Handicapping the 14 new Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees

Jon Bream, Star Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

Oh, to be in the room where it happens. The nominating room for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Those debates must be fiery.

Should we recognize hard rockers Iron Maiden and Rage Against the Machine again and again? Is Willie Nelson really rock 'n' roll? We need more women candidates, whom do you recommend besides Kate Bush for the fourth time?

This year, the anonymous nominating committee* named 14 finalists, which were announced Wednesday. Last year, there were 17 candidates and typically 15 in most years.

Eight of the 14 nominees are first timers, with Missy Elliott and the White Stripes landing on the ballot in their first year of eligibility (which occurs 25 years after the release of their first record).

More than 1,000 people — Hall of Fame inductees, music executives, scholars and critics, including me — vote, for a maximum of five nominees. There are no write-ins. There is no longer ranked voting, a policy abandoned a few years back. The public can register its opinions at rockhall.com but the impact of their vote is limited.

This year's slate is full of solid contenders but few shoo-ins. At first blush, here are the chances of these candidates getting the call to the hall.


Kate Bush (fourth nomination). The surprise resurrection last year of 1985's "Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)," thanks to Netflix's "Stranger Things," boosts her visibility but not her resume. She is an entrancing, literate, atmospheric music-maker whose influence can be heard in Bjork, Prince and others. 70%

Sheryl Crow (first). She showed up prominently at last year's Rock Hall ceremonies, inducting Pat Benatar and performing a tribute to Dolly Parton. If that was a lobbying ploy, it worked — Crow finally got nominated, after being eligible five years ago. She writes, sings and plays multiple instruments with authority and style, and she scored plenty of praiseworthy, Grammy-winning hits and set an example for women musicians. 75%

Missy Elliott (first). She's been an absolute force in hip-hop and R&B as a performer, songwriter and producer, working with everyone from Aaliyah to Whitney Houston. And her innovative videos raised the bar for fashion and technology. She belongs in the Rock Hall, but not sure enough voters will agree. 70%

Iron Maiden (second). Whether frontman Bruce Dickinson was in or out, these British metal bangers evolved and invariably connected in concert. However, if Judas Priest had to get into the seemingly metal-averse Rock Hall through the back door (an executive committee named them for "musical excellence"), it doesn't look good for Maiden. 50%


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