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2021 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Nominees

Criteria: 2021 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: 2021-02-11
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
2021 Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Nominees
Six 2021 Nominees banner photo
OVERVIEW
In countless ways 2021 shapes up to be a year of reconciliation with widespread attempts to redress past grievances and biases perpetuated by those in power who sought to consolidate that power by limiting democratic ideals.

Time will tell if this aspirational goal will amount to anything or if it's merely a shallow attempt at deflecting attention away from those responsible for these outrages in the first place.

In that spirit the much maligned Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame seems to be conducting their own reconciliation process with their 2021 ballot, the announcement of which was delayed four months due to Covid-19 concerns, pushing back the induction ceremonies along with it.

Sixteen names are up for consideration this year including a number of prominent first time nominees, some who are newly eligible but others who are long overdue for a chance at what passes for immortality.

We also have the Hall's belated attempts to deal with artists who've previously gotten in under other designations but never had their solo careers addressed, as well as the re-nomination of some of the most qualified candidates of the past who've somehow failed to be inducted when they've appeared on the ballot in prior years.

Of course it wouldn't be the Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame if there weren't also glaring ethical conflicts and a few head-scratching candidates being offered up just to make sure you know that in spite of their attempts to rectify past injustices there's bound to be new injustices that will occur to be left to future ballots to clean up.
THE NOMINEES
MARY J. BLIGE
After being ignored by the committee for a number of years despite staggering credentials as one of the top acts of the 1990's, Blige finally gets her first nomination. But considering the larger voting body's long history of neglect when it comes to honoring black female candidates, particularly those from more recent eras, there's cause for concern that in spite of having more than 70 charting singles as lead artist and all 13 of her studio albums hitting the Top Ten she could once again be overlooked.
Qualifications: 9
KATE BUSH
Though a widely acclaimed artist her credentials don't quite measure up to the competition as she flew largely under the radar to American audiences, with just four minor hits and somewhat middling album sales in the U.S. By contrast though all of her albums have gone Top Ten in the U.K. and she has eight Top Ten singles there as well. Her eclectic style has been an inspiration for subsequent female artists but with so many more qualified candidates on the ballot her chances probably hinge more on the voting demographics than anything.
Qualifications: 5
DEVO
It took a long time for electronic-based artists to start to get any respect by the historically technology averse committee who made no secret about their preference for organic-based music, but by the mid-2010's a few groups began getting considered and with Depeche Mode making it in last year Devo gets their second nomination to try and add to that. They have lots of influence and some enduringly identifiable songs plus enough name recognition to give them a slightly better chance than their credentials alone might warrant.
Qualifications: 5
FOO FIGHTERS
Though their style of rock tends to skirt the mainstream listening audience the loyalty of their core constituency over twenty years more than makes up for it. With a newly released album keeping them in the spotlight as the ballots go out and with a frontman already famous for being Nirvana's drummer it wasn't as if they had any problems being recognized to begin with. Though you can make the case there are enough candidates this year with slightly better qualifications to keep them from making it in as a first time inductee, their name recognition alone probably ensures they'll get in.
Qualifications: 7
THE GO-GO'S
For the last fifteen years the defining post-punk girl group have been one of the more egregious oversights of the Hall's nominating committee and finally earn their first appearance on the ballot. Constant headline makers during a brief but explosive heyday in the early 1980's, they were among the first all-female bands to write and play all their own music which included one of the biggest debut albums of their era and some iconic hits. Though their catalog is small their impact was big and their enduring image as one of the 80's defining bands could be enough to get them in at last.
Qualifications: 7
IRON MAIDEN
Another style that the Hall has notoriously been hesitant to consider and when a few metal acts have managed to make the ballot the fact that it's not a singles oriented market limits their recognition in the mainstream. But it's hard to find many more deserving metal candidates than Maiden whose album dominance for four full decades puts them in rarified air no matter the style. For now though they may have be content with receiving their first nomination because they face such stiff competition for the last spot or two on most voters ballots and it's easy to see them being passed over for a more widely accessible candidate.
Qualifications: 7
JAY-Z
Each year has an obvious headliner in waiting and this year's candidate Jay-Z is the single most deserving name on the ballot since 2008. The dominant figure in rock since his debut in the mid-1990's, and arguably the most dominant figure in all of popular culture in the last forty years, his impact goes far beyond the countless hits and massive influence of his music which would be more than impressive enough on its own without also building a veritable empire in the process. By all rights Hova should be a unanimous selection for if anyone could be said to have cemented hip-hop as a mainstream institution it was undoubtedly him.
Qualifications: 10
CHAKA KHAN
At least you have to hand it to the nominating committee for once as they've been determined to see to it that Khan, one of the greatest female vocalists ever in rock, gets her rightful induction as they've had her solo or with her group Rufus on the ballot each of the past five years and six times in all before now. She really deserves to be inducted for both and it's especially vital that Rufus gets in which is probably unlikely if Khan makes it this year as a solo act first. The ongoing lack of support for her/their induction is yet another shameful indication of the voting body's myopic view of rock history.
Qualifications: 7
CAROLE KING
A beloved figure and icon in rock over sixty years, King makes for a potentially uneasy selection for voters who surely will make her a near unanimous choice. Already inducted way back in 1990 as a songwriter which is how she rose to prominence in the 1960's, her subsequent solo career which included one of the biggest albums of all-time makes this nomination seem redundant even though it shouldn't. She clearly deserves to make it for her own recording career but because it took so long to be offered up it will have the appearance of once again confirming the Hall's preference for 60's/70's names rather than more recent acts.
Qualifications: 7
FELA KUTI
One of the most important international artists of the last half century, Kuti's music is indelible but considered only loosely connected to rock making this another case - as with the many blues, country and jazz acts honored in the past - where the Hall seems more comfortable with showing their diversity with figures slightly outside of the core of rock. Yet with so many of those genre barriers already broken down it wouldn't be at all unwarranted to give Futi his due as his music had immense appeal and influence across multiple generations and styles. Most candidates in similar situations however have gotten in on their first attempt, meaning this year's vote may be his only chance.
Qualifications: 6
LL COOL J
After failing to be inducted in his first five appearances on the ballot despite towering achievements he seemed to be yet another victim of a voting body who routinely dismiss anything which falls outside their own narrow interests. The voter demographics haven't changed much which doesn't bode well for his chances this year either, but if they were to go by strictly credentials he'd be a mandatory selection thanks to massive influence and countless stylistic rebirths over thirty-five years as one of hip-hop's most vital MC's.
Qualifications: 8
NEW YORK DOLLS
The definition of a cult act, colorful and well-known despite limited commercial impact, their overall image remains their greatest claim to fame and while they were an important part of the punk scene of the 1970's that was a rather limited style with plenty of representation in the Hall already. They'd been nominated once before, twenty years ago, and that appeared to be as far as they'd get for even on a less stacked ballot they'd still have an uphill climb to justify their induction. That's even more true this year where they're probably no more than a widely recognizable afterthought.
Qualifications: 5
RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
It's impossible to discuss their actual credentials as artists when their own Tom Morello sits on the very committee that nominated them, something which should disqualify them from consideration until such conflicts of interests are eliminated from the process altogether. Without that unfortunate issue to deal with the group known for hard-edged political rock would make for a good outside candidate but would hardly a sure thing even in the best of circumstances.
Qualifications: 6
TODD RUNDGREN
Because the Hall never took the steps to clearly define its categories from the start, you have cases like Rundgren popping up to show how shortsighted that lack of planning was, as he had a recording career that probably doesn't warrant induction on its own yet combined with his production work for others gets him a lot of support as this is his third straight nomination. If they simply put him in as a Non-Performer, as they've done with others who straddled those lines, it'd clear a spot for more deserving artists on the main performer ballot in the future.
Qualifications: 5
TINA TURNER
It seems almost inexplicable that arguably the most iconic female singer in rock wasn't the first to receive a second induction for her solo work after initially making it with ex-husband Ike as one of the 60's and 70's most immortal duos. But the Hall had violated their own rules by nominating her first as a solo act in the 80's, years before she was even eligible in that way, so when she did make it with Ike they likely thought that would suffice. It took decades to correct that oversight and it's hard to imagine most voters not wanting to honor her image if nothing else making an obvious frontrunner for induction.
Qualifications: 7
DIONNE WARWICK
Because she's seemingly had a half dozen careers in one lifetime, including some that didn't put her in the best light, the further away we got from her time as one of the most respected singers in all of 60's music the more improbable a nomination seemed. She's further hindered by the fact that her best music only briefly touched on rock, choosing instead to concentrate on adult contemporary pop, but since that didn't hurt Neil Diamond's chances maybe it won't be held against Warwick either. A big name but a tough sell for stylistic reasons.
Qualifications: 5
RECAP
It's clear the Hall is trying to show as much diversity in their ballot as possible which is admirable in theory but problematic when doing so actually winds up penalizing the most deserving recently eligible names whose styles are perennially squeezed out of the Hall for more insidious reasons.

Though hip-hop has two of the top three names on the ballot this year, it seems likely only one will get in, while the continued failure to even nominate the likes of Outkast, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, De La Soul, Snoop Dogg and A Tribe Called Quest - by any measure among the most qualified acts still on the outside looking in - shows just how reluctant the Hall is to properly respect rap.

Because hip-hop has become the dominant style of rock over the last thirty-five years the Hall constantly reaches back to artists, eras and styles that are far more relatable to their committee and voting body and so while they'll surely play up the fact they're attempting to rectify past oversights this year, as well as pointing to the number of black and female candidates to deflect criticism for past issues in those areas, the fact remains that a lot of the nominees were obviously chosen to give the older voting body more familiar names to feel comfortable with which in turn almost guarantees some of newer - and most deserving - names will be left out again.

So chances are the end result of this broader ballot will only wind up reflecting the same problems that besets the Hall every year and their shallow attempts at reconciliation will wind up resulting in no real long term change.



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