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2020 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Nominees

Criteria: 2020 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Nominees. Names are in alphabetical order.

(Note: DDD is not affiliated with the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame)
List Begun: 2019-10-16
QUALIFICATIONS (on a scale of 1-10)
10 - The Immortals
9 - Deserves To Be A First Ballot Lock
8 - Should Be Guaranteed An Induction
7 - An Eventual Induction Is Likely
6 - Should Be Nominated At Some Point
5 - Worthy Of At Least A Debate For A Nomination
4 - Not Insignificant, But Shouldn't Be Nominated
3 - No Business Being Debated By Committee
2 - No Business Being Even Mentioned
1 - No Business Visiting The Hall Of Fame Without a Ticket
Rock Hall Of Fame 2020 Nominees text title image
Six 2020 Nominees banner photo
Caring about anything is a voluntarily act. Though it's a universal human emotion to care about all sorts of things in life, there is no decree that people have to care about any one particular thing. What matters greatly to some may not matter at all to somebody else and just because you once cared about something doesn't mean you'll care about it forever.

What you choose to care about and why is up to each person individually. Nobody can force you to care about things you have no interest in just as nobody can convince you not to care about something no matter how futile that emotion seems.

The Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame has spent the last three and half decades putting that theory to the test and they may finally have succeeded in invalidating at least that last part of it.

It turns out that someone CAN indeed convince you to not care about something that once mattered a great deal, at least to some of us. The stewards of this institution have proven beyond a doubt with yet another demographically one-sided ballot that they can convince you not to care at all about The Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame.
OVERVIEW
With thousands of artists eligible for induction fighting for space on a ballot that typically contains just ten to twenty names per year you might think that all of the criticism about their annual roll call of nominees is merely a matter of taste, IE. fans of certain artists, eras and styles feeling their interests are not being represented. If this were true you could say the Hall is justified in passing it off as little more than subjective disagreement. You can't please everybody after all and so the controversy it elicits each year is only proof that it still matters to a lot of people.

But that's not the case when the criticism leveled against the Hall is made by those who not are interested in any specific artist being credited, but rather by those who are using objective measures to see if there is a statistical bias for and against certain segments of rock and finding decades long examples of the same prejudices at work. Then the charges can't be credibly refuted so easily.

When those eras and styles of rock history that are given consistent preference by the nominating committee happen to align perfectly with their own demographic backgrounds then the intent behind it becomes far more evident... to anyone but the Hall itself that is, who refuses to admit to any wrongdoing and tries to disingenuously shift the blame for their own self-made problems onto those doing the accusing.

But in spite of their attempts at distraction the evidence speaks for itself. The only real requirement for eligibility in the Hall is artists need to have made their first commercially available recording twenty-five years earlier, which means for this year's ballot those who first issued a single or album in 1995 are eligible. By comparison those who first released music in the mid-1970's have already been eligible for the last twenty years and yet even though the overwhelming majority of those with the best credentials from that era have long since been enshrined, the ballots still disproportionally favor that era. Ten of the seventeen names up for election this year began their career between 1969 and 1979.

When it comes to race and gender the problem, as always, is just as glaring. This year there are just three women and three black acts up for election and since two of them fall under both of those headings it means the Hall manages to devote just four slots (not even six) to those demographics in order to gallantly provide more room for the always overlooked and underrepresented white male constituency. Obviously the committee has been taking notes from The White House on these matters.

But just as the clouds of impeachment are growing ever darker over that disgraceful dictator there's always hope that The Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame and their decrepit nominating committee could be similarly recalled and banished to a cold dark prison where they could all share a cellblock with the orange tinted man with the bad comb over while arguing over which one had rightful control of the record player so they could listen to the sounds of the seventies until they died, out of sight and blessedly out of mind.

Or at least that's what I might wish for if I actually still cared.
THE NOMINEES
PAT BENATAR
With the induction of Joan Jett in 2015 it was only a matter of time before her closest historical match was nominated despite neither of them being overly qualified. Benatar's advantage over Jett is she had more original material rather than covers but by contrast she's lacking the indelible image of her "rival". Yet the list of females from that era and beyond who have better credentials is a long one, from The Pointer Sisters and Cyndi Lauper to Salt-N-Pepa, TLC and Mary J. Blige, none of whom have been nominated and seem unlikely to ever be. Since Benatar better fits the image the Hall prefers, if a woman has to make it they'd just assume it'd be her.
Qualifications: 4
DEPECHE MODE
After years of ignoring virtually any rock act that used synthesizers even in passing The Hall reversed course after much backlash and have focused on three groups over the past few years, none of whom have made it in despite multiple nominations as the Hall's voters apparently take the same dim view of inorganic music. But among them the best bet to break through is this group who have what Devo and Kraftwerk lack which is a larger body of hits thanks to a more accessible sound. They don't have quite the same influence, but that probably doesn't matter since so few voters bother assessing actual credentials anyway.
Qualifications: 6
THE DOOBIE BROTHERS
Of all the seventies acts that haven't yet gotten in, this is probably most surprising considering they fit all of the Hall's long-standing preferences, which probably could be reduced to the fact they were a white band that's still played on Classic Rock radio. Yet at least these guys had reputation that puts them on par with most of their peers who've already been inducted, including two groups that have Doobie Brothers among their own members giving them an added advantage in voting, as if they needed it.
Qualifications: 6
WHITNEY HOUSTON
There will be those who say that Houston's move into more pure pop mid-career makes her a dubious choice and had the Hall been far more rigid over the years in making the divide clearer they might have a point. But after inducting the likes of similar converts to pop in Neil Diamond, Linda Ronstadt and ABBA over the past decade, plus jazz, blues and folk artists, then it's impossible not to give Houston her due. Not only did she have the greatest voice of her generation she also released some of the best rock songs of the 1980's early in her career and nobody on the ballot comes anywhere close to her dominant commercial success.
Qualifications: 8
JUDAS PRIEST
An artist representing one of the few white styles that the Hall has been neglectful in addressing enough is a welcome sight, as metal has seen just seen two inductees so far and not many more nominees. One who has gotten a few appearances on the ballot though is this group who like almost all metal acts doesn't have a run of hit singles to point to for their credentials but make up for it with lots of influence and for making a huge impact within their remarkably enduring subgenre which itself is now fifty years old. Still a long shot, which might be what the Hall is counting on, stifling critics by nominating them while not risking an induction.
Qualifications: 6
KRAFTWERK
Their fifth time on the ballot which is the most appearances of the eight artists who've been up for consideration before, Kraftwerk's candidacy relies primarily on influence which might be why they're still on the outside looking in. But though they were an intentionally faceless band their overall name recognition is pretty high for an artist with little in the way of singles success and of course they're from the seventies which gives them added appeal for a voting body that continues to reward their peers.
Qualifications: 6
DAVE MATTHEWS BAND
Something of a left-field choice considering they're far more recent than most of this year's ballot, they were not at the forefront of any major stylistic subgenre and their popularity was more as touring band rather than churning out hits. In some ways that's refreshing but as they're one of just four 90's acts being considered and only one of them is from the most popular style of rock during the decade, that of hip-hop, then their presence comes at the expense of a litany of far more qualified acts of the same generation who it seems once again are being ignored for more insidious reasons.
Qualifications: 5
MC5
The Hall has almost run out of candidates from the 1960's whom they feel are suitable for the image they want to promote and so this group represents the only leftover from that decade. Since they helped to launch the punk movement that took hold in the seventies that might help their cause, but artists with their best cases being influence and notoriety are not typically recognized by voters, especially if those came too far in the past to be widely remembered.
Qualifications: 6
MOTÖRHEAD
From going years with no thought of any metal acts being inducted to having two appear on the same ballot is quite a turnaround and probably has a lot to do with one of the few more recent and umm "younger" committee members, Tom Morello (who at 55 is hardly young anywhere but in that room). Again, as with most metal acts, their casual mainstream appeal was relatively small but their influence - in their case with the advent of speed metal - was considerable. But will that be enough to overcome a lack of name recognition and wide acclaim?
Qualifications: 5
NINE INCH NAILS
It's pretty telling that this is one of just four 1990's acts on the ballot and while Trent Reznor's industrial rock sound was very distinctive it was also something of a niche style. That's not to say NIN isn't deserving but with so few 90's acts nominated to date the fact the Hall has all but put a limit of one rap candidate per year and has yet to nominate any black vocal acts from the decade when those two fields account for so much of the decade's most dominant sounds, the fact this is NIN's third time on the ballot is indicative of the bigger story laying under the surface of the Hall's selection process.
Qualifications: 7
THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.
The unquestioned headliner among the candidates, a larger than life figure cut down in his prime, he should be a unanimous selection but considering the Hall's history of trying to marginalize rock's most popular style of the past four decades his induction is probably no sure thing. The fact that he's the only rap act on this year's ballot might be their attempt to better his odds and keep them from facing uncomfortable questions about the voting body demographics, but he's among the most iconic rappers ever and one of the defining artists of the 90's in any style and so there's no plausible excuse for not casting a vote for him.
Qualifications: 9
RUFUS FT. CHAKA KHAN
Another seventies act, but with the caveat that they're arguably the most deserving group left from the decade and one of the most qualified candidates on this year's ballot regardless of decade. Of course the fact that they're black tells you why their era-advantage hasn't been an advantage for them yet, as this is their fourth time on the ballot along with an additional solo appearance for Khan. She might be the most skilled singer here, certainly not possessing a voice like Whitney Houston but Chaka knew how to use it to perfection and the band was as versatile as any of their time.
Qualifications: 7
TODD RUNDGREN
One of the continuing problems the Hall brought upon themselves was not having consistent categories for different facets of music, something which means Rundgren, whose work spans multiple groups, a solo act and prodigious side-work as a producer, is put in a category that is actually his weakest claim for induction. In a "contributor" category he'd deserve to make it, but for what he's being considered for specifically here he doesn't. That's the Hall's fault for not recognizing this would effect a lot of acts from the very start and taking steps to correct it by inducting one overall contributor in a non-voting category.
Qualifications: 4
SOUNDGARDEN
The fourth and last 1990's era act on the ballot isn't a surprising choice considering the death of lead singer Chris Cornell by suicide in 2017, as the Hall routinely honors the memory of someone they'd ignored during their lifetime by giving them a nomination. This group is certainly deserving of that much even without the associated tragedy but then again the same could be said for A Tribe Called Quest who lost Phife Dog in 2016 or TLC who lost Lisa Lopes in 2002, both groups which have credentials that make them far more qualified for induction than Soundgarden. That's not to discredit their legacy any but rather to show how the Hall is prone to rewarding those who fit their demographic profiles.
Qualifications: 6
T. REX
You'd think the first time nominees would be artists who've only been eligible a short time and thus might've been crowded out of the first few ballots by the biggest stars of their era who had to be addressed first, but no, this is The Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame where the most important qualification is who you appeal to and that means we have another seventies act to deal with. Far more popular in Great Britain where glam rock took hold than they were in America where they had just one enduring hit, T. Rex likely gets a boost from their association with David Bowie which shouldn't mean anything but will probably help them to get in at some point anyway.
Qualifications: 5
THIN LIZZY
Another first time nominee, another seventies act and another with credentials that fall well short of about a hundred other artists over the years who haven't gotten in. The fact they're an Irish band with a lead singer who was half Guyanese makes them unique in the annals of rock, but they're another band with far more success in Britain than America where they had just one huge hit and no real influence. Though certainly not irrelevant there are so many more acts who've defined entire styles or had far more success and influence who've never been considered that the decision to have another band that's a 70's classic rock radio staple on the ballot says far more about the Hall's myopic view of rock than it does about this group's case.
Qualifications: 5
RECAP
If you're one of the few who does still care about things that have been systematically ruined by the self-centered needs of a few who run the game then this year's ballot presents a frustrating dilemma.

On one hand a decent induction class could be gotten from the names being offered, with Biggie, Whitney Houston, Rufus & Chaka Kahn, Nine Inch Nails and either The Doobie Brothers or Depeche Mode if we're just sticking to five names. If they induct six and those are the selections it'd be hard to say that any of them were undeserving. You could even swap either of the last two out with a few names that are slightly less qualified, but not by much.

Yet if you're that optimistic about the chances of any of that happening then you haven't been paying attention for the last thirty-four years. The Hall has learned how to cover their asses by giving people just enough diverse names to ward off the most damning charges while knowing all along that the equally aligned voters will go with the choices that come from the era, styles, gender and race they've historically deemed most deserving and thus far they haven't had any defections from that mindset.

That means that the top three candidates, all of whom are black, won't all make it in. One might be all you can reasonably expect. The 90's also will fall prey to the demographic realities of their aged voting body and because there is such a tilt towards the 1970's in terms of nominees they've all but ensured that three or four acts from that era will make it at the expense of more recent artists. With just three women on the ballot this could be a year where the inductees are again all male which they'd then try and off-set by inducting a female as a non-performer to make their misogyny less obvious and though metal fans will be happy to see two groups representing that field on the ballot it also makes it more likely they'll split the vote and both will fall short.

As conspiracy theories go you might think it's far-fetched that they'd go to such lengths to ensure their narrow tastes get a significant leg up in the process but again if you just study the tactics they've used over the years in the nominating room and see the consistently homogeneous classes of inductees each year as a result of those efforts then it becomes much more credible.

But all of that Sturm und Drang undertaken by the Hall to ensure a favorable outcome is only interesting for people who still care about the institution and the "honor" it claims to confer with an election. Once you realize the conflicts of interests at work and the stonewalling of any attempts at oversight and the self-serving propaganda put out by music media connected at the hip to the Hall which still professes to be fair and balanced, then you start seeing it for the corrupt regime it is and your only care becomes waiting for the whole rotten gang to be tossed out of office.






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