Part 3 of Michael Drinan's look at this years Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame ballot!
Welcome to the final installment of “For Those About to Rock”! I tackle the final five nominees on this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame ballot and will give my final predictions on who will get in this year! Feel free to respond and give your predictions as well! Enjoy...
The Spinners - Mostly what I wrote about for The Marvelettes in Part 2 can be said for The Spinners. Okay, sure, they had their share of hits. “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” is such a great, timeless song without question, but what did they do? The answer: nothing! They followed the traditional doo-wop formula and rode the coattails of the successful Motown groups of the 60s and 70s. Sure, they were well respected, but commercially they weren’t a success. You want to know how you can tell this group is unremarkable? They’ve been eligible for the hall of fame since 1986, and the first nomination they ever received was in 2012. They had been put off for 26 years! Why does that make them worthy now? As is the case with The Marvelettes, we don’t need to induct every single Motown artist into the hall of fame. No one is going to lose sleep over The Spinners not being inducted.
Sting - Sting is an interesting nominee. He’s already been inducted with The Police, rightfully so, and does have the pedigree to make it in as a solo artist. His first two solo albums, The Dream of the Blue Turtles and ...Nothing Like The Sun, could be considered classics. His first album showcased his musical abilities in jazz as well as his lyrical dexterity, writing songs about love, the Cold War, and heroin addiction. His second album saw him crossover to the R&B charts with his single “We’ll Be Together”. It’s this versatility of sound and style that plays to Sting’s strength and it speaks volumes that this versatility also translated into mainstream success. Whenever I think of Sting, I think of his two songs “Fields of Gold” and “If I Ever Lose My Faith In You”, both from his 1993 album Ten Summoner’s Tales. His vocals are distinct and unforgettable and his influence reaches across a broad spectrum of genres. His ability to survive the 80s pop scene AND the grunge/alternative scene of the early 90s also speaks to his staying power. He does deserve induction into the hall of fame, we’ll just have to see if his staying power can allow him to survive this list of strong, deserving nominees as well.
Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble - Great blues guitarists are easy to come by since the genre is really centered around the instrument. A casual music fan could probably rip off 10 great blues guitarists off the top of their head and Stevie Ray Vaughn would probably be on that list. I would even make the argument that SRV earned his induction, not from his albums, but solely on his live shows. He was a master showman and whenever stories are told about him they are always about his performances. He was arguably the key figure in the 80s blues revival. When most guitar players (in my opinion) overuse the wah-wah pedal, SRV used it minimally, always favoring the natural sound of his amps. This is his first nomination despite being eligible since 2008 and there isn’t a doubt in my mind that he gets in. His name belongs next to Hendrix since he built upon the blues-rock foundation in which Hendrix helped lay down.
War - Another interesting nominee on the ballot. There’s always something to be said about an artist or band that fuses two sounds to make something completely unique. War combined funk, soul and R&B with a Latin foundation during the mid to late 60s and gained success and fame during the 70s. A mix brought to popularity by Santana, War established themselves as a social conscience group and gained hits such as “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”, “Low Rider”, “Summer” and “Slippin’ Into the Darkness”. There funk-latin soul mix helped make the band’s catalogue prime real estate for samples and beats for a variety of hip hop acts, most notable The Beastie Boys. That kind of generational and genre crossover helps when it comes to induction and should not be understated. War has been eligible since 1996 and this is their third nomination. I don’t see them getting the nod this year, but in the next couple of years they should get in. Needs to happen soon though since the 25 year eligibility mark is starting to enter the 90s, where there’s a flood of strong Hall worthy artists. War should get the nod next year at the least.
Bill Withers - I love me a good R&B act and Bill Withers is top notch. He should be inducted in the hall of fame however this year might not be it. His two most famous hits “Lean On Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” are cause for induction alone. He has a soft spot in my heart for his song “Grandma’s Hands” was sampled for the classic 90s R&B hit (and personal favorite of mine) “No Diggity” by Blackstreet. (“I got to bag it up!) He’s been covered by nearly every legendary artist, from The Temptations to Michael Stipe of R.E.M., duetted with several notable jazz musicians, one of which was Grover Washington Jr. on the immortal “Just the Two of Us”. He’s been eligible since 1996 and this is his first time nominated. His nomination will be one to watch on this ballot. I can see him getting in on this ballot but wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t get the nod. Personally, I’d like to see him in there as soon as possible.
Alright, now it’s everyone’s favorite moment where they get pissed and call me out on flip flopping, changing my mind and recanting previous predictions. The Hall usually inducts five or six in the performers category so, just to be safe, I will pick six artists that I think will get the nod. So, let’s get to it.
Kraftwerk - They’ve been too influential and have waited too long. I have a hard time believing voters will continue to keep them out.
Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - She’s been passed over too many times to keep out. Plus, the Hall needs to fight back against accusations of being biased against female artists. A Joan Jett induction would certainly help the cause even though its common fucking sense she should be in. Time to cut the shit Hall of Fame!
Stevie Ray Vaughn - Voters love a good guitarist. Even better, they love a good dead guitarist. SRV should see induction this year. I don’t think the voters can ignore a presence like his.
Lou Reed - He died just last year which, as previously said, always helps a cause for induction. I expect Lou to get the votes. People love Lou.
Nine Inch Nails - Reznor is such a brilliant force currently in the music industry that I find it difficult to believe voters will pass on inducting him this year. Too influential.
Green Day - I know I said in Part 1 that they won’t get in on their first time nominated, but its so hard not selecting them. Given what they did for punk music in the mainstream, the hits are still there and they’re still going strong. Inducting an artist who is still current and successful goes a long way and help keeps the hall of fame relevant. I think the voters realize this.