Thursday, June 19, 2014

Rock Hall Monitors Goes To The Movies

Grab the popcorn, candy, drinks, and your special someone.  We’re heading to the theater this weekend.   That’s not so unusual, I’ve seen two movies in the past two weekends, so why does this merit an entry on a blog about the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame?  Well, this weekend is the debut of a movie about an act that has been enshrined in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  A band that has for far too long been denied the recognition of their contribution to rock and roll and music in general.  I am of course talking about the Four Seasons.  Also known as the 4 Seasons, or also as Frankie Valli And The 4 Seasons.

This movie isn’t completely unique, and perhaps that’s why it’s being released in summer, rather than the fall.  It’s nowhere near the first rock ‘n’ roll biopic: Great Balls Of Fire, The Buddy Holly Story, Why Do Fools Fall In Love?, etc.  And it’s not the first “jukebox musical” either… certainly you’ve heard of one Mamma Mia!  Still, as one of the first widely celebrated “jukebox musicals” turning into a movie, there’s a lot of promise here.

I have several reasons to be excited for this movie, starting with the director.  Clint Eastwood doesn’t have a completely spotless track record, but it’s incredibly solid, and in the interviews he's done regarding this project, he's talked about how this movie has taken time to get off the ground, waiting for someone who can deliver a credible biopic with both the entertainment the 4 Seasons provided, and the gravitas to appreciate their incredible story.  That gives me hope.  Second, the story is a proven success.  As a Broadway musical first, Jersey Boys won the Tony for Best Musical, as well as in three or four other categories.  Third, the casting is largely of actors who played the members of the 4 Seasons on Broadway, including John Lloyd Young as Frankie Valli himself.  These are actors who knew how to play the characters before the first day of shooting, who’ve actually spent time meeting Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito, and the surviving family members of the late Nick Massi.  Naturally, one would expect an actor to research and prepare for any role, but these are the ones who mostly got dibs on doing it, spent the hours doing the homework and fine-tuning it, and have been playing the roles in performances.  They were prepared for this.  Lastly, I’m a diehard fan of the 4 Seasons, and don’t live anywhere near New York City.  I want to see this movie.

That’s not to say I think this will shatter records.  It’d be nice, but it’s up against some tough competitors at the box office, plus, as I said, the 4 Seasons have almost never gotten the respect and accolades they deserve.  There’s wishful thinking, and then there’s hoping this will turn the 4 Seasons into acclaimed national treasures.  And, as noted earlier, this is a summer movie, not an October-or-later movie, when the arthouse films that get the major Oscar nominations generally come out.  Lastly, the television appearances on talk shows from Clint Eastwood and Christopher Walken have been less than focused on actually plugging the film itself.

All the same, the buzz surrounding the musical has been positive, and I’m hoping that this does very well, and more importantly, will introduce the music of the 4 Seasons to a whole new audience.  So far, a major common theme of many of the  “man on the street” reviews of the stage show has been that people are just now realizing that the 4 Seasons were responsible for a lot of the songs of the ‘60s that they loved, but didn’t know who performed them.  That's simultaneously awesome and sad, but hopefully the cinematic exposure will bring new interest in the music of both the group and the solo career of Frankie Valli, and even in the works of Bob Gaudio as a songwriter and Bob Crewe as a producer.

Coming back to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, can this movie cause any new ripples or waves?  Mamma Mia! came out before ABBA got inducted, and some believe that the combined success of the movie and the play helped the cause.  But the 4 Seasons have already been inducted.  Some of the diehard Seasonologists would love to see Frankie Valli get inducted a second time as a soloist, but I don’t think that’s a reasonable goal.  While his solo stuff would certainly qualify as “unquestionable musical excellence,” there are just a number of factors working against the case.  He’s reasonably influential in terms of people covering the songs he did as a soloist, but his overall style as a soloist is not widely cited by musicians that followed.  His disco performances are definitely among the more artistic variety of disco, but he didn’t have the clout of the Bee Gees, KC And The Sunshine Band, or any of the major disco queens, and didn't match the commercial success of many of them.  His ballads are terrific, but the Hall has been dragging its feet to recognize any “lite rock” giants.  Most harmful to the cause however, is that his solo career has never been regarded as being distinctive and separated from his work with the 4 Seasons.  Chronologically, definitely not.  In that regard, Phil Collins is about the only serious contender for maintaining group chops while embarking on a Hall Of Fame-worthy solo career.  But more importantly, when most anthologies include one or two of your solo hits with your group’s “greatest hits,” your solo career is not all that distanced from the group work.

So, I really don’t see a solo induction for Frankie Valli coming.  But all’s not lost.  Recently, in the Rock Hall Projected project on the FRL site, I’ve been championing Bob Crewe as a Non-Performer.  The project (and site) are of course not affiliated with the Hall in any capacity, but it never hurts to raise awareness on smaller level, and see if it can snowball.  Ultimately, I think Bob Crewe is quite deserving of induction.  He’s done a lot of stuff besides the 4 Seasons’ music, and he’s not the only inducted producer (or non-performer) to have done a lot of various work, but still have a bread and butter act.  I’d also hope for the songwriting team of Linzer-Randell to get some consideration, but there’s still a bullpen of songwriters more deserving than them still waiting as well.

So yes, I’d love to see this film help get Bob Crewe inducted.  I’d also like to see it garner an Oscar in some capacity.  Maybe for soundtrack.  Best Picture would be awesome, but hopes are not elevated.  Maybe it could spur HBO into making a mini-series or documentary about the 4 Seasons as well.  And if that were to win an Emmy, the legacy of the 4 Seasons, via the Jersey Boys phenomenon, would have an EGOT (Grammy for best cast recording).  No one person, of course, but still wouldn’t that be cool? 

Not bad for a group who never got a Grammy for their records—not even a Lifetime Achievement Grammy to date, a group heretofore anonymously responsible for so many of your favorite records from the ‘60’s, a group who pioneered both blue-eyed soul and working-class-appealing rock ‘n’ roll while also solidifying the East Coast sound, a group whose first industrial accolade not directly linked to sales was their 1990 induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  Not bad at all.

See you at the movies this weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Better late than later: comments on the 2014 induction ceremony

Maybe I need a vacation, a hiatus of sorts. 

After watching the 2014 induction ceremony, I was left feeling very underwhelmed.  That in itself is really not so surprising, as a lot of people have commented on how lackluster this year’s ceremony was, but for me, it wasn’t just a matter of there being no KISS performance, or even due to the fact that I’m not really a huge fan of any of the inductees (indeed, two of them I have a strong dislike for).  No, what left me feeling ho-hum about it all was really more how it felt like the music was a veneer, and a tertiary item on the agenda for the night.

As I wrote in the blog about lessons we can learn from the KISS drama, I stated how social media makes everything worse.  And that may be hypocritical of me as having a blog, and using both Facebook and Twitter to promote it (with the kind help of Future Rock Legends), I’m not entirely off that grid myself.  Perhaps, it’s more accurate to say that social media is more like an amplifier.  I use it to amplify my attempts at rational, level-headed discourse, and because my entries are seldom inflammatory, coupled with the fact that I myself am pretty small potatoes, a nice tone is amplified and carried out to more people in a fairly non-disruptive and sometimes euphonic manner (if we’re to maintain the analogy).  On the other hand, you take the adamant, negative outcry of a major celebrity, such as Gene Simmons, and run that through the amplifier, and it creates a distorted, overbearing assault that makes you wonder where (as it’s hardly a question of if) something short-circuited.  Because of the drama with KISS, the lesser drama with Andrew Loog Oldham, and the inability for Linda Ronstadt to travel, expectations were remarkably low among the Rock Hall watching community for this year.  And if you weren’t at the actual ceremony in Brooklyn, chances are the broadcast version only confirmed it like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As I said, part of this felt like because the music itself was treated with tertiary importance.  Watching the ceremony and following the coverage leading up to it, it seemed like rabble-rousing was of primary importance.  Except this was done very subtly at the actual event.  For all the acrimony Gene Simmons spat into the Twitterverse, KISS themselves were relatively well-behaved.  “Relatively” of course, because they still had to get the dig in about how it should be more everyman-oriented, including the very nomination process itself; and “relatively” because most of them left before it was even over, seemingly making a statement in their departure.  It wasn’t so much just KISS, though.  Tom Morello’s speech, while very passionate, also seemed to contain hints of anger that it took so long for it to happen.  Let’s not overlook the history with Daryl Hall slamming the Rock Hall either, which seemed barely contained in his and John Oates’ acceptance speeches (sidebar: I had no idea John Oates was so short.  If there’s a biopic, Peter Dinklage has got to play John Oates).  While there wasn’t so much anger from Ronstadt’s corner, since she wasn’t there, her paradoxically angry indifference to the idea in the past suggests she wouldn’t have been better company that night either. 

This rabble-rousing was intertwined with what seemed to be of secondary importance: shameless plugging.  Coldplay’s induction is certain, but hey, having Chris Martin on-hand to induct Peter Gabriel couldn’t hurt to assure the induction is more timely than not, though to be less cynical, I think Martin’s speech was the best of the night: witty, emotional, personal, music-focused, beautiful.  But there was also the unaired “Digging In The Dirt” performance which included a member of the now thrice-passed by Meters.  Linda Ronstadt’s tribute included two Hall-Of-Famers, but could Sheryl Crow’s appearance been as a plug for her legacy?  Or Emmylou Harris for that matter?  Sure, she’s country, but there’ve been murmurs for a couple country artists who’ve been so influential and impacting on rock and roll music, that maybe they ought to be inducted as well, Harris somewhere in the top five on that list for a lot of people.  Of course, Daryl Hall And John Oates channeling their rabble-rousing wrath to challenge the Hall to correct its omission of Philadelphia artists is a prime example, as well.  Something recent I read, and I think it was an article in the Future Rock Legends Twitter feed, was an interview with Hall that called attention to the perceived second-class status of Philadelphia to anything New York City, mainly by New Yorkers as perceived by Philadelphians (similar perhaps to how supposedly Canadians hate Americans because they think that Americans think of Canadians as "cute" in a second-rate way?), so maybe the combination of anger and shout-out is perfectly organic.  The worst offender though, had to be “Hervana”—the term, by the way, coined by Krist Novoselic in a positive light, so don’t come after me with accusations of misogyny.  Let’s not kid ourselves: Joan Jett And The Blackhearts have been nominated twice, and Sonic Youth has been touted as one of the biggest snubs of the ‘80s alternative scene.  With Jett and Kim Gordon there, that HAD to be a plug for their bands to get nominated.  It appears to have worked too, as ?uestlove himself said he’ll be focusing on Sonic Youth for the upcoming ballot.

As I said, maybe I need to make a point to just block out the newsfeed in the weeks leading up to the ceremonies, but between artists who are bitter about having had to wait so long to be inducted (or inductors expressing that anger for them a la Billie Joe for the Stooges), and performances by and mentions for acts in an attempt to get some conversation about them, it certainly is starting to wear weary and make the case that maybe the ceremonies shouldn’t be televised at all anymore.  I truly hope it doesn’t come to that.  I hope that between the Hall, the inductees, the inductors, the performing artists, and the editing team who puts it together for broadcast—that they can collectively stomp out the negativity from it and get back to celebrating the music and the people who make it possible.

In closing, I’ll now share my other random thoughts about the ceremonies that aren’t germane to the above paragraphs:

-I loved Chris Martin’s speech, but I do have to wonder if Gabriel rolled his eyes when helping John Cusack get his girlfriend back was listed as one of his “major achievements.”

-Great performance from Gabriel and N’Dour, though I still wouldn’t induct N’Dour.

-I like how Glenn Frey tap-danced a bit and found a nice way to spin Ronstadt’s history as a cover artist, focusing instead more on her legacy as a forefront artist for country-rock… though I did grimace a little, as I still feel that any mention of Parsons, Ronstadt, or the Eagles should include the line “carrying on the torch that the Big Bopper’s death passed off to them.”

-Solid tribute to Ronstadt.  Carrie Underwood was the strongest of the five easily, as she was the only one hitting some of those higher notes.

-As much as I respect the passion of Morello in his speech, it also reminded me too much of everything said by any and every KISS fanboy on the FRL site.  And it sounded just as indignant.  Try smiling while presenting your childhood favorite band, Tom.

-Roger Friedman (from Fox News) needs to shut the hell up.  In this specific case, I’m referring to his finding something to complain about in the form of Peter Asher’s speech for Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham.  From a television perspective, you’ve got two inductees for whom neither they nor anyone in their family is showing up to accept the honors, no tribute performance to either (unlike Gamble And Huff who had two solid tribute performances in 2008, courtesy of Patti LaBelle and Jerry Butler, both of whom need to be inducted), one presentation speech for both, right or wrong, for a category that has nowhere near the same draw as the majority of the Performers, in a year where almost all of the inductees are household names, many of whom have somebody showing up to accept, perform, or pay homage to.  Of course Asher’s speech was going to get heavily edited.  And really, from a television perspective, it was the right thing to do.  So stuff it, Friedman.

-That said, I feel sorry for the person who had to edit the E Street Band segment.  That couldn’t have been an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m sure most of the speeches were impassioned and riveting, and the performances themselves captivating, but on TV, I got kind of bored.  Tempted to change the channel even.

-No comment really on Cat Stevens.  Art Garfunkel’s speech was a little less than stellar in its praise, but I enjoyed Cat’s acceptance speech.  Not a fan of his music, so for what it was, and what it was for, it worked well.

-I think ?uestlove’s speech was second to Martin’s in quality.  ?uestlove was likewise full of passion, and a nice reminder that (my personal distaste aside) Daryl Hall And John Oates’ music is the best inducted example of how rock ‘n’ roll crosses social boundaries, both racial and generational, since probably 2010’s induction of ABBA.

-Right on Daryl.  Definitely need all those Philly artists you mentioned inducted… except solo Len Barry.  I’m a Cameo-Parkway fanatic, and even I’m only a “maybe” on the Dovells.

-No seriously, I had NO idea John Oates was that short.  Or maybe Daryl Hall is just that tall.

-Great speech from Stipe.

-Kudos to the editing people for getting most of the boos for Courtney Love edited out.  People who hate Courtney Love because Kurt Cobain committed suicide need to get stuffed right after Roger Friedman.  It wasn’t her fault.  They even exhumed the body recently to verify it.  Put it to bed with the other conspiracies.  Cobain killed himself, Elvis is dead, Oswald shot JFK, and 9/11 was not an inside job.  End of story.

-I mentioned this on Twitter, but it seems there’s a world of difference between seeing Joan Jett live and seeing her televised, because on HBO, she sucked.  It was worse than her tribute to the Dave Clark Five in ’08.  Maybe that’s why she’s not in the Hall yet.  I have no idea WTF to make of Gordon’s performance of “Aneurysm.”  Most realistic sonic reproduction since John Lennon’s truncated simulation of heroin withdrawal on “Cold Turkey,” perhaps?  You be the judge.  Good performances from Lorde and St. Vincent.

So those are my thoughts overall.  Add your own in the comments below.

As a P.S., my thanks to the vigilant folks at blogspot.  Recently I was notified of a new reply on an old topic that turned out to be a spambot, and they had deleted it before I could get logged in and delete it myself.  Thank-you.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Mid-Season Report, 2014 Edition

The ceremonies have been held, but not televised.  April is almost over.  I’m late, and I apologize.  But in all fairness, it works out for the better.  In less than six months, we’ll have the nominees for the Class Of 2015.  There’s still awhile to go, but that’s one of the reasons we do the mid-season report: to sort out how we feel now and see how those feelings change as the time for the ballot’s announcement looms semi-ominously on the near horizon, just on the other side of a patch of fog. 

The main reason it’s good that this year’s mid-season report is later than normal is because of what happened at the actual ceremony.  A lot of the people there, whether in speeches made by inductees or just by their mere presence, seemed to be trying to shape the upcoming ballot.  A lot of that is where we begin.

First off, the new NomCom members that got their big pushes in immediately: Questlove and Tom Morello.  On Future Rock Legends, I chuckled a comment about Tom Morello inducting KISS, and to be honest, that same amusement also applies to Questlove and his support of Daryl Hall And John Oates.  As the auto insurance commercial says, just another reason life is funny.  But between the two of them chatting it up afterwards, it became clear that they are simpatico in a lot of ways, musically.  I don’t know enough about the proceedings to say how powerful an alliance between only two people is, but it’s not something I would ignore either.  So it’s pretty safe to say at this point that N.W.A. will be back on the ballot.  We know Toure will continue pushing for rap acts, and these two new members are behind the rap group’s induction as well.  It also sounds like they’re agreed on trying to put Sonic Youth on the ballot.  I’m not as confident about Sonic Youth, though, since with the Cure and the Replacements recently failing, they may resurrect attempts to induct them, rather than creating a logjam of ‘80s alternative artists that are past nominees.  Nevertheless, with Kim Gordon as one of the women to lead Nirvana at the ceremonies, in what Krist Novoselic dubbed “Hervana”, her appearance could be seen as an appeal to the NomCom’s sensibilities.  The same could also be said on behalf of Joan Jett And The Blackhearts—who were surprisingly absent from this past ballot after being on the previous two—with Jett also one of the Hervana leaders.  Additionally, with one of the Meters reportedly being there behind Peter Gabriel on his set, it looks like there’s still plenty of push from within to get them in the Hall as well.

I don’t remember if the KISS members themselves said anything about acts they were championing, but KISS’s induction, much like Rush’s last year, points toward the popular pick being an inductee.  With KISS and Rush both inducted now, the attention of the classic rock devotees is actually pretty well-focused on getting Deep Purple inducted.  I think they may have even been name-dropped by Morello sometime after the ceremonies.  I don’t remember, and I don’t have the time to go re-wading through the marsh of the tweets from the event.  I think the same is true of Questlove mentioning Link Wray as well (hopefully to include the Ray-Men this time as well).  Maybe he said Dick Dale.  Don’t recall.  Unfortunately, what I do clearly remember is reading about Daryl Hall And John Oates bleeding their hearts for more Philadelphia acts.  “Unfortunately” because I see their pleas going unheeded.  So no Chubby Checker, Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes, Stylistics, etc.  It’s a shame, because it’s one of my favorite regional dialects of soul, but the Hall doesn’t give it too much love.  I’d be ecstatic if any of them appeared, especially Checker or Melvin & Co., but I’m just not holding out hope

While there were no direct pleas or ploys for Lou Reed, the passing of the legendary leader of the Velvet Underground could very easily be motivation to stick him on the ballot for 2015 as a soloist.  Lastly, while not directly dealing with the Hall itself, Daft Punk’s cleaning up at the past Grammy’s could help maintain the NomCom’s tenacity for Chic, while the televised specials celebrating the 50-year anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America, peaking with the onstage reunion of Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, may have served to remind the powers-that-be that the sweep isn’t complete in that area, even with the induction of Brian Epstein this year.

Nine names already amassed just from the special events earlier this year.  The ballot of recent tends to list around fifteen or sixteen names, so we’re already over halfway there, and we haven’t even looked at the newly eligible artists yet.  A recent article, which quoted the main man behind Future Rock Legends itself, stated that of the newly eligible crop, the only likely names we’ll see on the autumnal agenda are Green Day and Nine Inch Nails.  Green Day is a lock, but Nine Inch Nails isn’t quite as certain for immediate induction, though fairly certain for eventual honors.

Looking to corral a few more feasible names, we look once more to the newest inducted class.  Cat Stevens’ induction leaves the door fairly wide open for the bohemian singer/songwriter slot.  I’m torn between two big names on this one.  Playing it safe, I’ll go with the previously considered name Todd Rundgren.  Lastly, the returns of a couple more miss-outs from the past couple years seem probable as well, so let’s add the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Kraftwerk, and Yes.  That’s fifteen, and a good enough place to stop for now.  By September, some of these names will seem much more unlikely, while others will probably rise to prominence.  All I know is that if that this were the ballot, this would be extremely difficult to predict a class from.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The drama with KISS and what we can learn from it.

I originally had no plan to comment on it.  Then I tweeted about it.  Now, it's a blog post.  And it seems to center mainly on one inductee of this year: KISS.  To summarize, KISS wanted every member, past and present, included in the group's induction; the Hall said only the original (classic) four; Paul and Gene have thrown Twitter tantrums (twantrums? tweetrums?) about it and said there'd be no KISS performance whatsoever in that case; and the Hall is now limiting all inductees to four minute-per-person speeches.  There's other pieces of it, including bits from Ace and the Carr family, but that's the A-story to this drama.

I originally didn't want to comment on it because I thought I already had: thrice even.  I first commented on missing members, then the glorious but still incomplete look at Front Man Fever, then at the similar hissyfit that Axl Rose threw two years ago, when he was unable to get current members of Guns N' Roses included with the induction.  But the story got so big that it can't be ignored, much as I kind of want to.  What makes this time different?  Primarily, the social media war.  Doing absolutely nothing to refute the naysayers that KISS is more brand than band, Paul and Gene have been using social media, primarily Twitter, to make their voices heard, and dammit, we were going to listen whether we wanted to or not.  Whereas Axl stayed home on the night of his induction, the inducted KISS members will be there (as far as we know), and presumably Paul and Gene are going to speak their minds.

What makes this different as well is how the people at the Hall are handling it, namely poorly.  The limiting of time an inductee may speak?  What is up with that?  There may be an innocuous explanation or three: keep it from getting boring, make editing much easier for those who've got to work on making the televised broadcast version of the ceremonies, and hey, maybe the good folks at Barclay's run a much tighter ship than the dog and pony show over at the Waldorf-Astoria.  All of that put together adds up to a resounding "lulzwut?" from the rest of the world.  For starters, we're looking at up to a third of the inductees not being there.  Cat Stevens has said he may not opt to tackle the bureaucratic hedge maze of getting him allowed to enter the U.S. and attend his own induction.  Linda Ronstadt's health seems day-to-day, making her a giant question mark, and Brian Epstein's kinda busy being dead right now.  Oh, each party may have someone there to say a few words on their behalf, but it's almost always much more truncated and terser than what we would get if the actual inductee were present collecting the kudos.  With all that, why not give the present members of inductees a little more time to talk to compensate?  It's pretty obvious that KISS has made it clear that when they come to town, hell's coming with them, and the Hall is trying to set the terms for this high noon showdown.  Because if there's one thing we can count on, it's that the members of KISS will act like gentlemen on stage and accede to others' wishes.

Speaking of bad behavior, the Hall also isn't exactly done firing shots either.  As fellow monitor Tom Lane posted on his blog, NomCom member Dave Marsh is still throwing punches.  Awhile back on his Facebook page, Marsh asked people to name five bands better than KISS that they'd like to see get in.  I actually managed to weigh in on the discussion before the Internet troll division of the KISS army joined the conversation and made "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" look cerebral by comparison.  Still, one can't feel too bad for Marsh.  Besides still being in his position of power on the NomCom, he did pretty much invoke the wrath that came at him.  And he's still at it.  I mean I could do the same thing about Cat Stevens, as I felt he was the least deserving and the least listenable of the nominees this ballot, but at this point, I've shrugged it off and said, "Eh, can't always get what you want."  The column (or piece thereof?) of Marsh's that Tom Lane posted does give some valuable perspective to the anti-KISS argument.  If it's about popularity, then why we're they clobbered at their own game by the likes of enduring names such as the Bee Gees and Fleetwood Mac?  How are they any more influential in causing young boys to pick up a guitar than the base teenage desire to impress chicks?  For what it's worth, Marsh's arguments have holes as well: if misogyny is a disqualifying offense, than why are Elvis Presley, the Rolling Stones, or Led Zeppelin in the Hall?  And do you really want to argue that Poison, widely considered one of the least talented of the hair metal acts, was better than KISS; or that Joan Jett And The Blackhearts' catalog of primarily cover songs added more to the rock and roll landscape than KISS's?  I wouldn't even try.  And for me personally, a lot of the arguments for and against KISS are the same ones I heard and made about Madonna in 2007 for the Class Of 2008.  So if I have to live with a Hall Of Fame that has Madonna in it, then you can tolerate a Hall that has KISS in it.

I should at this point remind everyone of where I stand/stood on this: after Nirvana, I felt KISS was the most deserving candidate for induction on this ballot, and from a personal taste standpoint, they were in the Top 5 among the nominees as well.  I did not predict them to make it this time because 1) I thought they would split the ballot with Deep Purple and thus fall short, and 2) I thought Marsh and like-minded voters would have enough sway to keep them out.  Just wanted to clear that up.

So with all that sorted out, what does this mini-soap opera have to teach us?  I don't know about you, but this is what I've gleaned from this episode:

1. It's an honor to be inducted, so stop saying it isn't.  Seriously, guys.  Black Sabbath asked to stop being nominated because they were pissed about missing out, but when they finally got inducted, they gladly accepted their awards.  Even fellow inductee Daryl Hall, who spouted off at the Hall in the past said, "Well, now we ARE a part of their agenda."  Translation: "Huh, go fig.  Cool."  But really, it's powerful people inside your own industry bestowing an honor on you.   Even shorter than that: it’s an award, an honor being bestowed upon you.  It matters.

2. Sorry fans, it’s not about you.  There were a lot of fans who were hoping that no matter what the Hall decided, Paul, Gene, Ace, and Peter would join together on stage and give the fans the show they wanted.  Or at the very least, there’d be some performance from KISS in some form.  Now there won’t be that, not even a tribute performance.  Because it’s all about the fans.  I’m not calling complete BS.  Metallica put aside any old hostilities for a few hours and dared to give a performance with TWO bassists.  And it was awesome.  Jason and Rob sharing a mic and playing opposite each other instead of fighting was the best possible outcome.  Granted, all those members were inducted members.  Would it have been different had Rob been neglected because he was too recent?  We’ll never know.  We can only go from performances from the likes of the Stooges and Patti Smith, and just say, “Maybe?”  Either way, in the instance of KISS, it’s ultimately the fans who lose, the fans that KISS claimed were the whole reason they would even accept induction in the first place.  Which brings us to…

3. The Hall’s gonna do what the Hall’s gonna do.  The Sex Pistols refused to show up.  Axl Rose asked not to be inducted.  Frankie Valli tried to get Joe Long inducted with the Four Seasons; Smokey Robinson tried to get the Miracles included in his 1987 induction.  The Hall powers-that-be for the most part just didn’t listen (yeah the Miracles were inducted in 2012, but they didn’t listen to Smokey for 25 years).  What makes KISS think they’re any different?  Because they’ve got the KISS army behind them?   The Hall all but takes pride in the fact that they don’t listen to what John Q. Public has to say, even if they’re John Q. KISS.  The show will go on no matter what Gene Simmons or Paul Stanley dictate.  If the Hall wants to induct KISS, they’ll induct KISS in the manner they wish to do it.

4. Social media makes everything worse.  Without Twitter or Facebook, how much publicity would either KISS or the Hall get out of this?  But while the axiom is “There’s no such thing as bad publicity, all this going on has actually made me look forward to the upcoming ceremonies less.  I’ll be more enthusiastic at seeing Peter Gabriel onstage than KISS. 

5. It’s only going to get worse.  Because the Hall limits how many acts they induct each year, the backlog of snubbed artists will grow in perpetuity.  Even the list of “50 Acts Better Than KISS” that capped the Dave Marsh column included names that Marsh said, “Not all will get into the Hall, nor should they.”  But the fact that there’s a list that handy and easy to make up shows that there are plenty more acts waiting to get in.  And time will not make them less bitter about being passed over.  If Chicago or Chubby Checker ever get inducted, you can bet there’ll be some harsh words said about “Finally” and “Screw ‘Rolling Stone’” or words along those lines.  As time goes on and more artists join the list of notable snubs than join the Hall, this will keep going on and on. 
That’s just what I’ve learned from all this.  Any other lessons?  Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

2014 Through The Lens Of Trends

If you're one of those who emphasize the "fame" part of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame name, then this was about as good a year as you could hope for.  All six of the Performer inductees, the Award For Musical Excellence inductee, and even one of the two Ahmet Ertegun Award inductees are all instantly recognizable names for anyone with even a cursory interest in music that was made before 1995.  So, overall, this is class that should bring in the attention (and hopefully therefore dollars) to the Foundation.  Kind of surprising considering how hard it was to predict this year's class.

The best of us only picked four of six (I correctly guessed three).  One of the reasons this was so difficult was because we had too many trends colliding.  Too many to make them all happen.  Almost a scenario where the irresistible force met the immovable object.  This time, forces gave.  For starters, the "automatic eight" has been fully disproved now.  We all know Solomon Burke needed ten nominations, but he'd been that rare instance, and considering the names that got in on number eight afterwards, it seemed like maybe it was something put in place to ensure ten never happened again.  Apparently not so.  Everyone thought Chic was getting in this year, and it turns out eight isn't automatic for them.  Chic will head into that territory where only one has gone before.  Another trend that gave out this year was a prog act on their first ballot.  Now, some may argue that Peter Gabriel was prog-like, but that was more of his Genesis days, for which he's already been enshrined.  It's pretty clear we're talking Yes here.  They were a fan favorite, and they missed out, much to the dismay of their legion of fans.  This is also the first time a rap act fails on the third nomination.  Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five and the Beastie Boys seemed to be setting that bar for "no more than three for rap" and LL Cool J misses out, also missing out on the hometown-hero-inducted-in-his-own-stomping-grounds trend we saw for Randy Newman and Bobby Womack.  N.W.A. was only on their second, so they don't count.  The trend of guitar gods only came partially true... we got Cobain with Nirvana and to a lesser extent KISS fills that hole, but we missed out with Link Wray, as he is not in on his first ballot. 

That said, some trends still held up: the newly eligible shoo-in (like U2, Madonna, Guns N' Roses, Public Enemy)?  Nirvana, check.  The big-name draw that you wonder how they missed out on their first nomination (Aerosmith, AC/DC, Queen, the Red Hot Chili Peppers)?  KISS, check (although N.W.A. out so...?).  A singer/songwriter staple (Randy Newman, Laura Nyro, Leonard Cohen)?  Not a guarantee every year, but Cat Stevens, check.  The line-cutter for their second induction (Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Sammy Strain, Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart)?  Peter Gabriel, check.  The versatile performer that covered a lot of styles and genres (Paul Simon)? Linda Ronstadt, check. About the only anomaly really is Daryl Hall And John Oates, who being blue-eyed soul and a pop-hit machine, seemed to buck trends a little bit and get in on their first nomination.  Underground scene act failure to get in?  Replacements out,  check.

And of course there are trends that are hit and miss.  Those nominated before, but seemingly forgotten?  That's hit and miss, mainly because they've done so many of them lately.  Last year, they put four on the ballot, and only Randy Newman squeezed through.  The Meters and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band both were back, and both missed again.  The British Invasion?  Hard one to nail down... seemed there was a pattern emerging of multiple, first, multiple, first: Dave Clark Five needed three, Hollies on one, Donovan on two, (Small) Faces on one.  Procol Harum.... technically not a multiple because they haven't been back for number two yet, so the trend doesn't quite continue for the Zombies to be in on one.  Now both will become multiples the next time they make the ballot.  Metal?  Again, KISS in,  Deep Purple not.  But Metallica on one,  Black Sabbath on eight, so make of that what you will.

All this trend-spotting may seem a bit like ridiculous over-analysis, but it's also a large part of what we based our predictions on.  And we look for them to point to the future (again, I predicted Cat Stevens to get nominated in late September/early October when few others had).  And it's the future that we look to, to see what future trends might emerge out of what we've got now.  Does the induction of Daryl Hall And John Oates point to a renewal of hitmakers getting in on the first nomination?  That could spell good news for the likes of artists ranging from Huey Lewis And The News to Tommy James And The Shondells to maybe even Paul Anka.  Does Cat Stevens getting in mean there's still hope for Carly Simon, Jim Croce, Don McLean, Todd Rundgren, Warren Zevon?  Does the fact that the Replacements missed (and the Cure before them) mean a longer wait for the Smiths, Sonic Youth, the Pixies?  Will Linda Ronstadt pave the way for other acts that are better known for their covers of others' smash hits rather than their own material, or for those who attempt to have a diverse repertoire?  Some possible trends that may be looming on the horizon:

-Ensemble inductions to come.  The E Street Band are a curious case of Front Man Fever.  While many would point to them as a glaring example, the fact is they seldom received label credit with Springsteen.  So will we see the Funk Brothers get in for their work at Motown, or will the fact that already two members have been inducted as Sidemen mean they won't go for it?  And does it mean anything for the future of acts like Crazy Horse who were on-again, off-again label credited along with Neil Young?  What about the Jordanaires?  Or the Blossoms?  Will the Meters end up as an Award For Musical Excellence inductee now that ensembles are getting inducted in this category?

-Managers.  For a long time now, managers have been neglected as contributors to rock 'n' roll's evolution.  It's understandable to a degree, as they seemingly have little to do with the creative process.  At best, one can argue that in helping to shape their image, it will help shape their sound.  When there's a strong disconnect between a band's presence and their sound, it can be detrimental.  That's why it's appropriate for Lady Gaga to wear the flashy costumes, and not, for example And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead.  The music video also has a lot to do with this, as it helps give the first chance to connect image with sound in creating an identity, a brand.  And maybe that's what's so fitting about inducting Brian Epstein and Andrew Loog Oldham (the only relatively unknown name in this year's class) in the same year we induct KISS, a band that's been bashed by many for being more brand than band.  It might be cool to add the likes of Paul McGuinness to the Hall, but the induction of managers is a slippery slope for two reasons: one, many of them are power-that-be, even on the NomCom itself (such as Jon Landau and Cliff Burnstein) and may result in it becoming a glad-handing of their fellow committee members; two, almost no one wants to see Col. Tom Parker get inducted, and he may even have been the reason why managers couldn't get inducted before. He was detrimental to Elvis's image and sound, and may have even been blackmailing the King.  So what will the induction of these two managers mean for the future?

-Move to modernity. When Donovan was announced as a '12 inductee, Digital Dream Door said the odds of him getting in were almost 100% because the Rock Hall almost always inducts a '60s act.  Last year, Albert King was the only semi-solid connection to that decade, and this time around, it's Non-Perfomers Epstein and Oldham who tie in strongest to that decade, with Ronstadt's days as a Stone Poney being the strongest connection among the musicians.  Ronstadt and Stevens both have weak ties to the '60s but are more strongly affiliated with the '70s. KISS's presence is split fairly evenly between the '70s and '80s, Peter Gabriel and Daryl Hall And John Oates both started out in the '70s but are more strongly linked to the '80s, and Nirvana is clear '90s in terms of name recognition.  Are we slowly closing the door on the '60s after all?  This is the fondest wish of the indie/undie crowd who feel that the antiquity of the NomCom members, and their nostalgia for that decade have been the biggest deadweight towards inducting worthy (read: alternative-scene) acts.  I wouldn't pop the cork on the champagne just yet for those folks, since this newly announced induction class is clearly about the mainstream appeal.  Nevertheless, the shift in time seems to be slowly pulling in those pre-'70s acts who've yet to be enshrined, seemingly dooming them to never being inducted.  Bad news for fellow monitors Zach and Bill G., who respectively have asked to bring back the past so they can enjoy the present, and have been crusading tirelessly to fix the omissions of several key R&B and soul acts from the '60s and '70s.

-The Race Card.  I'm hesitant to bring this up, but I will.  Several have already noted that E Street Band member Clarence Clemons is the only African-American inductee, and aside from the Hispanic Linda Ronstadt, it's a Caucasian class.  One reason I didn't want to bring it up is because last year half the inductees were Black, so that really should've shut them all up.  But it won't, and nothing ever will.  Another reason is because rap's place is certain in the Hall.  N.W.A. and LL Cool J are each an eventual inevitability.  So are 2Pac, the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Puff Daddy (whatever name they induct him under).  Nevertheless I bring it up because when the current inductees vote, they vote for the acts that they like best and influenced them.  Metallica put out a list of metal and prog acts that they champion for induction.  One member of Rush disclosed his vote of pretty much all the "classic rock" acts on the ballot.  And KISS frontman Gene Simmons once dissed the Hall in favor of a myopic, cult-of-the-guitar definition of rock 'n' roll.  These inductees are going to continue to vote for fellow hard-rock acts, which means more votes for "rock", and fewer votes for R&B acts.  The Hall may indeed get Whiter as we go, through no sinister Klan-like motives, but simply the free market forces of personal preference kicking in.  It's nobody's fault, except maybe the NomCom, who puts out the list to choose from each year. 

With that in mind, it's not a bad class overall.  I'll mostly look forward to the induction ceremonies and be ready for all this again in ten months.  In the meantime, Merry Christmas to all.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Seeds and predictions for 2014

Let’s face it: we got spoiled last year.  Last year’s class was relatively easy to predict.  Most people had at least 3 of the 6.  I had 4.  Fellow Monitor Tom Lane nailed all six a good two months ahead of time.  This year, we’re not so spoiled.  Some major names were easy to sniff out and pick right away last year.  This year we’ve got one, maybe two.   Trying to pick the five or six we believe will be inducted has not been easy.  Oh, some people post predictions confidently, but everyone has had to think about it and turn some things over in their minds.  We know whom we want to see get inducted, but it’s hard to say who will be.  Trying to guess this year is a little tougher than last year, but this is what we do.  I for one will feel lucky if I get three correct.

1. Nirvana
Landmark grunge group.  First year eligible.
Why they might make it: They pretty much kicked off the entire grunge movement.  They may not have been the first, but they brought it to the forefront in a big way.  The alternative rock scene is more prominent than ever, thanks in large part to Nirvana.  With an iconic frontman and legendary burnout, this is the story in rock ‘n’ roll they love to tell.  This is one hugely anticipated nominee.
Why they might not:
Whom they’d pave the way for: Pearl Jam and Green Day are the obvious two.  Look for other possibilities that may not have even sounded like Nirvana to go through the door Nirvana’s opening, including the Foo Fighters, the Offspring, Jane’s Addiction, Stone Roses, Oasis…really the list goes on and on.
Biggest threats: It’s hard to see anyone as being a threat, but the guitar crowd loves Kiss and Deep Purple too, as well as Yes, the Replacements, and Peter Gabriel.  Of course, those five names along with Nirvana would be their ultimate induction wet dream.
In the end: Not to sound like a commercial for Total cereal, but you’d need the innovation of Link Wray and Deep Purple, the influence of KISS, the haunting beauty of the Zombies, and the underground cred of the Replacements to get all the Hall Of Fame merit you get from one, count it ONE, induction of Nirvana.  Induction chances: 100%

2. Chic
R&B/disco group fronted by a crackerjack production team.  This is their eighth 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, and #12 in 2013.
Why they might make it: Their records were sampled far and wide back in the early days of hip-hop, so the influence factor is definitely in their favor.  From a musical standpoint, their bass and guitar lines are considered very tough to imitate or duplicate. The men in the group were all production geniuses.  Add to that the high profile year Nile Rodgers has been having, and the mystery and mythos of the supposedly “automatic eight” nominations.  Also, Nile Rodgers was on the Nominating Committee back when the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame was first founded, so politically, this an attempt to repay the favor to him. .
Why they might not: We Rock Hall Monitors have a term we call “Chic Syndrome,” which is used to describe a musically proficient act that many are turned off from by the cerebrally detoured lyrics, which you see in Chic songs, though they are hardly the worst offenders.  It’s simply called “Chic Syndrome” because aside from the near alliteration, Chic’s the group that’s been repeatedly nominated and denied.  “Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love,” and “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowzah, Yowzah, Yowzah)” wouldn’t make any list of “Best Lyrics”, even if that list went to one million.  And as has been the case in the past, disco isn’t popular with the voting bloc.
Whom they’d pave the way for: The love for Nile Rodgers won’t readily translate to love for disco.  The biggest likelihood is that the next two artists in the queue for those with most nominations but not in will probably be revisited, which means Joe Tex, and maybe even Chuck Willis.
Biggest threats: Not a lot.  The Meters are probably the closest direct threat, though the late 70’s success of Daryl Hall And John Oates make them a threat too.
In the end: The NomCom wants Nile in, and will most likely induct Chic this year.  If they finished dead last in the vote, they’d still get in.  Induction chances: 80%

3. Peter Gabriel
Former leader of Genesis, experimental rock musician.  First-time nominee.
Why he might make it: He’s easily one of the most bohemian artists on this list of nominees, which the voting bloc absolutely loves.  While he’s not the stereotypical singer/songwriter, he would fill that position quite nicely.  He was also one of the pioneers in the music video medium, helping fuel the wildly expansive MTV empire early on. 
Why he might not:  When he was inducted with Genesis in 2010, he skipped the induction ceremony.  His reason was that he was rehearsing the orchestra for his upcoming tour, but couldn’t that have been put off for the occasion?  That kind of snub might not sit well.  Also, inconsistency of output is one of those things that could go either way.
Whom he’ll pave the way for:  Hard to say.  Perhaps he’d pave the way for other multiple inductees.  Some other Steve Winwood act or Steve himself for another nomination.  Solo Sting on the horizon?
Biggest threats: The experimentation aspect of Yes makes them a threat.  Cat Stevens is another singer/songwriter that could threaten his chances.  Lastly, Daryl Hall And John Oates are the big ‘80s name on this ballot, commercially speaking.
In the end: He’s been inducted once before, as a member of Genesis, and voters don’t usually wait too long to make a Clyde McPhatter clubber out of worthy returning faces.  Could get lost in the shuffle, but doubtful.  Induction chances: 60%

4. LL Cool J
One of hip-hop’s very first solo superstars.  This is his third nomination, seeded #8 both in 2010 and 2011
Why he might make it: Hip-hop was dominated in the early days by groups: the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five, Run-D.M.C., etc.  LL Cool J was one of the first solo superstars, especially in terms of crossing over to the pop charts and a wider audience.  Now, hip-hop is dominated by solo artists, because of rappers like him.  He also helped create the bridge that changed R&B into the more sultry style that it became in the ‘90s and still exists to this day.
Why he might not: He’s been the only hip-hop artist on a smaller ballot in the past, and he couldn’t get in then.  Also, his duet with Brad Paisley from earlier this year, “Accidental Racist” was eaten alive by critics, so the most recent flavor from him has been bitter to people’s ears.
Who he’d pave the way for: Other rap solo artists loom on the horizon: Ice-T is already eligible, and soon enough we’ll see Jay-Z, Ja Rule, and Snoop Dogg getting looks.
Biggest threat: N.W.A. is a dangerous threat to his chances, and some think I’m crazy seeding this guy ahead of them
In the end: Ultimately, there are two reasons I’m predicting him to make it this year: one, this is his third nomination, and no rap act has needed more than three nominations to get in; two, when the ceremonies were held in Cleveland and Los Angeles for the first times, native sons Bobby Womack and Randy Newman were inducted in the hometowns, and this is supposedly the last time the ceremonies will be in New York for the foreseeable future.  I can’t see them passing up the chance to have a native New Yorker as one of the inductees for the occasion.  Induction chances: 55%

5. Linda Ronstadt
Female musician who branched out across several styles of music.  First time nominee.
Why she might make it: She’s a powerfully versatile singer, covering a variety of styles, and while the Hall can sometimes drag their feet in nominating such acts, they do generally get inducted.  Additionally, she was key in the formation of Hall Of Fame band, the Eagles, and those friends of hers have not forgotten.  She’s also recently announced her struggles with Parkinson’s disease, which may get her some sympathy votes, and while the Linda Legion will be more than glad to inform you that she doesn’t need sympathy to get in (whether you ask them or not), it also doesn’t hurt.
Why she might not: While the Hall does embrace versatility, they are a little reluctant to recognize the more country side of rock, which over the course of her career, has tended to be where her strongest presence has been.  Additionally, her best-known work has largely comprised of cover versions of other quite well known songs.  The Ronstadt Rabid will again be very happy to inform you that she’s done original work, including songwriting, but these are simply not the songs she is best known for.  The Hall generally prefers originality, and that is not her bailiwick.  Lastly, and on the petty side, when asked about her exclusion from the Hall to date, she has said, “I don’t care.”  This is not the biggest knock against the Hall by a musician, even by acts on this ballot; however, voters tend to vote more often for those who express desire for induction.  Reverse psychology doesn’t fare too well here.
Whom she’d pave the way for: Other female rockers such as Pat Benatar, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, the Runaways, and maybe even the Go-Go’s could soon follow.  Additionally, maybe they’ll revisit country-rock stars like Conway Twitty or Gram Parsons, maybe even giving acts like Poco or the Flying Burrito Brothers a long-awaited nod.  Or maybe she could pave the way for other acts with established careers of covering others, like Johnny Rivers or Pat Boone.
Biggest threats: Aside from the ladies who sang for Chic, Linda’s the only female presence on the ballot, but those who’ve already decided Chic’s going to get in this year, come hell or high water, will claim that Chic is enough female presence for this class anyway.  Beyond that, Daryl Hall And John Oates is another hugely commercially successful act from the ‘70s on this ballot.  They could divide the ballot against her as well.
In the end: I normally had her seeded a few spots lower, but I figure I needed to officially predict an act that had much more commercial success than critical acclaim, and even though Linda’s not hated by critics, her commercial success far outshines that.  So I’ll put her on for official.  Induction chances: 51%

6. Yes
Long-lasting progressive rock band with numerous personnel changes.  First time nominee.
Why they might make it: As a trend, prog-rock acts tend to get in on their first nomination, so that’s heavily in their favor.  Plus, they’re a very influential band, and the Hall has started to induct more populist choices, wherein Yes ranks highly.
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: Despite Yes’s innovation and artfulness, Nirvana is held as more innovative in terms of propelling musical movements (and more influential) and Peter Gabriel is arguably more bohemian.  Plus, KISS and Deep Purple could possibly steal votes away from those voters who aren’t voting strictly “classic rock + Nirvana”.
In the end: Prog-rock has so far had an easy time getting in once nominated, but that’s not going to last forever.  Yes could be the first one to need more than one vote.  And it’ll depend on whether they induct six again this year or only five.  Which makes their induction a coin toss.  If six, count them in.  If five, just miss.  Induction chances: 50%

7. Link Wray
Early rock ‘n’ roll guitarist.  First time nominee.
Why he might make it: Pioneered surf rock and hot rod rock.  Known as the inventor of the power chord, and he has scores of guitarists that have cited him as a tremendous influence.
Why he might not: Link Wray would rank right up there with Percy Sledge as a one-trick pony.  “Rumble” is the song that pretty much sums up his entire career.  He recorded a lot of records, and had a couple other lesser hits, but it all comes back to “Rumble”.  Voters might go for acts with a bit more substantive catalog of well-known songs.
Whom he’d pave the way for: As far as ‘50s rock ‘n’ roll early guitar heroes, Buddy Knox is still not in, so he could get a nod after Wray.  Otherwise, other rock guitar heroes, possibly Johnny Winter, would be on deck.
Biggest threats: Nirvana, KISS, and Deep Purple are all bigger name guitar acts who could stand in the way.  For the oldies crowd, the Zombies are a pretty big name draw as well.
In the end: Keep an eye out.  Wray could very possibly get the side door Early Influence treatment, especially if the powers-that-be don’t want to wait to get him in.  It’s something they’ve done before.  Induction chances: 50%.  Induction chances in the Performer category: 49%

8. The Zombies
‘60s British Invasion rock group that prominently featured keyboards.  First time nominee.
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.  Lastly, Rod Argent’s trip to the museum and the subsequent love letter he wrote to the foundation afterward has his band in their good graces.  It’s the kind of flattery that could get them anywhere, even inducted.  Bizarrely, some even call the recent popularity of zombie movies, TV shows, literature, and even apocalyptic planning, as a reason, since all things zombie are kitschy right now.  I don’t buy into that reasoning, but some do.
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: Link Wray as an oldies pick, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band as a ‘60s rock act; Peter Gabriel, Deep Purple, and Yes as British rockers.  Nothing too direct, but with only five or six getting in out of sixteen, the threats don’t need to be direct.
In the end: I originally had them seeded number three, but they’ve been rising and falling rapidly.  Nirvana and Chic plus three or four of the six seeds that come after would be a prediction that I’d call realistic as the induction chance percentages hopefully show.  I’d almost predict a class of eight just so I didn’t have to pick, but that’s not happening, and so might not the Zombies getting in this year.  Induction chances: 48%

9. N.W.A.
Pioneer gangsta rap group.  Second time nominee, seeded #5 last year.
Why they might make it:  They’re pioneers. Straight Outta Compton is a landmark rap album, and their subsequent albums, though few, were also hugely successful.  They were pioneers of gangsta rap, which almost completely obsolesced the older style hip-hop of the original hip-hop pioneers, as gangsta became synonymous with rap for a good portion of the ‘90s.  Also, as the launching point for the solo careers of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and even MC Ren, and Yella, they could be considered rap’s first supergroup, or at the very least, the rap equivalent of the Yardbirds.
Why they might not:  Quick, ask someone who hates rap (or at least did in the ‘90s) why they hate(d) rap.  That laundry list that is their answer?  Most of that traces clearly back to N.W.A.  Even if they didn’t pioneer some of those aspects themselves, they did combine it all into a blend that is the main exhibit for hatred of rap: self-gratifying, gratuitous and prolific profanity; incredibly subversive lyrics that went beyond mere wake-up calls of socially conscious folk and rock, eschewing civil disobedience, opting instead for and glorifying bloody violence; self-aggrandizement that made “cockiness” look like “self-confidence”; plus the usual stock answers of how rap isn’t even music since what they’re doing doesn’t constitute singing.  And you don’t even have to be a stereotypical stuffy, White, conservative Christian to find that combination disturbing, or at the very least, inartistic.
Whom they’d pave the way for: The big ones are 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G., the martyrs and symbols of rap-gang warfare, but also rappers like Ice-T and Snoop Doggy Dogg, plus the solo careers of most of the members of N.W.A. themselves.
Biggest threats: LL Cool J isn’t being taken seriously as competition for N.W.A., but he absolutely is.  Plus the heavily-sampled-by-rap acts of Chic and the Meters might make a mess of things too.
In the end:  If N.W.A. couldn’t get in alongside Public Enemy last year, then we’re a few years away from where two rap acts get in on the same year, and I’m still sticking with home field advantage going to LL Cool J this time.  Induction chances: 45%

10. Deep Purple
Highly influential hard rock band.  Second time nominee, seeded #8 last year.
Why they might make it: This is a band that has been heavily demanded to get inducted, right up there with KISS and Rush, and nowhere more heavily than on Eddie Trunk’s “That Metal Show”, but even without Trunk, they’re a band that has been loudly touted as among the biggest omissions because of their huge range of influence.
Why they might not: The reason they’ve been omitted for so long is simply because the powers-that-be don’t hold them in very high esteem, and those people have sway with the voting bloc.  Whether it’s because they just don’t care for their style, or think of them as a one-trick pony for “Smoke On The Water”, getting them recognized this much has been a major struggle.
Whom they’d pave the way for: Other hard and classic rock acts like Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, and Ted Nugent could all benefit from Deep Purple finally getting in.
Biggest threats: Nirvana and KISS are the two big ones, and Yes could steal a few votes away from them as well.
In the end: Interesting stat about my record of predictions: keep an eye on the #10 seed.  Three of the four years I’ve done this where there’ve been more than nine nominees, the #10 seed has gotten in (Jimmy Cliff, Donovan, Heart).  The year it didn’t, the #11 seed got in (Darlene Love).  So maybe #10 should be called the Upset Special.  Still, at this point, it seems like Deep Purple will be like Black Sabbath or Lynyrd Skynyrd needing nominations in the high single digits before finally getting approval.  Either way, this won’t be their year.  Induction chances: 40%

11. Daryl Hall And John Oates
Pop duo from the ‘70s and ‘80s.  First time nominee.
Why they might make it: They were a powerhouse of commercial success, and really, one of the first ten acts most would mention as being “quintessentially ‘80s.”  Considered the most successful duo of all time.  Though a bit late, they’ve had a mini-resurgence of popularity thanks to movies and TV shows.
Why they might not: “Most successful duo of all time” is one of those honors that is little more than a curio, only having meaning to those who like them and want to emphasize or even exaggerate their importance.  Critically not too well loved, they’re an act some people love to hate.  Lastly, Hall is another one of those who’ve badmouthed the foundation because he wasn’t inducted, calling the people in charge “a bunch of dinosaurs”, because there’s absolutely no way that could possibly work toward keeping him out.
Whom they’d pave the way for: Not too many close imitators, their door-opening could be for other pop-rock groups with slight overtones of soul in their music.  Maybe Huey Lewis And The News.
Biggest threats: Linda Ronstadt is another commercially successful powerhouse that could barrel right past them.  Chic is another act from the ‘70s and early ‘80s that could stop them cold, as is Peter Gabriel.
In the end: Blue-eyed soul almost never gets in on the first ballot (think the Four Seasons, the Rascals, Laura Nyro), Hall’s comments against the powers-that-be are no help, and an act that as many people say sound “dated” as there are who call them “timeless”.  Not enough unity to get them in.  Induction chances: 35%

12. KISS
Hard-rock guitar band.  Second nomination, seeded #1 in 2010.  Oops.
Why they might make it:  They are one of the most influential bands not in yet, quite possibly the most so on this ballot. Whether you love or hate them, they're a band that has a huge following, and is responsible for a LOT of young boys picking up the guitar.  They’re regarded as one of the most overdue inductions.  Overall, KISS is a solid guitar-band with serious name recognition.  Also, the most commercially successful albums act on this ballot.
Why they might not:  Opponents of KISS have a neat little saying that sums up their feelings: “brand, not band.”  And there’s some truth to that.  Even Gene Simmons has said in the past that KISS has been more dedicated to their marketing and merchandising than their music.  Also, they’re not a very innovative band, musically speaking. From a technical perspective, they do not rank among the most stand out.  Lastly, Simmons has also been one of those who in interviews has dissed the Hall, saying they’ve lost sight of rock ‘n’ roll, offering instead a very myopic definition of rock ‘n’ roll that makes him sound ignorant.
Whom they’d pave the way for: Bon Jovi could get a second nomination after KISS, or maybe Motley Crue or Def Leppard could finally garner one for themselves as well. 
Biggest threats: Deep Purple is the most direct competition, and Nirvana is a shoo-in as a popular, influential guitar band
In the end: It took Black Sabbath eight nominations to get in, and this is only KISS's second.  The journey of a thousand miles, as it were.  Induction chances: 30%

13. Cat Stevens
’70’s singer/songwriter.  Second-time nominee, previously unseeded.
Why he might make it: The Hall loves singer/songwriters, especially from the ‘70s, and Cat’s definitely one of them.
Why he might not: He’s not the best-known or most revered singer/songwriter, nor a real rocker.  Others point to his conversion to Islam, stating that voters might hold an anti-Islam bias, but I call baloney on that.  However, his conversion DID lead to a self-imposed departure from the music scene that lasted for a long time, and limits his overall output and chances.
Whom he’d pave the way for: Similar singer/songwriters could include Jim Croce, Don McLean, Gordon Lightfoot, Carly Simon, or current fan favorites like Todd Rundgren, Warren Zevon, or maybe even a second induction for Carole King.
Biggest threats: Peter Gabriel isn’t really considered a singer/songwriter because he doesn’t fit the iconic style that most ’70 singer/songwriters are known for.  Nonetheless, he is a bona fide, denotative singer/songwriter that stands directly in Stevens’ way.
In the end:  As much as the Hall loves singer/songwriters, and right on the tail of Randy Newman would make him a strong choice, it just seems he’ll get lost in the shuffle more than anything.  Induction chances: 25%

14. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
Blues-rock band from the mid-‘60s.  Third-time nominee, Unseeded the first time, seeded #14 last year..
Why they might make it: They’re a formative blues-rock act.  Their sound is considered to be a pioneer sound.  A few of its past members have some amount of fame to their own names.  Also, they were name dropped by none other than Jann S. Wenner as an act he’d like to see get in.  If you don’t think that means something, you don’t know the Hall. 
Why they might not: They’re arguably the most obscure name on this ballot, having no hit singles and no album making the top quarter of the Billboard 200.
Whom they’d pave the way for:  I’m operating on the assumption that they want to get as many important blues and blues-rock names inducted before they go after the big draws of Stevie Ray Vaughn And Double Trouble, and possibly even George Thorogood And The Destroyers.  The best bet for next in line in this vein would be Johnny Winter.
Biggest threats: The Zombies and the Meters are more prominent ‘60s acts, and Link Wray is a pioneering name to compete with against this outfit.
In the end: As much clout as Jann S. Wenner has, I think he’ll have to continue to call this group an act he still wants to see in, because it ain’t happening this time.  Induction chances: 20%

15. The Replacements
Independent/underground band from the ‘80s and early ‘90s.  First time nominee.
Why they might make it: They’re a band of sizeable influence with some longevity.  Plus, Paul Westerberg’s solo career makes them a name to consider.  Additionally, the movement is growing to get more non-mainstream scene acts recognized and inducted.
Why they might not: The movement is growing, but it’s not getting much in the way of results.  The Cure failed to get in a couple years ago, the Stooges needed eight tries, and many others still haven’t even been nominated.  It’s a big climb uphill.
Whom they’d pave the way for: Other alternative scene bands could see nominations, like the Smiths, the Pixies, Sonic Youth, XTC, maybe even another nomination for the Cure.
Biggest threats: Nirvana also has alternative-scene credibility, maybe even more than the Replacements.  Deep Purple and Yes have some as well.
In the end: If the Cure couldn’t do it for the Class Of 2012, the Replacements probably won’t be able to for 2014.  Induction chances: 15%

16. The Meters
Funk band that did much session work, rooted firmly in New Orleans.  Third-time nominee, Unseeded the first time, seeded #13 last year.
Why they might make it: The Hall loves the sound of New Orleans.  In 2011, they inducted Dr. John, and in 2012, they inducted Cosimo Matassa, an engineer who helped record and shape the New Orleans sound.  Additionally, the Neville Brothers have been starting to get some consideration as well, and two of those brothers were one-time members of the Meters.  This group might be able to ride those waves into the Hall this year.
Why they might not:  They’re one of the more obscure names on this ballot, never really breaking through the glass ceiling, commercially speaking.  No real signature tune that they’re instantly linked to by John Q. Public. 
Whom they’d pave the way for: The sound of New Orleans could be carried on in the future with the Neville Brothers, Buckwheat Zydeco, and even Virginian Gary U.S. Bonds, whose sound drew big from the New Orleans style.  Beyond New Orleans, the Bar-Kays would be another great instrumental group that also did session work.
Biggest threats: Chic is the biggest threat, and the rap acts could detract from other forms of R&B
In the end: It’s a surprise they’re back again this year, so someone wants them in, but once Chic is in, this will be an act that will also need several nominations to get inducted.  Not this time around.  Induction chances: 10%

So there’s this year’s ballot.  I’ve ranked them by merits, by taste, and now by likelihood of induction.  To recap: predicting Nirvana, Chic, Peter Gabriel, LL Cool J, Linda Ronstadt, maybe Yes, and possibly Link Wray as an Early Influence.  Time to wait and see what happens.