Saturday, November 11, 2017

Getting a grasp on 2018's nominees' merits.

After much deliberation, it is now time to look at our nominees and see them in terms of their merits.  We all have our favorites, but when we're truly honest, do they actually deserve enshrinement?  And how does one measure an artist's merit?  Well, by now, folks are relatively familiar with what I have called the four I's.  They stand like pillars to hold up an artist's merit.

This year, however, I'm introducing a fifth I.  It's something I've toyed with doing for awhile, but held off on.  And it's a different I word and idea.  Instead of thinking of my four I's like pillars, think of them more like fingers on the hand.  Influence is the index finger because it points the way for other acts to come.  Impact is the middle finger because it's the longest and usually the most noticeable.  And if you're a music snob, and a nominated act pretty much only has Impact in their favor, their nomination can seem obscene.  Innovation is the ring finger because while it seems weakest, for some people it's longer than the index, and it's very noticeable if it's missing.  Intangibles is the pinky because it's shortest and is on the end usually.  This fifth I is the thumb.  It's the thumb because it is opposable.  Whereas the other four I's are the pro factors for an artist, this is the con factor, why some might be opposed to their nomination and possible induction.  Because while you can hold onto something with the four fingers, having that thumb really helps you get a grip on an artist's nomination.

So this year, we have five I's: Innovation, Influence, Impact, Intangibles, and Issues.  Where and when did they break new ground, who followed in their footsteps, how big were they, what else is there that gives depth, and why might some be opposed to their nomination?  Will I regret this?  We'll see.

Influence: Hugely influential as a guitarist and as a singer, still noteworthy today.  From blues, to rock and roll, and even modern gospel.
Innovation: Her live performances included daring licks that some consider proto-rock and roll.
Impact: A few hits on the R&B charts and supposedly a pair on what was the Pop charts at the time.  Album charts weren't a thing back then really; albums barely were.  Additionally, her version of "Silent Night" still remains one of the all-time classic recorded versions of that beloved hymn.
Intangibles: People who hadn't even heard of her five years ago are claiming her as an egregious snub.  Once they discover her, they're hooked.
Issues: Her studio recordings are very clearly gospel, and she predates the general conventions of rock and roll history by a decade or so.

Influence: She commands immense respect from musicians of all styles, races, and genders, with numerous covers of her material and singers attempting to emulate her style.
Impact: A couple handfuls of hits scattered over a few decades, plus another handful of songs considered to be classics despite not charting.  Despite being steeped in jazz, which has always been an album-preferring format, only ten charted albums on the Billboard 200, only two getting into the upper half.
Innovation: Jazz is one of those styles where it's always inventive while never being anything new under the sun.  So, to measure Nina's merits here shows her contributions to be both immense and infinitesimal.  Schrodinger would love this.
Intangibles: She isn't just jazz.  She could sing blues, gospel, broadway, and a few of her songs could even be arguably considered soul.  Extremely versatile.
Issues: While flirting with soul, which is very much recognized as part of rock and roll, the vast body of her work really isn't so recognized.  While the definition of rock and roll isn't engraved in marble, various people with varying definitions widely agree that she's the nominee who is "the least rock and roll."

Influence: Hip-hop music grew out of block parties and was largely borne of DJ culture.  LL Cool J is a seminal figure for what made it an emcee’s game.
Impact: The man’s had a steady stream of hit singles in both the R&B and pop scenes.  A respectable album chart showing, too.  Plus, with his acting career, he also has a substantial name recognition factor.  Most commercially successful R&B act on the ballot.
Innovation: His innovation and influence pretty much complement each other to the point of blurring the lines.  In addition to virtually obsolescing the DJ from rap music, he helped make it a solo braggadocio show, replacing rap outfits.  Additionally, he’s recognized for both making rap more accessible in smaller bites (shorter songs, meaning more likely radio play) and for creating the bridge of R&B stylings that we still see today in non-rap R&B music.
Intangibles: LL Cool J didn't just make it an emcee's game, his image is also what helped make rap the game for the ladies' man.
Issues: Between his acting career eating up more of his time later in his career, and the embarrassment of "Accidental Racist," which he contributed to, his most recent flavor is sour.

Innovation: They're widely considered among the inventors of prog rock, if not the band that really invented it.
Influence: All prog rock.  Maybe not all of them took direct cues from the Moody Blues, but every prog band after them owes them a huge debt.
Impact: One of the featured characteristics of prog is difficulty finding acceptance in the mainstream world.  Not for these guys.  They are the highest ranked albums' artist on this list, and in the top five singles' acts among the nominees.
Intangibles: They are capable of great stylistic diversity, which is something not seen with every nominee or inductee that comes along.
Issues: Prog has never garnered a lot of critical respect, and while some don't care about critics, there's a reason they are able to do what they do, and their opinions have weight.

Innovation: Since this isn't my strongest area, I'll defer to the expertise of others, but my research shows incredible combinations of elements of metal, rap, punk, and even reggae.  Apparently they're considered among the pioneers of Nu Metal, or at least brought it as close to mainstream as can be while not being called sellouts.
Influence: Because they resonated with underground circles, this is harder to measure, but there are a lot of rock bands that took their lead from them.
Impact: A few hits on the pop and rock charts, with charting albums.
Intangibles: A very politically charged outfit, they brought their message strong and hard.
Issues: It's sometimes hard to grasp their message because you can't always discern what Zach De La Rocha is saying.  Additionally, they received a blow to their ego and perhaps their credibility when former vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan called them his favorite band of all time.

Influence: Among the chief torch-bearers of the ethereal rock sound, their influence is still felt when listening to non-mainstream rock.
Innovation: While they didn't invent the ethereal rock sound, what they did with it is unique and easily identifiable to them.
Impact: About as big with the general public as a band can be without being lowest common denominator.  A respectable number of hit songs and albums.
Intangibles: With songs like "Creep," "No Surprises," "Idioteque," and "Knives Out;" Radiohead might be the second most versatile nominee on this year's ballot in terms of their musical stylings, second only to Nina Simone.
Issues: Thom Yorke's voice does not sit well with everyone; additionally, their love/hate relationship with their own fame has caused a few hiatuses that make them occasionally inconsistent.  Also, not everyone is that fond or respectful of their most recent works.

Innovation: One of the front runners of new wave music, they helped define an entire movement in the music world.
Influence: Again, one of the front runners of new wave.  They influenced a lot of the new wave and even synth-pop and synth-rock acts of the '80's. 
Impact: A very commercially successful group with a string of Top 40 hits.
Intangibles: This was a band that seemed to have something for everyone, including critics, who also had a lot of good things to say about them.
Issues: I'm drawing a blank on this one, actually.  Maybe Ric Ocasek's going solo kept them from realizing their full potential.

Influence: Their level of influence is right up there with Motorhead (sorry, I'm not going to pull up special characters to give you the umlaut, you know where it goes), and a noticeable but not too wide distance behind Black Sabbath.
Innovation: Not the first metal act, but being from metal's first decade, they had a huge say in what metal would be and how it would be identified.
Impact: Only one hit single, but with over a dozen charted albums, they have a respectable catalog filled with songs that fans love to extol and debate over.
Intangibles: They're among the highest-touted snubs among hard rock aficionados and dilettantes, most notably Eddie Trunk.
Issues: Because they weren't as commercial as many other acts, and because they weren't Black Sabbath, Judas Priest are sometimes held in lower esteem.

Influence: As one of biggest names of that synth-driven style that could be known by any number of names, they fit in as an influence to many acts that came after in the decade or two that followed.
Impact: A noticeable string of charted hits and non-charted classics, as well as hit albums to note.  They were big in both the Album and Modern Rock Tracks charts, as well as the Dance charts.
Innovation: Not super innovative, but the fact that they were all-synthesized may speak a word or two in this category.
Intangibles: This is a group that even the most hardcore of rockists wouldn't complain too much about if they got inducted, which is not inconsequential.
Issues: While everyone may enjoy a song or two from them, their overall style is not for everyone, and may not sit well in discussion circles.

Impact: A solid run of pop hits and even some dance chart hits, and a handful of charted albums that sold reasonably well.  
Influence: With Annie Lennox at the helm, Eurythmics were highly influential to female musicians to come, as well as dance music acts.
Innovation: A lot of the synth-rock acts came up together around the same time, so who pioneered what is hard to say, but Eurythmics were definitely unique in their dominant pulsations prevalent in their songs.
Intangibles: Annie Lennox is a solid figure for feminism, not just for her image, but very much in the duo's music.
Issues: Not everyone is onboard with the legitimacy of synth-pop, plus Annie Lennox's solo career may appeal to Small Hall folks who may wish to wait for Lennox to be nominated solo.

Influence: Pretty much the entire reason this man is on the ballot.  The importance of the power chord as heard on "Rumble" is hard to overstate.  His style of playing on that record and the subsequent ones has influenced myriads of guitarists.
Innovation: Not the premiere rock and roll guitarist, but his style did help shape the sub-genre of surf rock, which is significant.
Impact: “Rumble” is about on par with Les Paul’s “Nola” among cornerstones of guitar music.  From the charts, not much of a showing: one album and four singles.
Intangibles: In 2012, the Hall inducted six groups that they had previously only inducted the frontman.  In the event of a Link Wray induction, the Ray Men really should be included, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thinks it’s a major oversight either.
Issues: He's often dismissed as a one-trick pony, and even when he's not dismissed, he has trouble getting enough clamor and attention competing with others who had many more hits.

Innovation: Maybe my ears are off, but I swear I hear infusions of Celtic music in many of her songs.  Anyone else hear it, and is there any other major artist and/or Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame nominee that can say that they combined Celtic influences consistently in their music?  Maybe not the most famous songs, but when you listen to her albums.  Maybe it's just me.  Either way, she's incredibly unique to the point where you have to acknowledge it as innovative.
Impact: She's significantly successful in the United Kingdom, and has a noticeable amount of album' chart success in the United States, though not many hit singles.
Influence: I'm not too familiar with who all cites her as an influence, but between her solidarity as a successful songstress as well as an abstract thinker, she's had to have influenced some serious artistry.
Intangibles: She is probably the most artistic act on the ballot, and by that, I mean highbrow art.
Issues: While it's a poor excuse to exclude her, her sporadic output and promotional reticence, including a refusal to tour, does marginally inhibit her ability to reach larger audiences, combined with a style that is too highbrow for most commercial outlets, it makes her nomination unusual to say the least.

13. THE MC5
Innovation: Possibly the first to intentionally and regularly use distortion as a key component of their sound, they are also credited as one of the pioneers of punk rock.
Influence: Tremendously so, again, especially in the worlds of punk and hard rock.
Impact: One hit single, two charted albums, both of which at one point were on Rolling Stone's list of most important albums of all time.
Intangibles: They're a strong example of attitude that some say is more important than the actual music when defining "rock and roll."  On top of that, given the breadth of artists, including Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Inductees that have come out of the Great Lake State, simply the fact that they came from Michigan, especially from Detroit, almost kind of adds an extra layer of credibility to them, much as being British in the '60s might also be considered a bonus.
Issues: Between a limited commercial run, and often incomprehensible lyrics due to the use of distortion, they might not pass a few people's bars for "Unquestionable musical excellence."

Impact: In its own right Rufus struck big a few times with great and funky R&B songs like “Ain’t Nobody”, “Once You Get Started”, and of course, “Tell Me Something Good.”  
Innovation:  The sounds they made with their rhythm section were seldom, if ever, heard before, and their insistence on vocal harmonies with funk in a way that even Sly And The Family Stone didn’t do as consistently makes their sound something somewhat new and creative.
Influence:  Really helped bring funk to the disco scene, which was later carried on by the GAP Band and Chic.
Intangibles: In his Top Pop Singles books, Joel Whitburn lists Rufus under the letter K as part of Chaka Khan.  However, in his R&B singles, Disco/Dance tracks, and Hot Albums books, Whitburn lists Rufus as a separate entity from solo Chaka Khan.  That, and the fact that many of the singles from the group did in fact credit “Rufus And Chaka Khan”, inducting them under this identity actually still leaves the door open for a separate, second, and solo induction for Chaka Khan.  And that might not be a bad idea.
Issues: The sinking feeling that only either the group Rufus or solo Chaka Khan will get inducted should inspire voters to vote for this act, but often works counter, refusing to vote for either until the Rock Hall offers more clarity, perhaps by nominating both entities on the same ballot.

Impact: They're the biggest singles' act of the entire ballot, and in the top three albums' acts.  Their song, "Livin' On A Prayer" has been called the song that most epitomized the 1980s by VH1.
Influence: Not the biggest, but as one of the most successful hair-metal acts, they were undoubtedly influential upon a lot of one- and two-hit wonder acts that tried to duplicate their success.
Innovation: Virtually nil, though some credit them for the popularization of the talk box beyond mere gimmickry.
Intangibles: Bon Jovi is one the few hair-metal acts that survived and retained some relevance after Nirvana practically destroyed the sub-genre with "Smells Like Teen Spirit," and Bon Jovi managed to do it the longest and strongest.
Issues: They are considered the schlockiest act on the ballot, being compared to Journey in terms of who's a lower common denominator.  Additionally, the aging rocker factor is hitting Bon Jovi like a ton of bricks, as they've done some decidedly country outings, including that abominable duet with Jennifer Nettles.

Impact: Despite only having seven hits on the pop charts (including the Bubbling Under), their big three are really well remembered, and so powerfully symbolic of the ‘60s that it overshadows the short-lived life of the group.  Also, with an album in Rolling Stone’s upper fifth of Top 500 albums of all-time, it’s a critical respect thing, too.
Innovation: When you first hear them, it’s almost indescribable.  It’s moody and haunting, but not really blues, or even jazz, though there may be elements of those styles in there.  But it’s unique, and infectious.
Influence: Somewhat limited, perhaps due to their short-lived run as a group, but every now and then, some hint of their style creeps up, the most well-known of which might be the Guess Who’s “Undun.”
Intangibles: Being a 60’s British Invasion group always means something, not just because of the way the British Invasion collectively shook up the musical landscape, but also because of the music itself of each outfit.  The Zombies have a high general populace approval overall.
Issues: They were very short-lived and are as much being derided as a pet pick of Little Steven as they are being hailed as a Hall-worthy act from the 60s.

Influence: They helped carry on the New Orleans sound, and bring it into the ‘70s and beyond.
Impact: A couple handfuls of hits in the singles charts, and they had a few hit albums too.
Innovation: A little bit, alongside Sly And The Family Stone and the JB’s, helping shape and update the sound of funk.
Intangibles: Two of the members of the Meters were named Neville… as in the Neville Brothers, who have also been looked at as potential candidates.  Perhaps the Hall wants this group in first, then have two more members of the Clyde McPhatter Club.
Issues: Considered by some to be too minor.  As a band that did a lot of session work, some of their songs sound like backing tracks that never had vocals added.

Impact: A noticeable run of both hit albums and hit singles.
Influence: Not a whole lot of citation, but their style of blues-rock likely created some ripples.
Innovation: Not much here either, though perhaps a uniqueness and diversity of sound could be argued.
Intangibles: An electrifying live act.  Considering how many acts sound great on record but are duds on tour, or those whose tours are the true and sole reason to be excited about an act, the fact that they're a band that has great stage presence and that most people like at least one studio recording by them is not something to overlook entirely. 
Issues: It's no secret they're a pet act of Jann S. Wenner, and many believe that without his seal of approval, this band wouldn't even be in the discussion.

Impact: A small but respectable string of hits and other well-remembered classics.  Their first album is pretty well lauded to boot.
Innovation: Not a lot, but it's worth noting that they're one of the few really big acts of the time that you could hear infusions of country and some folk in their guitar-rock sound.
Influence: Marginal, but Mark Knopfler himself is pretty well-respected as a musician.  I do, however, wonder if maybe they were an influence on Tom Petty's solo career.
Intangibles: Hey, did you know Mark Knopfler got a dinosaur named after him?  Apparently, the scientists who named it were listening to a lot of Dire Straits when they discovered several remains of the creatures and realized they discovered a new dinosaur.   Masiakasaurus knopfleri.  It just adds to their overall coolness factor.
Issues: Outside of their three major hits, their music is largely unknown and very different, so if you only know, "Sultans Of Swing," "Money For Nothing," and "Walk Of Life," you probably don't really know Dire Straits, and many would say there's little to their case beyond those three songs.

So that is how this year's nominees measure up, according to my metrics.  For devotees of acts that didn't rank nearly as high as you'd like, always remember: getting nominated is a huge distinction in itself.  It's like reading a roll call of those who graduated with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.  Even if you're at the bottom of that list, you're still considered much more accomplished than those whose names weren't read at all.  Coming soon, the ranking of nominees by personal tastes.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Musings On The 2018 Ballot

Extra, extra!  Read all about it!  The nominees for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's Class Of 2018 have been announced.  Once again we have a whopping nineteen, count 'em nineteen, nominees.  This ballot is already being praised for being strong and deep, and there certainly is some credibility to that claim.

The first thing you may have noticed is that the goal of my plea over the summer was not met.  Indeed, it was by some metrics a spectacular failure, though I do not view it that way.  While I'm a little heartbroken, I can't say I'm too surprised.  As I said before, getting Nominating Committee members to even read it was a longshot.  Overall, I don't feel too bad though.  I did what I could to persuade one facet of our society to be a more vocal proponent for the good of overall society, and as they say, virtue is its own reward.

Good thing, too, because this ballot honestly doesn't hold much personal reward for me.  As I've said on Twitter and Facebook, there aren't many nominees that I'm actually a big fan of.  A casual fan, yes, but except for one, none of these nominees are acts that I've ever bought any of their music for any reason other than Rock Hall research.  I'm not deeply chagrined, however, since most of my favorite acts have already been enshrined, many of them long ago.  The takeaway from this paragraph is don't be too upset when you see my ranking of the nominees based on my own personal tastes in music; there will be some razor-thin margins deciding between numbers three through number sixteen.  And don't even hold me to those numbers.  I haven't even begun to think about it yet.

The thoughts I am having include begrudgingly agreeing with fellow monitor DarinRG, in that an English-centric ballot is probably much needed for the Hall.  Much like the classic rock deluge of the past couple years, the "big in Britain" bloc has been bursting at the seams for some time now, too.  While I'm glad that the mother country is finally getting some more looks, it's also sad because I love soul music.  England may swing like a pendulum do, but when Small Faces are considered among the premium soul acts from your country, just don't brag about it too much, m'kay?  I chalk this up to another backlog created by the "Small Hall" mentality that dominated the institution for so many years, and still has a tight grip around the throat of rock and roll accolades.  Of course, there is probably no act on this year's ballot more British than Kate Bush, in that she's huge in England, but while not totally obscure in the States, the comparison of celebrity is not even close.

While there are, I believe, a majority of acts on this ballot coming from across the pond, that's actually not so much what I'm noticing as I am the extreme potential for ballot divisions this year.  For example, Depeche Mode and Eurythmics may just divide the ballot between each other in terms of synth-rock representation, and both could fail to get in for that.  Between the newly eligible favorites, we could see a division between Radiohead and Rage Against The Machine in that they're alternative-scene rock bands that are newly eligible this year.  While that may be where the similarities end, when you've got five or even six votes on a ballot of nineteen names, superficial similarities could be enough to found a schism upon.  Such could also be used to compare '60s acts with few hits and a seemingly short run, but long-remembered, i.e. the Zombies and the MC5, and Link Wray too, if you include the '50s.  Don't overlook having two metal bands on the ballot either: Judas Priest and Bon Jovi.  Metal fans are probably raging at the comparison between early metal and '80s hair metal, but if you remember anything about the '80s, even the faint echoes that I have, having been born during the Reagan years myself, it wasn't entirely uncommon for Bon Jovi and Judas Priest to have overlap in their fan bases.  For rural America back then, metal was metal, and you took in any and all of it with equal initial enthusiasm.

Another potential ballot division lies between Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Nina Simone, two African-American ladies that have a had a lot of the musical community clamoring for their induction while also speculating that maybe the delay of their respective recognition has been due to not knowing how to enshrine them.  Already, the watching community is suffering the early onset of rage-confusion induced aneurysms at Tharpe's nomination in the Performer category, and not announced induction as an Early Influence.  Indeed, it is a bit puzzling, as Tharpe's prime was during the '40s, before the generally-accepted genesis of rock and roll, and yet, there is merit to the argument.  As a article once postulated (see entry #3), she invented rock and roll.  Not Ike Turner or Jackie Brenston, not Louis Jordan, not Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Bill Haley, or Elvis Presley.  Sister Rosetta Tharpe.  The link in that article is broken, so here's the video they originally linked to.

Of course, that's a live performance, and not the records, which allows the performer a little more liberty to cut loose, and it's only a select sample of her catalog, but the point is, there's an argument to be made.  As for Nina Simone, she doesn't predate rock and roll so much, but her style is more accurately described as "jazz."  While rock and roll comes from a variety of influences and embraces many different styles in a diasporic or umbrella-like manner, even rock and roll has its borders and boundaries toward what can be included in the nomenclature.  Nina Simone arguably lies primarily outside that limit.  Her case could be interesting too.  They inducted jazz legend Miles Davis as a Performer, but they also kind of sidestepped the "Early" in "Early Influence" when they inducted Wanda Jackson and Freddie King.  So, they could go either way with Nina Simone here.  Either way however, they severely damaged the legitimacy of inductions as Early Influences of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Nina Simone just by nominating them for the Performer category this time around.

The representation of rock-era R&B is paltry this year, possibly to prevent ballot division.  Rufus featuring Chaka Khan return, showing a devotion to Chaka by the Hall.  All I can say is I hope she is eventually inducted twice, once for the group and once as a soloist.  Also returning are the Meters who keep popping up, but seem to struggle with support, at least in the fan vote.  Like Rufus, they are funky, but they aren't really associated with the disco scene as Rufus was.  Rap is represented as well, with LL Cool J returning to the ballot.  Monitor DarinRG commented on FRL about the Hall trying to clear the way by giving LL Cool J little to no direct competition.  This may be true, but LL Cool J has failed when he's been the only rap act on the ballot before too.  In my humble opinion, when it comes to R&B, the only way to "clear the way" for acts like LL Cool J is to inundate the ballot with R&B so that it's mathematically impossible to NOT have R&B inducted, and make sure that the pet act, LL Cool J in this case, is the strongest name.  But I could be wrong.

Of course, it wouldn't be a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ballot these days if the chance for classic rock to dominate wasn't possible.  Bon Jovi and Judas Priest have already been mentioned, and both get airplay on classic rock radio stations, but they're not the only examples.  Two more are making a repeat appearance after last year's ballot.  Both the Cars and the J. Geils Band are back.  With the death of Jerome Geils this year, they prove to be the death fairy pick and that could propel them into the Hall this time around.  The Cars are back, trying to not be the next Black Sabbath or Stooges.  Dire Straits is an act that not many saw coming, but is pretty widely accepted as a good call.  Other than our newly eligibles and the two women who could arguably be inducted as Early Influences, Dire Straits is the only act on this year's ballot that has never been nominated or even been on the Previously Considered list before.  Could be an act to keep our eyes on.  Of course, probably the biggest news is that the Moody Blues have finally been nominated, though sadly, Denny Laine is going to be shafted again.  With no induction of Wings, and not on the list of members included in this nomination, poor Denny Laine will again be on the outside looking in.  The Moody Blues are among the longest-grieved snubs by the Rock And Roll community, with many naming them as the most pressing omission.  Now, it's already been stated that predicting the fan ballot will be difficult, but when you look at the number one finisher in the fan vote, the history reads as follows: Rush, KISS, Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble, Chicago, and Journey.  Classic rock acts that have been long outcried as egregious snubs.  Bon Jovi and Dire Straits haven't had near the outcry for them.  So it's really between Judas Priest and the Moody Blues, in my opinion.  Metal is something of an untested variable for the fan ballot, but all the same, the overwhelming support of the Moody Blues tells me this is the act that will finish on top in the fan vote, possibly by a wide margin.

So there are the preliminary thoughts on this ballot.  Soon to come, a ranking by merits, by preference, and by odds of induction.  Hopefully in that order.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Ballot 2018, the lack of predictions.

In an attempt to keep this short as possible, at this time, I am announcing that I will not be posting a prediction for the ballot for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's Class of 2018.

This is based on my previous post, "An Open Letter To The Nominating Committee;" however, I feel I should point out that my decision to not post a prediction is in no way related to the amount and vehemence of dissent that the post received.  No, my decision was reached well before I posted the blog, before I pounded out a single word, while I was still putting my thoughts together.  I realized that I would not be able, in good conscience, to post a ballot prediction.

I could not bring myself to post a prediction that reflected my desire detailed in that entry.  As a member of the Future Rock Legends community, I perennially see members post actual ballot predictions that myopically believe the Nominating Committee's thinking will fall (almost) completely in line with their own, that the Committee's priorities and desires are identical to theirs.  I can bring myself to neither indulge my ego nor annoy my readers and the Rock Hall hobbyist community as a whole by actually postulating an official prediction that assumes the Nominating Committee agrees with me.

But I cannot post what might be deemed a "more realistic" ballot prediction either, replete with a few of the ubiquitous names among other predictions.  To do so would be to recant my position, feign insincerity, or preemptively concede defeat, and I cannot do any of those at this time.  I still strongly believe in the goal and mission my request is rooted in, especially in light of the events in Charlottesville, and the president's response afterwards.  Indeed, the events since posting my previous entry have only served to reinforce those convictions.  And in truth, I don't feel a ballot that honors my request is too unrealistic either.  Honestly, I believe the most tenuous part of all this is getting enough Nominating Committee members to even read my open letter to them.  Indeed, I tweeted directly to as many as I could find on Twitter to get them to read it, but whether or not they did, I may never know.  But if they did, I don't think it's completely beyond the realm of possibility that enough of them might at least strongly consider my plea.  So I cannot post a prediction that abandons the goal of my previous entry either, not even a "compromise" ballot that is mostly minorities, but with one or two White male acts, or one that is half and half (which is about what most ballots look like anyway these days).  You either believe in it, or you don't.

A third option is to post one of each.  Two predictions lists.  But I don't like hedging my bets like that.  Heck, I don't even like naming "backup predictions," based on the fluctuating number of nominees over the years.  And I don't like it when certain members of the FRL community post multiple ballot prediction lists every year either.  I certainly won't do that.

The last option is a protest ballot prediction.  For those who wonder what that is, visit here.  It is something that Charles Crossley, Jr. likes to do.  For me, it would mean my posting a ballot prediction in line with my demands, and strongly stating once again the necessity of my beliefs being shared by the powers-that-be at the Rock Hall, despite it being "unlikely."  Actually, that description rather does a disservice to how Charles Crossley, Jr. does it.  He does it so beautifully, that quite frankly, I feel that imitation would be insult instead of flattery.  So I refuse to do that to him.

So, for this year, I am going to sit out on predicting the ballot.  Once the nominees are announced, I will return to reflect on the choices, evaluate the nominees based on merits and personal taste, and to actually predict who the inductees will be.  At that time, we will know whether my endeavors yielded any fruit, and I can pick up from there.

But for right now, I abstain.  It's a corner I knew I'd be painting myself into before I cracked the lid off the first can.  I did it anyway, and I have no regrets.

I thank you all for your understanding of my decision.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

An open letter to the Nominating Committee

Dear members of the Nominating Committee of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation and Museum,

Hi there.  You probably don't know who I am and don't care.  That's fair.  I'm merely a hobbyist of your work, formerly employed in commercial radio and not quite in touch with the world of current music anymore.  So, I'm not really anyone you should know.  If you know me from anywhere, it's from this blog or my comments on the Future Rock Legends site, assuming you pay any attention to that site either.  And if you do know who I am, you probably don't like a thing I have to say.  Slightly hurtful, but I understand.  As is often the case, people don't say much when things are running smoothly and agreeably, so blogs like this are to often express disdain about one thing or another.  In fact, in the "About Us" section on the Future Rock Legends site, this blog is listed as "Rock Hall criticism."  Admittedly, I was kind of upset about that; I always figured my blog as "Rock Hall commentary," not "criticism."  But looking over my entries, I guess that's a fair evaluation.  In fact, I might even be the one you can thank for the portmanteau "NomComm."  It might seem a little glib, but it's merely an abbreviation that's catchy to say and handy for us hobbyists.

Nevertheless, I'm taking the opportunity to use this blog to actually reach out to you.  True, I hope my regular readers and other enthusiasts will also read this, but I actually do want to turn my attention to specifically address you members of the Nominating Committee.  I apologize in advance for how long this will be.  Those who know me know brevity is not my forte.  That said, you are the gatekeepers for induction into the Hall.  Yearly, you convene to let a certain number of acts into the outer court with your list of nominations for the voters to whittle down and decide the inductees.  Tangentially, I also want to thank you for the fan vote on the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's website in recent years and hope you will continue it.  (See?  Not everything is criticism!)  It is now July, and in a couple months, you will once again come to order to draft another ballot of nominees for the following year's induction ceremonies.  Most of you probably already have your two or three acts that you wish to bring up for discussion; however, before you officially congregate to assemble that list, I'd like to take a moment and make a suggestion, because this may not prove to be just another ballot.

See, a year ago, Barack Obama was president, and we were in the middle of an election season that had seemed to have an obvious conclusion.  By this point, both major parties were down to their final candidates, each having secured their requisite number of delegates.  One was a candidate that had been a darling of her party ever since her husband relinquished the Oval Office and was being touted with a narrative that bordered on "heir apparent" to the White House.  The other was a pariah within his own party, ran a campaign with a ground game that can be glowingly described as "slovenly," and whom many people were uncertain even wanted the job as much as he just wanted the attention that came with running for office.  And then it happened.  The pariah won.

But you know all that.  And as an organization, you are comprised of people who mostly revile our current president, if for no other reason than the fact that he's Republican.  Yeah, you've got that reputation.  In fact, that reputation is precisely why many speculate it took so long for you to ever nominate Alice Cooper for induction, and still haven't nominated people like Ted Nugent, whereas more politically liberal acts are more easily welcomed.  I'd say there's enough evidence to plausibly deny that claim, but the point is, as people, most of you are fundamentally opposed to the current administration.  And that's not even considering the campaign that he ran.  He ran a campaign of pure hatred and bigotry for anyone who wasn't like him or his base.  His was a message of loving only those who love and look like you, and hating others.  And while speculation into the election hypothesized that the weakness of the loser's campaign in key states may have done it, it now seems that it genuinely is more about the embracing of that hatred.  The biggest factor that motivated people to vote for him was in fact "racial anxiety," or more plainly, dislike of specific minorities.  I had two friends tell me of their excitement that the election of our president signaled the death of political correctness, calling it oppressive mind control.  Many people who enthusiastically voted for him genuinely believe that his election meant they no longer had to act like civilized people and were free to use epithets at will again, though that's not how they'd phrase it.

And now he's in office.  With power.  Trying to redefine our nation to fit his warped, narrow, and hateful narrative.  Already there are agencies that have spoken out against him, some within the federal government itself.  The press is doing its best to maintain its freedom.  Just ask Jann S. Wenner or Matt Taibbi.  But it isn't just the press.  From the statements at press conferences, to the executive orders, the current administration is trying to rewrite history and the future in a tone that spells bad news for minorities of any kind.

Again, you know all that, and you're probably asking, "What's this got to do with the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?"  As a highly public and somewhat controversial organization, I believe it to be within your power to make the kinds of statements that stand in the way of this agenda.  Roughly sixty years ago, the America that Donald Trump idealizes said, "Rock and roll isn't worth acknowledging or celebrating because it's Black music."  The America that he is now trying to promote is one that tries to tell you, "Black music is not worth acknowledging or celebrating because it's not rock and roll." Because the message and goal of Donald Trump's administration seek to have cultural echoes and ripples, you very much do have a dog in this fight.  And so, it is with that thought which I make the following, unorthodox suggestion to you, the Nominating Committee.

As long as Donald Trump is president and his agenda is on the offense, do not nominate any White males for the Performer category for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

It'd be nice if that were extended to the other categories, but they won't as celebrated, as the Performer category is the main draw, so they won't be as noteworthy, and thus not as necessary to include in this proposed moratorium.

As I stated a moment ago, the administration's agenda will have cultural repercussions if successful.  For you, that means finding yourself becoming an institution that only inducts guitar bands into the Hall Of Fame, guitar bands that are predominantly comprised of White males.  In fact, this is a battle that you are already fighting.  Ever since the inception of the Hall, the struggle to define "Rock And Roll" as more than just guitar band music has been present.  And in the past decade or so, that struggle has become even tougher.  Part of it, I do lay at your feet: for starters, your logo and museum are designed to resemble an ascending vista up the neck of a guitar.  Additionally, in the past, by keeping classes absurdly small and openly using your personal biases against progressive rock, arena rock, and heavy metal, you've created a backlog of guitar bands, many of whom are at least somewhat worthy, and now the outcry is deafening and the barricade is crumbling.  So much so, that the past two ceremonies have been primarily a celebration of the "classic rock" radio format.  And now, any form of R&B that isn't rap has an extremely hard time getting into the Hall, and even rap has to fight against the tide of classic rock acts that the general public want to see enshrined.  Personally, I believe that if bigger classes had been utilized and personal biases set aside throughout the 1990's and early 2000's, there would today be a much more open embracing of the diaspora that is rock and roll music, without the perceived need to take sides and thus draw battle lines on what defines rock and roll.

But then again, that just might be wishful thinking on my part.  I once worked for a man who believed that even the Beatles weren't rock and roll, that you should only enshrine hard rock and heavy metal.  Basically, if it doesn't use a distortion pedal, it's not rock, according to him.  That's the kind of willful, bald-faced, pigheaded ignorance your organization needs to make a statement against.  And of course, the history of the music industry, along with the history of humanity itself, has been more than favorable to the White male.  Thanks primarily to acts like the Beatles and Led Zeppelin, guitar bands have seemingly become the default association when "rock and roll" is mentioned.  And of course, that kind of music was promulgated primarily by White males.  It's a neat little happenstance that is dressed up to appear coincidental, but we know is not.  And as the preservers of the history of rock and roll, especially in the (gas)light of this current administration's aims, we need you to do your part to stand against it, to state that you will not be a part of it, and to prove it.

About now, you're thinking, "Don't we do that already?  What about Zach De La Rocha's speech for Patti Smith?  Or from this past year, didn't Joan Baez and Eddie Vedder make those kinds of statements?  Wasn't it enough that we made a statement by closing this year's induction ceremony with 'Rocking In The Free World'?"  And my answer to that is no.  It's not enough.  First of all, given that Neil Young was supposed to induct Pearl Jam but got sick and couldn't do it, the performance of his song as the final jam comes off as little more than a musical get-well card for Neil.  More importantly though, despite the message in the lyrics critical of past Republican administrations, the fact is that "Rocking In The Free World," and Neil Young's catalog at large, fit very neatly into the narrow definition of rock and roll that the bigots and the ignoramuses wish to perpetuate.  So, despite the lyrics, using that song to send a message only gives them what they want and accomplishes nothing.  Remember when Ronald Reagan used "Born In The U.S.A." as his campaign anthem without irony, or when Paul Ryan named Rage Against The Machine as one of his all-time favorite bands?   Similar thing here; the cognitive dissonance is completely awash in the strummed chords and searing solos.  Even the fact that ol' Neil is Canadian means nothing, unless you're also Canadian. No, you're not doing enough at present.

Who inducts whom or says what at the ceremonies doesn't amount to a whole lot, not just because the festivities are on a premium channel, but because whoever says or does what holds only a select fascination.  Once the inductees are announced, the following ceremony is irrelevant to many. Virtually nobody marks the time between the announcement and the actual induction.  Once they're announced, they're inducted, in the minds of most.  So in order to make a statement, the important matter is who gets inducted. As a cultural institution, one that though purporting to speak for a worldwide phenomenon is largely American, you have both the need and the power to stand up against the current regime, and make a statement that will be heard.

The good news to this is that there are enough deserving candidates who are not White men, nor are comprised of any.  You don't have to sacrifice the core concept of unquestionable musical excellence, nor ignore principles of innovation or influence.  There will be no asterisk next to the classes or the inductees  if you do this.  There are plenty of worthy candidates to keep this up even if the unthinkable happens and it ends up being a two-term administration. You can go back to the '50s and nominate the benchmark R&B groups, such as the Clovers.  You can nominate Chubby Checker and finally bury that hatchet.  You can get serious about 70's soul.  You can recognize the disco queens who may only be remembered for one hit by White audiences, but have legacies on the R&B and dance music charts.  You can induct the divas of the '80s, and the upcoming ones who will eligible before the next election.  You can fully uncork the rap bottle and maybe even induct TWO rap artists in a single year.  You can get to the queens of '60s rock and pop, like Lesley Gore and Connie Francis.   You can nominate Pat Benatar, though I'd hope you'd get a little further outside the box (or is it Trunk?) than that.  You can go back to the early years of the Hall and bring back nominees you've lost hope for, like Ben E. King, Mary Wells, Johnny Ace, and Esther Phillips.  You can strike hot again for the Spinners, Joe Tex, Chuck Willis, the Marvelettes, and the Dominos.  You can even do the right thing and give Nile Rodgers his second induction by continuing to nominate Chic.  Heck, I think the first inductee next year should be Living Colour, with the opening number for the ceremony being "Open Letter (To A Landlord)."  Point being, that well will not run dry, I promise you.

This however does not come without cost.  The past two cycles were hailed as finally opening the doors to those hugely popular acts that you'd snubbed for a long time, like Chicago, Deep Purple, Yes, and Electric Light Orchestra.  Making this statement means closing that door again for a time.  And not just against the classic rock titans that people are clamoring for, like the Moody Blues and Judas Priest, but it will also sadly mean further ignoring 80's non-mainstream acts, the post-punk and underground artists like the Smiths, Sonic Youth, Dead Kennedys, Pixies, etc.  It means not acknowledging synth-driven (as opposed to guitar) acts like Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode.  It would even probably mean an embargo against interracial and co-ed acts ranging from the Del-Vikings to the future-eligible No Doubt.  That's not even mentioning having to ignore gay artists who happen to be White men, or have gay White men among their members.  Their roles and contributions to our society should not be forgotten either, but unless you're one hundred percent certain that the distinction will be drawn and the message will be understood in the minds of your voters and the voting public, then sadly, it should not be attempted.

Even harder to swallow is that it could potentially spell trouble for the museum in Cleveland.  It's been rumored that certain past and present members among your ranks are especially pushing the commercial classic rock acts primarily to burgeon the budget for the museum by attracting more visitors.  It's certainly understandable; however, I believe that being willing to bite the bullet on this front may even send a stronger message than you realize.  This is because whatever else our president may be, whatever else he may say, whomever he inspires with his rhetoric of bigotry... that which defines him most is his love of money and how money masters him.  To accept the risk of fewer visitors and thus less money taken in when making a socially important statement like this might just send the loudest message when juxtaposed against a man who, if he drank from a false grail a la Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, would, rather than a swastika pin, leave behind a money clip.

Hardest of all, I suppose, is to ask you to put some of those other acts that you already want to nominate on the back burner.  But it ultimately doesn't matter if you're inducted when you're first eligible, or if it's years down the line.  Enshrinement is an honor whenever it comes, even posthumously.  So for now, put those acts on the back burner.  Radiohead can wait.  Tom Morello, I know you're a member, and your band's music is about fighting this kind of evil power, but if the cognitive dissonance is lost on the likes of Paul Ryan, then it's lost on the rest of that ilk. This is the machine you've raged against for twenty-five years, and the best way to do it now is to elevate others.  Rage Against The Machine can wait.  Dave Grohl, you're on the fast track for a second induction, and it can't happen this year anyway, but until the power shifts, Foo Fighters can wait.  It would be a wonderful way to pay homage to the late Chris Cornell, but Soundgarden can wait.  The Cars can wait, the Moody Blues can wait, Foreigner can wait, Procol Harum can wait, and the Smiths can wait.  Even acts that I want dearly to see enshrined, like Jan And Dean, Tommy James And The Shondells, Huey Lewis And The News, and "Weird Al" Yankovic... they can all wait.  Now is the time to focus strictly on women and racial minorities.

And should you be willing to test this, I would hope you'd go the whole distance on this.  The temptation will be to nominate one, two, or a few guitar-driven acts comprised mostly or entirely of White males.  But if you've seen Jeff Ament's shirt, a shirt that had less than five Black artists on it, and only a few women, you know that at present, your voting body, particularly of inductees, is overwhelmingly White males who were influenced by White males, and when asked about who they think should be inducted, the first five names will be White male acts.  Throwing a bone to them will only ensure that the bone is the first one inducted, and will run away with the fan ballot at that.  And if you try five such names, figuring they surely can't all be the top five, you'll be proven dead wrong.  A complete embargo is necessary to make the statement that needs to be made.  Besides, deep down, you know you want to see how the fan ballot plays out when they have no classic rock darling to enthusiastically latch onto.

Giving preference to one social distinction over others is the basic, perhaps oversimplified, definition of prejudice.  But no one is asking you to permanently ignore the contributions of Caucasian males as Performers.  You're being asked to stand up for those who aren't Caucasian males until such time as those who are trying to whitewash our history, present, culture, achievements, failures, attributes, faults, and worst of all, our future; no long hold the power that they currently possess.  Our world will never be perfect, and bigotry will always exist.  But that doesn't mean we must or even should give credence or leeway to those who would willingly express the most and strongest prejudices in the harshest ways possible, merely because they currently hold the highest positions of power.  We will not stoop to violence, the way the gunman did at the baseball practice recently, but we gotta fight the power, as Public Enemy so famously stated.  We're a nation of millions, so let's hold back our Subredditer-In-Chief, even if only in our own little corner.

What I ask is difficult, but not impossible, and though I'm but a face in a crowd that you may not even wish to deign to look at, I petition you anyway.  I hope you will give my suggestion serious consideration.

You are a highly publicized institution.  You have a considerable amount of power and influence; speak for those who do not.  Do not nominate any White males for the Performer category for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  


A heterosexual, Caucasian, cisgender, Protestant, blond-haired, blue-eyed, able-bodied, American male from a bucolic, middle-class background, who has a college degree, no criminal record, and has never even experimented with any illegal drugs.   You can call me the Poster Child for Privilege, or PCP for short.

P.S.  The irony of calling me "PCP" when I've just said I've never done any illegal drugs isn't lost on me either.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ceremony 2017. Quick thoughts.

So now that the edited version of the 2017 induction ceremony has aired on HBO, I just thought I'd give a few brief thoughts on it.  Nothing too big, in fact, I doubt I'll proofread it too much.  So, apologies for the bad grammar that happens in every post I write before I proofread it (and sometimes afterwards!), but here's my take.

On the Future Rock Legends site, one member commented that it was ridiculous how easy it was to predict the induction class from the ballot of nominees, as most who made serious predictions got at least four out of six correct.  Well, not only were the inductees easy to predict, but so was the program order.  Pretty much everyone who wasn't blinded by their own fandom for an inductee knew that Pearl Jam would be the final inductee of the night, that the classic rock artists would be spaced out, and that the tribute to Chuck Berry was either gonna kick things off, or be the all-star jam.  Most predicted Joan Baez would be the second one inducted.  And so on.  There wasn't anything wrong with the order of the inductions, just that it was highly predictable.

It's really hard to say which presenter gave the best speech.  It's kind of ironic that the presenter's speech that focused most on the music was the speech for the one inductee who wasn't in the Performer category.  The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is supposedly about honoring the music, and Pharrell Williams gave the most solid speech about the music produced and assisted by Nile Rodgers.  Alex and Geddy weren't too far behind, talking about how they learned their craft by learning Yes songs.  Jackson Browne definitely talked about the music of Joan Baez, but his presentation was a bit on the dry side.  Dhani Harrison's impassioned speech was more about the music than not, but it was also about the personal connection between the Harrisons and Jeff Lynne.  Pat Monahan definitely talked about the music of Journey, but it was more about his personal love of the music, than about the significance of their music in a larger perspective.  Despite being the most deserving inductees, the speeches for 2Pac and Pearl Jam by Snoop Dogg and David Letterman respectively dealt the least about the quality and importance of the actual music.  To that extent, they were a little disappointing; nonetheless, they were entertaining speeches.

Of all the inductees' speeches, Joan Baez gave the most entertaining one, followed by Rick Wakeman of Yes.  In terms of being cutting and pertinent, Eddie Vedder probably takes that one.

Performances... aw heck, I enjoyed them all.  Even Yes, whom I don't particularly care for.

Marvelous tributes.

Overall, a decent induction ceremony.  Not too special, but it's nice once in awhile to have a ceremony that is *relatively* free of controversy.  And unlike some of my fellow Rock Hall hobbyists, I really am giving no thought or concern to next year yet.  And least not in the way you'd think...

Friday, December 30, 2016

So close, and yet so wrong.

For those who don't know by now, I'm a native Michigander.  As a proud son of the Great Lake State, when it comes to sports, I follow the home teams.  In spirit, I'm at the Palace when it's hoops season.  When it's time to hit the ice, I'm imagining myself there, throwing octopi onto the ice of the Joe.  You can bet I root, root, root for the Tigers.  The downside is that every year I say next year is the year the Lions will go to the Superbowl.  True to the bitter end, I still root for the Lions.  And it's heartbreaking.  We even have a phrase to use when the Lions blow a lead to add to their ever-growing loss column.  We say that they're "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."  No matter how well things seem to be going, they are often expected to find a way to screw up and lose again.  And only we can say it.  People who hate the Lions aren't allowed to use that phrase to rub it in our faces.  That belongs to us alone.

Which brings us to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's Class Of 2017.  And much like last year, it's not a bad class.  It's not terribly diverse, but it's more so than last year, even if just because of a sixth Performer inductee.  Other than Journey, all the inductees were in the upper half of my merits' ranks, and four of the top five of my personal preferences made it.  And predictions-wise, I did pretty darn well.  5 of my top 6 seeds, plus the main man from my #7 seed is inducted as well.  So, in a way, I went 5.5 for 7.  Well, maybe not quite 5.5, but maybe 5.1 for 7  Still, it's about on par with how most other monitors did, so  it was pretty respectable overall on my end.  And at this moment, I wish to congratulate the Performer inductees.  Congratulations to Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, Pearl Jam, Yes, and 2Pac.

But if there's anything we've learned from the past few years, it's that either the Hall loves to generate needless controversy, or like my Detroit Lions, they simply can't help but find a way to screw things up.  In 2009, they inducted Wanda Jackson as an Early Influence after nominating her as a Performer.  In 2011, they sort of created a new category without really explaining what it really meant (Award For Musical Excellence).  In 2012, they inducted Freddie King as an Early Influence despite nominating him for the Performer category.  2013 wasn't so much controversial as it was a big tsk tsk for not inducting Donna Summer while she was still alive.  2014 of course was the year where the controversy was in the ceremony with KISS.  2015 was the year that the "5" Royales were inducted as Early Influences despite having been nominated as a Performer twice in the past, and Ringo Starr was inducted as an "Award For Musical Excellence" recipient, furthering the murkiness of the category itself.  Last year, the Hall caught flak for inducting no women, only Steve Miller instead of the entire Steve Miller Band, and Bert Berns without Jerry Ragovoy with a cloud of suspicion involving conflict of interest in that regard.  So this year, they simply couldn't stand to have a controversy-free induction, because what is rock and roll without controversy?

Enter the induction of Nile Rodgers.  Chic holds the record for most nominations without getting inducted, at a staggering eleven.  It's been a long and ridiculous journey for the group, that has now gotten even more ridiculous.  They didn't get enough votes to be inducted as a Performer, but that wasn't stopping the Hall this time. So instead of even inducting he entire group as "Award For Musical Excellence," which would have been fishy enough by itself, they inducted just the esteemed guitarist, Nile Rodgers, as "Award For Musical Excellence."  It's like Life Of Pi, except everyone's still alive with land in sight, and then a giant Kraken emerges and eats all the creatures on the boat except for the kid.  As a side note, Joel Peresman, the CEO of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has given a decent explanation.  There is a great deal of truth to the statement that as a producer and session man, Nile's body of work is staggeringly impressive that giving him an induction for such is entirely justifiable.  And if anyone believed for two seconds that that's the reason they're inducting him in this capacity, it would be a great thing.

But of course, no one believes this.  Not at all.  This is happening because Chic failed for an eleventh time to get enough votes to warrant induction.  This is happening because the powers-that-be want to induct their friend and founding member of their Nominating Committee, and it couldn't happen in the preferred way.  And even more dumbfounding, this is happening because the Committee (or fragments of it) decided that inducting Nile Rodgers in this capacity showed more integrity than simply calling Chic a seventh Performer inductee claiming that the votes between... say... fourth and seventh were so close that inducting seven just made sense.  They already said that the votes were so close that they just decided to go for six.  Why not extend that to seven?  But no, that would have been crazy.  It's MUCH more sane to do this.  Forget the integrity issue.  Clearly, inducting Chic when they fell short shows no more integrity than inducting Nile as an individual because they can't get Chic inducted.  They're both wrong to do.  But if you're dead set on doing something dishonest here, why the hell go with the one that is more transparent in its shadiness?  That kind of contradicts the very purpose of calling dishonesty "shady" after all.  And you know what?  No one would have objected if Chic was named a seventh Performer inductee.  Nobody.  Even the "accidental racist" rockists are saying Chic needs to be inducted.  Even they, through constantly having Chic shoved in their faces, are realizing the musical prowess on their beloved guitar that Nile Rodgers demonstrated and have come to love and respect the group as a live act with their recent tour.  Even people who think Led Zeppelin invented rock and roll would have been fine with Chic being named a seventh Performer inductee, even if for no other reason than to get their name off the ballot.  Fellow monitors are more and more realizing the virtues of simply having a bigger induction class.  We would have applauded this and would not have (at least out loud) asked where Chic actually finished in the vote count.  Quite frankly, at this point, with the correlation that the top finisher in the fan vote has always gotten inducted being this solid, it'd probably be a good idea to have another inductee being the NomComm's pick.  The top pick of the people's choice, and the top act that the NomComm decides is going in no matter what, plus the results of the voting bloc... that would be a good balance to have.  I think we could all live well with that compromise.  We, along with the rest of the world that cares about this, would also have celebrated the stylistic diversity that having Chic as an inductee means.  Instead of a Performer class that is still at least fifty percent classic rock (and it's just a matter of time before Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" creeps onto classic rock playlists once in awhile, too), we could have had something that still gives the rockists most of the names they wanted most, while also having some real diversity and would recognize R&B in a capacity besides rap.  Nobody outside of the bean counters would ever have known, and nobody would have had an issue with Chic just being named a seventh Performer inductee.

It's an even bigger disgrace because it further hacks away at the institution's integrity, and not just once, but twice.  First off, it's a big slap in the face to the rest of the band, Chic, as they are left outside.  It also kind of slaps the whole of the Nominating Committee in its collective face, spiting them for all the effort they put in perennially nominating Chic.  Sure it was a subset of this body that chose to do this, but it really should offend the whole of the group.  But even deeper than that, this is a gigantic insult to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame itself.  The Hall has long stated its mission of honoring the acts that gave us the great works of rock and roll music, as well as the music itself.  As stated earlier, Nile Rodgers was there at the inception of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, a charter member of the NomComm, and even though it is true that his body of work as a producer and a session man merits an AME induction, doing so before inducting him first with Chic only proves that the annual nomination of Chic was always only about him.  It was never about the music of Chic.  It was never about work of Bernard Edwards and Tony Thompson alongside of Rodgers. It was never about the sultry voices of the various female singers over the years.  It was never about the funky grooves, or even the fact that "Good Times" is a landmark record in the evolution of rock and roll music for the sheer ubiquity of it in formative hip-hop.  It was never about any of that.  It was always supposed to be an inside congratulatory glad-handing for Nile Rodgers, the elite honoring their fellow elite because they had a feasible excuse to do so.  That's what it was always about, celebrating not Chic, but Nile Rodgers.  And even if it's absolutely true that his work outside of Chic merits an AME induction; this time, truth is not a defense, because it deflects away from a bigger truth.  It was always meant as an inner circle's celebration.  They decided they were going to have it one way or the other this year, and it further erodes the institution's credibility and integrity.  Fellow monitor AlexVoltaire at the Northumbrian Countdown said that he himself had long been a proponent of inducting Nile Rodgers with an Award For Musical Excellence just to get Chic off the ballot, but now that it's finally happening, he realizes it isn't as rewarding as he thought it would be.  Well AlexVoltaire, that's the reason why it's not satisfying: because when you look at why it's being done and what it ultimately means that it's being done this way, you realize that in the grand scheme of things, it's the wrong decision, and even if it's convenient and shuffles off the dead weight from the nominating process, it still is wrong.

If the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame cares anything about their integrity as an institution, Chic must return to the ballot next year.  And just as the scandal in 2007 involving the Dave Clark Five probably helped propel them to be inductees in 2008, this scandal would hopefully ensure Chic gets enough votes for the Class Of 2018.  The right course of action is to give Nile Rodgers a second induction, the second one being with his band, Chic, no matter how many nominations it takes.  Then and only then will the Hall not be snatching controversy from the jaws of respectability.  Then and only then will Joel Peresman's explanation this time around be believable.  And until that happens, all the Hall is doing is reinforcing the message that Steve Miller had following his induction this past year: that the whole thing needs an overhaul from the top down... and of course as he also said, "It shouldn't be this hard."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Predictions for the Class of 2017

It's that time now, to make the final predictions for the Class of 2017.  It's been a huge ballot with wonderful discussion regarding it, but if the powers-that-be have their way, it'll only be five inductees, despite some enormous potential to have a great, diverse class that clears up some major clogs in the flow of certain aspects of rock and roll.  A lot of great nominees, some guilty pleasures, some serendipities, and some head-scratchers.  But it comes down to this, picking the winners.

And I don't like it.  As we have lived through 2016, it would appear that what we remember most is that this has been the year that our favorite celebrities snuffed it.  From Prince, to Florence Henderson, to John Glenn, to the guy who concocted General Tso' chicken, this would appear to be the year that the apocalyptic horseman Death galloped gleefully to smite our collective childhood.  However, not only can this be explained as celebrity status being easier than ever to achieve now and thus we have more celebrities, so more of them are going to die--not only all that, but much of this will be more easily forgotten.  What history may be more likely to remember about 2016 is not the ride of the Death horsemen, but perhaps more the ride of Pestilence.  Not as we traditionally think of it, no, but more as the ride of the Pestilence of Overt White Pride.  It began at the end of last year as the inductees for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame were announced as almost entirely white classic rock acts.  It continued in our entertainment culture with the #OscarsBeSoWhite affair where the AMPAS announced its nominees for the Academy Awards, and pretty much every nominee was Caucasian, which sparked outrage.  It accelerated onwards through the American primaries, which saw a rise through the Republican ranks of a candidate who was openly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party, and seems to have come to its zenith with the election of that candidate, Donald Trump, to be the next President of the United States Of America, a statement I thought I would never have to type, and want to weep as I do so now.  It continues on as the President-Elect announces his Cabinet and high-level staff picks, which one friend of mine described as being more fitting to a deck of Cards Against Humanity.  Now, the Rock Hall is its own institution with its own rules and ways of doing things, but nothing happens entirely in a bubble.  As has been noted by myself and others, where the Rock Hall is concerned, when many guitar bands, with many members over the years, are inducted, those living, inducted members all get a vote; and they generally tend to vote for the acts that they toured with or those that influenced them, which as Alex Liefson of Rush has confirmed, tend not to be Black soul and disco musicians.  Eventually, what you get is a perpetuation of a limited vision of what constitutes Rock And Roll, almost as limited as what Trump thinks is what makes America great.  The Rock Hall has had some foreknowledge of this, and has taken a step or two to rectify it, such as adding more critics who appreciate music of the African-American tradition, but I wonder if it'll be enough.  Maybe I'm overreacting.  I don't deny that everything that has happened has jaded me heavily, though maybe at this point, I should say "ivoried me" instead.  But I don't see a damn thing changing this year, and my predictions will largely reflect that.

As a heads-up, my computer has been having some problems, so I may be offline for awhile, and may miss the announcement, and won't be able to post reactions for awhile.  That said, let's get to the seeds and our final picks.

Grunge rock act.  Newly eligible, first-time nominee.
Why they might make it:  Pearl Jam is the third leg of the triumvirate that helped alternative rock break through the mainstream in the '90s.  They are hugely influential, and Eddie Vedder has inducted a few acts into the Hall himself, so they're well-connected.
Why they might not:  When the NomComm met to decide the ballot for the Class of 2015, it wasn't until the final round of suggestions that someone realized that no one had mentioned Green Day yet.  Everyone else was figuring someone else was going to nominate Green Day, and they almost ended up not being on the ballot.  That's the same situation here.  If enough people think everyone else is voting for Pearl Jam, so they can throw a vote to someone less likely, it could add up to keep Pearl Jam out.
Whom they'd pave the way for:  More alt-rock acts that both followed and predated Pearl Jam stand to come through the door, including Alice In Chains, Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, and the Foo Fighters.
Biggest threats:  Jane's Addiction is the most direct threat, but the classic rock acts on the ballot could form a wall, Red-Rover-Red-Rover style, to keep them out.
In the end:  Oh please.  They're going in.  Odds of induction: 98%

Arena rock band formed in the mid '70s.  First-time nominee.
Why they might make it:  They are currently leading the fan vote, and while that's not a certainty, it's been a lockstep correlation so far, ever since the fan ballot was introduced.  Additionally, this is a band with heavy popular appeal, and those within the Foundation who want to get more visitors to the museum will be all behind getting this band in.  In the past, even I have called them the epitome of Americana in rock'n'roll music.
Why they might not:  In the past, the Hall has always aimed more to honor artists that were innovative, proved influential, and elevated rock 'n' roll as an art form.  Journey's resume has all but three of those things: they aren't innovative, their influence is minimal, and no critic not on a bad hallucinogenic trip has ever referred to their music as "art."  Journey may very well be the schlockiest act ever to be nominated to date that didn't also have one of those three things.  The only possible rival for that honor would be ABBA, and I'd still give it to Journey, because ABBA was unique with a sound that has never really been duplicated, whereas Journey is from the same mold as bands like Foreigner, Kansas, Boston, and Styx.
Whom they'd pave the way for:  Foreigner, Kansas, Boston, and Styx.  And honestly, just about any act, especially those in the classic rock format.
Biggest threats:  If there's any attempt to diversify the ballot, Electric Light Orchestra, the Cars, Yes, the J. Geils Band, and Steppenwolf are all possible vote thieves from Journey.
In the end:  It will really be interesting to see what becomes of the Hall in the next few years once these guys are in.  And it's a pretty safe bet they're in.  Odds of induction: 80%

Orchestral rock group.  First-time nominee
Why they might make it:  Frontman Jeff Lynne is very well connected in the industry, they received very high praise from John Lennon himself, they have a sizeable catalog of hit albums and songs that are still revered, and have a couple signature songs to boot.  On paper, they should be a lock.
Why they might not:  Because the Hall can be pretty unpredictable sometimes.  It took them this long to get nominated.  Additionally, some naysayers say they're only nominated so they can get the last Wilbury in the Hall.
Whom they'd pave the way for:  This one's hard to call.  Probably some other British rockers from the '70s.  Or just some more classic rockers like Peter Frampton among others.
Biggest threats:  Journey is keeping them out of the top spot in the fan vote.  Plus the Cars, Yes, the J. Geils Band, and Steppenwolf could run interference.
In the end:  I had the same mix of confidence and uneasiness last year about Chicago.  I think that's a good sign.  Odds of induction: 75%

Folk chanteuse with a very long career.  First-time nominee.
Why she might make it:  She's extremely influential, including having influenced Bob Dylan.  She's very politically active, which the voters for the Hall love.  They also love singer-songwriters, which she fills.  She's just one of those nominees, along with some others on this ballot that people thought was inducted long ago.
Why she might not:  She herself has never associated herself as being "rock 'n' roll" or even "folk-rock."  She's just "folk."  That might not go over well with voters.  Also, since 2016 has been a good year for horrible people, the fact that she's a woman is a liability as well.
Whom she'd pave the way for:  Judy Collins is another songstress who's been considered before.  A Baez induction should give her an increased chance.  It could also bode well for strictly folk artists who were still influential on the world of rock 'n' roll like the Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul, And Mary.
Biggest threats:  Chaka Khan and Janet Jackson are fellow ladies vying for a vote.  The Zombies and Steppenwolf are fellow '60s acts that stand in the way as well.
In the end:  She may not identify as rock 'n' roll, but songs like "Blue Sky" and "In The Quiet Morning" show how folk is part of the DNA of rock 'n' roll music.  She's also connected to one of the deities of rock 'n' roll music.  Just having that on her side should overcome all stylistic and biological handicaps against her induction.  She'll be the token "diversity" inductee this year, like N.W.A. was last year.  Odds of induction: 65%

Blues-based rock group.  Fourth-time nominee, unseeded the first two times,  Seeded #3 in 2011.
Why they might make it:  They've got Jann S. Wenner and Little Steven in their corner, which is big.  Little Steven has a pretty good track record of getting his nominees in, and every couple years or so, a pet act of Wenner's gets in, such as the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 2015.  Additionally, they're a great live act with an electrifying frontman who has been on hand for the Hall's ceremonies a time or two.
Why they might not:  Despite all the people in their corner, they're a tough sell.  On paper, they just don't stack up as being very worthy.  They're an act that is easy to forget in the shuffle of everything, and that could hurt.
Whom they'd pave the way for:  Since they were originally rooted in the blues, maybe getting them in will get the Hall to look at blues artists again and go for Johnny Winter, Otis Rush, Junior Wells, or Albert Collins.  It could even open a door for Southside Johnny And The Asbury Jukes.
Biggest threats:  Steppenwolf is bluesier and is the most direct threat.  Also Journey, Electric Light Orchestra, the Cars, and Yes are all scrambling for votes too.
In the end:  I originally couldn't decide whether to pick the Cars or Yes for the fifth slot, and then I remember the words of Father Mulcahey in an episode of M*A*S*H: when the money is divided between the favorites, bet on the longshot.  And among the classic rock acts nominated this year, I think that's this band.  Odds of induction: 52%

6. 2PAC
Vulcan rapper born T'Pac, son of Sh'Kur, did reconnaissance work prior to first contact as an American rapper.  Newly eligible, and thus first time nominated.
Why he might make it:  He's a heavily influential rapper, and one who died in his prime, which the Hall always loves and respects.  A lot of hit tracks and albums crammed into a relatively short time period, too.
Why he might not:  Rap has been struggling to get recognized by the Hall in recent years.  N.W.A. finally got in after four nominations.  2Pac may not be the sure thing everyone initially thought.
Whom he'd pave the way for:  The Notorious B.I.G. will be eligible very shortly, plus Snoop Doggy Dogg and Ice Cube as a soloist could be nominated in the next few years.
Biggest threats:  There are no other rappers, but Pearl Jam is the other newly eligible act on the ballot and Chic, Chaka Khan, and Janet Jackson are all representing R&B solidly.
In the end:  If they do decide to induct six acts in 2017, it'll bump up 2Pac's chances.  Otherwise, I'm gonna buck trend here and say he misses out.  Odds of induction: 50%

R&B/disco group fronted by a crackerjack production team.  This is their eleventh appearance on the ballot, not seeded their first two times, seeded dead last (#9) in 2007, #7 in 2008, #5 in 2010, #10 in 2011, #12 in 2013, #2 in 2014, #7 in 2015 and #6 in 2016.
Why they might make it:  Everyone is sick of seeing their name on the ballot, and collectively wondering why they aren't just in already.  Even Eddie Trunk, the Donald Trump of Rock Hall discussion, says Chic needs to be inducted already.  Their records' craftsmanship was simply impeccable, and resistance is wearing down.
Why they might not:  Despite saying they need to be in already, Eddie Trunk still couldn't be bothered to vote for them.  And there are probably at least a hundred official voters who think and act the same way.
Whom they'd pave the way for:  Chic's gotta get in before we can even have the slightest glimmer of hope for the Gap Band or Barry White to get nominated, or for the Spinners to break through and not have the vote split against them in the future.
Biggest threats:  Their own legacy as the "Susan Lucci" of the Rock Hall.  Aside from that, Chaka Khan and Janet Jackson are the most direct competition, and Bad Brains could steal some votes away from them as well.
In the end:  My open message to voters and monitors alike--There will be NO "Award For Musical Excellence" for just Nile Rodgers or Chic.  The Hall has made its position crystal clear: they are going in the Hall as Performers.  And there will be no grandfathering them in via a Veterans' Committee or any such falderal.  They're going in this way.  Eventually.  Accept it, suck it up, and vote them in next year.  This year, still not happening unless they expand the class to seven inductees.  Odds of induction: 45%

New-wave rock band.  Second time nominee, seeded #5 last year.
Why they might make it: There aren't too many bands that can be innovative, widely acclaimed by critics, and popular with the listening public.  The Cars pulled it off and made it look effortless.
Why they might not: New-wave and synth-rock are pretty minimally represented in the Hall, and it's not a widely loved style by the powers-that-be therein.
Whom they'd pave the way for: An induction for the Cars probably won't bode too well for acts whose popularity was not in America, so don't expect a door to open for Gary Numan or Tubeway Army, but the strong synth lines could help connect the dots towards Duran Duran somewhere down the line.
Biggest threats:  Journey and Electric Light Orchestra are the biggest threats, along with Yes, the J. Geils Band and Steppenwolf.
In the end:  The Cars could end up being one of those rare good calls that strangely need a second nomination to get in, like Queen or Aerosmith, or they could be on their way to need seven or eight nominations like Lynyrd Skynyrd or Black Sabbath.  All things considered, I balk at their odds, but won't be too surprised if they do get in.  Odds of induction: 40%

9. YES
Long-lasting progressive rock band with numerous personnel changes.  Third time nominee.  Seeded #6 for 2014, and #4 for 2016.
Why they might make it: Yes, so far, is the only prog act to not get in on their first nomination, so that's a bit of an anomaly.  Prog does well.  Plus they're a fairly influential AND popular prog act, another anomaly.  
Why they might not:  Critics still compose a significant chunk of the voting bloc, and critics have never been big on prog.  Plus, despite an impressive showing as an albums band, their singles recognition factor is fairly low.
Whom they’d pave the way for: Prog has a fairly long queue that rockists want to see inducted: King Crimson, Jethro Tull, and Emerson, Lake, And Palmer to name but three.
Biggest threats: Once again, this year's ballot is almost the classic rock lover's dream, so look for some division from the Cars, Steppenwolf, Journey, Electric Light Orcestra, and the J. Geils Band.
In the end: In 2014, I said that Yes could be the first prog band to need a second nomination, and it appears I was right.  Right now, they're in that limbo of being hard to guess just how many they'll need though.   They'll need a thinner classic rock selection, I think to finally break through.  Odds of induction: 37.5%

European progressive act that pioneered electronica. Fourth-time nominee, unseeded their first time, seeded #9 in 2013, and #13 in 2015.
Why they might make it:  Slowly but steadily, people are waking up and realizing just how big of a deal Kraftwerk really is, not just for dance music, but also hip-hop and the entirety of the rock 'n' roll diaspora.  At this point, we can probably say it's not a matter of "if" but "when."
Why they might not: While the Hall Of Fame doesn’t discriminate against acts from countries other than the US and UK, they do strongly favor acts that were very popular in the U.S.A., which Kraftwerk was not.  If a voting member isn’t too familiar with their stuff, and sees five other names they like, they won’t bother researching Kraftwerk further.
Whom they’d pave the way for: There’re a couple avenues to go here. Fatboy Slim, Daft Punk, and many more famous electronica acts are still a few years off.  The Art Of Noise are a left-field possibility, though possibly too much of a novelty act to get in.  But Kraftwerk’s induction may help more acts who were huge, just not in the States, get some recognition, such as Cliff Richard And The Shadows, Status Quo, Johnny Hallyday, Fela, or even Ricky Martin in the future.  Both paths are a bit of a stretch, but if the road really dead-ended with Kraftwerk, they probably wouldn’t be worth inducting anyway.
Biggest threats:  Dance music has Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, and Chic all here.  European stylings show Depeche Mode as a possibly likelier choice.
In the end: Kraftwerk will probably need seven or eight nominations before getting their proper recognition, much like the Stooges or Black Sabbath.  It's just going to take more time before enough people wake up to them.  Odds of induction: 35%

Synth-rock outfit from England.  First-time nominee.
Why they might make it:  Depeche Mode represent something pretty innovative and signature of the '80s, and despite never really grabbing the brass ring at any one time, they're recognized as one of the biggest names in their field for the entirety of their career and catalog.
Why they might not:  Their style is ultimately not that well loved, especially by critics in the voting bloc.  Plus, with the Smiths, the Replacements, and the Cure all failing to get inducted in the past, it just seems like so much of the '80s is going to be kept out for awhile. 
Whom they'd pave the way for:  Simple Minds have been considered before, and an induction of Depeche Mode might give them a shot, as well as Duran Duran, and even the Thompson Twins and Tears For Fears.
Biggest threats:  Kraftwerk is the clearest direct competition.  Bad Brains and Janet Jackson also represent the '80s and could steal votes.
In the end:  In a weird way, Depeche Mode can be described as "big fish in a small pond," particularly when discussing their subgenre's representation in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  That's not saying they're small potatoes, just that what they bring to the Hall's table isn't getting asked to be passed around all that much.  And with a ballot this large and a small class promised, they'll drop through the cracks.  A lot of people like them, but can't find room for them this time around.  Odds of induction: 33.3%

12. THE MC5
Hard-rockin' proto-punk band.  Second time nominated, previously unseeded.
Why they might make it:  They're heavily respected for their innovation and influence.  Plus, who wouldn't want to see an MC5 tribute performance fronted by Fred "Sonic" Smith's wife Patti?  That could only be awesome.
Why they might not:  They were short lived and didn't have much presence, and still don't have much name recognition with the general music listening public.  Also, distortion as an effect is novel and artistic, but overall is a gimmick that doesn't break down walls for them.
Whom they'd pave the way for:  They could help pave the way for acts like Television and the also-once-nominated New York Dolls.
Biggest threats:  Steppenwolf is probably their biggest competition for hard-rocking late '60s/early '70s bands.  The Zombies are also a threat in their own right.
In the end:  It's nice to see them nominated again, looking forward to seeing their name appear again because this won't be their year.  Odds of induction: 30%

Hard blues-rock band.  First-time nominee.
Why they might make it:  "Born To Be Wild" is a rallying anthem for the rock and roll world, and "Magic Carpet Ride" is a great, albeit possibly unintentional, anthem for the psychedelic '60s.  Plus the Hall loves blues rockers.
Why they might not:  Despite making some great music, their nomination is not widely popular.  Thought of as a two-trick pony, they are regarded as simply falling short of the mark.  Plus, lead singer John Kay is an East German-born Canadian, and that won't stand here in 'Murica!
Whom they'd pave the way for:  Being considered proto-metal, they could help give an extra boost for Judas Priest and Motorhead.  They could also open the door for good-time rock from the '60s again, and maybe Paul Revere And The Raiders could get some recognition.  
Biggest threats:  Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, the Cars, and Yes all stand in their way on the classic rock front.  The Zombies, Joe Tex, and the MC5 are other representatives of the '60s.
In the end:  I'm probably the only person in my immediate musical community that thinks Steppenwolf is worthy of enshrinement.  That said, even I didn't list them in the upper half of deserving acts in this year's ballot.  Another year perhaps.  Odds of induction: 25%

‘60s British Invasion rock group that prominently featured keyboards.  Second time they've been nominated, seeded #8 in 2014.
Why they might make it:  Not only does the Rock Hall love the British Invasion, but so does the general public.  This is an inductee they’d celebrate together.  Also, one of the more distinct of the British acts.  Their sound was very unique and hard to confuse for anyone else.  
Why they might not: They were pretty short lived, and have only a handful of songs that people remember, even though they love them dearly. It might just not be enough.
Whom they’d pave the way for: With Procol Harum missing out this year, an induction for the Zombies might rejuvenate that charge.  It could also lead to future nominations for Manfred Mann, Herman’s Hermits, the Spencer Davis Group, and maybe a left field pick like the Troggs.
Biggest threats:  Those nostalgic for the '60s also have Steppenwolf, Joe Tex, and the MC5 to consider.
In the end:  In some ways, this could be the upset special this year.  I see them sneaking through, but it'll be a hard thing to make happen.  A little too unlikely this time around.  Odds of induction: 20%

Alternative rock group.  First-time nominee.
Why they might make it:  They've got the image, and they've got some semblance of influence that works to their advantage.  Plus, they're a white, male, guitar band.
Why they might not:  As a unit, their output was not exactly large.  They're almost as well-known for their members' later projects as they are for their own.
Whom they'd pave the way for:  Other rock acts from the same era to follow could include the Stone Roses, Stone Temple Pilots, and Smashing Pumpkins.
Biggest threats:  Pearl Jam is the biggie.  Bad Brains are also a below-the-radar threat that could take votes away from them.
In the end:  With Pearl Jam as the sure thing, this band could've been left off the ballot and no one would have missed them.  They don't represent anything Pearl Jam doesn't.  Nice to see them nominated, but no chance.  Odds of induction: 16.6%

R&B and dance music diva.  Second nomination, #3 seed last year.
Why she might make it:  She's the biggest singles' name on the ballot.  There has also been an online campaign to get Janet Jackson inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  This has been their baby, and it looks like it could happen one day. 
Why she might not: Ever since she was announced as a return nominee, people have been looking for reasons to keep her out.  Currently, they're using her due date as a reason why she'd miss the ceremonies, and thus, why bother voting for her?  Beyond that, there are still the two things might hinder her chances.  First, there's been a lot of speculation that all she has is because of her name and her brother's fame.  Some just think she'd be nothing if she weren't Michael's sister.  Second, naysayers say a lot of her records, particularly the earlier ones, have a very generic sound that is nothing special, even derivative, and that her producers make all the magic of her music.  This is augmented by the fact on a lot of her records, her voice doesn't come through very strongly, lost in the production effect.
Whom she'd pave the way for: The big hope is that getting Janet in will kick down the doors for Whitney Houston, and eventually Mariah Carey, TLC, Destiny's Child, and Beyonce. 
Biggest threats: Chaka Khan is the other major diva on the ballot, Chic could steal the dance music votes, too.  And don't count out Kraftwerk either.
In the end:  The Hall added a bunch of critics to counter the increasing voice of the classic rock band members, but the fact that she's a not a guitar-slinging, white, male rocker is going to be what keeps her out for a few years more.  Odds of induction: 15%

R&B diva, former lead singer of Rufus.  Second time nominee?  Second and a half?  Rufus with Chaka Khan was seeded #15 for 2012, and her solo efforts were seeded #11 last year.
Why she might make it: She's a big name draw with a slew of chart hits of her own, plus she's worked with a lot of important names in the rock community.
Why she might not: This is presumably about her solo career, and won't include her work with Rufus.  Her solo stuff includes a lot easier listening ballads, though not exclusively.
Whom she'd pave the way for:  There are a few other disco divas who might be worth taking a look at.  Grace Jones tops that list.
Biggest threats:  Janet Jackson is the obvious competition, but so are Chic, and Joe Tex.
In the end:  Everything said about Janet Jackson's chances pretty much applies here.  She's Black, female, and not played on classic rock stations.  Game over.  Enter initials.  Odds of induction: 12.5%

Reggae-flavored hardcore punk rock group.  First-time nominee.
Why they might make it: Industry insiders love Bad Brains, recognize their innovation and influence, and would love to see them get in.  Voters are almost all industry insiders to some degree.  Also, remember what was said about Pearl Jam above; Bad Brains is exactly the kind of act someone who figures everyone else is voting for Pearl Jam would throw a bone to.
Why they might not: Even those who love and revere Bad Brains admit they're a tough sell, especially in a ballot like this.  Beyond that, they have absolutely no public resonance.  Literally no hit albums or singles on any Billboard chart.  None.  Also, they're Black.
Whom they'd pave the way for: Hardcore punk has yet to break through, so Dead Kennedys and Black Flag are the two biggest possibilities to come through the door behind Bad Brains.
Biggest threats: Pearl Jam and Jane's Addiction are already representing the non-mainstream side of things, and the guitar wizardry of Nile Rodgers means Chic's something of a direct competitor as well.
In the end: It would be a wonderful coup if Bad Brains got in instead of Pearl Jam.  It would be interesting how political scientists would view the decision and outcome in terms of cooperation and defection.  Would it be considered akin to the chicken scenario, the stag hunt, the prisoners' dilemma, or something else?   It's all academic, because it'll take one hell of a Hail Mary collusion to make it happen.  Odds of induction: 10%

Soul singer.  Fifth time nominated, unseeded the first two times, seeded #6 for 2007, #12 for 2011.
Why he might make it: The Hall does love soul, and Tex has a strong catalog and history as a soul singer.  He's also recognized as a pioneer of the rap vocal style delivery.  Additionally, because he's dead, he's one more inductee the Hall could throw in, have a short inductor's speech, a relatively short acceptance speech from a loved one, and no tribute performance except maybe to do one of his songs as the all-star jam.  They could induct him and add maybe five extra minutes to the induction ceremony for those who don't see that scenario as the tail wagging the dog.
Why he might not: Did I say "The Hall does love soul"?  Correction: the Hall DID love soul.  Aside from an ex-sex induction of Bill Withers in 2015, the Hall pretty much broke up with soul... via changing its Facebook relationship status to "Single" without soul knowing it, after sneaking Bobby Womack in in 2009 (or arguably Jimmy Cliff in 2010, or Darlene Love in 2011).  Furthermore, this is someone that had something of a feud with James Brown, a sacred cow for the Hall.  That spells trouble right there.  Also, he wasn't just Black, but also Muslim, and that's just unAmerican!
Whom he'd pave the way for: I'd love to see "Soul Philosopher" Johnnie Taylor get in after Tex, and hopefully clearing out Tex would finally bring serious discussion for Brook Benton or solo inductions for Jerry Butler and Ben E. King.
Biggest threats: From the R&B camp, Chic, Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, as well as Steppenwolf, the Zombies, and Joan Baez from the '60's.
In the end:  It would take a manifest decision on the part of the Hall to execute that "five extra minutes" scenario that I described above to get Joe Tex in this year.  The Death Fairy has been especially busy this year, so much so that being dead won't even help him.  Fat chance.  Not. Gonna. Happen.  Odds of induction: 5%

There you have it.  My predictions.  I'm not too happy about it, but it's what I see happening.  As much as I love Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, the Zombies, and Steppenwolf, I would be happiest with a class that consisted of Janet Jackson, Bad Brains, Joe Tex, Chaka Khan, Chic, 2Pac, and Joan Baez--just any act that is not both White and male.  But that's not reality.  So I'll see you all on the other side of the announcements.