Who deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? Since 2012’s introduction of the fan vote, the Rock Hall nominations stand at an existential crossroads, with each act placed on two intangible scales. Is it more important to be a critic’s favorite, or a fan’s? Does influence trump record sales? Before the final inductees are announced this month, we tried to (very subjectively) find each nominee’s spot in those ranges. If this doesn’t help, well, you can always try writing Jann Wenner.
While critics rarely give Def Leppard any sugar, the heavy metal pioneers are one of only five bands to ever score two Diamond records.
Janet Jackson: Before Queen Bey came Queen J, blending empowered pop with R&B groove in a radio-changing concoction. If Madonna’s in, Janet should be too.
The Cure: While these alternative faves blended honeyed hooks with goth aesthetics, it would still be frustrating to see these ’80s icons get in before Joy Division or even Siouxsie and the Banshees.
A true craftsman, Todd Rundgren layered earworm hooks over deft, eclectic guitar styles. Still, the Philly rock veteran might be too niche for an induction.
MC5: Its life was short, but anti-establishment avengers MC5 kicked up enough hard rock jams to inspire every punk that pummeled their way through a mosh pit.
LL Cool J: Although purists grumble about another rapper’s inclusion, this Kennedy Center recipient (the first rapper) diversified hip-hop with guitar licks and a rapid-fire flow as one of the first solo rappers to dominate mainstream radio, effectively ending the era of Sugarhill Gang-style funky flow.
Ironically, one of the groups that most benefits from the popular vote is Rage Against the Machine, exhilarating and intense political rap-rockers that spawned nu-metal—a genre even they hate.
Stevie Nicks is already in the Rock Hall with Fleetwood Mac, but does the Gold Dust Woman deserve induction based on her solo career?
Radiohead: Grunge, electronica, art rock: No band since the Beatles has experimented with so many musical transformations with such influential — and sublime — results. While they seemingly have no interest, the English icons deserve a spot.
Under the kitschy veneer of their red plastic hats, Devo cultivated surprisingly punk innovation, using music videos and synthetic instruments as their medium.
If the Rock Hall was in England, Roxy Music would have been among the first inductees. As it stands, the new-wave and punk progenitor likely settles for a nomination.
Rufus & Chaka Khan: These funk legends might be destined for the same fate as the often-nominated Chic: securing rousing Gold records, but no induction.
As one Cleveland Magazine editor put it, “no one except Bob Dylan has influenced 20th century singer-songwriters as much as John Prine.” But the critically beloved balladeer, who didn’t score his first Billboard Top 10 record until last year at age 71, might be stymied by his relative obscurity.
Known primarily for their hypnotic psychedelic pop hit “Time of the Season,” The Zombies are beloved among musicians, but the ’60s harmonizers might have too low a profile for the Rock Hall.
You may have never heard of Kraftwerk, but half your iTunes would vanish without them. The German electronic innovators’ blend of crystalline melodies and first-of-their kind recording devices paved the way for modern pop, industrial, EDM and rap sampling, touching basically every genre that came after them. Let them in!
12:00 PM EST
December 12, 2018