The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class of 2022 nominees has been announced.
This year’s cohort was selected in particular for their “profound impact on the sound of youth culture,” according to John Sykes, Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation. “Their music not only moved generations but also influenced the sound of countless artists that followed.”
Beck, Duran Duran, Eminem, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, Carly Simon and A Tribe Called Quest are appearing on the ballot for the first time. The other 10 nominees have been up for induction before: Judas Priest, Devo, Pat Benatar, Rage Against the Machine, Kate Bush, Eurythmics, New York Dolls, Dionne Warwick, Fela Kuti and MC5.
The 2022 class won’t be announced until May, but before that, we’re sizing up this year’s group of nominees and discussing snubs, surprises and expectations.
1. What do you think of this year’s class of Hall of Fame nominees overall?
Michael Gallucci: I love that the Rock Hall has been expanding the boundaries of what “rock music” is these past couple of years. Last year’s class was its most diverse; this year’s looks to be even more mixed. Eminem, Dolly Parton, A Tribe Called Quest, Devo, New York Dolls – that looks a lot like an open-minded music fan’s record collection.
Allison Rapp: I’m pretty pleased with this year’s nominee pool. There’s a pretty healthy mix of first-timers and redemption shots, which always makes for a lively discussion among fans. It looks like this will be a tough voting process – frankly, all 17 of these nominees would be good choices for inclusion. I’m also quite glad to see the Rock Hall continuing to move in the direction of including more long-overdue women, like Kate Bush, Pat Benatar and Carly Simon.
Nick DeRiso: The Rock Hall has made inclusion a theme since MTV co-founder John Sykes took over for founding CEO Jan Wenner, and the newest class certainly underscores that. Yet none of these nominees feels forced or overrated. There’s been a welcome shift toward the modern era of hip-hop, any serious discussion of which must include Eminem. Without A Tribe Called Quest, you wouldn’t have had the Roots or Pharrell Williams. A badly needed balancing of the gender ledger continues, while key rock, post-punk and new wave acts from the ’70s and ’80s are finally getting their due. Old-guard types might gripe, but all of this mirrors what happened in popular music. It’s as welcome as it is relevant.
Matthew Wilkening: There’s a clear formula at work, right? That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can pretty easily watch year to year as people rotate in and out of the various genre or category slots, with Judas Priest filling the metal role instead of Iron Maiden this year, Carly Simon taking over for last year’s inductee Carole King and Eminem getting the nod now that Jay-Z is in. It’s smart of them to add country in the form of Dolly Parton, not to mention long overdue in terms of artistic merit and influence. Maybe Willie Nelson gets a shot next year?
Bryan Rolli: I’ll never pass up an opportunity to criticize the Rock Hall’s nominees, but lo and behold, they did good in 2022! This year’s spread has plenty of long-overdue rock artists who are critically acclaimed and/or commercially successful: Pat Benatar, Duran Duran, Devo, Carly Simon, New York Dolls, MC5, etc. The Hall covered its bases with other genres, too: Judas Priest and Rage Against the Machine rep metal, Dolly Parton accounts for country and Eminem and A Tribe Called Quest fill the hip-hop quota. If there’s any gripe to be had with these nominees, it’s that so many of them should have been inducted years ago. But there’s no use beating a dead horse.
Matt Wardlaw: I like it. I think it covers a lot of bases. It’s thrilling to see Duran Duran get a nomination, and hopefully with the Cure and Depeche Mode both finding their way in successfully, the same will be true for Duran. With this being the 40th anniversary of Rio, a Hall of Fame nod would add an extra layer of fun to the celebration.
2. Who’s the most surprising inclusion?
Gallucci: Dolly Parton – not because she doesn’t deserve it (she earned her “Legend” status decades ago), but because she’s been eligible for so long, it’s easy to think the Rock Hall forgot all about her.
Rapp: I will admit I’m a bit surprised at Dolly Parton’s inclusion. (And that’s coming from a Parton fan.) I think she’s an exceedingly worthy candidate, but her name certainly stands out among the nominees, and I wasn’t expecting to see her listed. I’m hoping this sparks some more discussion around other country artists who really ought to be in the Hall, like Willie Nelson and Glen Campbell — artists who enjoyed quite a bit of crossover success and had a wider influence beyond just the country-music scene.
DeRiso: Dolly Parton will get all of the headlines, of course. I was just as intrigued by their resurrection of the thought-dead candidacies of MC5 (on the ballot a sixth time, two years after their last nomination), Rage Against the Machine (multiple previous nods), Eurythmics (who have been nominated twice) and Pat Benatar (who topped the fan voting in 2020 only to get passed over). Meanwhile, Lionel Richie is a fine candidate, but should he go in as a solo act before his former band the Commodores?
Wilkening: Parton, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s both well-deserved and a smart business move. First and foremost this is a television show, and ignoring one of the most popular genres in American music history makes little sense.
Rolli: Beck is an interesting choice — not because he doesn’t have the hits or the cultural clout to justify the inclusion, but because he’s been eligible since 2018. What compelled the Hall to nominate him this year? I’m also surprised (and thrilled) to see Duran Duran on the list, because it means curmudgeonly rock snobs have finally started to take them seriously as musicians and songwriters, instead of writing them off as vapid, coiffed-hair pretty boys.
Wardlaw: There’s nothing really surprising here. It’s great to see A Tribe Called Quest and Dolly Parton, to name two. Though some may gripe about the former, it’s easy to make the argument for their important contributions to music. The same can be said about Eminem.
3. Who’s the most surprising snub?
Gallucci: There are certainly deserving artists who should be here before a few of this year’s nominees: Jethro Tull, King Crimson, Warren Zevon. But small quibbles – as I noted earlier, it’s hard to fault a nominees list that makes room for artists as diverse as Duran Duran, A Tribe Called Quest and Rage Against the Machine.
Rapp: I’ve said this before, I’ll say it again and again and again: I wish Warren Zevon was on this list. It just doesn’t make sense to me that so many of his peers — not to mention artists who were influenced by him — are in the Hall while he is left out. I’ll continue to campaign for his inclusion, but it looks like 2022 wasn’t the year. It also seems odd to me that Iron Maiden were left off, considering the backlash the Hall received last year after they were nominated but didn’t make the final cut. And also the Monkees! Especially now that there’s only one surviving member, and so much of their history revolves around their fight to be seen as a real pop-rock band, not just TV characters.
DeRiso: There are entire websites devoted to this. We’ve weighed in, too. Is any Hall-related parlor game more fun? For everyone who can’t get over Warren Zevon’s absence, there’s someone else throwing angry devil horns because Iron Maiden haven’t been honored. Aggrieved prog fans are still lamenting the lack of recognition for Jethro Tull and King Crimson. Seriously, though, it’s a process, not a moment in time. People forget that seemingly obvious shoo-ins like Pink Floyd, Billy Joel, the Grateful Dead, Steely Dan and AC/DC weren’t inducted during their first year of eligibility.
Wilkening: Zevon is the most surprising exclusion because he would seem to be exactly the kind of artist the voters would love, based on who else is already inducted. I know they’re nominated, but it’s still amazing to me that Rage Against the Machine weren’t inducted their first year on the ballot for the same basic reason. I’ll catch endless hell for this from my coworkers, but Sammy Hagar and more importantly Robert Plant should have been at least nominated for their solo careers by now.
Rolli: Iron Maiden. Come on, man. By any conceivable metric, they’re the biggest (and in this writer’s humble opinion, best) metal band in the world behind Black Sabbath and Metallica, both of whom were inducted well over a decade ago. Can’t we get some devil horns, as a treat? Motley Crue belong in there as well, as the archetypal ’80s hard-rock band and one of the only acts from that decade still capable of packing stadiums. Oh, and 23 years after Paul McCartney’s solo induction, it might be finally time to induct his little-known passion project, Wings — you know, the one that had 14 Top 10 hits in the U.S. throughout the ’70s.
Wardlaw: Hard-rock and metal continue to get the shaft. Yes, Judas Priest are here, and hopefully, they’ll get in this time. But where are Iron Maiden? Why haven’t Soundgarden been inducted?
4. Who do you most want to see inducted from this class?
Gallucci: Kate Bush, New York Dolls, Dolly Parton and A Tribe Called Quest are all great artists who’ve made their share of classic records during their careers. But I can make cases for most of the others here, too.
Rapp: I’m rooting for the New York Dolls, who have appeared on the ballot a handful of times and somehow always seem to miss out. They weren’t around for very long, but they’re so frequently cited by other artists as influences, particularly those that emerged from the New York City punk scene, it would be great to see that impact more formally recognized. I’d also like to see Carly Simon get in. She’s a prolific songwriter and hasn’t quite gotten her full due yet.
DeRiso: New York Dolls, Kate Bush, Devo, A Tribe Called Quest, Eurythmics and Fela Kuti. To quote Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, that would encompass “beats, rhymes and life.”
Wilkening: Judas Priest, above all. They helped put heavy metal on the map in the ’70s and then played a big role in redefining it each of the next two decades. Their impact on the mainstream and future generations is massive and has been ignored for far too long. If I got five votes, the others would go to Duran Duran, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon and A Tribe Called Quest.
Rolli: Judas Priest and Duran Duran, if my previous rants didn’t make that clear. Same with Pat Benatar, one of the best singers in rock history with a staggering number of hits and spectacular album cuts. (“Hell Is for Children,” anyone?) Carly Simon has written some of the most canonical American pop songs of all time, and her exclusion up to this point is criminal. And as a mid-20s white man who grew up in suburbia, I’ve got The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show ingrained into my subconscious, so I’ve got to give Eminem a nod — even if A Tribe Called Quest deserve to get in first based on seniority.
Wardlaw: My votes go for A Tribe Called Quest, Judas Priest, Duran Duran, Dolly Parton and Devo.
5. Who do you think will get inducted from this class?
Gallucci: Duran Duran, Eminem, Judas Priest, Dolly Parton and maybe Lionel Richie. I think this will finally be Judas Priest’s year – the Rock Hall has taken way too many hits over the years for ignoring metal. This is their chance to make good so they won’t have to approach the issue again for another few years. Plus, they’ll need a traditional rock act in the class to silence the expected (and so, so tiresome) complaints about how most of these artists aren’t “rock.”
Rapp: I think Eminem is a pretty safe bet, along with Duran Duran. I also think that Beck has a good shot at getting in on his first nomination, particularly considering the “youth culture” aspect to this year’s class, but none of the nominees should be underestimated. The debates surrounding which artists exactly qualify to be in the Hall are tiresome – I’m simply glad to now have an excuse to revisit the wide-ranging catalogs of 17 talented artists, all of whom have had a hand in changing the way “rock” is perceived.
DeRiso: Eminem is a lock, while I’d assume Dolly Parton and Lionel Richie are insider favorites. Judas Priest is a make-good, and I could see Sykes putting his thumb on the scale for Duran Duran.
Wilkening: Much like Whitney Houston last year, there’s an irrational they-wouldn’t-be-nominated-if-they-weren’t-getting-in vibe about Parton, Duran Duran and Lionel Richie this time around. Eminem seems like a lock, especially after the voters saw how he tore the place down while performing with LL Cool J at last year’s ceremony. And it’s got to be the year for Priest, right?
Rolli: Eminem is a shoo-in. He’s the best-selling artist of the 2000s and the best-selling rapper of all time, and no other artist has mixed rock and hip-hop to the same degree of commercial success. I feel confident about Dolly Parton, too — it’ll be a nice victory lap after her momentous 2021, which earned her a spot on People‘s 2021 People of the Year list. I hope the Rock Hall makes good and finally inducts Priest, though I remain skeptical about all of their metal-related decisions. Carly Simon seems like a safe bet to follow in Carole King’s footsteps, and I’ll save a prayer for Duran Duran as well.
Wardlaw: Eminem seems like a lock. I think the chances are good for Duran Duran and Dolly Parton as well. This year will likely also be the one for Judas Priest. This is the fourth nomination for Rage Against The Machine, so who knows? I can see Carly Simon getting an induction nod also.
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