This Saturday at 8 p.m. ET, HBO will air the 2015 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, which went down last month in Cleveland. Being inducted this year are Stevie Ray Vaughan, Lou Reed, Bill Withers, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Green Day, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, The “5” Royales, and Ringo Starr. And yet, there are still a ton of legendary musicians and bands waiting on the sidelines, who were eligible* for the Hall of Fame this year — or have been for many years — but were passed over. Let’s run down 12 of this year’s more notable snubs.
* Note: Artists become eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after releasing their first album or single.
Hip-hop fans were understandably psyched when N.W.A. showed up on the ballot as nominees last year, but the ground-breaking rap outfit apparently didn’t have the votes. See, this is why hip-hop needs its own Hall of Fame altogether. In the meantime, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame should find some more voters under the age of 65.
The German electronic music pioneers were also on the ballots for 2015, and seemed like a shoo-in. Considering that Kraftwerk has been eligible for induction since 1995, it’s totally insane that they’re still on the outside looking in. We’re talking about a group that almost single-handedly popularized a new genre of music, and also became one of the most sampled acts in rap music. The word “influential” doesn’t do Kraftwerk justice.
We’ve already lamented Nina Simone’s totally baffling exclusion from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, despite her being (in my opinion) the greatest female jazz singer of all-time. It’s hard to think of another artist who combines Simone’s technical mastery as a singer and pianist, her artistry as a song-interpreter and arranger, and her cultural importance as a political activist. Man, just listen to her take on “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” and tell me that’s not better than the Rednex version.
For some reason, country music artists have been completely ignored by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame over the last decade. In fact, you have to go all the way back to Brenda Lee’s induction in 2002 to find the last country music star to make the cut. Since releasing his debut album in 1989, Garth Brooks has sold 135 million records in the U.S. alone — more than Elvis Presley — and still puts on a hell of a live show. Brooks would have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer if the voting committee didn’t hate America and freedom so much.
The revered alt-rock godfathers led by Morrissey and Johnny Marr were also snubbed this year after being nominated for 2015 Hall of Fame induction. And so, fans of the saddest band of the ’80s have another reason to be gloomy, while Joan Jett & The Blackhearts — a glorified one-hit wonder act who didn’t even write the song they’re best known for — managed to be voted in. Seems legit.
While we’re on the subject of seminal ’80s rock bands who inspired young weirdos across the world to start writing songs in their bedrooms, let’s talk about Pixies, who have been shut out by the Hall of Fame since they became eligible in 2013. The Boston-based band was a gigantic presence in American indie rock, and the influence of their trademark soft/loud dynamic can be heard in followers like Nirvana and Weezer. Honestly, Pixies should have been voted into the Hall of Fame before Nirvana. They definitely should have been voted in before Green Day.
Chic’s immaculately produced dance-floor bangers still get people movin’ four decades later. Though co-founding bassist Bernard Edwards passed away in 1996, his writing partner/guitarist Nile Rodgers has continued to keep the Chic spirit alive as a producer and collaborator. It would have been nice to see Rogers get the living legend props he deserves. Ah well, maybe next year.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has taken a long time to warm up to progressive rock. Canadian prog-gods Rush were finally inducted in 2013, and we hope their British counterparts Yes — who were on the ballot for induction in 2014, but didn’t make it — join rock and roll’s Valhalla sometime soon. Yes’ music is just as astoundingly complex as Rush, but the band also had a gentle side thanks to their British folk influences. Let’s just pretend that their awkward ’80s phase never happened.
Joy Division/New Order
The dark and brilliant post-punk group Joy Division left an all-too-brief body of work behind them when singer Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980; do yourself a favor and listen to their debut LP Unknown Pleasures if you’ve never experienced it before. In the wake of Curtis’s death, the remaining members of the band — Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner, and Stephen Morris — reformed as New Order and became leading figures in the new wave and synth-pop movements of the 1980s. Their successful rebirth is one of the greatest second-acts in music history, and they deserve to be recognized for both legs of the journey.
Miss Jackson (if you nasty) became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 2007 and has yet to even draw a nomination. That’s nuts. Jackson’s streak of smash-hit albums in the ’80s and ’90s — Control, Rhythm Nation 1814, janet., The Velvet Rope — have helped her sell more than 140 million records worldwide, and Rhythm Nation became the first album in history to spawn seven top-five hits. It’s hard to argue that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t include enough female artists when they can’t even be bothered to recognize one of the biggest pop superstars of the last 30 years. Come on, this one’s a lay-up.
Noisy, uncompromising, and totally original, Sonic Youth’s music caterwauled between terrifying and beautiful, hitting all emotional points in between. Thanks to the twin-guitar onslaught of Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo, and Kim Gordon’s icy cool demeanor, Sonic Youth built a massive cult following starting in the mid ’80s. They’re probably the most beloved band that never quite hit the mainstream, and a Hall of Fame nod seems inevitable. Last year, Gordon performed during Nirvana’s induction, which felt like a first step in the door.
“Weird Al” Yankovic
Well, why the hell not? The song-parody master/accordionist has been mocking popular music since 1981, released some of the most entertaining music videos of all-time, and finally scored his first No. 1 album last year with Mandatory Fun. If that’s not a legendary career, I don’t know what is. Hopefully the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will do the right thing in 2016.