Friday, March 22, 2013

2013 Mid-Season Report

After a much too long hiatus, Rock Hall Monitors has returned.  Hopefully to be more frequent.  The ceremonies haven’t happened yet, and we still don’t even know who the presenter will be for Public Enemy or either of the Ahmet Ertegun Award recipients.  Nonetheless, it is March, which is six months away from September, which is about the time predictions appear for who will be on the ballot for the next year’s class.  Which means now is the appropriate time for a mid-season report.  What is the current reading on Rock Hall barometers everywhere?  These things are subject to change based on what happens during the year.  New albums, shocking deaths, and press statements are among several external factors that can influence members of the NomCom, and that doesn’t even include internal factors that go on in NomCom members’ lives.  Nevertheless, there is some consistency across the board, and here is a preliminary look at some names that might surface on the 2014 ballot.

Since mid-January, I’ve had a gnawing feeling of already being able to pick next year’s class.  Normally, I hate predicting a class without even knowing who the actual nominees are; however, certain indicators seem to point to six strong possibilities as the Class Of 2014.  It begins naturally with the glaringly obvious selection of Nirvana.  This one just couldn’t be any more obvious.  There was some discrepancy of when they are first eligible, but it currently holds that 2014 is their first year, and it’ll be their induction year. 

The second obvious selection is Whitney Houston.  Now, she was predicted as an obvious selection last year, too, only to not be nominated, but the omission is easily explained by the impetus to get Donna Summer inducted, and now that Summer is in, Houston is clearly next in line.

It gets a little hazier from there, but the next most obvious choice has to be Chic.  Their next nomination is their eighth.  There’s no official “automatic eight” rule that we know of, but no one other than Solomon Burke has needed more than eight.  And the powers that be are probably going to want to keep it that way.  Chic’s in next year. 

The path gets even hazier after that.  With Public Enemy as the fourth rap inductee, it’s obvious rap will be a staple in future classes.  Maybe not every year, but often enough.  At present, we have four hip-hop acts previously nominated that have not made it yet.  We know NomCom member Toure has sworn to nominate only hip-hoppers from now on, so who’ll be high on his list?  He may go for N.W.A. again, but I think he has assigned a higher priority to rap’s first solo superstar, LL Cool J.

The next pick is a dome-scratcher, but something keeps telling me that the Class Of 2014 will include Joan Jett And The Blackhearts.  It was surprising to see them nominated in the first place, and we did a double take when they garnered a second nod.  They may get the next year off from the ballot, but if they appear again in autumn, three consecutive nominations will show a persistence that was shown for Laura Nyro and also Donna Summer and will strengthen the bid for them in the Hall.

As has happened the past two years, I’m predicting a sixth entrant for 2014 in the Performer category.  And name-dropping by Jann S. Wenner earlier in 2013 was enough to get the Paul Butterfield Blues Band back on the ballot, and much like Darlene Love, two consecutive nominations after having been absent from the ballot for awhile should prove efficacious for this outfit.

So while I don’t normally engage in the practice, that’s my early inclination toward the Class Of 2014.  But the mid-season report doesn’t stop there.  Who else will be on the ballot?  The recent blog entry on the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s official site about Patsy Cline may prove prescient towards her finally getting some recognition.  It may prove unpopular though, since country has seldom gotten serious recognition from the Rock Hall, for reasons both valid and curious. 

Another strong possibility for nomination will be De La Soul as they’ll be newly eligible this year alongside Nirvana, and also a pet rap act for Toure to nominate.  And they really are deserving, but not having too much limelight even at the height of their popularity will mean more than one nomination will be needed to get them in.

Returning names, aside from those already mentioned will likely include Procol Harum and Cat Stevens.  The NomCom has shown their hand on the former: Procol Harum is the next nominee from the ‘60s British Invasion that has to get in before they nominate any others.  As for Yusuf Islam, the second nomination of Randy Newman this past year shows the continuances of the two trends of bringing back past nominees that hadn’t been nominated in awhile and of commitment to the singer-songwriters.  Cat Stevens is the only remaining past nominee who is noted primarily as a singer-songwriter (though Lou Reed, Gram Parsons, and possibly even Steve Winwood would fit that bill).  Meanwhile, after being off the ballot last year, War could return, though once again, they’ll probably get lost in the shuffle.  The desire for more guitar representation could see either Bon Jovi or KISS getting a second nod (I don’t see Deep Purple making it onto the ballot two years in a row, sorry).  Aside from Whitney Houston, soul music may also be represented by Joe Tex, who hasn’t been on the ballot for a couple years.  He’s due to reappear.

Just like that, we’re up to 14.  One more likely slot, and normally I choose a left-field candidate.  But last year, Future Rock Legends made an interesting prediction with Junior Parker, noting their commitment to the blues.  While they may not want to divide the ballot against Butterfield, they may want to keep it going now that the King triumvirate is complete.  The trend right now is towards the guitarists, and so, while somewhat leftfield as well, a possible blues guitarist to keep in mind would be Albert Collins.

And with that, the mid-season report is concluded.  As stated earlier, there are many factors that could come into play that were ignored here, many events that could occur to change the direction of the ballot, and many other ways this could go.  September holds the answer.