Every year, right around this time of year, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame nominates around 15 acts for induction. Then, the next year, five-or-so of those performers — there are additional categories for early influencers, session players, and industry folk — will make it into the Hall Of Fame. Usually, the final list (announced in December) is way heavier on ’70s classic-rock bands than anyone expects. The only real rule for inclusion is that an artist or band has to have released their debut record at least 25 years before being nominated. That means that every year, a whole slate of new acts is suddenly eligible for inclusion. This year, that’s 1991, an eventful year in pop-music history, to say the least. With those nominations coming any day now, who will make the long list this year? Our predictions are below.
Pearl Jam: The clearest, most obvious layup. They’ll be nominated, and they’ll make it in. They’ll probably end up as the induction ceremony’s headliner, with the televised version of the ceremony built around their performance. The rock traditionalists on the nominating committee love solemn, respectable bands like Pearl Jam. And they’d be a deserving inclusion, too; they genuinely were a world-changing force, and in their day, they were probably a bigger deal than Nirvana, who themselves were first-ballot Hall Of Famers.
The Smashing Pumpkins: This will be a real test of how many bridges Billy Corgan has burned. The Smashing Pumpkins were one of the biggest bands of the ’90s, and they were also transformative artists who helped to define their era. There’s been talk of an original-lineup reunion, and the Hall Of Fame loves stuff like that. But does anyone really want to see Corgan take the podium? They’ll probably at least get a nomination.
Nine Inch Nails: They’ve been nominated twice and haven’t made it in yet, which is fucking ridiculous. Put them in there already.
2Pac: Rap fans look at Pac the same way Hall Of Fame voters look at Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix. That might not be enough to get him into the Hall on his first attempt — there aren’t that many Hall Of Fame voters who are also rap fans — but it should at least get him nominated. The upcoming biopic will probably help there, too.
The Cars: They’ve been nominated before, and even though the Hall doesn’t like ’80s new wave that much, they still seem like no-brainers. They might not get in next year, but they should at least get another nomination.
Electric Light Orchestra: It seems very strange that they aren’t already Hall Of Famers. But we’re running out of ’70s rock groups who aren’t in the Hall Of Fame already, and we’re going through a moment where just about everyone loves ELO. This seems like a year when they’ll at least be nominated.
The Smiths: They got their first nomination last year, and the people who got behind them then should get behind them again.
Alanis Morissette: She’ll probably make it into the Hall eventually, and her Canadian-teenpop debut arrived in 1991. She might not show up on that first ballot, though, since nobody really thinks of her as an early-’90s artist. If she makes it in, it’ll be entirely on the strength of Jagged Little Pill, so she might not get nominated for a few years.
Yes: In recent years, the Hall Of Fame has been a bit more amenable to prog, a genre it ignored for years. It’s still filling in those gaps, and the biggest gap remaining is probably the Yes gap.
Janet Jackson: Her first nomination came last year, and her influence continues to reverberate within pop and R&B.
Mariah Carey: If Janet gets a shot, Mariah should get a shot, too, right? Or Whitney Houston? How is she not in there yet?
The Replacements: Perennial cult favorites who only ever been nominated once. Eventually, they’ll get another look, right?
A Tribe Called Quest: Another beloved group who have never even been nominated, despite being eligible for years. Will goodwill after the passing of Phife Dawg be enough to get them a nomination?
Boyz II Men: A dominant commerical force who made a handful of classic hits and who are still together and performing regularly. So: Why not? But if ’70s R&B groups like the Spinners still can’t make it in, do they really have a shot?
The Cure: They were nominated only once. Eventually, enough sad ’80s kids have to get voting ballots that they’ll get a shot at it, though they may be stuck in line behind the Smiths.
Cypress Hill: Their 1991 self-titled debut is a certifiable classic, and they’ve got a longstanding reputation as the rap group who classic-rock heads can get into. B-Real is now in Prophets Of Rage, alongside Hall Of Famer Chuck D and three members of Rage Against The Machine, who will definitely be nominated next year. Is that enough for a nomination? I hope it is.
Chic: They always get nominated. They never make it in. It’s a sad joke at this point.
The Spinners: Same as Chic, except they haven’t been nominated quite as many times, so we don’t get to make Susan Lucci jokes about it.
Seal: Did you know that when it snows his eyes become large and the light that you shine can be seen?
Who do you think will get a nod? Sonic Youth? Kraftwerk? Pixies? Iron Maiden? Willie Nelson? Sound off in the comments…