The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has revealed the nominees for its class of 2019 and if you listen very closely, you can almost hear the rock world collectively sigh and shrug.
This year's nominees include Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Janet Jackson, Roxy Music, Stevie Nicks, The Cure, and Def Leppard. Other finalists include Todd Rundgren, Rufus and Chaka Khan, LL Cool J, The Zombies, Devo, John Prine, MC5, and Kraftwerk.
It might seem like a pretty good list but, with a little context, you'll soon empathize with the ever disappointed fans of rock from around the world, for whom it's almost become a tradition now to diss the Hall of Fame nominations.
Firstly, no artists eligible for the first time this year were nominated, a list which includes OutKast, Beck, Jeff Buckley, The Roots, Dave Matthews Band, and Snoop Dogg. In order for an artist to be eligible for the Hall of Fame, their first recording must have been released at least 25 years ago or earlier.
Last year, fans were furious when they found out that Radiohead, who were nominated in their first year of eligibility, did not make it to the final five. Arguably one of the most innovative and groundbreaking rock acts of all time, Radiohead's second nomination seems more like a consolation than an actual acknowledgment of their indelible mark on the history of rock.
Devo, Roxy Music, Stevie Nicks, Todd Rundgren, John Prine, and Def Leppard have all been nominated for the first time this year. But, in a surprising twist of fate, no artists eligible for the first time this year were nominated, a list which includes OutKast, Beck, Jeff Buckley, The Roots, Dave Matthews Band, and Snoop Dogg.
Agreed, maybe Snoop doesn't fit the bill considering rap is not rock, but to not even consider the other iconic names comes across as slightly tone deaf.
To make things slightly more uncomfortable, previous nominees omitted from this year’s list include Kate Bush, Nine Inch Nails (NIN), The Smiths, The Replacements, Depeche Mode, Bad Brains, and Eurythmics, among others. This is especially unsettling in the case of Depeche Mode, who belted out one of the most biting political commentaries of the year in 2017 with their highly acclaimed 14th studio LP 'Spirit'. It's even worse considering Trent Reznor-led NIN is still opening up new doors by pushing the experimentation in their music to new limits, most recently with their 2018 LP 'Bad Witch'.
At this point, Radiohead's attitude towards the honour perhaps best sums up the feelings of those slowly losing faith in the Hall of Fame's nominations.
“I don’t care,” Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood responded when asked about the band’s nomination in an interview last year. Guitarist Ed O’Brien added, “I don’t want to be rude about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame because, for a lot of people, it means something, but culturally I don’t understand it. I think it might be a quintessentially American thing.”
But as far as making a statement goes, Perl Jam's Jeff Ament got it spot on during last year's ceremony. During Pearl Jam’s induction, bassist Jeff Ament famously wore a t-shirt listing many of the artists and bands who have not yet been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — a somber reminder of the arbitrariness that surrounds every year's inductees.