By “Tampa” Earl Burton, Rock At Night Tampa
This morning, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced one of the largest lists of nominees for induction into its hallowed shrine. In 2021, the Rock Hall inducted one of its largest classes ever, sending 13 new members into the Rock Hall through various methods. Six were inducted through the “normal” method, the vote of the 1000 living inductees, industry insiders and rock historians, while seven were named through the “non-voting” methods. Those methods were the Ahmet Ertegun Award (for non-musician inductees), the Early Influences, and the Award for Musical Excellence (two “workaround” induction methods to get artists or groups in without voting).
The reason I break down the Class of 2021 and their induction paths is because we might just see it again. It was thought that the first class for new Chairman John Sykes was meant to serve two purposes. First, it was a way of putting Sykes’ mark on the Rock Hall in an impactful manner, and second, it was a way of “clearing the decks,” so to speak, and get some artists and groups off the board so that the Rock Hall could start fresh under Sykes (this would explain LL Cool J, Kraftwerk, Billy Preston, and Randy Rhoads earning their entry). While I thought we would revert back to the six-to-eight inductions of previous years, it looks as though we might have another “monster” class come in for 2022.
It is going to take some time to wade through the 17 nominees that make up the Nominee’s List and get a feel for who will be voted in (in other words, we will have our thoughts on that at a later date). For right now, let us take a look at the nominees and state the pros and cons of their induction. We will get to our actual choices a little closer to May, when the official Class of 2022 will be named.
Without further ado, here are the nominees for the Class of 2022 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:
Beck – One of the most iconic singer/songwriters of the 1990s, Beck has never been nominated for induction to the Rock Hall (seven of the 17 nominees are first-timers). His “Loser” is recognized as one of the great songs of the 1990s, but his quirky, offbeat stylings have often split people as to his commercial success. Critics adore him, however, but that might not be enough to get him by in a nomination class like this one.
Duran Duran – one of the long-overlooked bands who were the beneficiaries of the “MTV Era” of the 1980s. Duran Duran has waited patiently for their first nomination to the Rock Hall, despite being one of the driving forces in music during the decade. The downside for the band would be that they were too pop driven for most “rock” fans.
Eminem – The only “first year eligible” (FYE) nominee on the list for 2022, Eminem is also probably the only lock for induction into the Class of 2022. Considered one of the seminal influences in the rap world, Marshall Mathers has defined rap over the last 25 years and been a force on the music world overall. There might be some out there that say he does not belong because “he’s a rapper,” but that is a whole other discussion to be had – Eminem is going to be inducted this year.
Dolly Parton – Believe it or not, this is the first time that the iconic Tennessean has been nominated for the Rock Hall. Although predominantly a country artist, Parton’s massive songwriting talents have been felt across all forms of music. What could potentially be a downside is that she is a country singer – only 11 acts from the country music realm have ever been inducted into the Rock Hall.
Lionel Ritchie – the leader of the R&B band The Commodores before striking out on his own as a solo artist, Ritchie is a surprise on the list. It is not because he does not deserve a place, it would just seem to be that it would be more appropriate to induct him with the band that brought him his first success. This could be another Chaka Khan/Rufus situation, however, where the singer and the band have both attempted induction…and failed.
Carly Simon – After the success of Carole King’s induction in 2021, it was only a matter of time before Simon, one of the great female singer/songwriters of the 70s, would get a nod. The downside for Simon is that her popularity was short – only one #1 song and five Top 10 hits, all between 1971 and 1978 – and a catalog of less-than stellar tunes.
A Tribe Called Quest – One of the most influential rap acts in the history of the genre, melding political commentary into a funky groove. There literally is not a reason that they should not be inducted, but people might say that the recent inductions of Jay Z, LL Cool J and, should he get in, Eminem in the last two years more than covers the rap genre.
Pat Benatar – This is one of the albatrosses that hangs around the neck of the Rock Hall. How can you disavow the preeminent female rock artist of the 1980s? The Rock Hall has, to this point, only first nominating her in 2020 and neglecting to put Benatar back on the ballot in 2021. I personally have my own theory of why she has not been inducted – she is wanting to have her husband/bandmate Neil Giraldo inducted with her – but the Rock Hall is running out of excuses for keeping Benatar out.
Eurythmics – Lost in the shuffle of the synth pop genre of the 1980s, Eurythmics is another band that deserves induction (much like Duran Duran). The sound of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox has run the gamut of genres through the years and their exclusion from the Rock Hall is problematic. The downside is that Duran Duran and Eurythmics may split that “synth rock” vote and neither will be inducted.
Fela Kuti – One of the shockers from the 2021 nominees, Kuti is back for a second shot at the prize. Kuti’s Afrobeat sound is heard in music from such artists as Peter Gabriel and David Byrne and, should he be inducted, he would be the first person from the African continent inducted into the Rock Hall. The problem with Kuti is, even after his nomination last year, few know just who he is.
Kate Bush – Another of the many albatrosses that burden the Rock Hall. If the Rock Hall were located in London instead of Cleveland, Bush would have been a first ballot inductee with her ethereal sound and weighty lyricism. That eclectic nature, however, works against her here in the States, who prefer the more “in your face” style of music.
Devo – Now with three nominations under their belt, Devo is beginning to reach into that “will they or won’t they” be inducted phase of the process. They’ve got the quality work, they’ve got critical success, they’ve got the support of fans – what keeps them out? There always seems to be someone “better” to induct. This year, that “better to induct” group might include Duran Duran and Eurythmics.
Judas Priest – With all the albatrosses around their neck, how has the Rock Hall been able to avoid the perils the Ancient Mariner faced? Here is another band that should have been in long before such groups as Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and arguably even Metallica. Judas Priest has been overlooked for far too long – something that, because they are in the heavy metal genre, the Rock Hall is wont to do.
New York Dolls – Along with T. Rex, David Bowie and a few others, David Johansen & Company WERE glam rock. They were the progenitors of such acts as Guns ‘N’ Roses, Hanoi Rocks, and several punk acts. But, because of a lack of chart success and a rather brief time in the spotlight, the Dolls have been left out. This could be another year (this is their third nomination) they could be excluded again.
Rage Against the Machine – 90s rap/rock pioneers who melded political sounds from Zach de la Rocha with the powerful, driving guitar force that is Tom Morello (a member of the Nominating Committee for the Rock Hall), this is an act that should have been in on their first ballot. The Hall’s notorious bias against hard rock/heavy metal may be the thing that keeps them out of the Hall once again (fourth nomination).
MC5 – One of the founders of the “garage rock” phenomenon, MC5 came out of Detroit in the late 60s like a cyclone. The issue with MC5 is the VERY short time period of their existence – barely three years (1969-1972) they were in their prime. They also were a highly political band, one of the first to protest the Vietnam War. The downside for MC5 is, in their sixth nomination, they might once again be left out because of better talent on the ballot.
Dionne Warwick – A surprise returnee from the 2021 nominations, Warwick has the length of career and excellence in recording to make her a viable candidate. The issue is that this isn’t the “Crooners Hall of Fame.” Warwick did not write her material and, with her biggest songs, she often was not the “star” of the group (“That’s What Friends Are For” featured Stevie Wonder, Elton John and Gladys Knight).
Now, the Rock Hall’s Voting Committee will take over the process. The living members of the Rock Hall, assorted industry insiders, rock historians, DJs and journalists will weigh in on the choices, with the Class of 2022 announced in May at the earliest. In the past, the voters have gotten five choices for who they would like to see inducted. This year, five choices may not be enough…
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