Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Battle Royale for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Foreword


Once again this year I have been entrusted with a vote for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and as befits an honor like this, I intend to make a thorough review of the candidates before I cast my ballot. There are 16 nominees this year, competing for five slots, and it occurs to me that perhaps the best way to approach this is as a real competition, with five winners and 11 losers. Let’s stack the candidates up and let them battle it out against each other – that seems more sensible than just saying “Oh, Tina Turner, she’s great, I’ll vote for her.” None of that is to insinuate that Tina Turner is anything less than great, of course.

So this year we’ll rank each candidate according to the categories that seem most relevant to the Rock Hall: hit making, musical influence, cultural impact, coolness, etc. Rather than compare, say, Fela with Iron Maiden along a single vector of worthiness, we’ll stack all these qualities up and see how they turn out. Then at the end, the five acts that score the best will get my vote.

Part of the reason I want to do it this way is because every year people say things like, “Devo, man! How can you not vote for them?” With the nominees listed in order for each category, knowing that only the top five will make the cut, it’s much easier to offer up a reason: They’re nine slots less sexy than Kate Bush.

Here are the artists we’ll be considering this year:

  • Mary J. Blige
  • Kate Bush
  • Devo
  • Foo Fighters
  • The Go-Go’s
  • Iron Maiden
  • JAY-Z
  • Chaka Khan
  • Carole King
  • Fela Kuti
  • LL Cool J
  • New York Dolls
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Todd Rundgren
  • Tina Turner
  • Dionne Warwick

I took this list directly from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame site, so don’t blame me for the way they put JAY-Z in all caps. It’s not an acronym! From here on out, we’ll be calling him “Jay-Z” just like Beyonce does.

We’ll get started in the next couple of days. Thanks for being here.

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