It seems like for every thing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gets right, it messes up a handful of other things. (Or, as our pal MC Skat Kat used to say, “Two steps forward, two steps back.”) Thursday morning, the Hall announced that five new acts would be inducted via the ceremony coming up next year. The freshman class includes N.W.A., Steve Miller, Chicago, Deep Purple, and Cheap Trick.
Here’s what they got right: Despite the argument that wrong people tend to make that hip-hop has no place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, N.W.A. should have been a first ballot entry. They are one of the most important rap acts in history, and their legacy and influence connect directly to today (up to and including the best album of 2015). It’s one of the easiest slam dunks that the Hall has somehow still messed up for a while, but even if the voters were just riding the wave of positive sentiment following the success of Straight Outta Compton, they still got it right.
The rest of the class is arguable. There’s not a lot of rock and roll cool in the rest of that quartet, and the legacy of a lot of those acts can be boiled down into one or two songs (though don’t underestimate Chicago). Even for an organization that can’t help but celebrate dad rock, this is the dad rockiest class in history.
So let’s flash forward a year to figure out the ideal class for 2017.
What does Janet have to do to get in? She’s got the rare combination of commercial largesse, critical credibility, and artistic feistiness that feels utterly automatic. The timing would have been perfect: She just put out Unbreakable, her first album in years and her best in even longer, and she’s currently on the road reminding the world that she has an incredible body of work. There’s no eligible artist who deserves to get into the Hall more than Janet, and she’s got to get in next year.
They’ve been bridesmaids before but have yet to win over enough voters to score their place in the Hall. Their catalogue is unimpeachable and their sphere of influence rock solid, so I wonder if the holdout is because of the utter impossibility of a proper reunion and the difficult soul that is Morrissey (though it should be noted that neither of those elements stopped Guns N’ Roses from getting in a few years back).
Chic are quickly becoming the Susan Lucci of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—this is their 10th year of eligibility, and even with the recent Daft Punk-related resurgence of Nile Rodgers, they still came up short this year. They absolutely belong in the Hall—or conversely, perhaps they simply shift the nomination to Rodgers specifically, as the entirety of his career undoubtedly qualifies him.
The conversation about whether the Monkees belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is so intense that it has its own separate section on Wikipedia. They totally belong, and the fact that they used sidemen and outside songwriters seemed like a reasonable argument 15 years ago but now seems just silly. Heck, they should get in solely on the basis of Head.
Artists have to wait 25 years after their first record before becoming eligible for consideration for the Hall, and though Amos’ solo debut Little Earthquakes came out in ’92, her debut Y Kant Tori Read came out in ’88. She belongs in the Hall and should get in eventually—why not start the voting sooner rather than later?
Look, I know the argument against Motorhead’s immortality: They’ve only really been playing a variation on the same song for their entire career. But that song rules, and Lemmy has been such a tremendous ambassador for rock and roll that it’s hard to deny his place among the immortals.
Sometimes dismissed as a novelty act thanks to the ubiquity of “Rock Lobster” and “Love Shack” at lame weddings, but their albums are all awesome and their influence runs deeper than you might think. Don’t believe me? Believe Carrie Brownstein!
For degenerate gamblers out there, put your money on Pearl Jam making it in next year. It will be their first year of eligibility, and they have a remarkable body of work that has stood up to scrutiny and maintains its relevance today.
Now look at that list above. Doesn’t that look like a fun, dynamic group of inductees who would put on an awesome show? Put your votes in the comments.