Predicting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017

The Cars

People like to hate on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—and it deserves a lot of that hate, to be sure—but I’ve always been fascinated in which artists get it and which don’t. It’s the music nerd in me, I suppose.

The nominations for the museum’s 2017 class were announced this week, so I thought I’d run down the list and include just a few words about each act on the list. (No, Slayer did not make the cut this year … and I’m still not happy about it.)  

Who will get it in? Which nominees surprised me this year? Well, let’s begin …

Pearl Jam – This is the biggest slam dunk on the list. Based on their music alone, I think Pearl Jam probably would have been nominated sooner than later … add in the fact that Eddie Vedder seems to have a firm role as part of the rock and roll establishment, much like Dave Grohl, and it’s pretty clear Pearl Jam will be voted in this year. They’re also still good enough to headline the induction ceremony, which makes them even more appealing to whoever the hell makes these decisions …

Tupac Shakur – I think he gets in. The floodgates have opened for rap and hip-hop acts, and few have made as large of an impact as Tupac. Big hits? Check. Classic albums? Check. A larger-than-life personality that helped shape the genre? Check. Yep—he’s in.

Depeche Mode – I can’t even pretend to be a fan of Depeche Mode. Do they get in? I have no idea. I’m thinking they don’t, at least not this year, but I could be wrong. Again: I’m not a fan. This isn’t my thing. Where’s that shrugging emoticon when you need it?

Electric Light Orchestra – Jeff Lynne’s notoriety and reputation as a producer probably get E.L.O. in. They certainly had a lot of hits. If it was up to me, I can’t say for sure I’d put the band in … but it’s not up to me.

Jane’s Addiction – I’m going to try and not say this for every artist that surprises me … but how is Slayer not being nominated while Jane’s Addiction is? It boggles my mind. I like Jane’s Addiction and all, but this seems like a pretty unlikely selection. Perry Farrell is another one of those artists with a huge personality, so maybe that helped him get enough momentum to make the cut.  

Janet Jackson – I love you, Janet, but this seems like a reach to me.

Journey – Ugh. Journey ranks among my absolute least favorite classic rock acts, but I would imagine they get in sooner than later. Does it happen this year? I’m guessing, no. 

The Cars – Heck yeah! Put ‘em in!

The Zombies – Did they put out enough quality material to make the cut? I doubt it, but I could be wrong.

Yes – No

Bad Brains – This is the biggest surprise of the bunch for me. Totally unexpected. Make it so, rock hall! Get these guys in. 

Chaka Khan – I love Chaka and all, but I don’t know … does she get in? Uh, I guess so? Maybe not this year, though.

Chic – Their music played such a huge role in the early years of hip-hop. Will that be enough? I kind of doubt it.

J. Geils Band – I’m personally a huge J. Geils Band fan and have every last one of their records on vinyl. Do I think they get in? No, no I don’t.

Joan Baez – I could definitely see Joan going in. She was a big part of the 60s folk music scene, embracing the spotlight and the potential power of protest music while Bob Dylan rejected both of those things as emphatically as possible. I think she makes it! (Side note: Joan’s voice kind of drives me bonkers.)

Joe Tex – This seems like a longshot. I say, no.

Kraftwerk – Kraftwerk?! Alright! Autobahn and Trans-Europe Express are two all-time favorites, and I’ve actually never heard a song by them I didn’t like. I hope Kraftwerk makes it, but I’m doubtful. It would make one heck of a live performance, though.

MC5 – They made one hugely influential, powerful record—and then that’s about it. I don’t see MC5 getting in, but maybe eventually? 

Steppenwolf – This seems like a band that eventually gets in; I guess it depends on how much people love “Born to Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride.” I do give Steppenwolf credit for doing what they did fairly early in rock and roll’s history, but I don’t know how much I care about them either way.

Here’s my final prediction for the hall’s class of 2017:

Pearl Jam, Tupac, E.L.O., the Cars, and Joan Baez.

Who I personally hope gets in:

As long as Pearl Jam, Tupac, and the Cars get in this year, I’ll be good. Kraftwerk and/or Bad Brains would be shocking … but in a good way.

What do you think? Am I right or wrong?

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