It’s October, so it’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nomination time again.
The RRHF announced its 2019 nominees a couple weeks ago, and once again I find myself wondering: What? Who? Why? And aren’t they already in the Hall?
Those eligible for induction into the Cleveland-headquartered, museum-cum-theme park are: Def Leppard, Devo, Janet Jackson, John Prine, Kraftwerk, LL Cool J, MC5, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Roxy Music, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Stevie Nicks, the Cure, the Zombies and Todd Rundgren.
If some of those names sound familiar — and not just because you hear them a lot on Classic Rock stations — it’s because they should be. The She Jackson and Kraftwork were nominees in 2017, as was MC5.
LL Cool J, MC5, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Rufus featuring Chaka Khan and the Zombies were on the ballot last year. (Chaka was in the mix two years ago, but as a solo artist.) There probably were carryovers from preceding years, too, but I’ve only been blogging about the Hall for two years, and I wasn’t going to wade through its website to confirm that.
As in previous years, as noted above, I find myself asking, “Why isn’t so-and-so already inducted?” Rundgren, who will be the subject for an installment of this blog of his own, is the most obvious such case this year; not only has he been influential as a member and leader of two significant groups, but also as a solo artist and a producer.
Nicks and Prine are other examples of the Why Not Yet group. Stevie is in as a member of Fleetwood Mac, but also had some impact as a solo artist, and in her pre-Mac duo with Lindsay Buckingham.
Prine is closing in on 50 years as a performer, and is considered one of the better songwriters of his generation. His tunes have been critically and commercially successful on their own, and also covered by many other notable artists.
Some of the other 2019 nominees make me again argue for a rule like the Baseball Hall of Fame has: If you’re on the ballot so many years and don’t get in, you’re no longer eligible. This might remove a few of this year’s crop from consideration.
Not that some of these repeat contenders are going to get my consideration. LL Kool J is rap, which doesn’t do anything for me.
Kraftwerk is just ’80s synth-pop, Def Leppard is FM headbanger boilerplate, and the Cure, Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine haven’t done anything that registered with me.
Rufus is considered an influential ’70s funk band, and they did break out of the rhythm and blues charts more into mainstream. Devo was a bit more distinctive, in terms of ’80s stuff, and MC5 is credited (or blamed?) for being influential on punk and political rock, so perhaps merits more serious consideration.
Jackson wasn’t quite the pop powerhouse that brother Michael was, and is perhaps better known for her Super Bowl apparel malfunction. I like Roxy Music (I own an album, Avalon) and they did produce a dynamic performer (Bryan Ferry) and a studio genius (Brian Eno), but I’m not sure they’re as deserving as some of the other acts on the ballot.
My Three (or however many) Strikes and You’re Out proposal would perhaps knock out one of those who I do consider deserving, the Zombies. That short-lived (at least back in its prime) band produced two classic late-60s songs, “Time of the Season” and “She’s Not There,” and an album that is considered a minor classic, Odessey and Oracle.
Fans get to vote for five nominees at a time (but can vote repeatedly, so could spread the love around, I guess). My votes, if they are cast, will likely go to the MC5, Nicks, Prine, Rundgren and the Zombies; Devo, Jackson, Roxy Music and Rufus might sneak past the Motor City band and/or Stevie, depending on my mood at the time.