This past week, the ballot of the Performer category nominees for the 2014 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame class were announced with sixteen nominees listed. When announced, my initial thoughts:
7 nominees predicted. Either I'm getting better or they're getting easier to predict. I suspect the latter since many people did as well or better than me.
R&B and soul really got buried this year. No real representation here.
"Populism" is the word that keeps popping up every time I look at the names here. About 3/4ths of the names here are names that I've seen a lot of fan outcry for on blogs, op-ed pieces, and the Future Rock Legends site.
Thinking of who will actually be inducted, the only two that are locks, in my opinion are Nirvana and Chic. The former is far and away the leader in innovation and influence of all the names on the ballot and is pretty much the one act on here everyone agrees on. The latter is on nomination number eight, which has all but once proven the magic number. Plus Nile Rodgers has been having too monstrous a year to not get in. It's happening.
The only two that I've ruled out as having much of any chance are the Replacements and the Meters. The Replacements are a solid pick, but even among the '80s alt crowd, they're not at the top of the wish list. The Meters are a dome-scratcher altogether. They could have been omitted from the ballot, and not much would be missing in terms of variety that isn't already missing.
That leaves ten names and three or four slots remaining open for induction. And it's my opinion that all ten are serious contenders. This is a strong field, and here's a quick run down on why none of these can be dismissed out of hand:
The Paul Butterfield Blues Band: John Q. Public has given this outfit as much support as they have the Meters, but they've been name-dropped by none other than Jann S. Wenner himself and that is huge.
Deep Purple: Populism here. A major guitar act that many have wanted to see inducted for several years now.
Peter Gabriel: The only nominee on the ballot who would be a Clyde McPhatter Club member (inducted more than once), and that's something that's always a bit of a draw.
Daryl Hall And John Oates: This seems to be an act you either love or hate, but their hit-making status, as well as major appeal with the R&B scene (as noted by their R&B chart crossover history) gives them a certain cache pretty much no other White act on the ballot has.
KISS: In terms of influence, they were probably the template band until Nirvana came along.
LL Cool J: Rap is here to stay, and while I don't believe in numerology, no rap act (or girl group, but there's none here) has needed more than three nominations to get in, so far. This is #3 for him.
N.W.A.: The supergroup of rap. The more popular of the two rap choices, especially since "Accidental Racist."
Linda Ronstadt: Strong female (and aside from Chic's singers, the ONLY female) presence. Plus, the Parkinson's announcement will get her a lot of sympathy swing.
Cat Stevens: '70s singer/songwriters almost always fare well.
Link Wray: Innovative guitarists, especially early ones, always seem to find a way in. Do wish they'd included the Ray Men as part of the nomination though.
Yes: Prog takes awhile to get on the ballot, but it always moves into the Hall once nominated pretty expeditiously.
the Zombies: Lotsa love for the 60's British Invasion from both the powers-that-be, and the general public.
That's the immediate impression. More analysis to come.