The 2011/2012 Rock Hall ballot is highly notable because of its critical quality for backlog artists who have been seriously considered for some time but have not been elected in or even reached the ballot. In 2012/2013, a number of critical artists of the radical Bush Senior era (the rap revolution) become eligible and for a number of years I have strongly felt 2012/2013 shall see more newly eligible artists than any year since the “punk revolution” class of 2002/2003, when the success of newer artists became rather constrained by the conflict between critical reputation and the stiflingly restrictive policies of major labels and commercial radio, which punk produced in the US.
There is at this stage not the slightest evidence that any artist newly eligible for 2010/2011 was ever discussed by the Nominating Committee. 2011/2012, however, I have always seen as having two artists certain to be considered very seriously in Guns‘n‘Roses and Soundgarden. Both of these groups were key artists in the late 1980s heavy rock scene: Guns‘n‘Roses recycled the scariest moments of rock, whilst Soundgarden made heavy rock more melodic than anyone before without losing emotion. There is also Salt‘n‘Pepa, whom Digital Dream Door said deserved it but of whom I have no belief they could be inducted before rappers on the current backlog, especially as they lack credibility in critical terms. Eric B and Rakim are a little better respected critically but are also unlikely to get in before backlog rap artists.
In looking at the 2011/2012 Rock hall ballot, I will assume the Nominating Committee is not going to allow any further artists on the ballot as it has been doing lately. The effect of key Bush Senior Era artists starting to become eligible will not really be seen until 2012/2013, and my predictions are for the following fifteen artists to make the 2011/2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot:
- Chuck Willis: A long-praised pioneer rhythm and blues artist with hits “C.C. Rider”, “Betty and Dupree”, “Hang Up My Rock and Roll Shoes” and the number nine “What Am I Living For”, Willis may be undergoing a major revival that ought to see him on this year’s ballot. He influenced Buddy Holly and Otis Redding in later years.
- Joe Tex: Nominated for the fourth time in 2010/2011, Joe Tex’s vocal style has been seen by many as a precursor to the spoken-word vocals of rap. He was not commercially successful until a decade after he first recorded, but in the late 1960s Tex was a key performed in the soul arena and it is likely he will keep getting chances until induction.
- The Five Satins: In the shuffle of vocal groups, the Satins, chiefly known for “In The Still of the Night”, should have a strong chance of making the ballot for the first time. They defined the meaning of “doo wop” with their chief hits “In the Still of the Night” and “To the Aisle”, and influenced many later vocal groups.
- The Moody Blues: The first progressive rock group - later like so many to have overblown pop hits after the “punk revolution” tightened up record company and commercial radio playlists - the Moody Blues seem likely to have a chance this year after Genesis were inducted for 2009/2010. They have often been critically derided but writers like Mark Prindle suggest this is less general than I thought.
- Donovan: The second long-eligible artist to be nominated despite never having been seriously discussed by the Nominating Committee after Leonard Cohen in 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 (inducted), Donovan has long been seen by outsiders as deserving of the Rock Hall due to his success as part of the psychedelic Zeitgeist in the 1960s, although he has not retained a great critical reputation and has recorded only four albums since 1976.
- Captain Beefheart: His death, if we look at the history of reappraisals of dead rock musicians, could well help him to get onto the ballot after having been for a long time considered without a nomination. His disciple Tom Waits’ 2010/2011 induction would give Beefheart a much better chance of getting in the Hall if he is nominated than I thought beforehand, too.
- Laura Nyro: Being a big fan and a semi-regular at her sites, I need to be careful, but despite the reasonable and severe criticism of her nomination by Sampson, it does seem likely that her influence - which is I must admit concentrated outside the mainstream of commercial and critical success - seems to be seen as strong enough to keep her on the ballot whilst the Bush Senior era revolutionaries are ineligible. It may not be enough to get her in whilst she has her chance, but so original an artist would be most welcome in the Hall.
- The J. Geils Band: One which seems likely more because of the enormous support from Dave Marsh, Steve Van Zandt and Jon Landau than because of their critical or even commercial reputation, the J. Geils Band (actually fronted by Peter Wolf who later had a solo career and co-wrote “We Built This City” with Bernie Taupin) are widely rumoured to be a frontrunner for 2011/2012 induction so I cannot leave them off despite their lack of influence and not even a single Grammy for their popularity.
- KISS: One group on the Rock Hall backlog which has had a lot of pressure in its favour, KISS have often been seen as unlikely. However, their immense commercial success in the 1970s and their essential role in the development of pop metal makes KISS an important part of rock and roll history.
- Chic: More critically respected (and in my own experience more listenable) than most acts of the disco era, Chic have been, like Sabbath and the Stooges, consistently on the ballot but opposed by a sufficient number of voters to prevent them from getting in. It seems that in this circumstance it is almost impossible for an artist to be fully rejected, so Chic would have to be likely.
- The B‘52s: New Wave is one genre of substantial popular support which I have not otherwise catered for on this ballot, and the B‘52s, as the most commercially successful act form that genre not in the Hall of Fame, have a good chance this year. Although their true leader was keyboardist Fred Schneider, it would be interesting to see how the presence of two women affects their chances.
- Afrika Bambaataa: The most important hip hop pioneer with their song “Planet Rock”, Afrika Bambataa have long been the only artist first eligible in 2005/2006 to have had a chance. He may not be well-known to the general public beyond his signature song, but that signature song, which was number two hundred and thirty seven on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 songs, is sufficient to make his place in rock history and give him one nomination already. Another seems surely likely.
- The Beastie Boys: Essential as one of the first artists to popularise rap despite being the only significant white rappers until Eminem emerged in the 2000s, the Beasties are also of critical importance in the way in which their sampling of metal groups like AC/DC paved the way for the link between metal and rap that is an often overlooked part of the radical Bush Senior era culture. They were nominated in 2007/2008 and 2010/2011, so it would be predicted the Beasties will appear again this year.
- The Red Hot Chili Peppers: As one of the premier modern rock acts, the Chili Peppers were nominated in 2009/2010 but missed out in 2010/2011. However, it would be hard to see them not having another shot in the near future, despite the fact that the Nominating Committee membership, now better known than before, does not have anyone under forty who might have been exposed to more modern genres of music.
- Guns‘n‘Roses: Although extremely derivative in their musical style, Guns‘n‘Roses were critically and popularly praised during the late 1980s for recycling the scarier moments of the Rolling Stones and 1970s Aerosmith. They attracted a lot of controversy in what was to be a highly controversial age with the cover of their mega-selling album Appetite for Destruction, still acclaimed as one of the best heavy metal albums ever. Their reputation as recyclers of what the critics who make up the Nominating Committee see as the essence of rock give them a strong chance.
If the fifteen artists listed above fail to make the 2011/2012 ballot, it will likely by because one or more of the following artists gets on:
- The “5” Royales: On the ballot in 2001/2002 and 2003/2004, the “5” Royales are the most famous of the doo-wop groups so beloved of the Nominating Committee that have not actually made it. Another chance may well be coming.
- Dick Dale: A commercially unsuccessful guitar god, regarded as the prototype of the whole persona, I have tended to see Dale as a left-field choice for the Rock Hall backlog for some time. With no genuine guitar gods on my list, this may provide Dick Dale with a space of his own.
- The Paul Butterfield Blues Band: Described as the inventor of jamming in a rock context with their eleven-minute “East West” and eight minute “Work Song”, Butterfield and his band have already reached the 2005/2006 ballot despite never reaching the Top 50 on Billboard, which shows the influence they had in the following few years. Another nomination for somebody so influential on hippie jam bands is not improbable.
- The MC5: After the Stooges and the Velvet Underground, the MC5 are the third in a trio of critically lauded underground bands who were the ancestors of the “punk revolution” in the late 1970s. Nominated in 2002/2003, the induction of the Stooges has not yet given their Detroit brethren another chance, but it may soon.
- Deep Purple: Often thought of as a very bad snub by the Hall, the problem with Purple is the small output of their classic Mark II lineup and the number of personnel changes they have had. If it could be decided to induct only the Mark II line-up they would have the most genuien chance.
- Jethro Tull: If as happened in 2010/2011 the Rock Hall in the absence of newly eligible candidates chooses to put one from deep in the backlog, Tull would have a strong chance. The presence of a small number of instantly recognised monuments from early in their career (“Living in the Past”, “Bungle in the Jungle”, Thick as a Brick, Aqualung) may help them over arguably better qualified candidates.
- The Last Poets: Will the movement towards the beginnings of the Bush Senior era and the rap revolution lead to a re-consideration of a key prototype of hip-hop, who reached number twenty-nine on Billboard with their first album but did not draw attention until rap’s influence became obvious? Maybe, I say, given the way Rolling Stone has focused on rap to much criticism in recent years.
- Donna Summer: The most successful act of the frequently derided disco era, Summer has already had many nominations without an induction. Such a situation has been observed ever since the Rock Hall was first created to ultimately give all but the oldest artists (who thus might not be known to younger voters) a certain pass into the Hall.
- The Cure: An artist who may be passing into favoritism if there is any turnover in the Nominating Committee, the Cure even as it is have a lot going for them as the first “alternative” (I can testify from record stores in the 1990s) group to reach genuine mainstream status.
- Janet Jackson: Although eligible for some time, the way in which Donovan was considered from obscurity last year makes one wonder whether, with her first acknowledged album Control reaching its twenty-fifth anniversary this year, the Nominating Committee might wish to re-consider the most commercially successful singles artist in the US over the late 1980s, 1990s and 2000s?
- Soundgarden: The first prominent grunge group, with a unique sense of melody, lyrics that symbolise the Bush Senior era, and a rhythmic complexity that distinguished them from other bands in the genre, Soundgarden have long had critical and commercial respect but the question of whether they are too “metal” for those in the Nominating Committee looms large over their certain credentials.