For some people, it's Christmas. For others, it's pumpkin spice flavoring. Everyone has something they don't want to get into too early. For me, I don't like getting my predictions up too early for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's ballot, neither the predictions of the nominees, nor the predictions for the inductees. Sometimes, I just need to go over things in my mind. Sometimes, I'm waiting for some event to occur that will play a factor at the last moment, like a death. Since the announcement of the ballot seems to be getting later each year, I procrastinate on posting predictions.
But it's time to get them done. Otherwise they'll never get done. Much like my taxes, it's time to just knuckle down and get right to it. Who will be on the ballot for 2017? Here are my thoughts.
First, let's nail the newly eligibles. To think that there will be more than two is taking a pretty big gamble in itself, and one I'm just not prepared to go for. So, we'll keep it to the obvious two: Pearl Jam is going on the ballot and into the Hall in due course. It's just happening. The other one will be rap icon 2Pac. The latter is not as assured, as there are other rap icons to get ushered in, but for extra charisma points at the ceremony, I think this is a safe bet. I don't think Rage Against The Machine gets on the ballot this time, simply because their first release was a demo, which really should not count, and I think Tom Morello is a little more ethical than that. Maybe not. But most of all, the odds of getting both Pearl Jam and Rage Against The Machine inducted the same year just isn't that good, and the former is of more pressing importance.
From there, let's try to predict some returning names. Chic is probably gonna be back again for this perennial game of "How hard can we dash Nile Rodgers' hopes this year? It's gotta end sometime, but they have to be nominated for that to happen. They'll be sharing the dance music slots on the ballot with Janet Jackson, in my opinion. Not only has the #InductJanet campaign given her great momentum, but there's also the shenanigans from last year's fan ballot. While Chicago did rightly run away with the fan ballot even without the hack, Ms. Jackson would have most likely finished a solid second, and the monkeyshines that went on courtesy of a slacking IT team will probably cause her to reappear as an attempt to save face. A couple other names from last year's ballot to return should also be Los Lobos, the Cars, and hopefully also the Spinners. Los Lobos is the clear darling of the critics on the NomCom, the Cars just got lost among too many classic rock acts, and the Spinners are just too awesome to ignore forever. So hopefully all three will return as well. While the reliability of arithmetic trends where the Hall is concerned is dubious, let's also just play the odds and predict that Kraftwerk will be back this year and Yes will not. Maybe they're the same band... you never see them on the same ballot, after all! Hmm, is there a phone booth nearby?
Looking beyond that, last year was a clear signal that guitar bands are what the voters want. It's sad, but clear. Maybe the NomCom will lash back and keep it to just the Cars and Kraftwerk, but there's probably a strong possibility that there will be some on the ballot. A favorite to predict this year has been Judas Priest, a band regarded as heavily important to the world of heavy metal music. Meanwhile, the critique of the utter lack of women in last year's inducted class, combined with the love of classic rock may finally culminate in the nomination of Pat Benatar, to give a female candidate to those voters who are incapable of thinking outside the Trunk.
Another theme that has been noticed by some monitors is the slow inclusion of artists that had been seemingly blackballed from the Hall. Rush, KISS, Deep Purple, Chicago... those acts all got in. And this is why, along with the new album, many are speculating that the Monkees will finally get some love from the Hall in the form of a nomination. In a similar vein, it may finally be determined that the Moody Blues will be deemed to important to ignore, and they'll be nominated too.
In trying to keep the Hall more modern, we need a little more representation from the '80s, and post-punk has been represented well in past years. So, to hedge our bets, I'll predict two: the Smiths and the Cure to return to the ballot. Normally, I would have a left-field pick, but so much of this feels left-field already, that what's another safe pick? Let's choose Nine Inch Nails to return again.
Looking at this ballot, it's pretty unimaginative. No real stretches, but only a couple that seem safe. I didn't have too many that didn't were close misses. I don't think Duran Duran is going to receive any consideration until the Cure or the Smiths get in, despite their stylistic differences. PJ Harvey is just a little too out there, and a little too indie to get nominated as a newly eligible artist. The Go-Go's would be nice, but I don't see it. Devo, I think, is just gonna fall short. I strongly considered Electric Light Orchestra, but they just missed cut. I just didn't see the NomCom putting Chaka Khan on again, though it's not entirely impossible. War just missed the cut, too. I'd like to see Warren Zevon or Carly Simon on the ballot, but don't see those as happening either. Then again, I haven't done too well at predicting the nominees the past couple years either. This prediction is really just a hedge-better's delight, and may end up biting me in the rear for my troubles. We'll see soon.