Looking at the 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction nominees–which were announced this morning–Guns N’ Roses is the elephant in the room. The group stood out in 1987 as a lone hard rock band at a time of pop-metal, dance-rock and hair bands, and somehow pleased both fans and critics with its derivative sound, appearance and antics.
Based on on notoriety–and record sales–GnR seems a shoe-in. Whatever The Cure’s artistic merits, there’s no arguing their influence, and the guess here is that their gloomy output, which was also a critical and commercial success while embodying the genre term “mope rock,” will sweep them into the Hall as well–also on their first nomination.
Staying in decade, both Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers both missed out on their first induction opportunities and are both worthy for their sales history and innovative blend of rock and hip-hop. As for pure hip-hop, first-time nominee Eric B. & Rakim are significant but had scant mainstream success; their induction from this slate is doubtful.
The r&b options have a better chance in regard to induction hopes–though all three artists enjoyed major chart success. Rufus with Chaka Khan could carry over, due to its funk approach and Khan’s continued solo stardom. Fellow first-time nominee The Spinners had a lot of hits and are historically important and surely have a shot; the RockHall’s nominating committee again gives a nod to disco queen Donna Summer, and maybe she’ll come through this year if voters get past the disco stigma.
But now it gets more interesting. War’s been there before, and with big hits and a distinctive Latin funk-rock sound might satisfy voters who want to recognize one artist on the funk/r&b side of rock ‘n’ roll. First-time nominee Freddie King, though, is a stretch: An influential blues guitarist in the early ’60s, he had only a handful of pop hits and is probably not well enough known to voters.
Donovan, meanwhile, is well known, and a would make a credible inductee based on his commendable folk-rock pop hit track record. But he’s been around before–and might not be seen as heavyweight enough for induction.
Same with Laura Nyro, the hugely influential and important singer-songwriter who lacked Donovan’s Top 40 hit catalog–herself, that is. She wrote plenty of big hits for others, and her own r&b- and jazz-influenced albums are rightly treasured. Like Donovan, she missed out last year, though credit the nominating committee for giving both another chance.
As is often noted, there’s a shortage of female RockHall inductees (still no Lesley Gore, Nancy Sinatra, The Shangri Las, etc.). At least they’re trying newcomers Heart and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts: As rockers, both should be, as they say, no-brainers, but Jett probably has a better chance, what with her heightened visibility from last year’s biopic of her seminal girl rock group The Runaways.
That leaves the somewhat problematic The Small Faces/Faces–the slash to indicate that the English band, which formed in 1965, has two incarnations: the first (The Small Faces) starring Steve Marriott on lead vocals, and the second (The Faces), with Rod Stewart taking over (and bringing guitarist Ron Wood with him) when Marriott moved on to form Humble Pie. Both are very good, with the latter probably better known for starting Stewart on his road to stardom–and giving The Small Faces/Faces maybe a second helping at induction.
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