–By Sean Derrick
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today announced their nominees for the Class of 2017. It’s an impressive list, to be sure with many eventually deserving of the honor.
However, only five artists will be chosen.
With a group of nineteen artists for fans to choose from the decision this year could be difficult. Do you choose the mainstream, the innovators, the best sellers or the long-lasters? That is the dilemma with this year’s class.
So, let’s look at the Class of 2017 nominees:
Bad Brains: A viable influential band in the punk genre the group has influenced and inspired acts from Henry Rollins to Beastie Boys (with a lot more in between). While I’d love to see this band get in I just don’t believe this is their year.
Chaka Khan: An incredible vocalist, the Queen of Funk is a 10-time Grammy winner has been previously nominated with her band Rufus, and her influence on current R&B acts is huge. She may have the votes to sneak in this year as sleeper, but I would hedge my bet until the next year or two.
Chic: The disco pioneers have been snubbed more times than everyone on this list not named Journey. I’m pretty sure it’s the disco stigma that has prevented them from entering, even though they have influenced scores of non-disco artists like Duran Duran, The Sugarhill Gang, and Queen. I can see them getting inducted before Chaka Khan.
Depeche Mode: A great synth-pop band but since they come from an era (The Cure, The Smiths, New Order) that will just about guarantee they won’t get in this year. Consider this a token nomination which will hopefully change to a serious one in the near future.
Electric Light Orchestra (ELO): A classic rock radio staple of the 1970’s ELO conceptualized classical arrangements on a rock album, namely on 1974’s Eldorado and 1981’s Time. The willy nilly
novelties the band had (Think spaceships and indoor sunglasses) could be the one thing that keeps them from being nominated this year.
J.Geils Band: As a kid in 1981 I loved watching the video for “Centerfold” but not for the music. In fact, I actually kinda hated that song. I much preferred their follow up “Freeze-Frame” (being that photography was in my future it struck the right chord, so to speak). With not a whole lot of originality and very few acts citing them as influences (I am struggling to think of any) I cannot see the justification for allowing them in. It would have to be a very slow year, and this is certainly not a slow year.
Jane’s Addiction: Certainly an influential band of alt-metal they had elements of heavy metal, punk, jazz, glam rock and funk rock. They have influenced bands from Tool to Incubus to Korn and many others. Unfortunately the Hall hasn’t viewed their genre very favorably. Odds are this won’t be their year.
Janet Jackson: The youngest of the Jackson siblings she has been eclipsed in success only by brother Michael. Her strong female persona and breaking the boundaries on feminism and race earned her fans that crossed genres. She is one of the biggest influences to artists like Beyonce, Rihanna, Christina Aguillera and Nicki Minaj. Janet has more number one songs on the Billboard Top 100 in the past 25 years (15) than any other artist. She is certainly a redefining artist that is worthy and deserving of induction this year. She gets my vote.
Joan Baez: A folk icon who influenced a generation of anti-government anti-war protesters who based Woodstock as the end all be all of music performances. Problem is, her time was relatively short lived. Sure she influenced a generation in the late 60’s early 70’s. But her influenced lessened greatly on the next generation and the next. Worthy of Rock Hall consideration? Perhaps, just not this year.
Joe Tex: With this being the first time nomination for Tex, I don’t think this will be the year for him as he never reached that iconic status that could be needed to gain entry like Otis Redding. He should make it in, just not this year.
Journey: Just the fact that Journey has been nominated after 16 years of eligibility is astounding. What given the disdain the Hall has given to the likes of bands that dominated the 1980’s. But with the inclusion of Cheap Trick last year maybe the Hall has softened its stance a bit. Only time will tell, but it’s hard not to
vote for them when they had so much success. They have my vote this year.
Kraftwerk: pioneers in the electronic pop genre the band has influenced artists like Depeche Mode and David Bowie along with Daft Punk. But until the Hall recognizes the electronic age they won’t be getting in anytime soon.
MC5: Innovators of early punk MC5 hard stance political statements breathe of a late 60’s version of Rage Against the Machine. “Kick Out the Jams” has been covered by many bands and influences include The Melvins, The Ramones and Stone Temple Pilots. This may be a sleeper year for the Michigan band, but my guess is not quite yet.
Pearl Jam: A shoe-in as far as I am concerned. Pearl Jam was the quintessential band that formed the grunge movement in the 1990’s and influenced a whole generation of musicians. Their impact is still being felt today as the band plays sell out shows left and right. Since Nirvana and Green Day both got in on their first try Pearl Jam (the one with the most classic rock roots of the three) would be a safe bet and certainly gets my vote.
Steppenwolf: With classics like “Magic Carpet Ride” and “Born to Be Wild” you would think that Steppenwolf would be a shoe in. Not so fast. The band never really expounded much past those two hits and has languished in a state of obscurity for many years. Don’t hold your breath on this one.
The Cars: The new wave rockers had the vast majority of success in the 80’s with that new-fangled medium called MTV. They were nominated last year but lost out to Cheap Trick, among others. My guess is they will once again take a back seat, this time to Journey.
The Zombies: The psychedelic quintet that made their mark in the first British Invasion (I have the 45 single of “She’s Not There” in my collection). And apart from “She’s Not There” and “Time of the Season” they didn’t really have much success, and weren’t extremely influential. About the only way they will get in is riding on the whole zombie-craze that has filled pop culture now.
Tupac Shakur: A controversial yet highly influential artist Tupac is seen as a lightning rod depending on who you talk to. The first artist of the new era of rap Tupac epitomized what the modern era of hip hop would become: excess amid contradictions while rising from literally nothing to super-stardom in a flash. His lyrics grabbed a generation and held them there, guiding them through feelings of angst and misunderstandings while bringing attention to inner city plights and police brutality. Twenty Years after his death he still has heavy influence on young musicians. Tupac Gets my vote.
Yes: The progressive band out of England can ride on the coattails of Rush when they were finally inducted in 2013. Many acts still cite Yes as influences including Les Claypool of Primus, Rush, Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, De La Soul and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam. It’s kind of hard to image that they haven’t been in before now, but then again we are talking about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame here. Baby steps, I guess. Since this is the third time they have been nominated I say the third time is the charm. Yes gets my vote.
You can vote for your favorites here. All fan votes get tabulated and comprised into one vote. Inductees will be announced in December.