattle bands were beginning to make some headway on college rock radio. I distinctly remember hearing Mudhoney, Mother Love Bone, Screaming Trees, Nirvana and Soundgarden being played. And at the time, Soundgarden had the most developed sound of a talented punk band who combined the dark heaviness of Sabbath with the aural dexterity of Zeppelin. Subsequently, Soundgarden joined Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam to form the Big Four of Grunge, spreading the Seattle sound throughout the world. Best Song: “Black Hole Sun”
The Spinners – The Spinners were one of Philadelphia’s and soul’s sweetest sounding vocal groups whose power peaked in the Seventies. Initially, the group was part of the vaunted Motown family. But, much like Gladys Knight and the Pips, once they left the Detroit label, The Spinners flourished back in their natural environment of their hometown. The band had the flashiest moves this side of the Temptations and Four Tops. But, for me, their finest moments may have been their series of duets with Dionne Warwick. The Spinners are LONG overdue for a Hall induction. Best Songs: “Rubberband Man”
A Tribe Called Quest – Prior to the arrival of ATCQ, rap was still dominated by the pop rap sounds of Tone Lōc, Young MC, Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. The underground voices of gangsta rap of Public Enemy and N.W.A were gaining sales. In that environment strolls two rap groups, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul. Both crews eschewed the bombast for a more laidback sound. While DLS mined yacht rock for the def jams, A Tribe strolled into the jazz library. The rap/jazz fusion was a natural yet untouched goldmine for stretching the aural vocabulary of hip hop. ATCQ became one of the most beloved rap group, so much so that when the remnants of the band reunited after the death of original member Phife Dawg they were invited to perform on SNL when Dave Chapelle hosted right after the 2016 election. Their performance of their first new material in nearly 30 years was transcendent and solidified their credentials for Hall honor. Best Song: “Check the Rhime”
The White Stripes – The minimalist Detroit garage band duo of guitarist/singer/resident genius Jack White and drummer/former wife-turned-sister (?) Meg White created a blues-based punky garage band sound that paid homage to their D-Town punk elders (The Stooges, MC5) yet pushing the sound further. Once the power duo decided to split as a musical force after splitting as a couple, Jack White went on to become the savior of vinyl albums and expand upon the sound of The Stripes. Unfortunately, Meg allegedly had a sextape released. Regardless, I wish Meg would pick up the drumsticks again and start a new band. Best Song: “Seven Nation Army”
Warren Zevon – Twenty years, when Warren Zevon announced on Letterman that he was dying from mesothelioma. Instead of sitting and awaiting the arrival of the Grim Reaper, Zevon instead gathered many of his industry friends like Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne to create one last album that was entitled The Wind. And with that brilliant LP with obvious ruminations on death and other dark topics (What?!?! Zevon produced ANOTHER dark album covering death and the like?), Zevon was finally getting some due. Yet, surprisingly, he was NOT nominated for the Hall until this week. Most everyone knows Warren’s one Top 40 hit “Werewolves of London.” But, Zevon was a songwriter’s songwriter. Most significantly, he was the songwriter behind several of Linda Ronstadt’s hits. To me, we need acerbic, off-beat rockers like Zevon or Randy Newman. This year might be Zevon’s best year for induction, as reportedly Billy Joel is throwing around his influence behind Zevon. Best Song: “Keep Me in Your Heart”
It will be interesting to see how many artists from this list are actually inducted, and exactly who those artists are. My older son and I are kicking around the idea of getting tickets for this coming Induction Ceremony since no matter how the vote goes, the Class of 2023 will be pretty strong.
My 50 Favorite Albums of 2022
Here we are, still standing during the last week of 2022, with a new year staring us down. Who knows what 2023 has in store for each of us as an individual and collectively as a society, but it will probably be a rollercoaster ride as nearly every year since I graduated from college in 1985 has been. All I can say is to buckle up as, outside of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominations, I have no clear predictions for the upcoming new year.
Now, looking back upon the 2020s thus far, musically speaking, this decade has gotten off to a strange beginning. Those artists who had stockpiled recordings before the pandemic released some very compelling music reflecting the relative ease of life before COVID-19. Then, COVID-19 ran rampant throughout the world, even taking some large rock figures (to me, none bigger than the terrific pop-smith Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne and The Wonders fame).
Of course, in 2021, the music released all reflected a collective introspection being made by musical artists of all genres. Over the past two years, we have been blessed by some pretty big musical statements made by Taylor Swift (Four albums, two new acoustic-based albums and two re-recordings of her classic back catalog Fearless and Red.), Halsey (Her treatise on impending motherhood was stellar and her finest piece of work.), HAIM, Paul Weller (Has released at least one album each year thus far at a level as high as his days with The Jam), Fiona Apple, X, Brandi Carlile and Olivia Rodrigo (The best woman-scorned album since the mid-90s heyday of Alanis Morissette.). Much of the work of the 2020s has been both compelling and important. Unfortunately, 2022 did not live up to the high standards of the previous two years.
Now, many may wonder why the creative push of the pandemic years did not carry over into 2022. Personally, I believe it was a simple matter of timing. As the intensity of the pandemic waned as expected with the coming of the vaccines, artists were itching to get out on the road where they can make a huge chunk of their income not just from ticket sales but from merchandising, a cut from concessions and the subsequent bumps in streaming and sales royalties they each will experience in the days leading up to and after their concert in a particular city. Many of these same artists had been scheduled to tour during 2020, but the pandemic pushed those plans back at least a year. And while many artists did successfully hit the road in 2021, the public was truly itching for live music in 2022. Therefore, the creative juices needed for the creation of new material were put on hold while the artists went on tour to rake in some much needed cash in order to get back on the hamster wheel of their careers of creating music, releasing albums and touring, then repeating the process.
So, basically speaking, 2022 was not a stellar year for new music. In fact, in retrospect, the year may never been evaluated as a strong year. Like every other year, there were some great albums released, but it seems to me that this was a much better year for the release of anniversary editions of classic albums, such as John Mellencamp revisiting his 1985 masterpiece Scarecrow by including a remastered album along with discs holding unreleased material and a live concert from the era, or the release of live recordings that have sat on the shelves of the artists like the estates of Prince and Tom Petty both releasing fantastic highlights of past concerts. For me, I count the latter as new material, while the former is just another version of a favorite album that I need in my collection, thus proving that I am something of a completist. Or, my a compulsive-obsessive. Either way, I have a problem.
In sports terms, 2022 was a solid year for the average album. No true time-defying classics were released, but some nice average albums that could stick around for a few years were given to the public. 2022 was the year in which the transcendent sports talent was not drafted, but several long-term role players were taken throughout the draft. That’s how I would describe the popular music of 2022. Nothing really struck me as spectacular, but several albums were pleasant enough that they will stick around in my collection and continue to be played in the upcoming years of what is left of my life.
Now, let’s take a look at my 50 favorite albums. Thank goodness for streaming these days. Then again, streaming has made me a lazy music listener. Let’s start the countdown.
50. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Return of the Dream Canteen. The Chili Peppers are back with their best guitarist John Frusciante back in the fold. So, the guys recorded TWO albums worth of music, so they released TWO LPs this year. They really should have whittled these albums into one strong musical statement.
49. Arcade Fire – WE. When Arcade Fire burst onto the indie rock scene nearly 20 years ago, I had big hopes that they would be taking over for U2 with the big anthemic stadium rockers. At least this album didn’t disappoint me as much as the last one did. But, they may never reach the pinnacle of U2.
48. Todd Rundgren – Space Force. Rundgren remains one of my favorite artists ever, but even greats like the Stones have seemed tired on their most recent releases. Rundgren’s cranky uncle schtick is still there, but it sounds just a little more like Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair than the brilliant parodist Rundgren can be. Still, I do love that he’s doing some creative collaborations with Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo and the guys from Sparks.
47. Beach House – Once Twice Melody. Beach House is one of my current hopes for modern music, as the band seems to be edging more closely to power pop and pure pop as they release material.
46. Lake Street Dive – Fun Machine: The Sequel. LSD is a great band who flirt with becoming a blue-eyed soul band. This EP of covers creeping closer to that classic sound along the lines of Hall & Oates.
45. The Regrettes – Further Joy. My buddy Mark Kline turned me onto this female-led pop punk band, while their version of “A Marshmallow World” has quickly become the definitive version of the song to my ears. This band picks up where The Go-Go’s and The Bangles each left off, threw in some Cheap Trick and cranked up their Marshall amps to 11 without ever losing the pop melody. The Regrettes and Charly Bliss are currently battling it out to become my favorite power pop band of the 2020s.
44. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Unlimited Love. Here’s the first album released from the RHCP studio reunion of their most successful lineup. This album is a little bit better than the other but not by that much.
43. Soccer Mommy – Sometimes, Forever. Soccer Mommy has forged a nice little path along the indie rock scene, the one traveled by Courtney Barnett and Phoebe Bridgers without stepping on the other’s more famous toes. I think Soccer Mommy is on the verge of overtaking these others.
42. Angel Olsen – Big Time. Angel Olsen has been doing her folkish, country-tinged classic rock thing for nearly 20 years without the big financial payoff. She’s at the same stage in her career as Brandi Carlile was just a year or so ago. Olsen just needs an SNL-like push that Carlile got for her to blast off. She’s that good.
41. The Black Keys – Dropout Boogie. My older son used to call The Black Keys the Lite Beer version of The White Stripes, as both bands hailed from Rust Belt towns, consisted of a guitar hero with a drummer and played blues-based garage punk rock. Yet, The Keys have continued to release consistent rock-based boogie that can melt faces. They are no longer anyone’s Lite Beer version. They are the keepers of the rock flame.
40. Soul Glo – Diaspora Problems. Hardcore is alive and well thanks to Soul Glo. If you have a hankering for the hard punk sound of the 80s, ala Hüsker Dü, Dead Kennedys or Germs, Soul Glo is your band. I had some flashbacks induced by this album.
39. Turnstile – Glow On. Is Turnstile hardcore or metal? Actually, they are a combo of the two, with a little Rage Against the Machine thrown in for good measure. What Turnstile is NOT is a band pandering for pop success. They are outcasts in the truest sense of the word as they carry the torch of Metallica from their underground days more that Black Album-era Metallica. In other words, Turnstile is a breath of fresh air in this day of 20 writers and 5 producers working on a track.
38. Arctic Monkeys – The Car. Everybody’s favorite British indie band from the Aughts is back with another blast of indie rock like only the Brits can do. This is just a solid Arctic Monkeys LP showing what the Monkeys do best, rock.
37. Miranda Lambert – Palomino. My family had the chance to go to a recording of the Aughts music competition show called Nashville Star. One of our friends’ daughter’s roommate, Amy Chappell, was a contestant on the show so that’s how we scored tickets. Anyway, there was a young lady around the same age of our older son who was also a contestant. My older son, the music genius he is (he truly has a keen ear for talent), pointed out that only one of the contestants would become a star, but she wouldn’t win the show. That young lady was Miranda Lambert. And, my son was correct (He said she had great songwriting skills, the voice and the looks to become a star.). Oh, and Miranda has released yet another strong album, making her THE country star of the past couple of decades.
36. Noah Cyrus – The Hardest Part. It’s got to suck being the younger sibling trying to break into an industry in which your older sibling has become an icon. But, Noah is not following Miley through the whole pop/rock jungle. Instead, she’s traveling down the singer/songwriter path that weaves through folk, country and rock. And, she’s making a name for herself. And more albums like this one, Noah will no longer be referred to as Miley’s sister. The young lady has some chops.
35. Wilco – Cruel Country. Back in the 90s, Wilco leader Jeff Tweedy was in a seminal country-ish punk band called Uncle Tupelo. The trio released a classic record then broke up. Tweedy went on to form his own band called Wilco, who have traveled from their Americana beginnings into a sound similar in its experimental sound to Radiohead without ever leaving their country roots. This year, Tweedy traveled full circle back to the band’s country sound without ever loosing sight of his avant garde vision for his music. Now, the twang is back in Wilco’s sound completing Tweedy’s 25-year journey. It will be interesting to hear how Wilco develops over the next 25 years.
34. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool It Down. Twenty years ago, there was something of a new wave revival happening with the arrival of bands like The Strokes, The Killers, The Hives, Franz Ferdinand and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Then, as quickly as the sound was beginning to reignite, the whole thing was over, leaving me to pick up the pieces of my favorite era of music, 80s new wave. So, I continued to listen to the 80s stylings of these band even as they were leaving that all behind. Then, nearly 20 years after their debut, back from the dead arises New York’s Yeah Yeah Yeahs with their classic sound intact, giving me reason to hope that maybe music scenes will begin to pop up again in the clubs of the major cities. At least this album whets my appetite for the days of my youth as I knock on the door of my 60s.
33. Pusha T – It’s Almost Day. Many critics are saying this album could be in the running for album of the year. While I have enjoyed the album, I don’t find Pusha’s rhymes as compelling as Kendrick Lamar’s. Still, the beats on this album are second-to-none. Overall, this is a really good album.
32. Muna – Muna. Much like The Regrettes Muna is a female-dominated pop/rock band with much the same influences and sound. Only difference is that Muna has some hooks that become earworms, in a good way. I can’t wait to hear how they develop their sound in the future.
31. Bad Bunny – Un Verano Sin Ti. Ladies and gentlemen, the times, they are a-changing. And, it’s a good thing! This album was one of the biggest selling albums of the year, and it’s a totally non-English album. 20 years, a hip hop album won the Grammy for Album of the Year (OutKast). Could we be witnessing history with this excellent album? It’s a great time to be alive in the USA.
30. Rosalía – Motomami. Bad Bunny may be the biggest seller of 2022, but Rosalía is a pretty close second. She had one of the best SNL performances last season, as well as the best Latin album of 2022. This young lady is a force to be reckoned with in the future.
29. Jack White – Entering Heaven Alive. Jack White had a big year in 2022. Was it as big as his gravy train years back in the Aughts? Not really, but it was noteworthy from an artistic point of view. First, he released two great albums. Entering Heaven Alive is the second album of the year and is more acoustic and introspective of the two. Next, White set the country ablaze with his tour of smaller venues. Finally, Jack proposed to his long-time girlfriend and backup singer onstage. Not a bad year.
28. Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights. My younger son may be right when he said that Steve Lacy might be the Stevie Wonder of this generation. Those are some huge shoes to fill, but doggone it, he may be right. No one else has made such great soul/pop hits sound so easy since I was a kid in the 70s listening to Songs in the Key of Life.
27. The Smile – A Light for Attracting Attention. What happens when Radiohead’s lead singer and guitar strike out on together. Much like Arcadia sounds very similar to Duran Duran, so does The Smile take obvious sounds from Radiohead. Sure, The Smile has a different rhythm section from the mothership, but the sound is very much classic Radiohead. So, it’s not a big experiment, but The Smile does allow Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood to be a little looser in the studio.
26. Jack White – Fear of the Dawn. On the first of two Jack White albums released in 2022, White unleashes his inner Zeppelin concocting this brilliant blues-based punk rock album. This is an album worthy of a 21st century guitar hero.
25. Empath – Visitor. Anyone else miss the punk-based free-form jazz of Minutemen? Now, 40 years later, in walks Empath to fill the void. This music is equally as challenging as it is enjoyable, much like Minutemen on their classic Double Nickels on the Dime. Does Empath have an album like that in their future? Time will tell.
24. FKA Twigs – Caprisongs. FKA Twigs is a one-woman indie dance floor wrecking crew. She takes Lady Gaga’s dance/pop and turns it on its head. This is how the club SHOULD sound.
23. Alvvays – Blue Rev. Indie pop is in good hands when Alvvays is providing it to us. The band is now hitting its stride and is flexing its Teenage Fanclub-influenced muscles as the third generation Big Star they have become. This is how pop/rock is SUPPOSED to sound.
22. The 1975 – Being Funny in a Foreign Language. The 1975 is a pop/rock band that will give you early-80s MTV video flashbacks. And I mean that in the very best sense. Since Franz Ferdinand abdicated the Duran Duran throne, The 1975 has risen to the point where they are ready to ascend to the spot. This is dance pop/rock at its finest.
21. Jockstrap – I Love You Jennifer B. Once again, we have yet another new wave revivalist on the countdown. What can I say? These bands are not stuck in the 80s, they are expanding upon them. And, no one did it as well as Jockstrap, a man/woman London duo, who takes a little post-punk jaggedness and integrates pop/rock into the mix to create a compelling sound that makes me reminisce while pushing me into the 2020s.
20. King Princess – Hold on Baby. Hold on Baby is a great sophomore album. King Princess is one of the great alternative dance/pop/rock queens that are creatively dominating music these days. She is held in the same high regard as Billie Eilish, Halsey, Charli XCX and Dua Lipa, though KP is more rock than the other four ladies.
19. Willow – Coping Mechanism. Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s daughter is slowly moving toward a Goth dance mix, not unlike Halsey’s sound on her most recent album. It’s not a bad move for Willow as she seems better suited for a Paramore-styled niche of the dance/pop/rock arena.
18. Kendrick Lamar – Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. While this is a very high quality album, it is a slight letdown for Mr. Lamar whose last three albums were three for the ages. This is still a great album, with Lamar’s innovative rhymes and pacing continuing to amaze listeners. Unfortunately, there will be no Pulitzers and Peabodies, still this album will be blasted from speakers all over America.
17. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – The Boy Named If. Elvis has been on a little creative roll the past decade or so, at least ever since he teamed up with The Roots a while back. Now, he is tackling a rock opera of sorts on this outing, which seems to suit him well.
16. Panic! At the Disco – Viva Las Vengeance. I thought Panic! was great when they released “I Write Sins Not Tragedies.” I thought that maybe they’d develop into something of a new Queen or, at the very least, MIKA. Then, they went totally pop. So, I gave up on them. But, finally, they got their mojo back and started writing campy pop/rock songs again. This album is easily the band’s best since their debut 17 years ago.
15. Maggie Rogers – Surrender. Maggie Rogers has seemed destined for stardom since she was discovered in one of ?uestlove’s college classes. Her debut was awesome, and Surrender is a great step forward in her development as an artist. If she hasn’t her stride as an artist, I certainly can’t wait until she does.
14. John Mellencamp – Strictly a One-Eyed Jack. Mellencamp has been moving toward a Hoosier version of Bob Dylan, and now the transformation is complete. Mellencamp has become a country bluesman and spends his creative time contemplating his mortality. Mellencamp has become a great voice in the rock realm.
13. Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa. Spoon has been around for about 30 years. In the meantime, they’ve created a classic (Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga) and several great albums along the way. Then, people kind of forgot about them. Fast forward to 2022 and this terrific alternative rock album called Lucifer on the Sofa. And, once again, we have rock music alive and well in the 2020s.
12. The Weeknd – Dawn FM. I have never given The Weeknd his due. This man has single-handedly reinvented R&B into some robotic, new wave influenced 80s affected soul music. And, this just happens to be the man’s best studio album to date. I am late to the bandwagon, but I am here.
11. Charli XCX – Crash. I bought this album when we were in San Diego in the spring. Charli XCX seems to be eternally on the verge of a big break out. And, honestly, I don’t understand why she is not on the same level as Dua Lipa and Halsey. She really is that good. Charli XCX is master of the dance floor, the rock club AND pop radio. That’s why she is one brilliant song away from total world domination.
10. Lizzo – Special. Lizzo has changed the landscape of popular music based on her sheer talent and her larger-than-life personality. How else does a large woman who is a classically-trained flutist becomes a dance floor sex symbol? Lizzo is a force of nature who has more talent in her pinkie than most of this era’s pixie-sized divas.
9. Amy Winehouse – Live at Glastonbury 2007. Back in 2007, Winehouse had just released her seminal Back in Black album. Then she arrived at Glastonbury as a fresh-faced soul revivalist diva, hell-bent on changing history. Amy took the stage and changed the history of modern music with this set while being backed by Sharon Jones’ terrific Dap-Kings. This is the document of that remarkable set that truly lives up to the hype.
8. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Live at the Fillmore 1997. In early 1997, Tom and his Heartbreakers played 20 consecutive shows at San Francisco’s Fillmore. Personally, being the completist that I am, I prefer the big six-album vinyl box set for the whole Petty experience of covers and originals. This is one of America’s all-time greatest bands showing the whole range of their prowess as a band while acknowledging their influences. This is more than the flexing of their collective muscles as musicians, it is a tribute the music that influenced them. This document shows the power of rock and roll to save six guys like it did these guys.
7. Prince & the Revolution – Prince & the Revolution: Live. In 1985, Prince & the Revolution were riding high behind their career-making Purple Rain album and tour, when the tour stopped in Syracuse, New York, for a show on the University of Syracuse’s Carrier Dome that was recorded for a special on MTV and subsequent release on VHS (remember those?). Now, after nearly 40 years of the audio tapes just languishing in fabled Vault, the show gets the box set remaster treatment and release on vinyl AND Blu ray making this set a must-have document of this fantastic band at the peak of its power.
6. Tears for Fears – The Tipping Point. Did anyone expect this band to ever reunite, let alone create a great album that only proves their greatness as a band. All of the hallmarks of their greatness remain, while not falling into their slick 80s production values. This album is definitely one of Tears for Fears’ finest. This is the comeback of the year.
5. Bruce Springsteen – Only the Strong Survive. I don’t care what the yunguns say about this album, it was necessary AND needed. You see, music has evolved so far away from its roots that this is a refreshing reminder of the greatness of some artist’s heroes. When Springsteen revives some of the great gospel-influenced soul songs of the 60s, 70s and 80s in his patented heartland rock setting, you hear exactly where Springsteen standards from “Thunder Road” to “Hungry Heart” through “Bobby Jean” and “One Step Up, Two Steps Back” all the way up to “The Girls of Summer” and “Queen of the Supermarket” are all based. The greats all are able to accomplish this.
4. Wet Leg – Wet Leg. Ever since I was a kid, I have been attracted to music that is pop/rock-based with a heavy dose of camp, like Queen or Sparks. So, when someone recommended Wet Leg’s debut album, I was excited but tempered by previous bad experiences of artists described in the same manner, like Måneskin a year ago or MIKA’s second album a decade ago. Honestly, Wet Leg has given me hope that my type of music is NOT a relic from the past but a vibrant vein to pursue. I cannot wait to hear the development of this exciting band.
3. Beyoncé – Renaissance. Beyoncé has been on a creative roll ever since Jay-Z strayed from their marriage vows. First, she quietly dropped a self-titled masterpiece describing her betrayal, followed a couple of years later by the redemption of the couple’s marriage on Lemonade. With Renaissance, Beyoncé is back to her fearless diva self creating great R&B/dance/pop music with confidence.
2. Taylor Swift – Midnights. What can I possibly say about the maturation of Ms. Swift’s songwriting that hasn’t been said before? Honestly, nothing. Sure, she does rely on a few chord progressions a little too much, but that is minor to me because she is no Nickelback or Dave Matthews Band. Where those two have whole catalogs of songs that sound exactly the same with only the lyrics being different, Taylor’s music gives nods to her musical heroes and her own musical past while forging a whole new sound. Her music and lyrics continues to mature as she grows. Taylor never rests on her laurels while continuing to grow as an artist. And, Midnights documents another step in her making pop music that reflects her age. This is music for wine drinking, not Red Bull mixers.
1. Harry Styles – Harry’s House. It’s not that I want to hate Harry’s music, like I really kinda do Justin Bieber’s. Rather, I believe that I am too mature to appreciate his music. Then, he releases another new album in which he shows more growth in his songwriting while incorporating the sounds of MY youth in his sound. He is a talented artist who is only beginning to tap the rich vein of pop/rock influences of the 70s and 80s. Harry Styles is really going to be a Hall of Famer one day if he continues his winning streak he began on his previous album. Harry’s House is easily the best album of 2022 in my book.
And, that my friends, is the way I see the albums of 2022.
Christmas 2022: My 200 Favorite Modern Christmas Songs
Sometimes, I really do wish I had been born in the UK as opposed to Indiana, especially when it comes to music. I feel as though my British brethren and I share a similar taste in modern music. As interesting as some aspects of American life can seem, I never got to experience the punk scene in London, John Peel’s outstanding work on the Beeb, Top of the Pops, and the Christmas battle for a #1 song. I remember early on, reading Billboard’s international charts as a youngster. Whenever I got the UK chart, I became intrigued by the names of artists along with various song titles, just trying to “hear” what those elusive songs sounded like.
As I got older, I learned to order British singles. Additionally, I was able to obtain the country’s finest music journalism, especially the New Musical Express. NME and Melody Maker were fine additions to Creem and Rolling Stone for my sources of musical knowledge. So, when it comes to my tastes in modern Christmas music, I becomes a real Anglophile. And, of course, my age does influence my tastes.
I hope you enjoy this list. And, keep you eyes open on Amazon Music for the playlist of this countdown. It will keep your Christmas party going for days. Peace to all of you!
Bubbling Under the Top 200
210. Elmo & Patsy – “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” (1979)
209. Buck Owens – “Daddy Looked a Lot like Santa” (1965)
208. John Denver – “Christmas for Cowboys” (1975)
207. The Killers ft. Toni Halliday – “Great Big Sled” (2006)
206. José Feliciano – “Feliz Navidad” (1970)
205. The Singing Dogs – “Jingle Bells” (1955)
204. Justin Bieber – “Mistletoe” (2011)
203. Mud – “Lonely This Christmas” (1974)
202. *NSYNC – “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays” (1998)
- 201. Ana Gasteyer – “Sugar and Booze” (2019)
The Top 200 Christmas Songs of All-Time
- New Kids on the Block – “Funky, Funky Xmas” (1989)
199. Spike Jones & His City Slickers – “All I Want for Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)” (1948)
198. Bob Marley – “White Christmas” (1965)
197. The Isley Brothers – “Special Gift” (1996)
196. Mike Love ft. Hanson – “Finally, It’s Christmas” (2018)
195. Sara Bareilles – “Love Is Christmas” (2013)
194. Gene Autry – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1949)
193. She & Him – “Christmas Waltz” (2011)
192. Rufus Wainwright & Sharon Van Etten – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (2012)
191. Pentatonix – “Carol of the Bells” (2014)
190. Relient K – “12 Days of Christmas” (2003)
189. Sheryl Crow – “Merry Christmas Baby” (2008)
188. Vanessa Williams – “What Child Is This?” (1992)
187. Josh Groban – “Silent Night” (2007)
186. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “The Power of Love” (1984)
185. Ella Fitzgerald – “The Secret of Christmas” (1959)
184. Pistol Annies – “Snow Globe” (2021)
183. Oasis – “Merry Christmas Everybody” (2002)
182. Louis Armstrong – “Cool Yule” (1953)
181. Lake Street Dive – “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” (2017)
180. Glee Cast – “We Need a Little Christmas” (2010)
179. The Royal Guardsmen – “Snoopy’s Christmas” (1967)
178. Marvin Gaye – “Purple Snowflakes” (1964)
177. Owl City – “Kiss Me Babe, It’s Christmas Time” (2014)
176. The Wombats – “Is This Christmas?” (2007)
175. Lady Gaga ft. Space Cowboy – “Christmas Tree” (2010)
174. Sia – “Snowman (Slowed Down Version)” (2021)
173. Otis Redding – “Merry Christmas Baby” (1967)
172. Faith Hill – “Where Are You Christmas” (2000)
171. Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want to Fight Tonight)” (1989)
170. Smokey Robinson ft. The Dap-Kings – “You’re My Present” (2017)
169. Merle Haggard – “If We Make It Through Christmas” (1973)
168. They Might Be Giants – “Santa’s Beard” (1988)
167. Destiny’s Child – “8 Days of Christmas (2001)
166. Taylor Swift – “Last Christmas” (2007)
165. The Drifters – “White Christmas” (1954)
164. Grace Potter – “Christmas Moon” (2017)
163. Bob Rivers – “I Am Santa Claus” (1993)
162. Tyler, The Creator – “I Am the Grinch” (2018)
161. Phoebe Bridgers – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (2020)
160. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – “Little Drummer Boy” (1981)
159. Eels – “Christmas Is Going to the Dogs” (2000)
158. Morris Day – “Cooler Than Santa Claus” (2020)
157. The Smashing Pumpkins – “Christmastime” (1997)
156. Chuck Berry – “Run Rudolph Run” (1958)
155. Dan + Shay – “Holiday Party” (2022)
154. Booker T. & the MG’s – “Winter Wonderland” (1966)
153. Michael Bublé – “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas” (2012)
152. Hanson – “Finally, It’s Christmas” (2017)
151. The Ventures – “Sleigh Ride” (1965)
150. Weezer – “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” (2008)
149. Eric Clapton – “For Love on Christmas Day” (2018)
148. Third Day – “What Child Is This?” (2006)
147. Albert Hammond Jr. – “The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot” (2017)
146. The Pretenders – “2000 Miles” (1983)
145. The Treacherous Three – “Santa’s Rap” (1984)
144. Bing Crosby – “White Christmas” (1942)
143. Death Cab for Cutie – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (2004)
142. Carrie Underwood – “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” (2007)
141. The Chipmunks – “The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” (1959)
140. St. Paul & the Broken Bones – “Zat You Santa Claus” (2018)
139. MercyMe – “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (2015)
138. Canned Heat – “Christmas Blues” (1968)
137. The Empty Hearts – “It’s Christmastime” (2016)
136. Frank Sinatra – “Jingle Bells” (1948)
135. Carla Thomas – “Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas” (1963)
134. Zooey Deschanel w/Leon Redbone – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (2003)
133. James Brown – “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto” (1968)
132. Dusty Springfield – “O Holy Child” (1964)
131. The Shoes – “This Christmas” (1991)
130. TLC – “Sleigh Ride” (1992)
129. Luther Vandross – “The Christmas Song” (1992)
128. Stevie Nicks – “Silent Night” (1987)
127. Nat King Cole – “The Christmas Song” (1946)
126. Aretha Franklin – “O Christmas Tree” (1992)
125. Willie Nelson – “Pretty Paper” (1979)
124. The Donnas – “Up on the Housetop” (2017)
123. Sia – “Candy Cane Lane” (2017)
122. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – “Ain’t No Chimneys in the Projects” (2011)
121. Burl Ives – “A Holly Jolly Christmas” (1965)
120. Megan Trainor ft. Earth, Wind & Fire – “Holidays” (2020)
119. The Supremes – “Silver Bells” (1965)
118. Marshall Crenshaw – “(It’s Going to Be A) Lonely Christmas” (2006)
117. Dropkick Murphys – “The Season’s Upon Us” (2012)
116. The Three Wisemen (aka XTC) – “Thank You for Christmas” (1983)
115. Johnny Mathis – “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas” (1986)
114. Manchester Orchestra – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (2020)
113. Carrie Underwood – “Stretchy Pants” (2021)
112. My Chemical Romance – “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (2004)
111. Train – “Shake Up Christmas” (2009)
110. Elvis Presley – “Blue Christmas” (1957)
109. Bob Dylan – “Must Be Santa” (2009)
108. JET – “Back Door Santa” (2003)
107. Dolly Parton – “Hard Candy Christmas” (1982)
106. Rod Stewart w/Dolly Parton – “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” (2004)
105. Coldplay – “Christmas Lights” (2010)
104. William Bell – “Every Day Will Be Like a Holiday” (1967)
103. The Darkness – “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells Ring)” (2003)
102. CeeLo Green ft. Disney’s The Muppets – “All I Need Is Love” (2012)
101. Chicago – “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” (1998)
100. The Temptations – “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (1970)
99. Lizzo – “Someday at Christmas” (2022)
98. Charles Brown – “Please Come Home for Christmas” (1960)
97. The Monkees – “Unwrap You at Christmas” (2018)
96. Sammy Davis Jr. – “Sweet Gingerbread Man” (1972)
95. Khruangbin – “Christmas Time Is Here” (2018)
94. The Staple Singers – “Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas” (1972)
93. Clarence Carter – “Back Door Santa” (1969)
92. Jonas Brothers – “Like It’s Christmas” (2019)
91. Boyz II Men – “Silent Night” (1993)
90. Charly Bliss – “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (2017)
89. OneRepublic – “Christmas Without You” (2011)
88. Sufjan Stevens – “Come On! Let’s Boogey to the Elf Dance” (2006)
87. Kylie Minogue ft. James Cordon – “Only You” (2015)
86. Cocteau Twins – “Frosty the Snowman” (1993)
85. Bob & Doug McKenzie – “Twelve Days of Christmas” (1981)
84. Squeeze – “Christmas Day” (1979)
83. Norah Jones – “Christmas Calling (Jolly Jones)” (2021)
82. Kai Danzberg – “If Santa” (2018)
81. Bobby Womack – “Christmas Ain’t Christmas” (1999)
80. Al Green – “The First Noel” (1990)
79. Tuxedo – “Wonderful Christmastime” (2014)
78. Foo Fighters – “Run Rudolph Run” (2020)
77. Bebe Rexha – “Count on Christmas” (2017)
76. Tevin Campbell – “O Holy Night” (1992)
75. The Carpenters – “Merry Christmas Darling” (1970)
74. The Beach Boys – “Little Saint Nick” (1964)
73. Willie Nelson – “Christmas Blues” (1979)
72. Mary J. Blige – “Last Christmas” (1994)
71. Kelly Clarkson – “Christmas Isn’t Canceled (Just You)” (2021)
70. Ray Charles – “That Spirit of Christmas” (1985)
69. Ariana Grande – “Santa Tell Me” (2014)
68. Neon Trees – “Wish List” (2010)
67. Vince Guaraldi Trio – “Christmas Time Is Here (Vocals)” (1965)
66. Leona Lewis – “One More Sleep” (2013)
65. Fun. – “Sleigh Ride” (2012)
64. Hootie & the Blowfish – “The Christmas Song” (1997)
63. Cheech & Chong – “Santa Claus and His Old Lady” (1971)
62. Ed Sheeran & Elton John – “Merry Christmas” (2021)
61. Prince – “Another Lonely Christmas” (1984)
60. Queen – “Thank God It’s Christmas” (1984)
59. Jackson 5 – “Frosty the Snowman” (1970)
58. Stevie Wonder – “What Christmas Means to Me” (1967)
57. Gwen Stefani ft. Blake Shelton – “You Make It Feel Like Christmas” (2017)
56. Cheap Trick – “Merry Christmas Darlings” (2017)
55. Extreme – “Christmas Time Again” (1992)
54. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Christmas All Over Again” (1992)
53. The Shins – “Wonderful Christmastime” (2012)
52. Taylor Swift – “Christmas Tree Farm (Old Timey Version)” (2021)
51. Kurtis Blow – “Christmas Rappin'” (1980)
50. Katy Perry – “Cozy Little Christmas” (2022)
49. The Emotions – “What Do the Lonely Do at Christmas?” (1977)
48. Bryan Adams – “Reggae Christmas” (1984)
47. The Pogues ft. Kirsty MacColl – “Fairytale of New York” (1988)
46. Madonna – “Santa Baby” (1987)
45. Greg Lake – “I Believe in Father Christmas” (1975)
44. The Band of Merrymakers – “A Very Merry Medley” (2015)
43. Whitney Houston – “Joy to the World” (1996)
42. Vince Vance & the Valiants – “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1989)
41. Otis Redding – “White Christmas” (1968)
40. Kacey Musgraves ft. Leon Bridges – Present Without a Bow” (2016)
39. Andy Williams – “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” (1963)
38. Joni Mitchell – “River” (1971)
37. Slade – “Merry Christmas Everybody” (1973)
36. Eurythmics – “Winter Wonderland” (1987)
35. Fitz & the Tantrums – “Santa Stole My Lady” (2010)
34. Darlene Love – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (1963)
33. Whitney Houston – “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (1987)
32. Kacey Musgraves & Lana Del Rey – “Please Come Home for Christmas” (2019)
31. Wizzard – “I Wish Everyday Could Be Christmas” (1973)
30. Darlene Love – “All Alone on Christmas” (1992)
29. Bobby Helms – “Jingle Bell Rock” (1957)
28. Eagles – “Please Come Home for Christmas” (1978)
27. Brenda Lee – “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (1958)
26. Stevie Wonder – “Some Day at Christmas” (1967)
25. Donny Hathaway – “This Christmas” (1970)
24. The Regrettes – “A Marshmallow World” (2016)
23. Kenny Loggins – “Celebrate Me Home” (1977)
22. Dan Fogelberg – “Same Old Lang Syne” (1980)
21. U2 – “I Believe in Father Christmas” (2021)
20. The Pretenders – “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” (1987)
19. Bing Crosby & David Bowie – “Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy” (1977)
18. Run-D.M.C. – “Christmas in Hollis” (1987)
17. Vince Guaraldi Trio – “Linus and Lucy” (1965)
16. John Lennon & Yoko Ono – “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” (1971)
15. The Kinks – “Father Christmas” (1977)
14. Harry Simeone Chorale – “Little Drummer Boy” (1958)
13. Band Aid – “Do They Know It’s Christmas” (1984)
12. The Ronettes – “Sleigh Ride” (1963)
11. Wham! – “Last Christmas” (1984)
10. U2 – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” (1987)
9. Paul McCartney – “Wonderful Christmastime” (1979)
8. John Mellencamp – “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” (1987)
7. Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Jingle Bell Rock” (1980)
6. Mariah Carey – “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1994)
5. Billy Squier – “Christmas Is the Time to Say ‘I Love You'” (1981)
4. Elton John – “Step into Christmas” (1974)
3. The Band – “Christmas Must Be Tonight” (1975)
2. The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping” (1982)
1. Bruce Springsteen – “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” (1975)
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah and Happy Holidays! Peace.
My Predictions for the RRHoF Class of 2023 Nominees
To be honest, I really didn’t give a crap about the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame until around the turn of the century, mainly because that when many of the artists with whom I grow up were becoming eligible and even inducted. Then, in the summer of 2001, we finally took a family vacation of sorts to Cedar Point so the boys could do the thrill rides, then visit the RRHoF. On that visit, the family had a great time, plus we stumbled across a concert being held on the main floor of the museum to be broadcast by MTV. The group was a little-known Australian garage band that my older son was playing that summer called The Vines.
Of course, we bought tickets to take the boys for the recording of this concert. A little behind the scene notes about the recording of a televised concert. The crowd shots that are interspersed during a concert are recorded at the beginning of the show as the crowd listened to pre-recorded music. So, if they wanted the crowd reaction to the latest hit songs, the television recorded those reactions ahead of time while the crowd listened to the studio version of said song.
During the course of the videoing of the crowd, my boys made their way to the front of the crowd. But, instead, those Midwestern boys did not play for the cameras. In their cases, they stood cooly and bobbed their heads lightly to the music. When the broadcast happened some time later, during the crowd shots, there would be young people seemingly grabbing for the artist on stage, while my guys stood behind them with their arms crossed, seemingly unimpressed. At one time, we had the program DVR-ed and laugh every time we replayed it.
Needless to say, our experience at the RRHoF was awesome. Since that they, either the boys and I or my wife and I have gone back there a couple more times. As a matter of fact, I plan to take everyone, including the grandkids, there in a couple of years, when the youngest will remember it.
As frustrating as the RRHoF nomination and induction process is, and that topic could last a week. But, instead of bitching and complaining right now, I am going to focus on which 16 artists from my list of 100 deserving rock artists. I know how annoying this list may be to the rockers in my life (Curt Martin, Josh Brown), but I also know that others will appreciate it due to previous discussions (Kim Gill, Mark Kline). My predictions do not necessarily coincide with my personal tastes and wants. No, I try to predict those artists who may actually end up on the list of nominees for the Class of 2023. The official list of nominees for the Class of 2023 will be announced shortly after the new year.
As much as I want The Jam and Weezer to be nominated and inducted, under the current system, they will not be on that list next month. Since former-MTV executive John Sykes has taken over the leadership of the Hall, the classes have been the some of the largest and most diverse of any classes since the first five years of the induction ceremonies. That much we know. We also can surmise from previous nominee lists and induction classes, that diversity has been assembled in order to maximize the TV broadcast of the induction ceremony, whether its being held in NYC, LA or Cleveland, or another place the Hall may decide to take it in the future.
With that said, here are my nominee predictions for the Class of 2023.
Destiny’s Child – Are they really deserving of a first year of eligibility nomination and induction? I don’t think so. But, NEVER, and I mean NEVER, underestimate the power of Beyoncé and her hubby, Hall of Famer Jaÿ-Z. I can see a Destiny’s Child reunion becoming a huge ratings grabber as one of the first groups from the lives of Millennials, doing for the Hall Induction Ceremony what a previous reunion did for the Super Bowl a few years ago.
DEVO – Last year when they were nominated, Cleveland was hosting the induction ceremony. Since DEVO hails from nearby Akron, many thought this would be the band’s year. Even the city of Akron jumped on the DEVO-for-the-Hall promotion, the leaders had the city “beautified” with flower pot energizer hats popping up all over.
Dionne Warwick – The smoothest of smooth 60s soul singers, Dionne Warwick is the missing voice in the Hall for the full overview of powerful female vocalists. Everyone’s favorite Twitter user will be nominated once again.
George Michael – The man who at one time rivaled both Michael Jackson and Madonna as the world’s most famous pop star has been never been nominated. Can you believe that? There has been a swelling of support for Michael, after the late great Taylor Hawkins threw George some love during the Foo Fighters induction. Look for one of the voices of my generation to finally get nominated.
Iron Maiden – This year’s token metal nod will go to Iron Maiden. The are the preeminent metal band not yet in the Hall. Although Judas Priest technically got in the Hall via the Musical Excellence route, Maiden’s fans will come out in full force to make sure their boys get in as performers.
Kate Bush – There has NEVER been a time in rock history in which Kate Bush has been more popular in the States than right now, thanks to the inclusion of “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” in the most recent season of Stranger Things. The use of that song in the show pushed the song to #3, way higher than it claimed way back in 1985. I think the momentum is there for Ms. Bush.
Mariah Carey – The voice of Generation X should be a shoo-in at some point. Slowly, we will begin to see more and more divas finding their way into the Hall. Plus, we need the Queen of Christmas in the Hall.
New York Dolls – Will someone please elect these guys, along with MC5, who will get a rest from the nomination process this year, for induction into the RRHoF? Their Todd Rundgren-produced debut is a punk rock classic.
Oasis – Basketball realized it was an international commodity long before American fans did. The same goes with Rock and Roll. Oh sure, any artist who makes it over in the States will be rock stars forever. Maybe, the Hall needs to begin to recognize that there are many fantastic and influential artists who never hit big in the States, such as The Jam, Fela Kuti, The Stone Roses, blur, etc. Oasis were gods in the UK, but they did have some success here too.
OutKast – No artist has been mentioned as much as OutKast as the Hall’s biggest snub, though you could include Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, Eric B. & Rakim, Nas and De La Soul. Rap is very under-represented in the Hall compared to its influence and commercial power. And, OutKast, the first rap artist to win the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2004 (Speakerboxxx/The Love Below), would take the biggest rap name left on the board.
Rage Against the Machine – It seems like Rage is nominated every year, but shouldn’t they be? They were one of the first acts to straddle the metal, rap and alternative worlds while maintaining a leftist agenda. And they were popular? Hell, yeah!
Rufus ft. Chaka Khan – Something has got to give. Either induct the whole original band that had Chaka Khan, the missing diva between Aretha and Whitney, or just Chaka herself. I’m truly getting tired that one version or the other has yet to be inducted. Make it happen!
Soundgarden – The third artist of the Big Four of Grunge, Soundgarden has found themselves to be nominated and the skipped. I can’t remember if this is a skip year or not. Just induct them so we can to move on to others.
Tears for Fears – Here’s another early MTV band finally getting recognized for their 80s portion of their career, much like Duran Duran and Eurythmics this year. This is overdue, but the band could not have planned a better comeback than to release an excellent album in 2022, The Tipping Point. We all know how well-received the two 80s MTV acts with their induction ceremony performances. Tears for Fears could only enhance the video years of rock in the Hall.
The B-52’s – I knew something was changing in popular music while in high school just by watching the gradual change from art-oriented Boomer artists to a new weird thing called new wave and punk. First, it was Patti Smith, then came Talking Heads, DEVO and Blondie. And, by the time The B-52’s arrived, the change was happening, and I knew my college years were going to be awesome. The B-52’s put Athens, Georgia on the rock map and opened the door for some many others to walk through, such as Wall of Voodoo, The Go-Go’s and most notably R.E.M.
Willie Nelson – After all the goodwill spread by Dolly Parton’s induction just six weeks ago may have allowed some of the greatest classic country acts to be recognized. And the man with the biggest resumé, most far-reaching influence and most rock & roll of the bunch, Willie Nelson should be nominated. Like Dolly before him, Willie is such a beloved musical figure that he would be a shoo-in to win the fan vote.
And, of those on my nominee list, I believe the RRHoF would inducted the following artists: Destiny’s Child, DEVO, George Michael, Iron Maiden, Kate Bush, Mariah Carey, OutKast and Willie Nelson. That class would make for one helluva TV show, and we all know how ratings drive these things. Then, MC5 and New York Dolls would be inducted for Musical Excellence. Personally, I feel like this whole list should be inducted and let’s move on to the next bunch. I am just tired of all the deserving artists out there who have yet to have been inducted. It’s beyond silly now.
100 Artists Who Could Be Nominated for RRHoF’s Class of 2023
Ever since I became part of a coterie of armchair music critics, actual respected musical scholars and critics loosely known as “The Hall Watchers,” my predictions of which artists might find their names on the upcoming ballot has been requested by some friends, some colleagues and some Twitter dude that might be writing some kind of article based upon each Watcher’s guesses. Many of these people will make a list that bends toward their own biases; whereas, I actually attempt to take the temperature of a few of the people who have connections within the Hall’s Nominating Committee, while using my gut to make my predictions.
Since I have not written in a while, I thought I would jump back into the blogosphere by sharing my thought process behind determining my list. So, allow this small disclaimer that once you enter my head, there might not be any turning back as my thought process is a little unique. Perhaps the biggest thing I tried to ascertain is the underlying pattern in a set of data. Often times, that pattern is not readily noticed but shows itself if you look deep enough. As I peruse the opinions of my colleagues, especially those with Hall Nominating Committee connections, I begin to see names that seem to be repeating. Often, that gives you a road map to figuring out not so much whom I want nominated (If that were my direction, I’d list The Jam and Hüsker Dü every year.) but who the experts believe are “hot.”
To begin with, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nomination Committee will meet sometime shortly after the New Year and will come up with a list of 16 artists who will compromise the ballot for that year’s class of inductees. Remember there are several artists from each year’s ballot that still have not been inducted. To the Watchers, we believe that the Nomination Committee has done a disservice to many deserving artists by restricting the number of performers to five inducted each year for most of the Nineties and 21st Century, at least until recently. So, now, we have all kinds of people and bands still awaiting their moments, with tons unfortunately no longer with us. If the Hall had stuck to ten inductees each year, this log jam would not be here. Someone in charge must have thought rock & roll was something akin to classical music as a genre only for the intellectual, when most of those inducted and awaiting induction were all working class folks or, at best, middle class people. Rock & roll has ALWAYS been democratic in nature: for everyone, no matter your age, nationality, religious creed, color of your skin, social status, gender, sexual orientation, yada, yada, yada.
At least since former MTV executive John Sykes took over the reigns of the Hall, Induction classes have been larger, mainly in the low double digits. More attention is now being paid to the movers and shakers behind the scenes, be they lawyers or producers, managers or session players, iconic musicians or DJs, these people are correctly being recognized. Personally, I would love to see music journalists, photographers and critics begin to be recognized for their crucial contributions to the spread of this music throughout the past three generations of kids all around the world.
First off, the names in the Class of 2022 was pretty diverse. Those who were inducted at the ceremony held a little more than a month ago were Pat Benatar, Duran Duran, Eminem, Eurythmics, Judas Priest, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie and Carly Simon. Classes with eight inductees is not too bad; hell, the classes were limited to five or six just a scant five years ago. Yet, I believe it would be more exciting if there were ten performer inductees, along with five more contributors. And, technically, just like Kraftwerk the year before, Judas Priest was inducted for Musical Excellence. I know it’s a simple technicality, but both bands deserve induction on merit alone.
Unfortunately, there are only 16 spots in a Nomination class, with approximately half of them getting to be inducted. Those nominated last year who were not inducted are Beck, Kate Bush, DEVO, Fela Kuti, MC5, New York Dolls, A Tribe Called Quest and Dionne Warwick. With those eight acts, I refer to my own running list of 100 “snubbed” artists, after I have removed names who were inducted in the previous class and added new names either from a list of newly eligible artists or my bigger list of eligible artists. Once I have my list of 100 Possible Nominees, I go around the inter-web, searching various sites on the Google Machine for some expert predictions. Additionally, I look to see which eligible artist have been recently trending on social media and on search engines.
After that waste of time, I begin to see a pattern, or at least I believe that I am recognizing a trend of names who seem to be cropping up on expert lists and social media. With that information, along with my personally ranked list, I whittled my names down to 16. Over the years since I began this blog, I have been hitting just a whisker under 80%, which if I were a professional basketball player, my free throw percentage would be around this number, possibly making me a professional basketball player.
Today, I am going to give you my list of 100 artist, all of whom I feel should be immediately inducted into the Hall of Fame. And, I do have my list of 16 artists who I feel will be on the Committee’s list early 2023. Here are my 100 artist who are eligible for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. I am listing the artists in alphabetical order. I would like to get your opinion as to who would be on your list, as well as who you think will be on my list.
In the meantime, here’s my list of possible nominees.
1. A Tribe Called Quest – One of the original rap bands to apply funky jazz samples to hip hop motifs for a new, yet natural rap language.
2. Afrika Bambaataa – The man is not only a DJ innovator, but a social peace maker. Oh, yeah, this guy found the connection between new wave and hip hop through the electronic beats of Kraftwerk.
3. Alanis Morissette – This former Canadian teen star became a voice for Gen X women everywhere with her American debut. She tapped into a new feminist take on alternative music.
4. Alice in Chains – The Seattle scene of the late 80s and early 90s was home to a punk rock/Black Sabbath hybrid called grunge. Alice in Chains just happened to be part of the “Big 4 of Grunge.” Two of those bands have been inducted (Nirvana and Pearl Jam), with the others fighting to get in (AIC and Soundgarden).
5. Barry White – The man with the sexiest pillow talk/croon of the disco era has yet to be inducted.
6. Beck – The one-time poster child of the 90s Alternative Nation has grown to become one of rock’s most accomplished chameleons.
7. Big Star – This short-lived and snake-bitten power pop band rivals the much vaunted Velvet Underground for the scope of their influence without any kind of commercial success during their heyday.
8. Björk – Arguably Iceland’s biggest export, Björk has been a very interesting and innovative electronica artist since leaving the cult fave Sugarcubes for solo notoriety and fame.
9. Black Eyed Peas – I’m not totally sold on this band’s place in the Hall, but they did create a whole subgenre of hip hop with their pop take on the hip hop group with a powerful female singer (Fergie). Oh, and I’m sorry Pepsi, Will.I.Am is NOT the voice of a generation, in the same breath (or commercial) with a young Bob Dylan.
10. Black Flag – One of the big names of the L.A. hardcore punk scene, Black Flag helped innovate the Gen X alternative rock tours in a van and were part of the West Coast’s coterie of terrific alt.rock bands (Dead Kennedys, X, The Germs, Minutemen, Camper Van Beethoven, The Go-Go’s, Fear and so many others of the era).
11. Blue Öyster Cult – Are they AOR, heavy metal or some forerunner to alt.rock? The answer is that they were a little bit of everything listed, and perhaps a little more. BOC have become very overlooked in the past 20 years.
12. Boston – The band who popularized the AOR sound, paving the way for Foreigner, Styx, REO Speedwagon and Journey. Their first, eponymous album remains one of the three biggest-selling debuts in rock history.
13. Brian Eno – Eno is in the Hall as a member of Roxy Music, but his stellar solo work, in addition to his production work (most significantly with U2), makes him Hall-worthy.
14. Buzzcocks – One of the bigger punk bands, who with The Jam, spearheaded a more pop-oriented take on the London punk sound, which directly led to the 90s and 2000s pop punk explosion as the 20th century turned into the 21st century.
15. Carpenters – Snicker if you want, but the Carpenters’ music is much deeper than the soft rock sound the help create. Their melancholy sound resonates with the younger listeners more and more as I get older.
16. Cher – One of the first huge divas reigned over the pop scene first as one-half of the married couple folk rockers-turned-television variety show stars, then magnificently on her own. Remember, this woman had Top 10 pop hits in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and today!
17. Chic – Member Nile Rodgers induction for Musical Excellence not-withstanding, the WHOLE coterie needs to be honored since the band was not just Rodgers’ brilliant guitar. They were the best, hottest and most innovative disco/rock/jazz band ever.
18. Cyndi Lauper – Anyone else besides me thought that Cyndi was going to be bigger than Madonna? Anyone? Well, of course, I was wrong, yet Cyndi continues to amaze the world with her talent.
19. Daft Punk – This innovative French electronic dance duo is in their first year of eligibility for the Hall. These guys updated the 70s disco sound for Millennials, while being accessible to Boomers and X-ers.
20. De La Soul – Along with A Tribe Called Quest, this hip hop crew proved that the rap soundscape was not just for funkateers and party people. Who knew that the music of Hall & Oates and Steely Dan could be the basis of music blasting out of 80s Jeep’s Kraco speakers.
21. Dead Kennedys – If The Clash and Crass led the UK political left-wing, then the Dead Kennedys were those two bands’ American counterparts. But, the Brits never possessed the Kennedy’s sly sense of humor that made the medicine go down easier.
22. Destiny’s Child – Yes, The Supremes of the turn of the century really ARE eligible this year! That one makes me feel old. Do NOT be surprised if they are nominated as proof of the power of the husband/wife duo of Jay-Z and Beyoncé.
23. DEVO – In high school, the guys of my high school chemistry class discovered DEVO on Saturday Night Live, finally realizing what I had been saying for weeks: This band is a rock band for nerds. This was not just a rock band but a lifestyle.
24. Diana Ross – Diana Ross is NOT in the Hall?!?! It’s true! Now that Tina Turner and Stevie Nicks have been inducted a second time each, thus acknowledging their contributions as solo artists. Therefore, it behooves the Hall to honor one of music’s greatest divas.
25. Dick Dale – My older son and I differ on this one. His argument is valid. Does the Baseball Hall of Fame acknowledge the inventor of the curveball? However, we KNOW how Dick Dale influenced the sounds and guitar techniques that have been used by guitarists throughout the history of rock & roll.
26. Dionne Warwick – Everyone’s favorite Twitter grandparent has been nominated the past two years. She represents that smooth side of R&B, which has been as underrepresented as heavy metal and hip hop.
27. Dr. Dre – Arguably, the wealthiest man on this list, who not only was inducted as a member of N.W.A, Dre is a highly successful artist and producer AND one of the founders of Beats headphones and the rest of the line. This dude is a heavy hitter who deserves recognition outside of the group, along with Ice Cube and Eazy-E.
28. Eric B. & Rakim – If there were no Rakim, arguably the greatest MC of all time, we can forget about nearly every hip hop who followed, from A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul to Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. This man totally changed rap from party time to a form of jazz.
29. Fela Kuti – Many of you see this name and go, “Who?!?!” Well, this man is the Bob Marley of African-oriented funk. His 70s era music’s influence is ever-expanding, going from the world music of the 80s to the hip hop beats of today. His presence is so big that the continent of Africa helped Fela win the fan’s vote two years ago.
30. Foreigner – Many of my rocker friends who have a narrow definition of who constitutes rock are shocked to discover that Foreigner, one of the biggest rock names of the 70s and 80s, is NOT in the Rock Hall. I thought that after Journey was inducted, that Foreigner would not be far behind.
31. George Michael – Many were caught off guard when the late great Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins immediately began to list names of artists deserving induction including George Michael. Yes, Michael was a teen idol during his Wham! days, but he was always a great serious solo artist who could battle Michael Jackson on the pop charts while topping the King of Pop on the dance floor. His induction is long overdue.
32. Gram Parsons – Gram Parsons, along with Neil Young, became something of a hipster’s name drop in the 90s, especially with the burgeoning Americana scene. Then, in the Aughts, he was nominated for the Hall, leading many to believe that his time was coming. Then, poof! his name disappeared. Yes, the Eagles took his country-rock hybrid and added some pop and R&B to the sound to make millions, but Parsons started the whole country rock sound. Now, he is recognized by the current Americana artists as a god and muse.
33. Hüsker Dü – Let me say it right now: without Hüsker Dü, and later the Pixies, grunge would sound much less distorted and lack any kind of pop sensibility. They arose out of the same alternative/college rock scene that spawned R.E.M., Minutemen, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Camper Van Beethoven, The Replacements, Meat Puppets and so on, who were all part of the foundation of alternative rock in the 90s and beyond.
34. Iron Maiden – After Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Judas Priest and Rainbow all built the foundation, Iron Maiden showed up and accepted the baton to carry the sound well into the 80s, 90s and today. Maiden may be the quintessential metal band and enough is enough! Stop the metal bias!
35. Jane’s Addiction – Are they metal? Are they alternative? Are they hard rock? Are they hippie revivalists? Are they art rockers? The answer to all of the question is a resounding “Yes!” when talking about Jane’s Addiction. Then, if you throw in their influence on the alternative nation’s tour of the traveling Lollapalooza festival, then you have a band that has a solid resumé for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
36. Jethro Tull – Yet, another band who the general rock fan cannot believe is NOT in the Hall of Fame. While I am not a huge fan of the Tull, I do recognize their influence on my favorite form of music, as well as their status with progressive (prog) rock and classic rock fans. Full disclosure, I do love the song “Aqualung” and own the album of the same name.
37. John Coltrane – Yes, Coltrane is a jazz musician. But, his stamp continues to be found in modern rock and roll music to this very day. Let’s face it, if Miles Davis has a place in the RRHoF, then John Coltrane should as well.
38. John Prine – Considered by many to be the greatest songwriter ever, John Prine is still not am inducted member of the Hall. Although he is mainly a brilliant folk artist, his influence has been felt by country, rock and even rap with both his music and his lyrics. Since there is room for Laura Nyro, then there’s room for Prine. Plus, the man released one of his finest LPs shortly before he died, following Warren Zevon and Johnny Cash who both did the same thing/
39. Johnny Burnette & the Rock ‘N Roll Trio – One of the founding fathers of rock and roll, these men have been long overlooked and deserve induction.
40. Joy Division/New Order – Joy Division has become of the biggest bands from the UK’s original post-punk scene. Unfortunately, lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide on the eve of the band’s US Tour. Initially, the remaining trio turned inward, then added keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, changed their name to New Order and then brought synthpop to dancefloors around the world. Much like The Small Faces and The Faces or Parliament and Funkadelic, you cannot separate the histories of the two bands without diminishing the other. If you listen to both bands’ catalogs, you will hear today’s music everywhere.
41. Kate Bush – For the past few years, Kate Bush has been nominated for induction, while being met with a collective “Who?” from most Americans. Then, suddenly, thanks to the current season of the Netflix show Stranger Things, a 37-year-old song by Bush, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” er-entered Billlboard’s Hot 100, only to outperform its previous 1985 run (peaked at #30) by charting at #3 in 2022. This is the hottest Bush, commercially speaking, has been in the States ever.
42. King Crimson – If you like some prog rock but generally find it a little pretentious and Pollyanna-ish, then the dark themes and menacing music of King Crimson has been made for you. See they tackled the darkness, Crimson deserves induction into the RRHoF.
43. Kool & the Gang – Whether this band is giving us the funk or some smooth R&B sounds, the only American band to participate on Band Aid, Kool & the Gang should be immortalized in the Hall.
44. Kurtis Blow – Yes, the Sugarhill Gang had the first rap hit. But, it was Kurtis Blow who showed the world this new genre’s album potential. Plus, Blow was the first hip hop sex symbol. Blow’s absence in the Hall would be akin to Elvis being left out as well. No Blow in music, no hip hop replacing rock as the music of youth.
45. Link Wray – If you love the power chord sounds of The Who and AC/DC, then you need to thank this man, Link Wray. This Native American is the guitarist who invented this heavy guitar sound which has dominated rock ever since his first hit, the iconic “Rumble.”
46. Little Feat – After leaving Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, Lowell George put together this long-forgotten band to play his version of southern-fried, blues-based rock and roll. Perhaps, Little Feat is not held in the same esteem as Lynyrd Skynyrd because the band members were not good ol’ Southern boys, which is a shame because these guys were hot both in the studio and on stage.
47. Los Lobos – Minorities are sorely underrepresented in the Hall, especially those of Hispanic descent. Then, you throw in that these guys were commercially successful in the 80s and critically acclaimed THROUGHOUT their career. They are way more than their old #1 hit, the remake of the Richie Valens hit “La Bamba.”
48. Mariah Carey – So, the idea of a diva has been a role that women have accepted throughout time. When it comes to modern rock, after the women of the blues, jazz and country, we had Aretha Franklin, followed by Chaka Khan, Cher, Barbra Streisand, Whitney Houston and, then in 1990, came the next in line, Mariah Carey. Before she became the Queen of Christmas, Mariah was a dominant force on the pop, dance and R&B charts, racking up a stunning 19 #1 hits. Now that Whitney has been inducted, it’s time for Chaka AND Mariah to be added.
49. Mary J. Blige – By the mid-90s, Mariah was the current diva of the moment, becoming the first diva to have rappers integrated into her hits. Then, Mary J. Blige showed up, possessing a big voice just a step below Mariah’s range, but Blige was a woman of the streets, specifically those in the ghetto. That gave her street cred, so she became the first diva who grew totally immersed in a hip hop world. That explains why she was better equipped to straddle both worlds effortless. Yet, Ms. Blige is an artist for the ages.
50. Mary Wells – I cannot believe that the woman who kept Motown afloat in the early years of the label has still not been inducted. What’s up with that?
51. MC5 – Ladies and gentlemen, Detroit is NOT just Motown. In the late-60s, it was the birthplace of a sound that would come to be known as punk rock. So far, The Stooges, with Iggy Pop, and Alice Cooper (the original band and its lead singer who later took on the name Alice Cooper) were the two-thirds of the city’s big three. MC5 is the third that needs to be honored.
52. Missy Elliott – For a decade that ran from the mid-90s and early-Aughts, one person’s name seemed to be on every Top 10 either as a writer, producer or performer, and that woman’s name was Missy Elliott. During that ten-year period or so, she could do no wrong and appeared to be a Hall shoo-in. Then, she took a hiatus. Now, she appears to begin her wait this year.
53. Mötley Crüe – After Van Halen inadvertently started the glam (hair) metal era of the 80s, the next big thing in the genre was Mötley Crüe, who brought the bubblegum version of metal to the masses. The Crüe walked a fine line between rock rebels and caricatures of the rock lifestyle, often bouncing back and forth between the two extremes. But, if KISS can be inducted, then you gotta acknowledge the Crüe.
54. Motörhead – At the time, the thought of marrying the speed of punk with the virtuosity and loudness of metal bordered on sacrilege. Then came Motörhead came along and made it seem natural. Is Motörhead really metal? Personally, I don’t think so. But, they were the fastest hard rock band around. They are the evolutionary reason thrash metal started.
55. Nas – Until Jaÿ-Z showed consistency across many releases, many thought Nas would become the voice of NYC and East Coast rap. But, right after dropping his all-world debut, Illmatic, he was surpassed by Jigga. Still, Nas remains held in high regard to this day.
56. New York Dolls – When Glam rock was killing it in the UK, the States never really jumped on the bandwagon. Still, the New York Dolls thought they be the first truly American glam band. And, in response, America yawned. Yet, those who purchased that Todd Rundgren-produced self-titled debut album, they seemed to all start the punk bands who flood CBGB and Max’s Kansas City.
57. Oasis – By the 90s, grunge was all the rage over in the States. But, in the UK, who had experienced its own punk revolution in society back in 1977, teens were looking for something else. Then along came some homegrown bands who seemed to Americans to be power pop but with a very English point of view, much like marrying The Beatles/The Who/The Jam/The Kinks music with Kinks’ Ray Davies keen lyrics depicting everyday British life. The press called the music Britpop, and Oasis was the scene’s biggest export. They were able to translate to the American artist.
58. OutKast – The premiere rap duo of the Nineties and into the Aughts, this Atlanta-based hip hop group showed their allegiance to George Clinton’s Parliafunkadelicment Thang in their music and not being afraid to integrate rock, soul and Motown into the mix as it suited them.
59. Ozzy Osbourne – Seriously, how can the man who was fired from Sabbath and left for a dead career be left out of the Hall. Ozzy personifies metal, plain and simple. Hell, even his guitarist and songwriting partner is in the RRHoF through Musical Excellence, so let’s put aside the stupid bias toward metal and inducted the man himself.
60. Patsy Cline – Now that Dolly Parton has finally been inducted, it’s time for her musical forebearer, Patsy Cline, to receive the honor as well. I know that she’s a country singer, but her attitude, career, life and influence all scream, “Rock and roll!”
61. Paul Revere & the Raiders – According to my mom, Paul Revere & the Raiders were unofficially my favorite band (She would spin tales of me dancing in my playpen whenever the band’s music would play on the radio or TV.). Before they started wearing those stupid colonial outfits, The Raiders were a fantastic and exciting garage rock band from Seattle. Then, Dick Clark got ahold of them and pivoted them into becoming the greatest real live bubblegum band.
62. Phish – I understand that to most fans out there, the Dave Matthews Band is the jam band of the present, ascending to the mantle upon the death of Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia. But, hold on a minute! There is one better jam band, and that is Vermont’s Phish. Where DMB tends to sound the same throughout their albums, Phish is very accomplished and diverse. One Halloween, they are covering the Velvet Underground or Talking Heads, the next one they take on The Rolling Stones or Little Feat. Regardless, these guys rise to the occasion. The only time I saw them, they performed what Phish-heads happen to believe is one of the band’s top 15 live performances ever. They remain my favorite jam band to this day.
63. Pixies – I have read extensively about Kurt Cobain’s many influences, running the gamut from The Beatles to Cheap Trick to Hüsker Dü, but none provided the whole “loud-quiet-loud” dynamic with which Nirvana became known than Pixies. If they had come of age in the early-90s, they would be considered gods. However, they peaked in the late-80s, so they are held in esteem as godfathers of alternative music.
64. Queens of the Stone Age – By the late-90s, alternative rock and metal seemed to be mutating in a multitude of directions. So, it should not have been a big surprise when a band finally turned up the Sabbath sludge and slowed down the pace as if they had been smoking weed all day long. Thus, QOTSA invented stoner rock, paving the way for a band like Mastodon. Of course, if they are ever inducted, will they include Dave Grohl in the lineup? The man only played on the band’s biggest selling album, Songs for the Deaf, and played with the band on their subsequent tour.
65. Rage Against the Machine – Okay, Faith No More beat them to the rap/metal combo, but Rage perfected it, especially when you throw in guitarist Tom Morello’s ability to make his guitar into his very own DJ turntable. The band lived up to their sonic assault with some of rock’s most incendiary anti-capitalist lyrics. This band could incite a riot with their explosive sound alone. Throw in their lyrics, and I am moved to join them in the revolution.
66. Raspberries – Back in the early-70s, rock was either heavy (Sabbath, Zeppelin) or prog (Yes, Tull, ELP), yet no one was sounding like The Beatles, except for Badfinger. So, when four knuckleheads from Cleveland decided to marry the melodic sound of The Beatles with the power of early Who or Kinks, the press labeled them as bubblegum music. But what these critics seemed to miss is what the little girls understand: cute boys who make them dance are preferable to dirty hippies singing about trolls. Raspberries were responsible for punk, new wave and power pop when all those pre-teens grew up. Today, the band is held up by the Ramones, Springsteen, The Cars, The Bangles and power poppers everywhere as the geniuses that they were.
67. Rick James – I’m Rick James, bitch! Sure, that’s Dave Chappelle’s bit, but it’s true. James claims that Prince stole his schtick, don’t believe it. Rick James was as much about rock as funk, but his bass lines were always thicker and juicier than the Purple One’s. James had us dancing back in the late-70s and early-80s, and NO ONE should ever forget that! This man was a genius.
68. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – For me, the voices of a generation begins with Billie Holliday, runs through Aretha Franklin and then is handed off to Chaka Khan. Enough is enough! At this point, I don’t care whether Rufus gets in with her or not, just stop nominating her and induct her. Wait a second! I do care! Rufus should be inducted too!
69. Sade – Was there a man on Earth who wasn’t in love with Sade back in the 80s? The cool thing is that the music seemed to be an extension of her looks and personality. All of it was cool, smooth and sultry. And whenever she releases another album, I guarantee it will debut in the Top 10, as all of her other albums have done no matter the time it takes to produce one.
70. Salt-N-Pepa – Some people just don’t understand how the Rock & ROLL Hall of Fame can induct rap, R&B and dance artists, but remember they all bring the ROLL to rock & ROLL. So, the stage is set to induct the most successful and influential all-female rap group of all-time. They broke through the machismo and discriminatory practices of hip hop in order to pave the road for Missy Elliott, Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion and a whole slew of women MCs.
71. Sleater-Kinney – When discussing female innovators, Sleater-Kinney needs to be included. They popped up in the 90s, and they pop/alternative/punk/grunge blend caught collective ears of alternative nation and hipsters every where not just for their brilliant songwriting but their influential musicianship as well. In a perfect world, SK would be shoo-ins.
72. Sonic Youth – Yet another of the 80s godfathers and godmother of the 90s alternative nation. These three men and a woman began as a NYC art noise band but ended up as one of alternative rock’s most important bands. They are long overdue their induction.
73. Soundgarden – Speaking of being long overdue on their induction, may I present Soundgarden, one of Seattle’s Big Four grunge bands. Their run of late-80s and 90s albums of Ultramega OK, Badmotorfinger and Superunknown did as much for the advancement of grunge and alternative music as any other band.
74. Sting – The former lead singer of The Police has had an interesting solo career. He started off with a bang in the 80s, maintained the momentum through most of the 90s and, then, in the 21st century went into full-blown experimental mode, all while maintaining his sterling reputation. He should follow Stevie Nicks into the Hall as members of immortal groups and having an influential solo career.
75. Styx – If you want to fully represent the AOR sound with some of the best artists, then Styx is your group. At one time in my high school years of the late-70s/early-80s, Styx was reported to be the biggest album-selling artist of all. People of my age group tend to only agree on three bands: Journey, Foreigner and Styx.
76. Supertramp – This band was not quite prog, not quite AOR and not quite pure pop. Still, whatever their musical combination was, it was popular with my age group. While Breakfast in America was their biggest seller, please check out Crime of the Century and Even in the Quietest Moments for proof of the strength of their resumé.
77. Tears for Fears – Tears for Fears began as a synthpop band, but subtly transitioned into one of the 80s finest pop/rock bands with big selling albums and singles. Couple their past with their unexpected and surprisingly comeback this year with the release of their excellent album The Tipping Point, the time seems right for their nomination.
78. Television – Of all the bands from the original CBGB punk scene in NYC, Television is the biggest band with all the critical praise still on the outside looking in at the Hall. They have been long overdue for the honor. Television was the jam band of the punk era, if they can even be described in that manner.
79. The B-52’s – The B-52’s have been huge with the Hall Watchers for years. The band started the whole Athens, Georgia, scene in the late-70s that R.E.M. came from. This band brought the party back to rock music which was sorely missing in the waning days of disco and the ascension of new wave. After The B-52’s danced their way through the door, Duran Duran, The Human League and every other artist dress in 60s kitsch with strange haircuts followed. New wave had the perfect visual for the early days of MTV, and The B-52’s were one of the first. They sure had my high school abuzz after their appearance on Saturday Night Live in 1980.
80. The Bangles – With The Go-Go’s inducted, people looking for another all-female band turned their attention to The Bangles. While The Go-Go’s came from the LA punk scene, The Bangles were a product of a much different and more musically diverse Paisley Underground scene in LA. The Bangles drew inspiration from The Beatles, but also from The Zombies, Buffalo Springfield, Love and other bands who arose during the psychedelic pop days of the late-60s. While the band’s musicianship was impeccable, their super power was the classic lineup’s four-part harmonies.
81. The Carter Family – The pre-eminent country/hillbilly family needs induction for their influence alone. But, remember Johnny Cash’s wife, June Carter Cash, played an important role in JC’s earlier comeback, flexing her rock & roll muscles in “Ring of Fire,” which she co-wrote. But, her parents, grandparents and siblings all combined to write and record some of country music’s most important music, many of which were recorded by rock artists from many eras.
82. The J. Geils Band – This Boston R&B-based rock & roll party band made some noise throughout the 70s, but it wasn’t until the band incorporated some new wave flourishes on their Love Stinks and Freeze-Frame albums that they reached the commercial mountaintop. Their concerts were legendary for their party atmosphere and ability to rock. Some even go as far as to say The J. Geils Band, on a good night, could rival Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band in both band’s heydays. I don’t know if it’s true, but their live albums indicate Geils was awfully good in concert.
83. The Jam – In the original London punk scene, there were the Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Jam. Of the three, The Jam became the biggest band in the UK, while only achieving cult status here in the States. The Jam was my favorite punk band for a couple of reasons. First, they never neglected an R&B influence, much like the early days of The Who. Second, and perhaps most important, The Jam had the best singer/songwriter of the lot in Paul Weller. The Rock Hall needs to recognize that America does NOT have the final say on greatness. Sometimes, the Brits are correct.
84. The Marvelettes – All of the big selling 60s artists of Motown are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, except for Mary Wells and this group. How can the singing group that gave us “Please Mr. Postman” be left out of the Hall for so long?
85. The Monkees – For kids of the 70s, Saturdays were the days we watched The Monkees reruns. So why on Earth would my age group and younger not think The Monkees belong in the RRHoF? They were our Beatles. Who cares that they didn’t write their own hits?!?! Hell, Elvis didn’t! Put in The Monkees BEFORE Mickey and Mike leave us!
86. The Pointer Sisters – Recently, I was listening to The Pointer Sisters big breakout album from 1983 Break Out and realized that I had been underselling these women for way too long. They had spectacular vocals and chose fantastic songs to record. And, you can pick out their influences everywhere on that album alone. Personally, I’m going to do a deeper dive into their catalog.
87. The Replacements – The Replacements were one of my favorite bands from the mid-80s. When Paul Westerberg was on lyrically, no one compared to him. Add to it The Mats sloppy way of playing, and you got one of the loosest, wildest, craziest rock bands on the planet. You cannot over-sell their whole catalog at all. The band was just that good. I remember an article in a rock magazine stating that The Mats were to R.E.M. as The Kinks were to The Beatles. I think the author hit the nail on the head.
88. The Runaways – By the mid-70s, society was crying for an all-woman rock band. Unfortunately, Fanny didn’t strike a nerve earlier in that decade. Then, in 1976, a group of all underage teenage girls were put together by rock impresario (and local pervert) Kim Fowley. These girls could play a glam/punk/metal hodge podge of rock, included future Hall of Fame Joan Jett, future metal goddess Lita Ford, future actress Cheri Curie, future Jeopardy champion Jackie (Fuchs) Fox and drummer supreme Sandy West. Although The Runaways did not make an immediate commercial dent, over the years their influence has reached nearly every female artist over the years.
89. The Shangri-La’s – When punk and new wave first popped up, it seemed as though every female artist/musician were patterning their look and sound after these tough NYC women. They had the hits, while those songs continue to influence future generations of female rockers.
90. The Smashing Pumpkins – Coming out of Chicago as the city’s answer to Seattle’s grunge movement, Billy Corgan and his Smashing Pumpkins are not jumping off from Black Sabbath and punk but rather taking the sonic assault of Boston and Cheap Trick and funneling it through some new wave and some punk. Their magnum opus Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and their more streamlined Siamese Dream are two of the 90s greatest albums.
91. The Smiths – In the USA, we had our jangle jingled in the 80s by R.E.M., but in Britain, the kids where getting their jangle fix from The Smiths. If you draw a line of the quintessential British artists beginning with The Beatles extending to The Who then The Kinks and the glam rockers up to The Jam, the next stop would be The Smiths before the ascension of The Stone Roses and Britpop.
92. The Spinners – In the 70s and early-80s, The Spinners were the finest vocal group could combined the best qualities of soul’s history from Detroit, New York, Memphis and Philadelphia. Their enshrinement has be so very long overdue.
93. Thin Lizzy – Between the reigns of Van Morrison and U2 as Ireland’s best rockers, there was a band that combined the street-wise lyrics of Springsteen with the hard rock of Boston that appealed to heartland rockers, AOR fans and metalheads across the world who briefly filled the void. That band was Thin Lizzy, a band led by a black lead singer and bassist that, when the band was at its strongest and most influential, sported a 1,2- lead guitar punch of Scott Gorman and Gary Moore which influenced bands like Judas Priest, Def Leppard and Iron Maiden to all follow down a similar road with utilizing multiple lead guitarists.
94. Tommy James & the Shondells – Say what you will about Tommy James and his backing band, their influence has stretched through the ages. Boomers considered the group a bubblegum band, but younger Boomers and Gen X-ers all wanted to be them. From the punk rock of Ramones and The Runaways to the hits of Joan Jett & the Blackhearts (“Crimson and Clover”), teenage pop princess Tiffany (“I Think We’re Alone Now”) and Billy Idol (“Mony, Mony”) all expressed their love of Tommy James. This band is now considered to be the quintessential pop/rock band of the late-60s.
95. War – One of the great bands from East LA, War was a multicultural band with the musical versatility be able to verve from funk to rock to jazz to pop with no regard to anything but their muse. Yes, the band members were white, black and Latino, but that’s not the story. No, War’s story is there musical diversity and virtuosity. Yet, another band who’s induction is long overdue.
96. Warren Zevon – I honestly thought that Warren Zevon was one of those artists who were held in such high esteem that he was be a shoo-in for induction within three years of his untimely death in 2003. Yet, here we are on the cusp of the 20th anniversary of his passing, and Zevon still remains uninducted. That is a travesty. Zevon is so very much more than “Werewolves of London,” or any of the songs that Linda Ronstadt covered. The man was a brilliant acerbic satirist within the confines of a rock star.
97. Weezer – I refer to Weezer as the Cheap Trick of the 90s. Hear me out. Both play melodic songs dressed up with hard rock guitars. Also, both tend to be lumped into the power pop label at one time or another but are much more than that definition. Weezer has created some of the greatest pop/rock songs of the late-20th and early-21st centuries. I just hope that Weezer doesn’t have to wait as long as Cheap Trick did to be inducted.
98. “Weird Al” Yankovic – Over the years, many comedians have embraced a rock & roll or hip hop attitude and brought it to their art. From Cheech & Chong to Eddie Murphy to Sam Kinison to Dave Chappelle all have been called rock stars of comedy. But, there is one who works within the musical medium at such a high level that nearly every hitmaker hopes that “Weird Al” Yankovic parodies the artists’ hits. And to do this at such a high level as “Weird Al” has since the early-80s, his longevity only enhances his argument. As a matter of fact, Al’s last album, Mandatory Fun (released in 2014), debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top 200 album chart.
99. Willie Nelson – Asked any musical star still alive today who their favorite and most important country artist is, they all would say either Dolly Parton or Willie Nelson. Now that Dolly has been inducted, it is now Willie’s moment. He is such a beloved artist, that he has created albums full of reggae and Great American Songbook standards. His attitude and career arc have been influential for three generations of rock, pop and hip hop artists.
100. Wu-Tang Clan – How can rap’s greatest coterie of artists still not be in the Hall? What’s up with that? Everyone who is a music fan knows how important Wu-Tang Clan has been for all of rock & roll, not just hip hop. Plus, any group that has Ol’ Dirty Bastard (ODB) should be inducted on that fact alone. I think we all know that RZA is a genius.
Who would be your 16 nominees from this list? Let me know below. I will let you know who I am predicting to be on this upcoming nomination list for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023. See y’all later! Peace and love.
Halloween 2022: 150 Spook-tacular Songs for Your Holiday Playlist
I am not sure if what I am going to say is true or not, but I believe that Halloween did not begin to gain steam as a major holiday until the people who grew up in the 1970s became adults. If you use rock and roll music as a focal point, most songs in the Fifties and Sixties were of the novelty variety while “scary” movies were mainly cheaply made B-movies, outside of the great Alfred Hitchcock films.
But. when the Seventies rolled around, more and more kids were trick-or-treating in their suburban neighborhoods (literally hundreds of kids were out in mine), so my generation of musicians, especially those in the late-70s, embraced the irony of 60s-novelty chic, which meant Halloween became not only a big night of parties, but also a month of songs, artists and films all catering to the celebration of the holiday. Look, the Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth and Nightmare on Elm Street movie franchises got their starts in the late-70s and early-80s. Bands like Black Sabbath and the whole metal genre joined in the fun by embracing the darkness with a tongue-in-cheek wink. Out in LA, the town’s punk scene seemed to wrap themselves in the macabre behind the music of the Misfits, while down similar bands popped up throughout the world at the same time taking their cues from those B-movies such as The Cramps. And, during my college days, every Halloween had a major party of which I attended, be it off-campus or at my fraternity house, with costumes being mandatory.
So, when my generation began to have children, we, as parents, raised the ante even more. Slowly, trick-or-treating and parties led to huge yard displays and decorations that dominate today’s Halloween. And, since Halloween parties all need music, as forty more years have passed since my first college Halloween party. Nowadays, the music is much more than “Thriller” interspersed with Alvin & the Chipmunks doing “Witch Doctor” and Sheb Wooley’s “The Purple People Eater,” among others.
Now, we have all kinds of music available, one could hold a dance with only Halloween-themed music. Or, at least, we now have many songs whose titles make sense within the Halloween context. Personally, I like a keep a playlist of any song that has a title, subject matter and/or place in a horror movie’s soundtrack. From that huge playlist, I can then pull out more appropriate songs for the crowd of the party where my music will be played.
But, for today’s blog, I have chosen my 150 favorite songs that I have used in Halloween playlists over the years. From those suggestions, you can make your own. If you are providing the tunes for a party of junior high, high school, college or post-college twenty-something people, then hit the dance tunes had but intersperse some non-Halloween tunes to keep the dance floor full. If your party is full of the over-40 crowd, dancing is not important, so stick to the Halloween music, mix the genres liberally and hit shuffle. My suggestion is that you should have at least four hours of music for the old fogies, while you might need six or seven hours of tunes for the yunguns. One other thing you should add is a smattering of short Halloween sound effects, just to break up the music or play it over the top to enhance those said tunes during prolonged instrumental sections.
Those a few suggestions for any budding DJ/playlist master. The biggest thing will always be to know your crowd. That dictates what you play. “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” might be a great choice for a Boomer or Gen X party but will fall flat with most Millennials and Gen Y-ers.
So, with all that pontificating over, here are my personal favorite Halloween songs. If you have any suggestions of songs not on my list, please pass them on to me. I am not omniscient. The songs are listed in alphabetical order of the artists’ names.
- AC/DC – “Highway to Hell”
- Alice Cooper – “Feed My Frankenstein”
- Alice Cooper – “Welcome to My Nightmare”
- Andrew Gold – “Spooky, Scary Skeletons”
- Annie Lennox – “Love Song for a Vampire”
- Atlanta Rhythm Section – “Spooky”
- Bauhaus – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead”
- Beyoncé – “Haunted”
- Billie Eilish – “bury a friend”
- Billy Idol – “Eyes Without a Face”
- Black Sabbath – “Black Sabbath”
- Blue Öyster Cult – “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”
- Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt Kickers Five – “Monster Mash”
- Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy”
- Britney Spears – “Toxic”
- Cat Power – “Werewolf”
- Cerrone – “Supernature”
- Charlie Daniels Band – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”
- Cliff Richard – “Devil Woman”
- Concrete Blonde – “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)”
- Cream – “Strange Brew”
- Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Bad Moon Rising”
- Danzig – “Mother”
- Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Maneater”
- Dave Edmunds – “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”
- David Bowie – “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)”
- Dead Kennedys – “Halloween”
- Depeche Mode – “Strangelove”
- DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince – “A Nightmare on My Street”
- Duran Duran – “Hungry Like the Wolf”
- Dusty Springfield – “Spooky”
- Eagles – “Witchy Woman”
- Echo & the Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon”
- Edgar Winter Group – “Frankenstein”
- Electric Light Orchestra – “Evil Woman”
- Elvis Presley – “(You’re The) Devil in Disguise”
- Eminem ft. Rihanna – “The Monster”
- Fall Out Boy – “Uma Thurman”
- Fifth Harmony – “I’m in Love with a Monster”
- Frank Sinatra – “Witchcraft”
- Fred Schneider & the Shake Society – “Monster”
- Gorillaz – “Dracula”
- Halsey – “Nightmare”
- Iggy Azalea ft. Rita Ora – “Black Widow”
- Imagine Dragons – “Demons”
- INXS – “The Devil Inside”
- Iron Maiden – “Fear of the Dark”
- John Carpenter – “Halloween Theme”
- John Zacherle “The Cool Ghoul” – “Dinner with Drac”
- Johnny Cash – “The Man Comes Around”
- Joy Division – “Dead Souls”
- Kanye West ft. Jay-Z, Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross & Bon Iver – “Monster”
- Kate Bush – “Waking the Witch”
- Katy Perry ft. Kanye West – “E.T.”
- Kesha – “Cannibal”
- King Harvest – “Dancing in the Moonlight”
- Kristin Hersch – “Your Ghost”
- Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein – “Stranger Things Theme”
- Lady Gaga – “Monster”
- Lana Del Rey – “Season of the Witch”
- Louis Armstrong – “The Skeleton in the Closet”
- Luniz ft. Michael Marshall – “I Put 5 on It”
- Marilyn Manson – “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”
- Marilyn Manson – “Tainted Love”
- Meat Loaf – “Bat Out of Hell”
- Metallica – “Enter Sandman”
- Michael Jackson – “Thriller”
- Mike Oldfield – “Tubular Bells Pt. 1”
- Ministry – “Everyday Is Like Halloween”
- Misfits – “Halloween”
- Misfits – “Skulls”
- Misfits – “Vampira”
- Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels – “Devil with a Blue Dress”
- Mötley Crüe – “Shout at the Devil”
- Motor City Soundtrack – “Pulp Fiction”
- Mudhoney – “Halloween”
- Muse – “You Make It Feel Like Halloween”
- Nelly Furtado – “Maneater”
- New Order – “Elegia”
- New York Dolls – “Frankenstein”
- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “Red Right Hand”
- Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds – “The Mercy Seat”
- Nine Inch Nails – “Dead Souls”
- No Doubt – “Spiderwebs”
- Oingo Boingo – “Dead Man’s Party”
- OutKast ft. Kesha – “Dracula’s Wedding”
- Ozzy Osbourne – “Bark at the Moon”
- Ozzy Osbourne – “Mr. Crowley”
- P!nk – “Funhouse”
- Peter Gabriel – “Intruder”
- Phoebe Bridgers – “Halloween”
- Queens of the Stone Age – “Burn the Witch”
- Radiohead – “Creep”
- Ramones – “Pet Semetary”
- Ray Parker Jr. – “Ghostbusters”
- Redbone – “Witch Queen of New Orleans”
- Richard O’Brien, et. al. (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) – “Time Warp”
- Rick James – “Super Freak”
- Rihanna – “Disturbia”
- Rob Zombie – “Dragula”
- Rockwell – “Somebody’s Watching Me”
- Santana – “Black Magic Woman”
- Santana – “Evil Ways”
- Screamin’ Jay Hawkins – “I Put a Spell on You”
- Screaming Lord Sutch – “Jack the Ripper”
- Selena Gomez ft. marshmello – “Wolves”
- Shakira – “She Wolf”
- Sheb Wooley – “The Purple People Eater”
- Sinéad O’Connor – “I Am Stretched on Your Grave”
- Siouxsie & the Banshees – “Halloween”
- Siouxsie & the Banshees – “Spellbound”
- Squirrel Nut Zippers – “Hell”
- Steve Miller Band – “Abracadabra”
- Stevie Wonder – “Superstition”
- Talking Heads – “Psycho Killer”
- Taylor Swift – “Haunted”
- Tegan & Sara – “Walking with a Ghost”
- The B-52’s – “Devil in My Car”
- The Beatles – “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”
- The Birthday Party – “Release the Bats”
- The Black Keys – “Howlin’ for You”
- The Citizens of Halloween (A Nightmare Before Christmas) – “This Is Halloween”
- The Clovers – “Love Potion #9”
- The Cramps – “Creature from the Black Leather Lagoon”
- The Cramps – “I Was a Teenage Werewolf”
- The Cranberries – “Zombie”
- The Crazy World of Arthur Brown – “Fire”
- The Cure – “A Forest”
- The Cure – “Lullaby”
- The Doors – “People Are Strange”
- The Dream Syndicate – “Halloween”
- The Human League – “Seconds”
- The Lovin’ Spoonful – “Do You Believe in Magic?”
- The Psychedelic Furs – “The Ghost in You”
- The Rolling Stones – “Sympathy for the Devil”
- The Smiths – “Cemetery Gates”
- The Specials – “Ghost Town”
- The Who – “Boris the Spider”
- twenty one pilots – “Heathens”
- Type O Negative – “All Hallows Eve”
- Van Halen – “Running with the Devil”
- Van Morrison – “Moondance”
- Vic Mizzy – “The Addams Family Theme”
- Vince Guaraldi Trio – “The Great Pumpkin Waltz”
- Violent Femmes – “Country Death Song”
- Warren Zevon – “Werewolves of London”
- White Zombie – “I’m Your Boogie Man”
- Whodini – “The Freaks Come Out at Night”
- XTC – “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead”
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Heads Will Roll
50 (Or Is It 54) Greatest Hits Albums You Gotta Own
Greatest Hits albums have been around since the beginning of the whole recorded album era. These compilations of an artist’s most popular music is an efficient way. If properly arranged, these albums will have every hit by the artist up to that point in which the album was made. Plus, the record company may also throw in some prime deep cuts.
Yet, for whatever reason, record companies, or the artist themselves, may choose to throw in a remix or live version of a popular song or two in the place of the version that was the hit. Or, some hits may be completely left off the package in favor of some lame deep cut or a newly recorded song or two. When this happens, the fans become very frustrated, making them cynical about all greatest hits albums.
Now, back in the Nineties, when CDs were the ruling medium, these packages became a popular way for Boomers to replace their love of an artist without breaking the bank. Additionally, Gen X-ers and Millennials both found this compilations enticing. So, as vinyl made a comeback, those “best of” collections became the “go-to” album for many artists for Generation Z.
Perhaps, these types of albums should be the way most people go when beginning a music collection. You could truly have a nice collection based mainly on these compilations, then interspersing albums of your choosing.
Of all the greatest hits packages that have been running around over the years, I have chosen compilations by 50 artists, though there are four artists who have two essential collections worth owning. What follows is my unranked list of greatest hits albums that would make a pretty solid collection basis.
- ABBA – Gold: Greatest Hits (1992)
- Aerosmith – Greatest Hits (1980)
- Al Green – Greatest Hits (1975)
- Bee Gees – The Ultimate Bee Gees (2009)
- Billy Joel – Greatest Hits Vol. 1 & 2 (1985)
- Bob Marley & the Wailers – Legend (1984)
- Chic – The Very Best of Chic (2000)
- Chicago – The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning (2002)
- Chuck Berry – The Great Twenty-Eight (1982)
- Creedence Clearwater Revival – Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits
- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – So Far… (1974)
- Daryl Hall & John Oates – The Very Best of Daryl Hall & John Oates (2001)
- David Bowie – Best of Bowie (2002)
- Def Leppard – Vault: Def Leppard Greatest Hits 1980-1995 (1995)
- Donna Summer – Endless Summer: Donna Summer’s Greatest Hits (1995)
- Duran Duran – Greatest (1998)
- Eagles – Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 (1976)
- Elton John – Greatest Hits 1970-2002 (2002)
- Elvis Presley – ELV1S: 30 #1 Hits (2002)
- Green Day – International Superhits (2001)
- James Brown – 20 All-Time Greatest Hits (1991)
- Jimi Hendrix Experience – Smash Hits (1969)
- John Mellencamp – Words & Music: John Mellencamp’s Greatest Hits (2004)
- Johnny Cash – The Legend of Johnny Cash (2005)
- Journey – Greatest Hits (1988)
- Kate Bush – The Whole Story (1986)
- Leonard Cohen – Greatest Hits (1975)
- Lynyrd Skynyrd – Gold & Platinum (1979)
- Madonna – The Immaculate Collection (1990)
- Neil Young – Decade (1977)
- New Order – Substance 1987 (1987)
- Nirvana – Nirvana (2002)
- Ozzy Osbourne – The Ozzman Cometh: Greatest Hits (2002)
- Queen – Greatest Hits (1994)/Greatest Hits II (1991)
- R.E.M. – Eponymous (1988)/In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1989-2003 (2003)
- Sade – The Essential Sade (2014)
- Sly & the Family Stone – The Essential Sly & the Family Stone (2002)
- Stevie Wonder – The Definitive Collection (2002)
- The Band – Greatest Hits (2000)
- The Beach Boys – Sounds of Summer: The Very Best of The Beach Boys (2003)
- The Beatles – 1962-1966 [“Red Album”]/1967-1970 [“Blue Album”] (1971)
- The Cars – Greatest Hits (1985)
- The Cure – Staring at the Sea: The Singles (1986)/Galore: The Singles 1987-1997 (1997)
- The Jam – Snap! (1983)
- The Monkees – The Best of The Monkees (2003)
- The Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (1972)
- The Smiths – The Sound of The Smiths (2008)
- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Greatest Hits (1993)
- U2 – The Best of 1980-1990 (1998)
- Van Halen – Best of Both Worlds (2004)
Although a few artists like Pink Floyd, The Who and Bruce Springsteen have excellent compilations available, I still feel like their studio albums better represent their artistry than these watered down sets. Plus, there are many other artists who have excellent compilations. Major artists like Pearl Jam and Tina Turner have great collections too, as do some more obscure bands like Buzzcocks and Siouxsie & the Banshees have excellent sets as well.
My Bangles Top 40
It seems that 2022 has been the year for rekindling college friendships. I have been in contact with a few fraternity brothers after our 2017 reunion, but it was the people with whom I had an everyday life in the dormitory that I have been catching up with lately. First, over the summer, a good college friend from the coterie of people of around 30 contacted me. We met during the summer for a lunch and had a great time getting caught up. Brian Gough, who himself has been the midst of doing a tour around to meet up with the college crew, inspired me to do the same.
Following that, I contacted two men who live only 22 MINUTES from me, and after 30 years of not seeing each other, Steve Lepper and Ron Lawson brought their wives over to the Keller homestead. The evening lasted a good four hours that was filled with many great stories of the knuckleheaded things we did back in our “prime.” We laughed so loud and often that we had to be irritating to my neighbors, but, honestly, I did not care. These men played an important part in my developmental years. We all had ventured to Houston for a spring break during my freshman year. Plus, Ron and I had been roommates during our sophomore year, though we both acknowledge that we were much better friends outside of our room than in it together. But that was part of the growing experience as well. The weekend was great for our souls, as our wives all agreed that our stories kept them in stitches.
Next, we have got to get Tim Hubbart back up here for a weekend or longer. Tim was a major part of my life as he was my Little Brother in our fraternity, part of the dormitory gang AND a fellow microbiology major with me. Many of you may be developing sympathy for that man, but keep in mind that he chose to split a Domino’s pepperoni and mushroom pizza with me nearly every Friday I worked from 1 in the afternoon to 6 that evening cleaning the cafeteria floors during my freshman year. Now, that’s a loyal friend!
Also, we have to get my old roommate and partner-in-crime Bruce Rueter back in the mix. He and I pushed each other to new heights of debauchery as friends our sophomore year and roommates our junior year. He was a Physical Therapy major, so you’d think our room would have been a den of study and academics. Alas, no, the reality is that he was the smartest person I ever knew, and neither of us had a penchant for study. But, we could sure fake people into thinking we were studying. Plus, we held some of the most epic and dynamic dormitory parties ever. And, why a blind eye was turned on us remains a mystery to this very day. [Note: I DO know why, but I will save that story for another blog entry when it fits. Or doesn’t. You know my writing by now.]
Now, our group was not a men’s club. We were all-inclusive, as the women had to have strong personalities and smart mouths to deal with us. Recently, one has popped back into our lives from Facebook is Jenny Butler. Jenny was kind of the innocent mother-hen who overlooked our shenanigans and became the person who was most often pranked. Then there was Dawn English, who was a couple years ahead of me in high school, who could cut a guy down with the sharpest wit. Dawn may have been 5-foot nothing but her personality could fill the room with her biting sarcasm. That’s why she was perfect for the group.
There are just way too many people to list in one entry that were part of the group. I was blessed to have met all of them in the dormitory complex in which we lived. The crazy thing is that we all became successful as adults. We helped each other navigate that crazy time in your life as you transition for children to adults. Yes, we’ve all been battered and bruised, but we came out wiser. No, we did not face a war together, so we weren’t collectively dealing with those ramifications. But, we survived even though Saturday Night Live was at its worst, though Eddie Murphy was our hero. Still, the music of the day continues to resonate across the generations, which is both sad and cool. It’s sad to me because I thought rock music would continue to dominate in some form (Wait a second! You keep saying hip hop is the new rock & roll! Yes, it is. But, it’s not the big culturally binding thing in young people’s lives as it had once been.) It’s cool since my grandkids seem to love Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen music.
So, what’s this got to do with the Bangles? Well, they women did appear on the scene in 1981, first as The Bangs. But, some New Jersey band threatened a lawsuit, so Susanna Hoffs and the Peterson sisters, Vickie and Debbi, along with original bassist Annette Zalinskas changed their name to the Bangles and released an excellent EP entitled Bangles. That’s when I first heard the band. I loved their punky take on the Sixties musical icons of the “three Bs,” Beatles, Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. Immediately, I noticed that the first three women (Hoffs and the Petersons) sang in beautiful harmonies. But, those three felt that Annette needed to be replaced. Once they hired former Runaways bassist/singer Michael Steele, the classic lineup was set. What Steele brought to the group, besides her excellent bass lines, was a fourth part to the band’s harmonies, making their vocals pop in their songs.
By the time 1984 rolled around, I had discovered The Go-Go’s, R.E.M. and a bunch of other bands that shared either a punky sound or a jangly guitar sound. So, when the Bangles released their first full-length album, All Over the Place, I knew I found a group to follow because of their punky jangle with their Mamas and Papas-like harmonies. And when a band has gems like “Going Down to Liverpool” and “Hero Takes a Fall,” you just know they have the goods.
By the time 1986, the musical landscape was ready for a group like the Bangles, who combined the musical chops, the right songs, the vocal harmonies and the telegenic looks to become big musical stars. Yet, it was a little pop gem written by the hottest artist at the time named Prince, though the songwriting was credited to “Christopher,” “Manic Monday” had some tells in the lyrics that gave away Prince’s involvement. After that song took the band to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, the Bangles were ready to ascend to the top. And ascend they did.
After a great four-year run of hits, the Bangles imploded over people kept pulling Susanna Hoffs out as the lead singer. She became something of a Katherine Hepburn of the Eighties, and it must have been a pretty heady thing for her to receive all of the attention. That struggle led to the band to break up until after the women either got married and had children or got their solo careers out of their systems. But as the Nineties waned, the women were finally pulled back together to record a song for the second Austin Powers film. After that, the group stayed together, recorded an excellent but sadly overlooked album called Doll Revolution, toured, then went on hiatus from which Michael Steele would never return.
Fast forward to 2011, the original trio of women reunited to record a great album of new material entitled Sweetheart of the Sun. The album was produced by power pop great Matthew Sweet, who allowed the Bangles’ sound to be roughed up a bit, removing the Eighties production gloss that often kept the band from gaining the male following that is often crucial to a band’s longevity. Still, if you have ever seen or heard this band live, you know how hard they rock.
Now, the Bangles do go out on the road for small tours. The crazy thing is that Annette Zilinskas has rejoined the lineup, holding down the bass work on a little Record Store Day special album release called 3×4, with The Dream Syndicate, The Three O’Clock and Rain Parade, all four part of the LA scene called The Paisley Underground. On the album, three of the bands recorded songs by the fourth band. The cool thing was The Bangles outshined the other bands with their great takes on cover songs. Unfortunately, those three songs remain the last new recordings we have heard from The Bangles.
As I have stated before, I believe The Bangles deserve to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The sad part is that their music is only found on classic pop hits stations, when they deserve to be added to classic alternative and rock station playlists. If you don’t believe, here is a list of 40 of their songs to prove my point for both cases.
40. “That’s What You Always Say” (3×4, 2018)
39. “He’s Got a Secret” (All Over the Place, 1984)
38. “Under a Cloud” (Sweetheart of the Sun, 2011)
37. “I Got Nothing” (The Goonies OST, 1985)
36. “Ride the Rid” (Doll Revolution, 2003)
35. “Talking in My Sleep” (3×4, 2018)
34. “Get the Girl” (More Songs from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me OST, 1999)
33. “I Will Take Care of You” (Doll Revolution, 2003)
32. “The Rain Song” (Doll Revolution, 2003)
31. “How Is the Air Up There?” (Bangles EP, 1982)
30. “More Than Meets the Eye” (All Over the Place, 1984)
29. “I’ll Set You Free” (Everything, 1988)
28. “Let It Go” (Different Light, 1986)
27. “James” (All Over the Place, 1984)
26. “Jet Fighter” (3×4, 2018)
25. “I’m in Line” (Bangles EP, 1982)
24. “Everything I Wanted” (Greatest Hits, 1990)
23. “Be with You” (Everything, 1988)
22. “What I Meant to Say” (B-side “Eternal Flame,” 1988)
21. “Where Were You When I Needed You” (B-side “Hero Takes a Fall,” 1984)
20. “Not Like You” (Different Light, 1986)
19. “Live” (All Over the Place, 1984)
18. “Anna Lee” (Sweetheart of the Sun, 2011)
17. “Something That You Said” (Doll Revolution, 2003)
16. “Walking Down Your Street” (Different Light, 1986)
15. “The Real World” (Bangles EP, 1982)
14. “Walk Like an Egyptian” (Different Light, 1986)
13. “Getting Out of Hand” (single by The Bangs, 1981)
12. “Dover Beach” (All Over the Place, 1984)
11. “In Your Room” (Everything, 1988)
10. “Standing in the Hallway” (Different Light, 1986). Maybe the subject matter hasn’t aged all that well, but the power pop setting is eternal.
9. “Going Down to Liverpool” (All Over the Place, 1984). This is the sound of a young band finding their footing. It is a Kimberly Rew song, of Katrina & the Waves fame. The Bangles bring the song alive and make it their own.
8. “If She Knew What She Wants” (Different Light, 1986). A Jules Sheer gem that was overlooked on his album. Once again, the Bangles spread a little of the magic dust over it and record the definitive version of the song. Once again, I think its their vocals that makes even more special.
7. “Tear Off Your Own Head (It’s a Doll Revolution)” (Doll Revolution, 2003). The definitive version of an Elvis Costello song that everyone should hear! This is the true identity of the band.
6. “Eternal Flame” (Everything, 1988). So, I know Vickie has issues with this song, but when I heard it I immediately recognized that the ladies had created a Beatles song that was worthy of either Rubber Soul or Revolver. That’s some high praise.
5. “Manic Monday” (Different Light, 1986). If you’ve heard Prince’s take on this song he wrote, you know it’s a good song. But, in the Bangles’ hands, it becomes a pop masterpiece. I love the way the Bangles make the music swirl. Plus, their vocals are the secret ingredient.
4. “Following” (Different Light, 1986). This Michael Steele song is a folkish tune worthy of CSNY. Still, it is simply magical in the Bangles’ hands.
3. “Hero Takes a Fall” (All Over the Place, 1984). Here is the greatest song written by the band. Hands down! This is a rock classic.
2. “September Gurls” (Different Light, 1986). This song is one of my favorite Big Star songs, wonderfully written and sung from a man’s point of view. Yet, something magical when the Bangles play and sing it from a woman’s perspective that simply makes the song transcendent.
1. “Hazy Shade of Winter” (Less Than Zero OST, 1987). This Simon & Garfunkel song is the definitive Bangles recording. The ladies laid the hammer down and pummeled this version into history. Perfect vocals, showcasing EVERY Bangle’s beautiful solo voices buttressed by their harmonies. Debbi Peterson is just abusing the drums with power and finesse, while Michael Steele’s bass runs are mind-melding. Yet, Vickie Peterson becomes a guitar hero with her playing throughout the song. These woman do NOT get enough credit for their playing and arranging.
See? The Bangles belong in the RRHOF, on rock radio AND, dammit, immortalized as Funko Pops!