It’s now September, and the Nominating Committee is expected to convene and decide the ballot for the Class Of 2014 by the end of this month, hopefully announcing it before October, but not entirely expected either. Nonetheless, almost everyone has their predictions up as to whose names will appear on the ballot. Now it’s time for mine. Back in March, the mid-season report had not only a precursor as to whom I believe will be nominated, but even a leap of faith guess as to six inductees. How much has changed? A bit, actually. Although sixty percent of my predicted ballot is the same as March’s mid-season report, the forty percent that is new reflect a few recent occurrences, as well as just a few plain changes of the mind. Here I’ll look at the ones I have chosen, the ones I removed, and even a few that others suggested that I’m not quite feeling.
The first name that remains absolutely unchanged is Nirvana. Still a no-brainer to everyone. Future Rock Legends pointed out that their first single makes them eligible this year, but if the NomCom goes by their albums, it’d be next year. The NomCom may do some crazy things, but if the Beastie Boys were nominated on their first year of eligibility when that first release was an all-but-discontinued-by-the-industry EP, then a commercial single should definitely be proof enough for Nirvana’s eligibility.
Second, I’m still not abandoning my belief of Whitney Houston, who many believed was a lock for nomination and induction last year. With Donna Summer now in, the ballot won’t be as divided against Whitney getting in. Detractors have pointed out that with a new exhibit for Whitney’s cousin, Dionne Warwick, it may be the psychic spokeslady getting a nod instead. Still, I’m sticking to my guns and saying they’ll go with the tragic death rather than the tragic endorsements this year. If Whitney gets in, it’ll strengthen the odds for Dionne next year. If Houston is not nominated this time, then we can safely assume she’ll be forgotten for several more years to come, and Warwick’s chances will remain the same. Besides, the Hall has put up exhibits for the Association, the Guess Who, Debbie Gibson, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, etc. all of whom remain not inducted, so an exhibit is not exactly the clincher either, unfortunately for Dionne.
Also remaining a sure bet in my opinion is the reappearance of Chic. This will be number eight, and all the pieces that have to be in place for them to get in are pretty much in place now. Nile’s work with Daft Punk, the supposed “automatic eight”, even hand-pumping Bono to try to curry favor with some influential folk.
Speaking of pieces falling into place, I still remain fairly certain that Joan Jett And The Blackhearts will receive a third consecutive nomination. They’ve also taken a page from the familiar playbook of putting out a new album to refresh everyone’s memory, like Heart did last year, and three consecutive years worked for Laura Nyro, so it looks pretty strong for Jett and co. if they make it back.
Of the six that I indicated as strong contenders for the Class Of 2014, five of them are in this official ballot prediction, the fifth being the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. It’s no secret this one is next in Jann S. Wenner’s queue, and while he’s not on the NomCom, he’s got leverage, so don’t count them out yet.
Continuing on with other names that I predicted back in March, it seems similarly certain that there’ll be a second nomination for Procol Harum, and since March, we learned that Procol Harum is Little Steven’s current pet project. Little Steven usually gets his pet projects on the ballot, plus the Hall loves the British Invasion of the 60’s. These guys will be back.
With the induction of Randy Newman, the singer/songwriter slot is newly open, and over the past few years, the NomCom has been bringing back previous one-and-done nominees. Look for two birds to be killed with one stone and for Cat Stevens to resurface. Another name to possibly pop back up on radars should be that of Joe Tex, who seems to have no discernable pattern for getting nominated, but hasn’t been around for a few years. These two past nominees are looking prime for reconsideration right now, and both represent a typical niche corner of the ballot, as Tex would fill the soul pocket. Sadly, I don’t think the Spinners will be back this year, but quite possibly next. I think the pressure for Chic is too great, and any possible name to divide against Chic, like a fellow ‘70s R&B group, isn’t safe to try.
The last name that was around back in March that returns now is De La Soul. I had a hunch about them when I learned they were eligible this year, and finding out Toure’s fandom of them clinches it. But, like Future Rock Legends, I feel they’ll be longshots if nominated.
Those are the nine I predicted in March that I still think have a strong chance of being on the ballot. So six have changed, but how? The most notable is the name of my suspected sixth for the Class Of 2014. I thought LL Cool J had a strong chance. What happened? Two words: “Accidental Racist.” The atrocity of that duet with Brad Paisley is the faulty gyroscope that causes this plane to sink beneath radar. LL Cool J’s out, and bring back N.W.A. They’re arguably rap’s first supergroup, hugely influential, and would have been a shoo-in last year but for Public Enemy.
At the very end of the mid-season report, I predicted there’d be another blues guitarist. While John Mayer was name-dropping Stevie Ray Vaughan, I just can’t hold out hope. I think that it’ll be another pre-SRV blues guitarist, but not Albert Collins as first thought. Instead, they may just choose another name from their list of previously considered, which could net a first-time nomination for Ry Cooder. In the past, I’ve mentioned about the possibility of inducting him as a Sideman, and though he’d still be a good inductee in that category, he could appear on the ballot once, and then get back door inducted.
Just as I doubt that an exhibit featuring Dionne Warwick will secure her nomination (at least this year), so too I’ve come to doubt that a blog entry featuring Patsy Cline will gain her a nomination either, as I had thought in March. But people who dread a misogynistic ballot, fear not. The name-dropping by Don Henley, plus the current revelation of her struggles with Parkinson’s disease, is making me lean a bit toward maybe Linda Ronstadt getting some love at last. The Hall has considered her before, but the serious support for her has been lacking a little bit. Still, this time might be different.
With Little Steven campaigning for Procol Harum, I don’t see Yes making the ballot as a lot of people are hoping. There’s been a big drive for Yes, and they’ve supposedly been gaining traction with the prog/metal subcommittee. But Procol Harum is considered a proto-prog rock band of sorts, so I don’t think they’ll even put the two together. However, we know from 2012, they have no problem putting two ‘60s British Invasion acts on the ballot together. With the recent visit by Rod Argent to the Museum in Cleveland and the love letter he wrote afterwards to the Foundation, there could just be reciprocity of the love and we’ll see the Zombies getting a nomination. Despite being short-lived, and having only a few hits, public support for the Zombies is actually pretty high. Seems like a winning combo for the Hall. Surprised it hasn’t happened yet.
Trying to fill in the remaining spots in a list of fifteen always leads to either putting favorite bands on, or picking from possible returning nominees. To that end, in March, I suggested the possible returns of War, Bon Jovi, and KISS, also seeing suggestions for the return of Kraftwerk. However, the NomCom has been making a habit recently of picking past nominees that were one-and-done. We’ve already got Cat Stevens on the list, but there’ll probably be at least one more. There are a few good ones to choose from, and I’m going to pick the Dominoes, the last one-and-done nominee from the ‘90s. Bring them into the new millennium.
I could easily pick another former one-and-done nominee, and there are plenty who want to see the MC5 or New York Dolls get another shot. And you can never really write off Steve Winwood either. Still, I’m choosing to again go left field for the fifteenth slot. I think they’ll go a bit more modern with this one too. While people are clamoring for acts like Foreigner and Duran Duran, I’ll go even more modern and pick Soundgarden. The NomCom does crazy things sometimes, like pitting another modern underground scene band against Nirvana. Like De La Soul, they’d be longshots if nominated, but this might be a band they nominate to see just how many votes they garner. It’s a bit tilted of an idea, but stranger things have happened.
So there are my fifteen names. Some I feel strongly about; other, not so much. But we’re all equal on this playing field. I’ve submitted my picks, now to just wait another month or hopefully less.