Monday, December 14, 2015

Official Inductee Prediction: 2016

When fellow monitors predict the nominees for the upcoming ballot for any given year, many often prefer to make "backup predictions" in an attempt to hedge their bets.  This particular practice is one I generally frown upon.  Go big or go home, right?  Well, except this is the one time when I do hedge my bets just a bit.  I should point out, however, that this did not start out as an attempt to hedge my bets.  It was merely an attempt to rank the inductees by the likelihood of induction, as I saw them.  It was only after the Rock Hall started to add an extra inductee, back in 2012, that the rankings became a way to account for whatever curve ball the Hall may throw at us.  With the whims of the Rock Hall being fickler than fate, the only thing that's really left to do, and let the seeds just go down the line as predictions for every inductee they do include this year.  Sound fair?  Too bad, that's kind of how it's done here.  But enough preamble; time to plant some seeds.

1. N.W.A.
Pioneer gangsta rap group.  Fourth time nominee, seeded #5 for 2013, #9 for 2014, and #3 for 2015.
Why they might make it:  On top of everything else they have in the way of merits, the biopic Straight Outta Compton was absolutely timely in getting their legacy further expounded and planted firmly in the minds of voters, or at least those who go to the movies. Beyond all that of course, 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: There’s no other rap group on the ballot this time, so no direct threats, but Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, Chic and the Spinners could snare away votes, especially in the face of the glut of classic rock names this year that the general public has been clamoring for.
In the end:  The hype brought about from the movie this year could have been extinguished by the controversy of the tampering with the fan ballot on the Rock Hall's website, but the voters who are focused should be able to maintain the resolve and vote them in this year.  Odds of induction: 85%

2. Chicago
Rock outfit that infused horns into their sound.  First time nominee.  
Why they might make it: Over the past few years, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has gone to fairly strenuous lengths to nominate names that the general public has been clamoring for.  Whether it's been Rush, Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble, or acts that still haven't gotten in, like Deep Purple, there have been more names beloved by the public.  This year, Chicago is one of two names that are really huge household names, and Chicago has been eligible longer.  They're dominating the fan vote, and while that isn't a guarantee, it's interesting to take note of.
Why they might not: Critics do not like Chicago, and after living inductees, critics likely compose the biggest group of voters.  Also, there's a chance of some ballot division.  Also, the legacy of the band includes the continual descent that some would say started with "If You Leave Me Now," includes "Baby, What A Big Surprise," "Stay The Night," and "You're The Inspiration," plus songs from the current lineup that is probably bereft of any personnel who were there pre-1976.
Whom they'd pave the way for: While their sound was drastically different, Chicago has been compared in some ways to Electric Light Orchestra, so their induction could be good for finally getting Otis Wilbury finally enshrined.  Meanwhile, the downsizing of the NomCom probably won't ever be good news for earlier horn rock acts like Blood, Sweat, And Tears or the Buckinghams, but Chicago's induction can't be bad news for them either.
Biggest threats: The glut of classic rock acts is probably the biggest hindrance for the Windy City band, so Deep Purple, Steve Miller, the Cars, Cheap Trick, and Yes could all possibly steal votes from Chicago.
In the end: Chicago's been deemed a huge snub not just by the public, but from many industry people who aren't part of the voting bloc.  So, much to my chagrin, the Illuminati Conspiracy will probably come true.  Next year, the Cubs win the World Series.  Odds of induction: 80%

3. Janet Jackson
R&B and dance music diva.  First time nominee.
Why she might make it: Along with Chicago, she's the biggest name on the ballot.  There has also been an online campaign to get Janet Jackson inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  This has been their baby, and it looks like it may just happen.  With a lot of big hits and her new album getting some positive spin, this could all culminate in an induction.
Why she might not: Two things might hinder her chances.  First, there's been a lot of speculation that all she has is because of her name and her brother's fame.  Some just think she'd be nothing if she weren't Michael's sister.  Second, naysayers say a lot of her records, particularly the earlier ones, have a very generic sound that is nothing special, even derivative, and that her producers make all the magic of her music.  This is augmented by the fact on a lot of her records, her voice doesn't come through very strongly, lost in the production effect.
Whom she'd pave the way for: The big hope is that getting Janet in will kick down the doors for Whitney Houston, the newly eligible, but not nominated this year Mariah Carey, and in the future, TLC, Destiny's Child, and Beyonce. 
Biggest threats: Chaka Khan is the other major diva on the ballot, Chic could steal the dance music votes, too.  And don't count out the Spinners either.
In the end: The popular acts have really started to come pouring through.  Why have one headliner when you can have two?  Why have only Rush when you can have Rush AND Heart?  Or just KISS when you can have KISS AND Nirvana?  Odds of induction: 65%

4. Yes
Long-lasting progressive rock band with numerous personnel changes.  Second time nominee.  Seeded #6 for 2014
Why they might make it: Yes, so far, is the only prog act to not get in on their first nomination, so that's a bit of an anomaly.  Prog does well.  Additionally, the death of only consistent member Chris Squire makes them the "Death Fairy" favorite.
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: Again, this year's ballot is almost the classic rock lover's dream, so look for some division from Cheap Trick, the Cars, Chicago, Deep Purple, and Steve Miller.
In the end: In 2014, I said that Yes could be the first prog band to need a second nomination, and it appears I was right.  With the death of Chris Squire, among other factors, I don't think they'll need a third.  Odds of induction: 60%

5. The Cars
New-wave rock band.  First time nominee.
Why they might make it: There aren't too many bands that can be innovative, widely acclaimed by critics, and popular with the listening public.  The Cars pulled it off and made it look effortless.
Why they might not: New-wave and synth-rock are pretty minimally represented in the Hall, and it's not a widely loved style by the powers-that-be therein.
Whom they'd pave the way for: An induction for the Cars probably won't bode too well for acts whose popularity was not in America, so don't expect a door to open for Gary Numan or Tubeway Army, but the strong synth lines could help connect the dots towards Duran Duran somewhere down the line.
Biggest threats: Classic rock bands be a pack of hungry dogs fighting for votes.  Cheap Trick, Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, and Yes could all keep the Cars idling for awhile.
In the end: That one-two punch of both acclaim and commercial success is too alluring to not select.  They could sneak through.  Odds of induction: 55%

6. Chic
R&B/disco group fronted by a crackerjack production team.  This is their tenth 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, #12 in 2013, #2 in 2014, and #7 in 2015.
Why they might make it: Nile Rodgers has gone back to doing it the way other past inductees have done it: a new album and new tour with surviving members of Chic, showing that Chic can still rock the house.
Why they might not: They've failed nine times before.  If he were still alive, Albert Einstein would point to this and call it insanity.  Additionally, with more classic rock bands getting in, those bands' members vote for other classic rock acts, meaning Chic isn't gaining ground.  Additionally, there’s still the Chic Syndrome: solid instrumentation soured by laughable lyrics. Lastly, as has been the case in the past, disco isn’t popular with the voting bloc, or so it seems.
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: The Spinners as an R&B group have more popularity, but don't ignore the solo powerhouses of Janet Jackson and Chaka Khan.
In the end: The NomCom wants Nile in, and will get them in at some point.   And with ten nominations, I'm expecting the Foundation's head honchos to say, "They're in because we fucking say so!"  At least behind closed doors.  The announcement will say the ballot ran so close, they're inducting six.  Odds of induction: 50%

(6.5: The J.B.'s)
(Funk outfit that backed James Brown on many of his records)
(Why they might make it: With the E Street Band inducted, the Hall has shown they're willing to induct entire ensembles in the Award For Musical Excellence category, and backing James Brown regularly garners serious credibility.)
(Why they might not: The J.B.'s didn't play on the biggest and best known records of the Godfather--"I Got You (I Feel Good)," "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag," and "Cold Sweat," mainly--and as such didn't pioneer the funky sound that would be one of Brown's signatures.  They simply elevated the existing template.)
(Whom they'd pave the way for: This might pave the way for more ensemble acts, like the Jordanaires, the Wrecking Crew, and the Funk Brothers.)
(Biggest threats: Their own nomination as Performers could deflect their chances of being considered in this category.)
(In the end: Side door inductions are becoming more and more the Hall's modus operandi.  Regardless, it's a toss-up.  Odds of Award For Musical Excellence induction: 50%)

7. Los Lobos:
Latin-rock/roots music band.  First time nominee.
Why they might make it: The Hall's voting bloc is comprised of industry people, inside people.  Los Lobos' target audience is comprised of such people.  Critics adore the stuffing out of them, fellow musicians respect them, and anyone else not in either of those camps respects this group.
Why they might not: If these people take a step back, they'll realize that they're the only ones who've heard of Los Lobos, or know they're not a studio group thrown together for that La Bamba movie.
Whom they'd pave the way for: For roots music, Delaney And Bonnie have also been previously considered and could get a look from this.  For Latin rock, it could mean good news for Gloria Estefan And The Miami Sound Machine.
Biggest threats: Non-mainstream act the Smiths are the closest thing Los Lobos has to a direct threat.
In the end: Acts whose biggest liability is their own relative anonymity to John Q. Public generally require a few nominations to get in.  All the same, they were a tough cut, and they still have a strong chance.  So strong, they're the upset special this year.  Odds of induction: 49%

8. The Spinners
Superstar Philly-soul vocal group from Detroit, Michigan.  Third time nominee, seeded #3 in 2012 and #10 in 2015.
Why they might make it: The Hall has been strongly populist in the past couple years, and the Hall loves the '70's as well.  The Spinners are the group that has been around the longest.
Why they might not: Soul music, soul groups especially, have been very sporadic in their induction in the past decade.  It’s a disturbing trend that will hopefully be reversed soon, but for now, it’s bad news.
Whom they’d pave the way for: Classic soul is getting thinner and thinner, so maybe they’ll go for the few-hit, but highly-respected soul outfit Harold Melvin And The Bluenotes, or just lead singer Teddy Pendergrass. Lou Rawls is another possibility.  Or they may go back to New Orleans and go for the Neville Brothers..  Though still a couple years away, a Spinners induction could point to the possibility of Boyz II Men getting in eventually, as well.  And let’s add Billy Preston.
Biggest threats: Chic's tenth nomination will probably shut the door on the Spinners this year, but so could Janet Jackson and Chaka Khan as well.
In the end:  I'd like to think they could fluke through, but it's hard to think it could seriously happen.  Dare to dream, but think realistically.  Odds of induction: 45%

9. Cheap Trick
70's rock band.  First time nominee
Why they might make it: Counter-intuitively, this is a band that is highly respected for not taking itself too seriously.  Critics actually love them for this, and the people just plain love their fun rock songs.
Why they might not: Despite creating fun, memorable music, they didn't do much else that would otherwise gain them serious respect and consideration.  Not much innovation, and they were influential to the same degree that a lot of other similar bands were influential, meaning they don't stand out in that regard.
Whom they'd pave the way for: Other bands in the "classic rock" pantheon could come through the door behind Cheap Trick, such as Journey, Foreigner, Styx, and Boston.
Biggest threats: The Cars are probably the most direct of threats, but Chicago, Deep Purple, Steve Miller, and Yes could all leach votes away.
In the end: They're a band you'd love to have in, but it's only gonna happen when there's a conscious effort to vote for them, rather than choosing the most deserving.  Probably not this time.  Odds of induction: 40%

10. Nine Inch Nails
Industrial one-man group.  Second time nominee, seeded #9 last year.
Why he/they might make it: Nine Inch Nails is the act that really helped bring industrial music to a wider audience, which means a lot with the Hall.  In fact, the act made Rolling Stone magazine’s list of Immortals, which practically guarantees eventual induction. 
Why he/they might not:  Industrial may have been brought to the mainstream, but it has never been fully embraced, not to the degree that grunge, rap, and alternative have been.  Its intentional cacophony makes it a difficult style to want to honor and enshrine.  This may be a problem.
Whom he/they would pave the way for: I’m not very knowledgeable of industrial, so I have no clue.  Ministry?  Throbbing Gristle?  I don't think they really have any chance, but we'll see.
Biggest threats: Deep Purple is probably the hardest act after Nine Inch Nails, so they are the most direct competition.  N.W.A. and Janet Jackson could steal the modern acts' votes.
In the end: With all the classic rock on the ballot, the Induct Janet campaign, and the highest chances for N.W.A. yet, I'm just thinking Nine Inch Nails gets lost in the shuffle.  Odds of induction: 35%

11. Chaka Khan
R&B diva, former lead singer of Rufus.  First time nominee?  First and a half?  Rufus with Chaka Khan was seeded #15 for 2012.
Why she might make it: She's a big name draw with a slew of chart hits of her own, plus she's worked with a lot of important names in the rock community.
Why she might not: This is presumably about her solo career, and won't include her work with Rufus.  Her solo stuff includes a lot easier listening ballads, though not exclusively.
Whom she'd pave the way for:  There are a few other disco divas who might be worth taking a look at.  Grace Jones tops that list.
Biggest threats: Janet Jackson is the clearest present danger to Chaka's chances.  Chic is also an issue, as might also be the Spinners.
In the end: If it wasn't for Janet's momentum, Chaka might be a lock.  As it is, the ballot division is gonna make her 0 for 2-- 0 for 1.5?  Oh, whatever. Odds of induction: 33%

12. Deep Purple
Highly influential hard rock band.  Third time nominee, seeded #8 for 2013, #10 for 2014.
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.  Additionally, famous past naysayer and NomCom member Dave Marsh has done an about face on Deep Purple, which could help swing huge support.
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: Chicago, the Cars, Yes, Steve Miller, Cheap Trick, and also Nine Inch Nails all threaten this band this year.
In the end: At one point, I said, "Purple is the new Black," meaning it's going to be a long journey to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for Deep Purple, just as it was for Black Sabbath.  Odds of induction: 30%

13. Steve Miller
Blues rocker who fronted an eponymous band.  First time nominee.
Why he might make it: The Hall loves blues rockers, and most of the time, they don't take many nominations to get in.  He's played with a lot of the old guard, too.
Why he might not: Two reasons.  One, his songwriting's extremely hit or miss.  It's either really good or really bad, seldom in between.  Such inconsistency won't bode well.  Two, Miller's been nominated as a solo act, but he only had one solo album.  Since the nominees were announced, there's been a lot of tittering about how it should include the band in some capacity, and to include some past members of his outfit.
Whom he'd pave the way for: Everyone has been surprised that Johnny Winter got overlooked for nomination, so maybe an induction for Miller would help.  Also, blues greats like Junior Wells or Slim Harpo could get some looks.
Biggest threats: Last time here... Chicago's jazz rock could block the blues rock, and don't forget Yes, the Cars, Deep Purple, or Cheap Trick.
In the end: With everything else going on, the fact that it's just the man and not the band nominated could be the straw that breaks a lot of voters' backs.  Odds of induction: 25%

14. The Smiths
‘80s alternative rock group.  Second time nominee, seeded dead last (#15) last year.
Why they might make it: The Smiths (and lead singer Morissey) are a highly recognized and influential name in alternative music, ‘80s music, and ‘80s alternative music.  Additionally, as a soloist, Morrissey has a certain cache in a rather niche market of Southwestern U.S. Latino teens. 
Why they might not: ‘80s alternative just can’t catch a break.  The Cure couldn’t get in, the Replacements couldn’t get in; Sonic Youth can't get on the ballot yet.
Whom they’d pave the way for: Maybe Sonic Youth will show up next year, maybe it’ll be Pixies, or maybe they’ll retry the Cure or the Replacements.  Plus, Morrissey as a soloist has a shot in the future.
Biggest threats: Los Lobos also appeals to the alternative market and could divide things against the Smiths.
In the end: Until proven wrong, I’m just going to keep assuming ‘80s alternative has little to no chance of getting in.  I don’t know what would have to change to turn that around, but I’m not holding my breath this time either.  Odds of induction: 20%

15: The J.B.'s
Funk outfit famous for backing James Brown on many of his records.
Why they might make it: They made a lot of solid funk and have been sampled on a lot of rap records.
Why they might not: They're the most anonymous band on the ballot.  The most common comment about their nomination has been "I had to look them up to even know who they are!"  Not good.  Also, they're tied intricately to James Brown.  Even their very name is because of him, so distinguishing themselves as a separate entity worthy of induction on its own merits is gonna be a tough sell.
Whom they'd pave the way for: Other funk acts or acts that have been widely sampled could benefit.  Perhaps Chuck Brown And The Soul Searchers, or Charles Wright And The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.
Biggest threats: Chic could also steal votes from those who want to see some funk inducted.  The Spinners are a fellow rhythmically driven act that could mess things up as well.
In the end: Everyone's expecting the J.B.'s to be inducted as Award For Musical Excellence, and thus few voters could be motivated to support them as a Performer.  Odds of induction: 10%

So that's how I'm seeding them.  Luckily, I've procrastinated so long that we'll only have a couple days to wait until we find out for certain.  Good luck with your predictions, and see you on the other side of the announcement.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Yeah, but do I like them? 2016 Edition

When the nominees on each year's ballot for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame are announced, there is always an instinctive reaction to each of the names.  Sometimes, it's surprise; others, a nodding of expectation.  Sometimes, delight; sometimes, disdain.  Those last two reactions are often driven by whether or not the person reacting to the news actually likes those acts.  Sometimes it's a matter of thinking an act is truly deserving or undeserving, but personal taste often drives the emotional reactions.  To some degree, it makes sense.  While we want the Hall to salute the true game changers, there's also a feeling of relief when an act that someone is passionate about on personal grounds is voted in.  At the Foundation itself, the powers-that-be describe "Unquestionable musical excellence" as the key determining factor for who even gets nominated.  But what does that mean?  Is it truly a matter of being innovative and influential?  When forced to be honest, those people would probably say no.  Nevertheless, this year's ballot has a lot of people chirping positively about how it's difficult to go wrong, no matter what.  And last year, many people felt, and Dave Marsh even expressed this sentiment, that the best possible class emerged from a relatively weak ballot.  So when you've got a ballot full of deserving names, it's fairly obvious that personal taste is going to play a factor.

Which is why I unabashedly rank the nominees by how much I personally like their music, after I rank them as objectively as I can manage.  Personal taste undoubtedly comes into play with actual voters, and going through the hassle of actually ranking them by personal favor allows one to be more openly aware of their bias in the process.  So, I believe it 's a good thing to do, to take the opportunity to list them by how much I like their music.  It gives context to how I discuss them as being fit for the Hall, and probably affects both how I seed them and how I rate them on merits, even though I try to remove personal bias from those two equations.  Once again, I'll average them out against the merits ranks to get an average, include the fiance's thoughts, and as a new feature this year, I'm going to include what song of theirs is my personal favorite, as well as the fiance's favorite jam.  So, here's how this year's ballot stacks up.

1. The Spinners
Every year they've made the ballot, I've been hesitant to predict them.  They consistently rank high on my personal tastes' scale, and this year they top the list, which is good because they keep slipping in the merits' list, this time at #10.  Philly soul is just one of the best subgenres in the whole rock and roll spectrum for me.  I don't dance, but I feel the boogie of their bass in my blood.
Favorite song: "One Of A Kind (Love Affair)"
Average of my two ranks: 5.5
Fiance's favorite song: "I'll Be Around"
Fiance's taste: 5
Average of her two ranks: 7

2. The Smiths
On paper, the Smiths are a band I just shouldn't like.  Not big on post-punk, don't care a lot for Pixies, Sonic Youth, or even the Cure that much.  Yet, there's something undeniably catchy in Johnny Marr's melodic guitar playing and Morrissey's vocals.  Mesmerizing, almost.  6th in merits.
Favorite song: "Sheila, Take A Bow"
Average of my two ranks: 4
Fiance's favorite song: "How Soon Is Now"
Fiance's taste: 15
Average of her two ranks: 10

3. Cheap Trick
Those who talk to me about music, especially on the Future Rock Legends site, know that I really respect acts who don no pretentious airs, and Cheap Trick fits that bill, which is good, because being 13th in merits, chances are they'll have to rely on actual voters sharing my opinion to get votes.
Favorite song: "Dream Police"
Average of my two ranks: 8
Fiance's favorite song: "The Flame"
Fiance's taste: 3
Average of her two ranks: 7.5

4. Chicago
I'll just say it right now: I don't actually hate the ballads as much as some others.  I do think there's some untapped potential in a couple of them. I think if an act like Boyz II Men covered "You're The Inspiration," and gave it their special Motownphilly touch, the resulting cover could have been an absolute soul classic.  At the top spot for merits, their esteem with me rides pretty high.
Favorite song: "Make Me Smile"
Average of my two ranks: 2.5
Fiance's favorite song: "You're The Inspiration"
Fiance's taste: 8
Average of her two ranks: 5.5

5. The Cars
Another group I really shouldn't like, on paper.  But they know how to be innovative and catchy at the same time, which is pretty awesome, when you think of it.  One notch higher in merits.
Favorite song: "Tonight She Comes"
Average of my two ranks: 4.5
Fiance's favorite song: "Drive"
Fiance's taste: 2
Average of her two ranks: 5

6. Steve Miller
Well, the Steve Miller Band, technically, and maybe they'll do justice to the group should this name make the grade for induction.  But between some bad lyrics, good grooves, and smooth feel, the high to middle of the pack is a personal taste rank that I bet others share with me.  9th for merits.
Favorite song: "Serenade"
Average of my two ranks: 7.5
Fiance's favorite song: "The Joker"
Fiance's taste: 4
Average of her two ranks: 4

7. Deep Purple
I'm not a metal fan, or a prog fan, and I don't like too many songs by Deep Purple, either.  Fortunately, I also don't hate too many songs from Deep Purple, either.  So by finishing runner-up in merits, this looks pretty promising for them.
Favorite song: "Highway Star"
Average of my two ranks: 4.5
Fiance's favorite song: "Smoke On The Water"
Fiance's taste: 9
Average of her two ranks: 7.5

8. The J.B.'s
Kind of a shocker, that I ranked them this high: I don't particularly like James Brown.  But listening to them while researching them, I was boogieing (my spellchecker didn't flag that, so I'm keeping it like that) in my chair with them.  A lot of the songs sound similar at this point, which really only means I need to spend more time listening to them.  Unfortunately, they scored low on the merits list.  Second last.
Favorite song: "Doing It To Death"
Average of my two ranks: 11
Fiance's favorite song: "I Got Ants In My Pants" (she only know James Brown songs)
Fiance's taste: 7
Average of her two ranks: 10.5

9. Janet Jackson
Going over her catalog over the years, I kind of get the naysayers' complaints: a lot of her early stuff does sound like cookie-cutter '80's R&B, like some of Bobby Brown's more upbeat stuff.  Fortunately, I have a high tolerance for that, and enjoy her later stuff too.  She rounded out the top five for merits.
Favorite song: "Black Cat"
Average of my two ranks: 7
Fiance's favorite song: "If"
Fiance's taste: 1
Average of her ranks: 1.5

10. Los Lobos
In a way, I really want to hate roots music, just because people have the audacity to call it that.  You want to listen to "roots" music of rock and roll, then start filling your head with doo-wop.  Nor am I that big on Tex-Mex music, and the days I've spent in processing plants, forced to listen to Latin American music, it's actually saying something that they're this high.  Especially when they were dead last in merits.
Favorite song: "Jenny's Got A Pony"
Average of my two ranks: 12.5
Fiance's favorite song: "La Bamba"
Fiance's taste: 6
Average of her two ranks: 10.5

11. Chaka Khan
Her solo stuff isn't as good as the Rufus stuff.  Her love songs are pretty good, but not as good as the funkier stuff.  Same rank as merits.
Favorite song: "I'm Every Woman"
Average of my two ranks: 11
Fiance's favorite song: "I'm Every Woman"
Fiance's taste: 12
Average of her two ranks: 11.5

12. Chic
I really harbor no "disco sucks" sentiment.  Maybe it's just ear fatigue, that I got sick of hearing them.  That's as good an explanation as any really.  No real hate, just no real love.  Also 12th for merits.
Favorite song: "I Want Your Love"
Average of my two ranks: 12
Fiance's favorite song: "Good Times"
Fiance's taste: 11
Average of her two ranks: 9

13. N.W.A.
I'm not a real big fan of gangsta rap, so N.W.A. isn't ranking really high, but there's some fun stuff in there as well.  3rd in merits.
Favorite song: "A Bitch Iz A Bitch"
Average of my two ranks: 8
Fiance's favorite song: "Fuck Tha Police"
Fiance's taste: 10
Average of her two ranks: 5.5

14. Nine Inch Nails
Industrial... not my thing.  Don't hate every song, but will change the station when it comes on, usually.  In the midst of things at 7 for merits.
Favorite song: "We're In This Together"
Average of my two ranks: 10.5
Fiance's favorite song: "Closer"
Fiance's taste: 13
Average of her two ranks: 13

15. Yes
8th in merits, though.
Favorite song: "Your Move (I've Seen All Good People)"
Average of my two ranks: 11.5
Fiance's favorite song: "Owner Of A Lonely Heart"
Fiance's taste: 14
Average of her two ranks: 12

So when we try balance out merits versus taste, we get some conflict between the two, and it seems like it ends up in a jumbled heap, but from this, we see how theoretically I should vote on the fan ballot.  The top five averages are:

1. Chicago
2. The Cars
3. The Smiths
4. Deep Purple
5. The Spinners

And for my fiance, her top five averages are:

1. Janet Jackson
2. Steve Miller
3. The Cars
4. Chicago
5. N.W.A.

So, the end result shows that while I'd like to think I'd be diverse in my voting, the only R&B I'd have would be the Spinners.  However, in the face of the corrupted fan ballot, my vote has actually been going to Janet Jackson, Chaka Khan, N.W.A., the Spinners, and.... the Smiths.  Because I just couldn't bring myself to vote for Chic, and the J.B.'s are probably gonna get the Award For Musical Excellence induction.  Sorry, Nile.  Anyway, the next installment, HOPEFULLY before the inductees are actually announced, my official pecking order, from which we can derive the official prediction.