The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame released its list of 15 nominees for the 2016 induction class. It includes seven first-timers (The Cars, Chicago, Cheap Trick, Chaka Khan, The J.B.’s, Janet Jackson, and Steve Miller), along with Chic, who breaks the record for most nominations (10) without being inducted. Artists become eligible 25 years (1990 this time around) after their debut release, but there are no first-time eligible artists among the nominees.
This year’s list is mostly a mix of popular artists from the 1970’s and 80’s, with Nine Inch Nails the lone nominee to gain mainstream popularity in the 1990’s. As always, there are a handful of worthy nominees missing (Kraftwerk, Whitney Houston, and Harry Nilsson), and a longer list of artists whose fans fill message boards and comment sections touting their influence (The Replacements, The Moody Blues, Sonic Youth, and Iron Maiden, to name a few).
In an attempt to fuel arguments in bars and online, let’s go over the 15 nominees and list a couple reasons why they’ll get inducted next year, and a couple reasons why they will not. This list is in alphabetical order — so settle down, Yes fans.
In: This Boston, Mass. quintet have sold 23 million records, and had four top 10 albums between 1979 and 1984 before breaking up in 1988. Their blend of new wave, pop, and punk was perfect for the 1980’s and MTV.
Out: Honestly, how have these guys not been nominated before? Probably because while they were extremely popular for about five years, their break-up in 1988 (they did reunite in 2010) hasn’t kept them fresh in the minds of committee members.
In: Maybe the original “We’re big in Japan” band, which led to Live at Budokan and the band finally having success in the States. An influence on both glam metal and the alternative rock scene that followed. Also, Bun E. Carlos.
Out: The band has toured almost non-stop for four decades, but only has one top 10 album (Dream Police in 1979) and two top 10 singles.
In: Nominated for a record 10th time, the disco rock band Chic had two top 10 albums in the late 70’s and two number one singles (“Le Freak” and “Good Times”). “Good Times” went on to influence early hip-hop with its use as a sample on the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “…On the Wheels of Steel.”
Out: Disco. They really hate disco.
In: The best selling group of the 1970’s, including four straight No. 1 albums from 1972 to 1975, a total of 21 top 10 singles during their career, and over 100 million records sold worldwide. Your parents probably have a Chicago album in their LP collection.
Out: While they were extremely popular, Chicago wasn’t all that influential and tend to get lumped together with other 70’s adult contemporary bands like Toto and America.
In: Heavy metal and hard rock pioneers from the United Kingdom, Deep Purple (along with Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin) have influenced essentially every hard rock band since their debut in 1968. “Smoke on the Water” might be the most popular song for beginning guitar players.
Out: Highly influential, but not very popular sales-wise in the United States. The band only cracked the top 10 of the album charts twice with the last time being in 1974.
In: The sound behind 1970’s funky James Brown, including the tracks “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” “Super Bad,” and “Soul Power.” Original members include “Bootsy” Collins, and Bobby Byrd.
Out: While it does happen (The E Street Band most recently in 2014), backing bands tend to get overlooked.
In: Hugely influential on the modern pop scene with six No. 1 albums and two others reaching No. 2 on the charts, along with 10 No. 1 singles. She has sold 26 million albums in the United States.
Out: Jackson should be a shoo-in, but since this is her first time as a nominee, someone had issues with her being considered for induction in the past. Most likely, it was someone who does not consider her to be “rock and roll.”
In: The “Queen of Funk” has been one of the most popular R&B singers since she released “I’m Every Woman” in 1978.
Out: She’s never had a top 10 album during her career, and her only No. 1 single was “Higher Love,” a duet with Steve Winwood in 1986.
In: One of the few Latin bands to crossover into mainstream stardom after their cover of Richie Valens’ “La Bamba” became a surprise hit in 1987. Critically acclaimed with a loyal fan base.
Out: Most of us probably can’t name another Los Lobos song, and the one we can is a cover.
In: Widely popular on your local classic rock station with three No. 1 singles (“The Joker,” “Rock’n Me,” and “Abracadabra”), and four top five albums between 1973 and 1982.
Out: Technically proficient as a guitar player, but not exactly creative or influential. Voters aren’t huge fans of popular, but non-influential rock bands.
In: One of the originators of gangsta rap, and one of the most controversial groups ever. Only released two albums, both of which cracked the top five. Members included Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, and Ice Cube, who all went on to successful solo careers.
Out: They’re a lock this time around with some help from the hit movie, Straight Outta Compton.
Nine Inch Nails
In: The most successful industrial rock group of all time by a wide margin with two No. 1 albums, and 20 million albums sold worldwide. Trent Reznor has been very successful the past two decades, while not really sounding like whatever type of rock music is popular at the time.
Out: Nine Inch Nails is dark and Reznor has been critical of record companies in the past. I think the younger contemporaries of Reznor help him gain induction.
In: With lyrics depressing to the point of being kind of funny and danceable post-punk music, The Smiths are the most influential British band of the 1980’s. Sadly, they could only keep it together for five years.
Out: Morrissey is a huge asshole. Plus, these guys are never getting back together, which makes for boring television.
In: The only group on this list from the 1950’s, The Spinners are still touring today. In the 1970’s, they had a string of R&B hits including “The Rubberband Man” and “Then Came You” with Dionne Warwick.
Out: While longevity should stand for something, The Spinners had about a two-year window when they were popular, out of the almost 60 they’ve been a group.
In: This British band has been recording intricate prog rock for over 45 years with seven top 10 albums and three No. 1 singles, including the classic rock staple “Owner of a Lonely Heart” in 1983.
Out: It took Rush a long time to gain induction and other prog groups like The Moody Blues aren’t even making it to the final list of nominees. The committee hates three things: disco, heavy metal, and prog rock.
I think N.W.A. and Nine Inch Nails are the only nominees that could be seen as locks for induction, but Janet Jackson, Deep Purple, The Cars, and Chic should all gather quite a few votes as well.
The inductees will be announced sometime in December. If you would like to vote for your favorite nominees, head over to the Rolling Stone website and you can participate in the “fan’s ballot.” The induction ceremony will take place next April in New York City.