September is now past the halfway mark, and for those of us who monitor the Rock Hall, that means it’s almost time for the Nominating Committee to congregate and deign to announce who is worthy enough to be on the ballot for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s Class of 2015.
All snark aside, we really do enjoy this. We enjoy guessing who’ll be on the ballot, reading other people’s predictions, critiquing their predictions, and cursing under our breath when we don’t even get half of the names right. And we enjoy the list of nominees itself, I suppose. Just about everyone else that is expected to comment has weighed in with his or her prediction. I’ve been dragging my feet mainly because I’ve been busy trying to beef up my badge count on Sporcle, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been paying attention. So now, I’m giving my thoughts, comparing the list to my mid-season report, and selecting sixteen names, just like last year’s ballot.
Kicking off with the newly eligible acts, I’m going to go ahead and pick both Green Day and Nine Inch Nails. The list was only going to include Green Day originally, but FutureRockLegends pointed out NIN’s placement on the list of Immortals. That’s a kind of honor that isn’t going to be ignored. Nine Inch Nails may not be able to battle against Green Day’s popularity, and attempts to diversify the class will make it a competition between the two, but look for them to be named on the ballot as well.
Next up, we’re going to stalk the grim reaper. Lou Reed passed away before the 2014 ceremonies, but his friends at the Foundation aren’t going to forget him. He’ll be back for another nomination this year. Similarly, and in keeping with their continued push for bluesy acts, I think blues-rock legend Johnny Winter is going to get the nod, a name whom Dave Marsh may be supporting. Much as it chagrins me, I think this also means that Stevie Ray Vaughan is going to get overlooked again. I’d love it if I was wrong, but I don’t think I am. (Winter, by the way, the first of five names that are on my prediction now that weren’t on the mid-season report.)
Moving on, time to load up on the usual favorites in the form of returning nominees. Starting with rappers N.W.A. because we know Toure is all about the rap now, and Questlove (and I think Tom Morello, too) have voiced support. Also coming back for a third consecutive year will likely be Deep Purple, the current pet project for the hard rock crowd. Last year they took back burner to the marketing prowess and impossible-to-ignore presence of KISS, but KISS had been touted as a snub for probably just as long, and certainly much louder than Deep Purple. With that hurdle out of the way, the push for Purple proceeds prominently. Looking to join them will most likely be fellow classic rock radio denizens Yes. I don’t particularly subscribe to Alex Voltaire’s theory about the prog cruise. Frankly, I think Yes would have probably cancelled if they got called to the Class of 2014. However, prog has been the subgenre to support recently, and I think there will likely be a repeat nomination for them.
After being the first singer for this year’s “Hervana” tribute at the ceremony, it will indeed probably be another nomination for Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, who were mysteriously absent from last year’s ballot. This lapse in consecutive nominations may be a problem for Jett, lost momentum and whatnot, but that was probably the point of her attempting (and failing, imo) to sing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at the ceremony. Also performing at the ceremony, despite not being an inductee, was one of the members of the Meters, performing with Peter Gabriel. This will probably be remembered again when the NomCom meets and this New Orleans group may get another nomination. Another miss out from last year’s ballot would also be the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. It may be a dangerous setup to put both Winter and Butterfield on the ballot, but things even more bizarre have happened.
Looking now to potential first-time nominees, we have a veritable plethora of options. And it’ll be difficult to nail it down to only six more names (since we’re already up to ten). NomCom member Tom Morello has been vocal about pushing for Sonic Youth now that KISS is in, and Kim Gordon’s rather interesting leadership on “Aneurysm” as part of Hervana can only help bolster that case. Another female presence to keep in mind will be Janet Jackson (second of five), whose fanbase’s grassroots campaign to get her nominated has captured the attention of NomCom member Questlove. Speaking of Questlove, remember last year when he wore a shirt honoring Daryl Hall And John Oates? Remember which duo got inducted this past year? Maybe, then, we shouldn’t ignore the fairly recent Questlove shirt with the logo of the Average White Band (third of five). It may mean nothing, but maybe Questlove is showing his hand after all, by wearing his heart between his sleeves.
Three names left, and we haven’t even touched upon NomCom member Little Steven yet. We can’t ignore him, as his nominations usually get inducted eventually. He was the man behind getting Link Wray on the ballot last year, and probably will succeed again, but let’s hope they include the (W)Ray-Men with him too, this time. Now back in the mid-season report, I noted that I loved Daryl Hall’s impassioned plea for more Philadelphia artists, but felt it would fall on deaf ears. That was before Little Steven’s wife tweeted about Daryl Hall being absolutely right about Chubby Checker being a big snub (fourth of five). I’ve thought so for years, but hadn’t dared to hope or predict. But a little pillow talk with the Miami Man might just yield fruitful this time, so we’ll see if he agrees with his wife.
Lastly, we go out to left field again. Only not too deep, imo, though others would argue that I’m on the warning track with this one. I’m going to go ahead and blindly guess that this year will see the nomination of “Weird Al” Yankovic (fifth of five). Please bear in mind that if nominated, I don’t think he’d get inducted, unless he managed to take first place in the fans’ ballot. But this has been a huge year for him: having the first comedy album in fifty years to top the Billboard Album charts, performing at the Emmys of all places, both “Tacky” and “Word Crimes” fairly well-received, more and more TV appearances… his stock has never been higher than it is now. He’d probably be a one-and-done nominee, but it would still be a hell of a way to cap off this year, so I’m going to guess that the NomCom will decide that this is one tide not to fight.
So, a bit of everything… some obvious, some tried-and-true likely, some minor stretches, and at least one major stretch. Eleven names from the mid-season report that I still think are going to show up, five changes (out with Todd Rundgren, Kraftwerk, Ringo Starr, Chic, and the prediction of only fifteen names). Now to wait and see, and hopefully it won’t be too much longer.