Ranking the 2024 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Nominees 

Editorial

Kelly Hansen of Foreigner. Photo by Chyrisse.

By  “Tampa” Earl Burton 

Dave Matthews. Photo by Chyrisse.

In February, the announcement came from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as to who the nominees for the Class of 2024 would be. To be honest, it was a bit of a “meh” list, mostly ignoring some of the forward steps from 2023 (Joy Division/New Order and Warren Zevon’s nominations) in favor of being more middle-of-the-road and not rewarding true influence and innovation (read on). Thus, the 2024 nominations will be viewed more as “what could have been” than what it will be (a middling class). 

But that doesn’t stop us from ranking the nominees. We will start at the bottom and work our way to the top, and we will not spare any barb in the discussion. There are truly some nominees here that you scratch your head over, but The Powers That Be, in particular chairman John Sykes, are looking to make their mark on the Hall. Without further ado, let’s look at the nominees for the Class of 2024 for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Sade – This is not about whether I like or don’t like Sade (for the record, her music is quite relaxing and well done). This is more about how she impacted the world of rock and roll, and the answer is that she didn’t. Love her voice, love her performances, but she just has not had the impact you want from a “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.” If I am missing something here, I’d love to hear from people about it.

 

Bruce Watson of Foreigner. Photo by Chyrisse.

Foreigner – This is a classic example of the Hall attempting to appease the “RAWK” crowd by throwing them a bone. Once again, they were a good band, with a solid record of performance (at least through the Seventies and Eighties), but they didn’t innovate in any manner or change the course of rock and roll. There is something I like to call the “Wonderful Life” Test – if you are removed from the history of rock and roll, does anything change? In the case of Foreigner (and plenty of other “arena rock” veterans), their removal doesn’t change anything – someone else would have come along and filled their role. That is not a Hall of Famer. 

Dave Matthews Band – I really don’t get the outcry for the induction of DMB. Once again, not innovative, not groundbreaking, and trod the same ground as The Grateful Dead but not nearly as well. If you really wanted to honor a group that pushed the “jam band” genre forward, you should be looking towards Phish or even Tedeschi Trucks Band, which does similar music but with MUCH more musicianship and creativity.  

Cher – We could probably look back to my commentary on Sade to cover Cher too, but we’ll give her own paragraph. As a member of Sonny & Cher, was basically a Las Vegas lounge act and, after going solo, she was more notable for her rock star dalliances (Gene Simmons of KISS, Gregg Allman) than for anything from her catalog. In the Eighties, Cher was able to reinvent herself as an actor/singer (especially with dance music), but it wasn’t all that impressive. Just because you are able to stick around for almost sixty years doesn’t grant you an automatic pass into the Hall.  

Oasis – I would like to rank Oasis higher in this ranking, but there are 1) Just too many qualified entries, and 2) Too many better “alternative” selections (in fact, one is right ahead of them). In a nomination year with some weaker ballot mates, Oasis would be a shoo-in for induction, While Oasis were the purveyors of the “Britpop” sound in the Nineties, they will eventually get into the Hall – just not in 2024.  

Sinead O’Connor – This is one I would like to rate higher, also, but I think the only reason that the Irish vocalist made the roster of nominees in 2024 was her unfortunate passing last year. O’Connor was an unblinking performer, ready to challenge the world with her music and her thoughts, and she performed music that was truly her own (even Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 You” is massively different in her hands). Let’s bring her back in another year or two when the “air of sentimentality” has departed the building so we can truly induct her on her merits. 

Mariah Carey – If some people weren’t screaming over my low rating for Cher, then they would be absolutely howling at dropping Carey this low on the list. Look, I know she has something along the lines of nineteen #1 songs (second only to The Beatles), but here’s the thing – it is not about charting or record sales. Sure, Carey’s voice is one of a kind, but so was Whitney Houston’s – do we need a repeat act of Houston that Carey would be? I have her ranked pretty low, but here’s the thing…I also would not be surprised to see her inducted in 2024.  

Mary J. Blige – One thing that the Hall has not done is give enough credence to R&B/rap women. Queen Latifah is still on the outside looking in, and just last year Missy Elliot got the long overdue nod. Blige going in would be appropriate, but it wouldn’t be that “WOW!” inductee that you expect for the Hall. Still, in the #7 slot, that would mean she gets a vote for entry (more on this in a moment).  

Kool & The Gang – I personally would put Ohio Players in with this selection, but Kool & The Gang was more “successful” than the Players were, thus the Hall gives them the selection. Kool & The Gang smoothly went between R&B, disco, and pop, and did them all excellently. Like Blige, this wouldn’t be a “WOW!” induction, but it is very well deserved.  

Peter Frampton at The Sound. Photo by Chyrisse.

Peter Frampton – Unlike Foreigner, the induction of Frampton would be well-earned – and this comes from someone who has long thought that he did not deserve entry. In reviewing his career, however, Frampton’s discography and history of work, from his days with Humble Pie as a young rocker to his more recent turn as a tremendous blues performer, more than qualify him for entry into rock’s Parthenon. If there is a “RAWK” entry for this year, I would certainly hope that it is Frampton over Foreigner. 

A Tribe Called Quest – Simply put, there are few rap acts that incorporated so many different sounds to their efforts than ATCQ. They were smart rappers, they were innovative in introducing jazz stylings to their music, and they took the game beyond the street and into the thoughts of people just trying to get through life. That is what an innovative act does, one that has influence, and A Tribe Called Quest is definitely worthy of a Hall induction.  

Jane’s Addiction – I will be willing to grant that I might have this choice a bit high, but I don’t care. I think that Jane’s Addiction was one of the top bands of the Nineties, constantly pushing the envelope and creating music that challenged the listeners. You could also add in the fact that lead singer Perry Farrell created the Lollapalooza Festival, but then you’d have to delve into the myriad of other areas that Farrell broke ground in. Let’s just stick to Jane’s Addiction and honor Farrell and the band for their achievements.  

Eric B. & Rakim – How this one slipped through the cracks for as long as it has is one of the mysteries of the Hall and its selection process. After arguable DJ Kool Herc and Coke La Rock (and maybe Sugarhill Gang), Eric B. & Rakim were the ones who took the rap genre to the world. They also were critical in trying to incorporate “smarter” raps into their work, more than the boastful jabs of the MC, and instead trying to educate the listeners. This is an induction that would be a real treat to see the Hall make right. 

Ozzy Osbourne – Yes, he is already in with Black Sabbath, but his solo career has been longer than his tenure with the first “heavy metal” band and almost equal in quality. Not only has the Prince of Darkness continued to give his brand of hard rock to the masses, but he has personally been the proving ground for many a young guitarist (Randy Rhoades, Jake E. Lee, Zakk Wylde, etc.). That is what you do when you are a true innovator – you bring the new guns in and let them do their thing. The best way to honor this spirit would be to give Osbourne a second induction into the Hall, this time as a solo artist.  

Currently, the Fan Vote is going on, the method by which the fans can make their voices heard. For 2024, there are seven selections that the fans get, with the top seven once the voting closes getting an additional vote along with the roughly 1200 voting members of the Hall. For our purposes, here’s the list that we come up with here:

Ozzy Osbourne
Eric B. & Rakim
Jane’s Addiction
A Tribe Called Quest
Peter Frampton
Kool & The Gang
Mary J. Blige

Not a bad class, I would say – but what are YOUR thoughts on it?  

Tampa Earl

Forest Live Festival – UK

Forest Live Festival – UK

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