Once a year, around this time, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame announces a whole new class of inductees who might be inducted into the Hall. Every year, we get one or two nominees who are eligible for the first time, since the Hall only inducts artists 25 years after their first record came out. This time around, Green Day are the one total lock, the band who will absolutely see their plaque hung early next year. Nine Inch Nails, also nominated for the first time, are also very likely to go in, though the Hall is always a bit reticent to induct anyone who used a lot of synths. The rest of this year’s class of nominees includes a whole lot of names who have been nominated multiple times in the past. The complete list is below, with some comments. I’m listing them from most likely to least, though it should be noted that I can never really predict these things.
• Green Day, the Bay Area punk band who went on to world-conquering mainstream stardom and held onto it for longer than anyone thought possible. They’re on their way in for sure.
• Nine Inch Nails, who will probably be the first industrial band inducted. The band was both tremendously important and hugely popular during their initial run on top, and Trent Reznor has maintained remarkable staying power, both with Nine Inch Nails and as an Oscar-winning film composer. His record of being early on internet stuff will probably help, too.
• Lou Reed, who was already a Hall Of Famer with the Velvet Underground but who’s now nominated as a solo artist. It’s sad to say, but the fact that he’s dead will probably help him squeak in this year, though his varied and extensive catalog of solo albums, with a generous handful of classics in there, certainly make him a deserving nominee.
• Bill Withers, the warm and personal soul-music great who somehow has never been nominated. Withers is one of the greatest songwriters in pop-music history, bar none, and he should absolutely be in there. As seen in the great documentary Still Bill, he’s also been living like something of a hermit in recent years, recording all this music and then holding on to it, staying off stages. An induction might bring him out onstage for the first time in forever, and that alone is reason enough to induct him.
• Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, a onetime radio-rock institution who still have punk rock cred and who got a boost when Jett performed with Nirvana last year. Jett was never exactly a musical innovator, but she was a cultural one, simply by dint of being a badass female rock star during an era when there weren’t many of those. She was also a massive commercial success, and her live show continues to rule, both of which will help her out here.
• Sting, already a Hall Of Famer with the Police. His solo career never amounted to much, from where I’m sitting. But the Hall loves honoring people who are both tremendously famous and generally respectable, and Sting checks those boxes.
• Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Texan blues guitar monster who I’m surprised was not already a Hall Of Famer. Vaughan was never exactly a trailblazer, but his chops and his tragic young death make him a likely candidate. He’s been eligible for six years but only nominated once, somehow.
• The Smiths, who don’t really need an introduction on this particular website. They’ve only been nominated once, but it seems inevitable that they’ll make it in eventually, and it might as well be this year. Every year needs its “wait, but will they really talk to each other?” storyline, and this one fits that bill admirably. (Spoiler alert: They will not talk to each other.)
• N.W.A, the gangsta rap pioneers who are easily one of the three or four greatest and most influential rap groups of all time. (You could make the case for them as the most influential, bar none.) N.W.A have been nominated and snubbed twice, but now that Dr. Dre has made all that Apple money, the powers that be might be more likely to want to get him onstage.
• The Marvelettes, the Motown girl group most famous for “Please Mr. Postman.” The group were never exactly Motown A-listers, but they did have great songs to their credit, and there’s always a chance that the Hall will keep honoring Motown artists until they completely run out of people to honor.
• Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Chicago electric blues institution most famous for backing up Bob Dylan when he famously plugged in at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. It’s hard to make much of a case for these guys beyond that Dylan moment, but that was a foundational rock-history moment, so who knows.
• Kraftwerk, the ridiculously important electronic music pioneers who have been nominated and snubbed three times. Kraftwerk deserve a spot in the Hall more than almost anyone on this list, but I still get the idea that various voices within the nominating committee just don’t consider them rock enough.
• War, the great Latin funk band, who have also been nominated and snubbed three times. These guys were great, but don’t hold your breath.
• The Spinners, the great R&B vocal group who helped define the Philadelphia sound and who will make your heart explode with joy if you watch old performance footage of them on YouTube. They’ve been nominated twice, and the Hall seems to be in no hurry to let them in.
• Chic, the almighty disco band, who have been nominated and snubbed a staggering nine times. They are absolutely deserving, but they’re the Susan Lucci of this shit. There’s some chance that, after appearing on Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” last year, frontman Nile Rodgers may have finally made his legacy visible enough for the Hall to give a shit. I am not optimistic, though.
So that’s your nominee pool for this year. The inductees will be announced in December, and the induction ceremony goes down 4/18 in Cleveland. Go ahead and argue with me in the comments section.