2021 Rock Hall Nominees – My Take
It seems like for every Rock Hall inductee that makes me say, “Right on,” there’s another one that makes me scratch my head and think, WTF? For example, Cheap Trick was inducted in 2016. Great, right? You bet. However, that same year, NWA was also inducted.
NWA? We all know that NWA had a huge cultural impact that transcended music. But I just feel like to get into the Rock Hall, you should maybe be somebody who actually played rock music, or at least who was an early influencer of rock music, e.g., B.B. King (inducted 1987). People squawk about cultural appropriation. What about musical appropriation? All great music is not rock music. Let other genres do their own thing.
In any event, below are my comments on this year’s nominees in order of the fan voting as of this writing. (Let’s just ignore the fact that the fan voting doesn’t actually count for squat, a topic for some other rant.)
Fela Kuti (163,785 votes) Fela Kuti was an amazing artist and an amazing activist, but the only reason I know this is because I had the good fortune to see Fela off Broadway several years ago. I’m willing to bet most rock fans know little if anything about Fela Kuti. At least NWA was straight outta Compton. Fela was straight outta Nigeria. I just don’t see his significance to American rock music.
Tina Turner (148,241 votes) At first, I thought, okay, if you look back at Tina’s work with Ike, as well as her solo career, somebody could make a case for her induction. Except Ike and Tina Turner were already inducted in 1991. Does Tina Turner deserve to be a double Rock Hall inductee? In a word, no.
Foo Fighters (110,193 votes) Duh.
Iron Maiden (99,240 votes) A British heavy metal band. That’s more like it, right? Except who puts Iron Maiden in the British heavy metal line in front of Judas Priest? Nobody.
Carole King (91,886 votes) If you count lame, folky music as rock, I guess Carole King is as good a pick as any. After all, CSN was inducted in 1997, right?
The Go-Go's (88,937 votes) Yes!
Rage Against the Machine (65,129 votes) Emphatic yes!
Dionne Warwick (64,859 votes) This one made me scratch my head so hard, my scalp started to bleed. I seem to remember Dionne Warwick having a nice voice. And she did a great job playing Thea Moran in The Rockford Files episode called “Second Chance.” Oh, and we can’t forget her incredible contributions to the remote psychic industry. But the Rock Hall? No.
Todd Rundgren (62,299 votes) I think Todd Rundgren sucks. If you’re a Rundgren fan, feel free to try and change my mind.
Chaka Khan (61,835 votes) Ah, the Queen of Funk. It’s hard to argue with 10 Grammys, but again, R&B is not rock. R&B is R&B.
Devo (61,370 votes) When I worked at Wendy’s in high school, I rewrote Whip It as Flip It, but my group was banned from the talent contest because “flipping” is not proper burger terminology. One “turns” the burger. On that basis alone, Devo needs to be inducted.
Mary J. Blige (49,922 votes) Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ve never heard a Mary J. Blige song.
JAY-Z (43,914 votes) Which rock stations play JAY-Z? None of them? That’s what I thought.
LL Cool J (43,329 votes) Ditto.
New York Dolls (41,896 votes) There are other bands I would personally put ahead of New York Dolls, but I’d be a-okay if they were inducted.
Kate Bush (40,912 votes) As luck would have it, I’m listening to Peter Gabriel’s So for inspiration while I write this. The third track on that album is Don’t Give Up, his duet with Kate Bush. It’s a great song on a great record. However, Wikipedia lists her genres as art pop, art rock, experimental pop, pop rock and avant-pop. Too artsy-fartsy for me.
In the meantime, J Geils, George Thorogood and Joe Cocker are among the many greats who continue to be snubbed by the Rock Hall. FOAD, Rock Hall.