And the inductees are…

No, Todd, not you…

Well the moment finally arrived this morning. The question: who will be in the 2020 class of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

It was a question that took more than three months to debate, a little longer than usual. Traditionally, most inductions are decided by December, but this time, it was extended to January, mainly because the ceremony would take place on May 2nd at Cleveland’s Public Auditorium.

What few didn’t know is that the list had already been announced albeit prematurely by the Hall by accident. A blogger for the Rock Hall-esque site, Future Rock Legends, had done some detective work and discovered that six of the ten acts had “access denied” while the other ten had no pages. Of course, the Hall probably knew by hindsight that many caught on to this so they edited it to keep us guessing.

Finally at 8 a.m., the inductees were announced and needless to say, even with some of my predictions mapping out as planned, this is probably the most shocking class of inductees in years. If it had been up to me, I’d induct all the 16 that were nominated, but this is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame we’re dealing with, not Baseball, so you take what you get.

That being said, here is the official list of inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame:

DEPECHE MODE
THE DOOBIE BROTHERS

WHITNEY HOUSTON
NINE INCH NAILS
THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.
T. REX

I still look at this list and am happily shocked that this is the list. Most of these acts were my personal picks. Replace the Doobies with Soundgarden and it’s perfect! I’ll break down my thoughts on each act getting in.

They feel you: the current members of Depeche Mode (l-r: Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore), c. 2019

DEPECHE MODE
Formed: 1980 in Basildon, Essex, UK
First album: Speak & Spell (1981, Mute Records)
Biggest hits: “Just Can’t Get Enough” (1981), “People are People” (1984), “Strangelove” (1987), “Personal Jesus” (1989), “Enjoy the Silence” (1990) and “I Feel You” (1993)

The legendary synth pop/new wave band had been in my personal picks for the Hall for a long time. And this time, the Hall must’ve realized it because they’re now enshrined into the Hall and for this to happen on the 40th anniversary of their founding in Essex is perfect, much like when the Cure got inducted on their 40th anniversary. The Cure’s 2019 induction was not just beneficial to Depeche Mode (but we’ll get on that later). Depeche Mode had tried their hand at being inducted before, in 2017 and 2018 and for the 2019 nomination list, they were replaced by The Cure, who got in on the Hall’s most populated list of inductees in years. Their induction this year confirms that synth pop and new wave are now contenders into the Hall. You know what this also means? Kraftwerk could finally get in. Maybe.

They listened to their music: the Doobies (l-r: Patrick Simmons, Tom Johnston, Michael McDonald and John McFee) in 2019

THE DOOBIE BROTHERS
Formed: 1970 in San Jose, California, USA
First album: The Doobie Brothers (1971, Warner Bros. Records)
Biggest hits: “Listen to the Music” (1972), “Long Train Runnin'” (1973), “Black Water” (1974), “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me)” (1975), “Takin’ It to the Streets” (1976), “It Keeps You Runnin'” (1976), “What a Fool Believes” (1979), “Minute by Minute” (1979), “Real Love” (1980), “The Doctor” (1989)

This was not a personal pick. I’ll repeat – this was not a personal pick. Least of the 6-7 inductees I’d prefer (they would be replaced by Soundgarden in this regard) BUT I definitely didn’t argue that they shouldn’t be in. This band is where Michael McDonald first got known so on that purpose I’m excited about their induction, which was their first try despite being eligible back in 1996 – a good 24 years! But they meant more than that. This band, as I said before, had two incarnations. The first was as a blues-rock band with an emphasis of country, R&B and soul. A blue-eyed soul band with the exception that they actually had a black member (Tiran Porter, who left the band in 1992 after the Doobies reformed in the late 1980s). Following original frontman Tom Johnston’s exit, soul-influenced pianist Michael McDonald took the band further to a blue eyed soul route, reinventing themselves as a yacht rock favorite in the mid to late 1970s putting them alongside the Eagles as one of the most successful yacht rock bands of their time. In many ways, the Doobies defined the 1970s, maybe not to the extent of the Eagles but enough where an induction seemed to make sense. The fact it took them nearly a quarter century to get in is almost criminal but now that has finally been addressed. It pays to have someone like Irving Azoff in your corner. As said, their induction will be a good omen as they head out on an ambitious world tour. Not bad for a band that will celebrate 50 years of rock.

Now she has it all: legendary diva Whitney Houston at the 2010 BET Honors.

WHITNEY HOUSTON
Born: August 9, 1963 in Newark, New Jersey, USA
Died: February 11, 2012 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California, USA
First single: “Hold Me” (ft. Teddy Pendergrass, 1984, Arista Records)
First album: Whitney Houston (1985, Arista Records)
Biggest hits: “You Give Good Love” (1985), “Saving All My Love for You” (1985), “How Will I Know” (1985), “Greatest Love of All” (1986), “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)” (1987), “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” (1987), “So Emotional” (1988), “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” (1988), “Love Will Save the Day” (1988), “One Moment in Time” (1988), “I’m Your Baby Tonight” (1990), “All the Man That I Need” (1990), “Star-Spangled Banner” (1991), “I Will Always Love You” (1992), “I’m Every Woman” (1993), “I Have Nothing” (1993), “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” (1995), “I Believe in You & Me” (1996), “Heartbreak Hotel” (1998), “It’s Not Right but It’s OK” (1999), “My Love Is Your Love” (1999), “I Look to You” (2009), “Million Dollar Bill” (2009), “Higher Love” (2019)

I was one of many who guessed this one right. Whitney’s nomination had been long overdue since 2009 when she became eligible, which occurred while she was still living and on the verge of an industry comeback with her final album, I Look to You. And it seemed the Hall’s voters agreed with me. Unlike her contemporaries Donna Summer and Janet Jackson, who got in on their third tries respectively, the Hall felt it necessary to vote her in. Mainly because she was the biggest name on the list and also one of its biggest snubs when you think of the other ’80s heavyweights of pop and rock music such as Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Prince and Janet Jackson that got in, Whitney’s 2020 induction corrects a big wrong with the Hall, which has famously bypassed female African American artists in the past as well as women artists in general. In fact, Whitney’s induction makes her just the 70th woman to be enshrined into the Hall. Whitney’s induction comes around the 35th anniversary of the release of her landmark eponymous self-titled debut album, which became one of the defining albums of the 1980s and made Houston a trendsetter and trailblazer at the same time, bringing back the African American tradition of soul and R&B to the mainstream in a post-disco United States of America, not just on radio but also on MTV where she became the first consistent African American female artist to have her videos played on heavy rotation starting with “Saving All My Love for You” in the summer of 1985 (there’s a difference between first-ever and first consistent one for those who argue about Donna Summer, Tina Turner and the Pointer Sisters, all of whom were considered pop/rock acts unlike Whitney, least at first). This obviously continued with her second mega-selling album, 1987’s Whitney, where she confirmed her status as the Queen of Pop thanks to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, a record Whitney arranged herself with Narada Michael Walden and added in the iconic “don’t you wanna dance, say you wanna dance” line at the end, which further helped MTV to embrace African American music and dance/pop/R&B music even more, and also by having Whitney be the only artist to score seven consecutive number one hit singles on the Hot 100, a feat that her predecessors Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross and Dionne Warwick never were able to accomplish. Along the way, Whitney became a pioneer and one of the founders of contemporary R&B in the post-Thriller era of black music. With so many iconic anthems, having her in the Hall was a no-brainer and thank God that has been recognized! We’ll always love you, Whitney.

Closer to God: Trent Reznor finally getting what he deserves.

NINE INCH NAILS
Formed: 1988 in Cleveland, Ohio
First album: Pretty Hate Machine (1989, TVT Records)
Biggest hits: “Head Like a Hole” (1989), “Happiness in Slavery” (1992), “Closer” (1994), “March of the Pigs” (1994), “Hurt” (1995), “The Perfect Drug” (1997), “The Day The World Went Away” (1999), “Starfuckers Inc.” (2000), “The Hand That Feeds” (2005)

I went back and forth on NIN finally getting in. They were one of my personal picks for the list. Thankfully, the Hall finally gave NIN, or I should say, Trent Reznor, what he deserved. NIN was more of a pet project than an actual group for the very creative Reznor, who basically formed NIN after noticing that one of his idols, Prince, performed every instrument on his albums. Probably NIN’s best album was their sophomore 1994 album, The Downward Spiral, which boasted “March of the Pigs”, “Closer” and “Hurt”, the latter song later inspired a solemn cover by country legend Johnny Cash just before his death. Without NIN (and Depeche Mode), a lot of what we call alternative rock wouldn’t have occurred, one could argue. Here is where The Cure comes in again. When that band was inducted in 2019, Trent Reznor was picked to induct them and Reznor’s induction of the Cure promptly changed the usually nonchalant and moody rock genius’ mind on the Hall, which had infamously nominated him in 2015 but failed to induct him. Suddenly, he saw some merit in being inducted to such a Hall. Now, Trent finally gets in and, again, thank God for that.

Big Poppa: Biggie where he needs to be, c. 1996

THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.
Born: May 21, 1972 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died: March 9, 1997 in Los Angeles, California, USA
First album: Ready to Die (1994, Bad Boy Records)
Biggest hits: “Juicy” (1994), “Big Poppa” (1994), “Warning” (1994), “One More Chance (Stay with Me Remix)” (1995), “Player’s Anthem” (1995), “Get Money” (1995), “Hypnotize” (1997), “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” (1997), “Sky’s the Limit” (1997)

Okay, this is one induction I was pleasantly surprised about. Mainly because I felt he had some things stacked against him: the crowded list of mega talented artists, his name while huge wasn’t huge in comparison to the other biggest black name (and name, period) in Whitney Houston, and also the fact that the influence of 2Pac, who had up until then, been the last hip-hop artist to be inducted, Biggie’s arch-rival and nemesis, could’ve overwhelmed the legendary titan from Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn from getting in but the Hall thought otherwise, making him just the sixth hip-hop act (Grandmaster Flash & the Furious 5 (2007), Run-DMC (2009), Beastie Boys (2012), Public Enemy (2013) and 2Pac (2017) preceding him) and just the second rap solo act ever to be inducted. And regardless of how little input he released in his lifetime, he left such a huge impact on rap that he really wasn’t meant to be denied and for him to be a first-ballot inductee is a big plus on how his legacy has been enshrined since his untimely death in 1997 at the age of 24. As one of his songs exclaimed, “unbelievable!”

Children of the glam revolution: T. Rex posing, 1972

T. REX
Formed: 1967 in London, England, UK
Disbanded: 1977
Members: Marc Bolan, Mickey Finn, Steve Currie and Bill Legend
First album: T. Rex (1970, Fly/Reprise Records)
Biggest hits: “Ride a White Swan” (1970), “Hot Love” (1971), “Get It On” (1971), “Jeepster” (1971), “Telegram Sam” (1972), “Metal Guru” (1972), “Children of the Revolution” (1972), “20th Century Boy” (1973), “The Groover” (1973), “Teenage Dream” (1974), “I Love to Boogie” (1976)

Another pleasant surprise, a personal pick and someone I also went back and forth about. I was so happy to see their name being enshrined into the Hall. Obviously two factors came into play for them: 2019 inductees Def Leppard (especially lead singer Joe Elliott, who is an unapologetic big fan of glam rock heroes) and Roxy Music’s own induction the same year. Plus they were pretty innovative and influential, starting glam rock and influencing punk rock, with Bolan’s fashion sense – feather boas, leopard print jackets, leather/spandex pants, and extensive use of makeup and glitter on his face and chest – later influencing the styles of most glam metal acts that emerged after him as well as other androgynous rockers such as Mick Jagger, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Prince, Boy George, Pete Burns, Placebo’s Brian Molko and Lady Gaga – helping to reshape the image of men in music (as I said in my previous assessment of Bolan, Little Richard may have came first, but no one embodied glam and androgyny like Bolan). Well deserved posthumous (for the most part) induction for the “electric warriors”.

With those out of the way, here’s one thing that has shocked social media, especially if you’re a white male rock fan: the fan vote!

Unlike in previous years where fan votes seemed more than often to determine who got in and who didn’t, it’s quite telling that besides the Doobies, who landed at #3 on the list, the other four didn’t:

PAT BENATAR (#2 with almost 900,000 votes in the fan vote)
SOUNDGARDEN (#4 behind the Doobies)
JUDAS PRIEST (#5 as they were during the fan vote in 2018)
and finally… DAVE MATTHEWS BAND (#1 with over a million votes)

Of the four, probably the most shocking omission from the Hall’s 2020 class was Pat Benatar. Most Hall watchers – including yours truly – had assumed as soon as her name appeared that she was an immediate lock. So the first question is: “what happened?” Well maybe, Pat’s insistence that Neil Giraldo should be included in everything she did and accomplished may have went against many voters. Maybe women who looked up to Pat back in the glory days of rock-oriented MTV in the early ’80s felt slighted that Pat insisted on having Neil added on as an additional inductee. That probably played a part in Pat not being able to secure enough votes for entry into the Hall. Another possibility may have been that in comparison to Whitney Houston, she didn’t quite have the vocal chops like Houston nor Houston’s superstar “it” factor to get in. Another possibility may have been because Stevie Nicks got in as a solo inductee, many had suspected Tina Turner to get a solo nomination this year and were disappointed that Benatar got the nod instead of Turner. And then there lays the claim that there were just way too many hard rock acts and, with the exception of T. Rex, they all canceled each other out. Whatever the case, and it could be all of the above, Benatar’s omission is definitely a disappointment and one that no one saw coming.

Soundgarden was always a question mark despite the passing of Chris Cornell and the tribute given to Cornell shortly after his death in 2017. I had them as a personal pick but I understood that because of the heavy hard rock leaning nominees, I understood that it would result in a messy split that led to an exodus of hard rock being almost completely absent from the list, in case one doesn’t think T. Rex or the Doobies or Nine Inch Nails fit the stereotype of “hard rock”. I feel Soundgarden may have a strong chance getting in next year’s class, just in case Judas Priest doesn’t get another nod.

Speaking of, Judas Priest strikes again in missing induction despite a top 5 berth on the fan poll. After losing out in 2018, it was brought out that the main reason for their snub was due to them not getting a lot of votes. The same could probably be said of why they lost this time around as well. Heavy metal has had a harder time to get accepted into the Hall along with disco (Chic’s 11 failed attempts aside), grunge (so far only Nirvana and Pearl Jam have gotten in; Soundgarden’s failure and the lack of attempts to induct another legendary grunge act like Alice in Chains showcase the struggle) and progressive rock (many are still angry over the snub of Jethro Tull, Procol Harum and Emerson, Lake and Palmer) and Judas Priest is no Black Sabbath despite their huge success. Do we necessarily need to count them out? No, I think it’s best if Soundgarden misses out on 2021, their names would appear again but it depends on how many votes they came close to.

And now to the most controversial part of this recent fan vote: this year’s #1 act – the Dave Matthews Band – missed out on their induction this year, making it probably one of the most embarrassing episodes in music history. And by embarrassing, I don’t mean for the Hall, I mean for the DMB themselves and their cult fan base. It seemed most don’t look at DMB as a band worthy of an induction and if they don’t get tried for an induction again next year, it would probably speak volumes on how much this band lacks a lot of respect despite their credentials with some of rock music’s best. Now does their omission makes the fan vote rigged? No, it’s just ONE BALLOT added to 1,000 others. The fan vote was never meant to be taken as the only way to get inducted. But many take that to heart for some odd reason. I had stated back in 2012 when the fan vote was first introduced that it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously. It took 7 years for people to finally realize that that was true all along. The big question is: will people not take it too seriously? That remains to be seen.

Now with those out of the way, what lies in the future of those others who got left behind?

PAT BENATAR – they could try again with her but if she’s unwilling to enter without Neil, the Hall might go for her peers Tina Turner or Cyndi Lauper. Benatar’s run at the top (roughly 1980-85) was quite short, whereas Tina Turner became the reigning Queen of Rock and Roll around the time Pat’s career began to reach its peak and by then, Pat was already slowing down a little (her last big hit, the soft rock ballad “We Belong”, didn’t necessarily gain any more hard rock fans) and Cyndi Lauper also sold a bit more albums than her (least with 1983’s She’s So Unusual). It just all depends at the end of the day.

SOUNDGARDEN – I’m guessing you may see them again next year. But it depends on how strong the votes are. If they’re not too strong, who knows? But I bet they’ll give it another go in 2021. Besides, I feel they’re just biding their time enough to get in there. But grunge was such a short era in music that I’m not surprised their votes fell short. Plus with the field being too hard rock crowded, it’s not surprising they got shoved aside. A 2021 nomination class with a mixture of everyone and not too much of a focus on one genre can help them.

JUDAS PRIEST – they either could join the list of being “the bridesmaid but never the bride” like Chic, MC5, Chaka Khan and Kraftwerk or they may never get picked again due to horrible voting outside the fan vote. Maybe next year will bring them an opening or maybe not. Things are changing rapidly in the Hall and if they’re not clear, they may be left out of the lurch for a long time.

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND – IMHO, nominating the DMB’s was just an experiment on the Hall’s part. They had every intention on inducting B.I.G., they had no intention of inducting DMB. That was clear even before the fan vote made headlines with them leading. My prediction is they won’t get the nod ever again…and I do mean ever.

MOTORHEAD – Time will tell but again, hard rock is a very tough sell for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Of course, rock music and rock and roll are two different things. And no genre has had it harder than rock and all of its cousins. Once music lovers realize there’s a difference between ROCK and ROCK & ROLL, the better. I rather for them to go at it again than Dave Matthews, I tell you that much!

THIN LIZZY – Them and Motorhead were the picks of one Dave Grohl, who’s already in with Nirvana and could get a second induction with the Foo Fighters in the distant future. He almost scored with Motorhead but he probably bit off more than he can chew with Thin Lizzy. This act may be the favorite of many legendary rock bands already enshrined (Metallica being chief among them) but there wasn’t enough for them to get inducted on. Will they try it again? Doubt it. Judas Priest and Motorhead have way better chances.

KRAFTWERK – Though they got snubbed again, the Hall didn’t embarrass themselves to induct them as an “Early Influence” despite some rumblings. The techno act probably is the one act more out of step with rock and roll than Whitney and the Notorious B.I.G., both of whom have strong rock and roll credentials (Houston’s godmother Darlene Love and family friend Aretha Franklin are already inductees while B.I.G.’s ties to Tupac Shakur definitely helped his chances besides from his music). Kraftwerk is innovative and influential but are they what you call a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame act? I don’t know. I do think they should be inducted but think about it for a moment: do men who monotonously perform in front of you represent rock and roll? No. They should’ve nominated Devo.

TODD RUNDGREN – Some thought with him not being top 5 on the fan vote that he could sneak in. Most others thought he would get Musical Excellence. In the end, Rundgren didn’t get either. And I think his indifference played a big part in it. Rundgren, despite having credentials as a classic rocker, a prog rock frontman, a singer-songwriter, and record producer, is considered an oddball and outsider in rock and roll despite his genius talent. Now it’s possible for Rundgren to try again but I feel they may cast him aside for now. It’s just not his time yet.

RUFUS FEATURING CHAKA KHAN – What doomed Pat Benatar is what also doomed Chaka Khan: nominating them besides their lesser known backing partners and nominating them in front of someone with a big name that was inescapable as Whitney’s. Whitney had the upper hand from day one. There was no way Chaka would be inducted this year. But does that mean you should shrug about Khan? No. I predict a SOLO induction nod next year, just in case Tina Turner doesn’t get a nod. Chaka will get in there, but if she does, it won’t be with Rufus.

MC5 – For some reason, rock fans keep trying to push for them but they can never tell you what they did besides “Kick Out the Jams”. That’s not good for an act that had been credited with influencing punk rock. But then again, they weren’t the first band to do so, the Detroiters’ neighbors, the Stooges, got in and they were credited with doing the same thing. IMHO, The Sonics deserved more the induction nod than MC5 because many of the things MC5 did were already done by the Sonics. As John Sykes take over, don’t expect to see these guys again. Ever. It’s a wrap.

Overall, I was not disappointed at all with the class. It was well overdue. Congrats to all the six inductees to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for 2020!

FUN FACT: In a case of deja vu, Whitney Houston and Pat Benatar faced each other for the first time since the 1986 Grammy Awards where they were both up against the Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. Whitney was nominated for “Saving All My Love for You” while Benatar had “We Belong”. Ironically fellow Hall of Fame inductees Tina Turner (“We Don’t Need Another Hero”), Madonna (“Crazy for You”) and Linda Ronstadt (“Lush Life”) were also up for the award. Whitney, the youngest of the five at just 22 years old, beat all of them. A coincidence? Maybe.

Updated: My 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame predictions

Rock and roll all night and…whine everyday?

Finally, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2020 countdown is starting to wind down as we head into the final week as votes will start to be tallied to see which of the 16 nominees for the 2020 class of the Rock Hall will be chosen in a class of five, or six, or even the lucky seven.

Yeah… about that. You can probably stop betting on seven. This will be a class of five at a minimum and six at best. And it will go down to the big names rather than a fan-heavy class. In other words, yeah, look forward to being disappointed if you’re a rock and roll purist.

My initial post on who I suggest will get inducted have changed somewhat. We can’t all be perfect, right? To be fair, it’s not at all a boring list. In fact, I can see every one of these acts inducted. Unfortunately, you can’t induct everybody. The main reason for me to again post my predictions has a lot to do with what seemed like a battle between fans and the majority of voters in the Hall over the Dave Matthews Band.

Some, like Future Rock Legends and Troy L. Smith from Cleveland.com have even suggested that the band’s fans would “have to prepare for heartbreak” and it had me thinking: could it be possible for the act who won the Fan Vote to lose? Maybe.

This brings me to possible scenarios of how many votes one would need to get even a sixth place finisher. The point is, to this day, we don’t know how votes are tallied. Since the Fan Vote was brought to the table in 2012, it’s often been used as the template for many to push for their favorite act to reach the top or even the top five spots. But as history tells us, just because you reach the top 5 doesn’t mean you’re automatically in there. Ask three-time nominees Nine Inch Nails, two-time (*) nominees Judas Priest and last year’s third ranked act, Todd Rundgren.

But that being said, I still feel no change will happen with the Fan Vote’s top pick getting in. Social media has been the best thing to happen for some acts regardless of where they land on the fan vote.

So with that rant out of the way, my NEW predictions for who will be in the Hall (spoiler: I’ve stuck with most of my initial choices lol)

“We belong!”: Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo hits the audience with their best shots, c. 1981

PAT BENATAR AND NEIL GIRALDO

As stated before, Pat Benatar is definitely a surefire bet to get in the Rock Hall and it will be a well deserved one. Her induction will surely add just one or two more women into the Hall, but her induction comes with the addition of her musical partner and real-life husband, Neil Giraldo, who has been producing for his legendary wife since 1979. For years, it was suggested that Benatar herself had told the Hall that unless her husband is acknowledged, she won’t be attending the Hall in case her husband wasn’t gonna be guaranteed an induction and so this is why the induction has her and Neil as double inductees. Benatar has toured with her husband under the name Benatar and Giraldo. So it’s clear from Pat: either induct me with my husband or don’t think about me at all. Seems the Hall is willing to listen to the lady.

And she…will always love you…: Whitney Houston with her beaming smile while in Tokyo, 1990

WHITNEY HOUSTON

Hers was a name that was a decade in the making to finally be brought up in the Hall. But finally, Whitney is here. And you might as well forget wondering about rock purists or if she is “rock” enough. This is not Janet Jackson we’re dealing with this time, this woman was truly one of the BIGGEST artists of her generation. A trailblazer during the early years (1981-86) of MTV, she was among the first African American female artists to be regularly featured on the white rock-heavy channel (Tina Turner was the only other one to be regularly featured despite Donna Summer’s earlier presence, which peaked at the end of 1983). But it wasn’t just TV. On radio, she was almost inescapable for over two decades (1985-2000) and not just black radio, but pop radio, adult contemporary and the dance floor clubs. And a big reason why? That voice. Reared up in the Baptist church, it soon graduated to cabaret nightclubs, then to Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, Wembley Arena and the Tokyo Dome. The hits? Too many to name: You Give Good Love, Saving All My Love for You, How Will I Know, Greatest Love of All, I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me), Didn’t We Almost Have It All, So Emotional, Where Do Broken Hearts Go, Love Will Save the Day, One Moment in Time, I’m Your Baby Tonight, All the Man That I Need, I Will Always Love You, I Have Nothing, I’m Every Woman, It’s Not Right but It’s Okay, My Love Is Your Love, Million Dollar Bill and even her posthumous smash from last year, the Kygo-remixed cover of Higher Love. I get so tired of the arguments that a name like Whitney’s don’t deserve to be in there cause “she doesn’t go on stage with a guitar and shred, man!” Neither did Aretha Franklin (who played beautifully on the piano and set the tone for a musical and social revolution in the late ’60s), neither did Mahalia Jackson (whose voice “rocked” houses from Chicago churches to the London Palladium), neither did Sam Cooke, or Marvin Gaye, or her probably closest peer, the also unfortunately deceased Donna Summer, who had to wait until her death to get in (disco still struggles), but they’re in there too. Unlike Summer though, Houston has the advantage of being considered more of a classic soul/R&B voice than say her other peer Janet Jackson, who made her breakthrough shortly after Houston’s. Plus with her induction, it opens the possibilities of any big-name artist who she paved the way for including Beyonce, Christina Aguilera or Lady Gaga to induct her and perform her hits in her name. It may not be right for some rock purists, but it’s okay for the rest of us.

Just listen to the music, dammit!

THE DOOBIE BROTHERS

I think I already said much on how I feel about this act before. But here are some additions: they’re to 2020 what Hall and Oates was to 2014: a blue-eyed soul outfit (save for one black member, Tiran Porter) who was both adept at blues rock and, later, yacht rock (or soft rock). With Tom Johnston, they could jam with the best of them. With Michael McDonald, they could make ladies swoon. In short, they’re almost a perfect package. Probably the safest bet of any of the ’70s bands (T. Rex and Thin Lizzy) this year unless for some reason, Thin Lizzy managed to come from behind and get everyone to vote for them out of protest, which remains to be seen. But if that doesn’t happen, then welcome to the Hall, Doobies!


This is where I apply the record scratch…

Now, with those safe bets out of the way, here comes the JUICY part. Does recent analyses on the Dave Matthews Band play a part in my thought process? Yes. This was actually tougher for me than I thought. A five or six-inductee class can still possibly not include them or it could sneak them in. So with that said, let me just put an asterisk on them and I’ll tell you why they would or WOULD NOT make it in.

Come on, guys? Really? Do I really fit? Do I? LOL

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND*

They said history could be made here – in the worst way possible for the fans of the Dave Matthews Band. The Seattle-based alternative rock act is not what you call either critical darlings or even a populist act. They’re more of a cult act who have an active social media campaign surrounding them. Which is why it’s easy to see why the band, which had started off on the RRHOF fan poll at number 9, ended in at number 1 (without this campaign, Whitney would place at #5). Now I’ll place my reasons why they will…or won’t…get in (shout out to Rock Hall Monitors). Watch this space.

Why they will get in: that fan vote dammit. That’s it. That’s why! No, there’s more actually. The group actually has some good standing in some rock circles. And regardless of what you think about them, or Dave in particular, they can rock. Also, possibly the reason to include them opens the doors for acts like Jimmy Buffett and Phish to finally get recognized. But please, FOR GOD’S SAKE, don’t induct HOOTIE AND THE BLOWFISH!!!

Why they won’t: Well, no one seems to wanna vote for them. Mainly if you talk to the hard rock fans, you won’t see them mentioned or even in the classic rock act. Unlike Whitney and Pat, they don’t exactly have an admiration list that goes from the Baby Boomers to Generation X to the Millennials to Generation Z (the last one goes to Whitney only). Even Whitney has admirers from the hard rock set. But not Dave Matthews. Did I mention they’re a cult band???

What is likely to happen: They could get in or they won’t. So what happens? It’s possible that if there’s a five-member class, they’re out of luck, if there’s a six-member class, forget about it. But seven? They could sneak in. Again, it just depends on how many votes they get. Many who see them going in only place their bets on the fan vote but here’s why they ultimately may not get in: all the other acts who ruled the fan vote since 2012 have been classic rock acts. And the ’90s band is fucked out of luck there as well. Could it be that they may be really unlucky come the day of the announcements? Yes. So in the words of the legendary Bette Davis:

Tell ’em Bette!

In case DMB loses out:

They don’t deserved to be outshined by a faux jam band!: Soundgarden around the time they released Badmotorfinger, c. 1992

SOUNDGARDEN

I had thought long and hard – don’t go too deep into it – about Soundgarden’s chances and to be honest, I do believe that they still remain the safest bet for a ’90s band to get in. It’s long overdue for a Seattle-based band to get an induction and this may be the year. They’re also the safest as far as hard rock acts go for induction (sorry Judas Priest) in my book. Let’s face it, some of this year’s class would feature posthumous legends and after Whitney, Chris Cornell will likely come busted in from his rusty cage and run to be enshrined for all eternity. And the fact the Hall already gave a tribute to Chris, I’d love to see a repeat. But can’t they get someone else besides Heart? Okay, I won’t mind Ann and Nancy jamming with the founding surviving members, I guess.

Reach out and touch Dave. 😉

DEPECHE MODE

There is likely to be some repeat of 2019. That year saw The Cure go in. If the votes are similar to 2019 (save for another 7-member class), Depeche Mode are in there. According to Rock Hall Monitors, the Dave Matthews Band had somehow been deemed as the biggest albums act on the list. I guess in a technical sense, he’s right, but the DMB actually sold much less than Depeche Mode, who sit on 100 million estimated records worldwide. What could also be in their favor is they have a documentary out. We know sometimes, a movie can help in building momentum for a Hall induction: look at N.W.A., who got in after multiple tries following the release of the Straight Outta Compton biopic (which could be argued is why Janet didn’t get in on her first try – we know why she didn’t get in on induction #2). So unless any of the hard rock acts from the ’70s and ’80s manage to sneak in, count this band in. Oh yeah, Kraftwerk is toast either way.

“This goes out to those who choose to use disrespectful views on the King of N-Y” – Biggie Smalls with his crown, 1995

THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.

I can admit: this was tough. I had placed my view on Biggie not getting in on the fan vote (and the 2Pac problem) but then again, it’s The Notorious B.I.G. I mean, I definitely would’ve still nominated someone more artistic such as Nas or Outkast but as far as hip-hop goes, he’s a safer bet than LL Cool J, whose chances may have hurt due to many thinking, “L.L. Cool J? Is he that actor from NCIS?” Biggie benefits from a tragic early death as well as setting a trend for East Coast hip-hop to follow after him. Without Biggie, we don’t have Jay Z, who just got inducted to the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the first to do so. I actually don’t see any real barriers for Biggie to be just the sixth hip-hop act to get enshrined in the Hall. Unless voters feel like the Brooklyn-based Biggie would be better honored at the city’s Barclays Center instead. But maybe that won’t be a problem. Maybe.

You can say that again, Gordon!

Now we have at least SEVEN potential inductees:
PAT
WHITNEY
DOOBIES
DMB*
SOUNDGARDEN
DEPECHE MODE
B.I.G.

Reason I put seven in the inductee aisle because judging on Hall history, this is how they could vote them in. If there’s a scenario of six, it’s between DMB and B.I.G. One would think if the scenario works out that six is the final tally, Dave Matthews won’t be in there. Fan poll, schman poll. But in case, there is a scenario where Depeche Mode, B.I.G. and Soundgarden actually miss out, here is where the wildcards come in:

You know it’s coming…

THE WILDCARD PICKS:

20th Century Boys: Mickey Finn and Marc Bolan wanna be your (glam boy) toys, c. 1972

T. REX

I had said in my previous post that many have played the glam rock pioneers from T. Rex short due to the inclusion of a lot of hard rock acts and I was one of the few who said that you shouldn’t be surprised if they get in. Only reason why they’re slightly lower? Blame Dave Matthews’ fans! Because honestly they’re still #6 to me (if they go with six) and they could replace the DMB’s as the sixth inductee or maybe their votes would be slightly higher. It just depends on how many will vote them in but I feel a majority of voters could very well put in T. Rex. I mean Roxy Music got in. What is stopping T. Rex? Thin Lizzy? Sure, Jan.

He sees the light and he doesn’t like it: Todd Rundgren on The Midnight Special, December 1973

TODD RUNDGREN (possible performing inductee or Musical Excellence inductee)

The fan in me still can’t let go of what happened in 2019. Todd Rundgren was supposed to have gone in. What on earth happened?! Honestly I’m still upset. And maybe that’s why I have made him a possible wildcard. Even in these supposed “safer” classes, anything can happen and nothing is guaranteed. The only reason I don’t think his chances would be better: he personally could give a damn. He himself said he would vote for Motorhead instead (no offense, but I didn’t expect the dude who banged the drum all day to lose his mind about Overkill but what do I know?). Anyway, I wouldn’t count him completely out. I think they could possibly get him in for Musical Excellence. Let’s face it: he’s far too eclectic to just be a performer. He was really an all-around jack of all trades and I would love for the Hall to induct him any way they see fit, except for Early Influence (Joel, don’t you dare…)

So Todd, you still have a chance, dude!

With moves like that, I bet Runt dances to Whitney too!

Now I know you may be asking: why did you replace Soundgarden with Nine Inch Nails?

Well I just don’t think the class will induct any real edgy act and NIN is by far the edgiest. Just because Trent Reznor is now taken a liking to the Hall doesn’t mean he’s in automatically. Do I think he’ll get in eventually? Yes, but it’s been a difficult year. 2015 is still messy.

Does it look like I’m smiling, motherfucker?

So breaking down, here are those I’m sure the Hall would easily pick based on vote numbers:
Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo (she is one of the Hall’s biggest snubs and I don’t think the Hall will nominate her and outvote her over Lemmy – sorry Lemmy)
Whitney Elizabeth Houston (she is one of those all-around picks: the Baby Boomers love her, Generation X loves her, Millennials (I being one of them lol) love her and Generation Z (the ones born after 1990) loves her as well. Like Pat, she’s considered one of the Hall’s biggest snubs and I honestly can’t see a Hall of Fame ignoring the biggest name. Kiss and Bon Jovi got in as the biggest names in their classes, so why not Whitney? Oh yeah, Clive Davis has a lot of backing, just in case you forgot.)
The Doobie Brothers (much like Pat & Whitney, an ignored snub who should’ve been in a long time ago. It’s taken them about 24 years. Like Whitney, they have a huge backing, this time with manager Irving Azoff as they plan a comeback tour. The induction would be great press)
Soundgarden (I personally want them in so I’m biased but I think the voters would actually agree that if any hard rock act goes in, it’s the one in Seattle. Long overdue. Plus it opens the door for my personal “grunge” favorite, Alice in Chains)
Depeche Mode (usually if an act has something to promote like a movie or whatever, lots of attention can be drawn to that. Depeche Mode’s documentary may not be as huge as N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton biopic, but that could help voters’ choices)
The Notorious B.I.G. (the potential sixth inductee in case DMB isn’t in would probably be the legendary rapper from Bed-Stuy but location may be the issue. Maybe voters who think B.I.G. is a natural pick could think “would it be fair to induct him in Cleveland when we could induct him for a future class in Brooklyn?” This uncertainty is why T. Rex and Todd Rundgren jump in the mix and the Dave Matthews Band could still sneak in but if not, Biggie will get in immediately)

But even with that said, there is still potential for every inductee except for a good chunk (the ones I didn’t pick!).

This was harder than I thought lol

I can conclude that this is my final list of potential picks. I also conclude it would’ve been easier had Dave Matthews’ fans decided to vote every day on the Fan Vote. History is likely to happen or not. Honestly, the guesses make the Hall fun because you just never know how it’s going to go until it’s announced.

Happy pre-Hall of Fame announcement, everyone (yeah I know it’s only the 6th, shut up, in my Little Richard voice)!!!

Whitney spreading her magic powers on Hall voters.

Whitney, The Unified Queen of Pop

Whitney Houston just as her career was taking off, December 1985

On April 12, 1989, I celebrated my fifth birthday. I was entirely too young to fully experience the crossover success of Whitney Elizabeth Houston at that time but I had known of her enough for me to wanna be a fan. Our family at the time was living mostly on my father’s paychecks to buy records and though we had a cassette player, none of us, except for my sister, were that interested in purchasing records, but I just knew that I was crazy for the skinny Jersey girl with the big booming voice. And so was the whole world, I assume. Sales figures from her first two albums would show that that was mostly correct.

Though success was slow to come at first, by the time Houston won her first Grammy Award for the genre-blurred sentimental slow jam, “Saving All My Love For You” in the Best Pop Female Vocal Performance category in February of 1986, her self-titled debut, Whitney Houston, was on its way to top the Billboard 200 for 14 consecutive weeks and would go on to sell a whopping 22 million albums worldwide, including 13 million alone in the United States, with three consecutive number one singles – “Saving…”, the dance pop-infused “How Will I Know” and “Greatest Love of All”, in which she had made into an anthem. Her follow-up, 1987’s Whitney boosted four more number ones – another post disco bop (and an eternal gay anthem), “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, the rock-infused “So Emotional” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” – making her the first – and only – artist to land seven consecutive number one singles, a record that is not likely to be broken anytime soon, unless a diva of similar magnitude finally manages to break it (of all the dominating pop divas of the time, only Mariah Carey came the closest with five during the early 1990s). The record almost matched the debut sales wise, selling 19 million worldwide (9 million alone in the States).

Whitney with her second of six Grammy Awards for the dance hit “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, March 2, 1988

With two successful Grammy nominated albums, two Grammy Award winning singles (and a frigging Emmy FROM a Grammy performance!), not to mention successfully transitioning from performing at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark and the Sweetwater’s nightclub in New York City to Carnegie Hall and Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre to arenas from Madison Square Garden to Wembley Arena, you would think everyone would be happy for Houston, who helped to make it possible for African American female artists to gain heavy rotation on both MTV and pop radio at a time of racial apartheid – yes, even during the early ’80s when Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Tina Turner and Prince managed to become popular in both formats, it was only done because either they appear nonthreatening or aimed at the rock market, which made Houston’s pop breakthrough something of an anomaly. Even with the past crossover appeals of Aretha Franklin, Houston’s famous cousin Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross, the latter two credited with breaking racial barriers during the mid-1960s, no other black female artist was able to make as many breakthroughs as Houston.

But what happened on April 12, 1989 proved that not everyone appreciated what Houston had done for them. That night, the third annual Soul Train Music Awards took place in Los Angeles, California. Houston, who was nominated for Best R&B Female Video for “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”, was among those in attendance. It was on this night that I could remember quite vividly the smattering of boos and cheers that erupted once Houston’s image from the “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” video showed up on the screen and her name was being called. For Houston, the boos were louder. As Houston later told Katie Couric seven years after this incident, “you have to just sit there and smile and act like ‘everything’s okay’, but then you’re like ‘oh my God, they’re not booing me, are they?'”

But the reception wasn’t just something that had recently developed. It actually was a culmination of four years of criticism that was thrown uncharacteristically at Houston’s way, going back to the early promotional days of her debut album in 1985. Houston’s label, Arista Records, who had struggled with promoting other young African American R&B divas such as the gifted but temperamental Phyllis Hyman in the past, had wanted Houston, their best hope for an Eighties “Diana Ross”, an artist that had broke racial barriers with her unique voice and charismatic showmanship as a Supreme and as a soloist, to partake in interviews on pop radio stations while promoting the ballad “Saving All My Love for You”. For civil rights activists such as Rev. Al Sharpton, this was an insult to the black race and he felt the label – and in some ways, Houston herself – was turning their backs on the black community that had helped to make Houston’s first solo single, “You Give Good Love”, reach number one on the R&B charts that year.

Houston backstage after the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards where she accepted the award for Best Female Video for “How Will I Know” and performed at the ceremony.

Before a show at the fabled Carnegie Hall, a few protesters – under Sharpton’s direction – went out to stage a boycott of Houston’s October 1985 concert, insulting Houston replacing Whitney with “Whitey”. She was labeled an “oreo” and probably much worse. For what? For singing every song she was given? Songs she herself would rearrange not only in the studio but live as well? Maybe that was another thing: though she would deliver pitch perfect pop masterpieces that fit pop radio, once she took her show out on the road, Houston brought in a gospel flair that not only enriched the songs but further boasted to her critics that Arista had sullied her roots – Houston was forced to re-record “Saving All My Love for You” by Arista head Clive Davis after he claimed an initial version of the song “sounded too much like Aretha Franklin”. In other words, Houston had recorded a version that sounded “too black” for radio. The gospel was clear on the recorded songs, of course, but Davis wanted Houston to tone it down just enough where white audiences could deal with. But Houston herself understood what Davis was trying to do: when Houston was asked by an interviewer for Essence magazine about the perception that she wasn’t black enough, the singer shot back, “what’s black? I’ve been trying to figure this out since I’ve been in the business. I don’t know how to sing black – and I don’t know how to sing white, either. I know how to sing. Music is not a color to me, it’s an art.” Houston, better than most people, knew exactly what she was doing at any time. If anything, her voice was there not to divide America but to unite America.

Houston and Michael Jackson, 1988

The odd thing about the night on the Soul Train Music Awards, the same night where Houston met 20-year-old singer Bobby Brown, then riding high off his album, Don’t Be Cruel, it was also the same night where Michael Jackson, who had just recently shocked the world by transforming from his original African American features into a very light skinned, almost Caucasian man, was cheered while accepting the Heritage Award from Eddie Murphy, as if he hadn’t bleached his skin and had been working with all-white staffers (Houston by comparison had a mostly black one). Many considered Houston and Jackson to be equals at the time, not just in racial appeal but also in commercial success and their abundant talents. In almost none of the articles I’ve researched was Jackson given the same “not black enough” slant that was given to Houston. Not even Lionel Richie, whose image and radio-friendly image had made him a megastar in the early ’80s, got the same type of flack. Only Prince would receive some flack following him including a white woman as his mother in his film, Purple Rain (Prince’s mother Mattie Shaw was African American) but it was nothing compared to what happened with Houston.

Following the release of her R&B/new jack swing infused third best-seller, I’m Your Baby Tonight, Houston was picked as the vocalist to sing the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl on January 28, 1991, roughly 21 months after the Soul Train incident. Since the event occurred as American troops headed to Kuwait to fight during the first Gulf War, the performance would take on a whole new meaning as Houston, who sang live contrary to popular belief that she lip-synced (Houston’s mother Cissy debunked that rumor in her memoirs, Remembering Whitney), sung it with such bravado and gospel fervor that all Americans – black and white – not only felt proud to be American but it cemented for many that Houston’s goal as an unified voice of all races had been achieved. Whatever early MTV officials, Al Sharpton’s minions and the bullies at the audience on Soul Train tried, it only failed in turning people away from Houston, even as they were promoting another young diva – 20-year-old Mariah Carey as the “white Whitney” (before she told EBONY magazine in 1993 that she was the product of a mixed African American and Venezuelan father and an Irish mother) – to try to take Houston’s place.

Houston’s genius in bringing races together came just over a year later with her starring in the musical thriller, The Bodyguard, which while it didn’t grant Houston an Oscar nomination, still produced not only an image of a romance between Houston and co-star Kevin Costner that went beyond racial lines – the script chose to erase the fact that Houston’s and Costner’s characters were black and white respectively – but also again showed the power of music after the song “I Will Always Love You” dominated charts not only in the United States but in Europe, Oceania and Asia as well and became the best-selling single by a female artist in history – a record that also still holds. By this time, the claims thrown that Houston was “not black enough” had been all but forgotten and when Houston returned to the Soul Train Awards in 1994 where she accepted the Sammy Davis Jr. Entertainer of the Year honor, Houston was cheered instead of booed, as if 1989 hadn’t happened, though Houston still hadn’t forgotten that moment.

And 30 years later, that still continues, with Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Beyonce or Rihanna or 2019’s breakthrough star Lizzo, in which African American women in music are still harshly judged for going above what is expected of a black woman. Many conclude that Houston walked so many of today’s African American divas can run, but for Houston, she paid a price for doing so, as do most pioneers and innovators in busting down doors that would’ve otherwise been hard to crack. If we can learn one thing from Houston’s accomplishments is that color shouldn’t dictate someone’s music, it should bring people together and for her all too short life, Houston achieved the unthinkable in pop music. Without her, music would’ve still been stuck divided between color lines.

Whitney at the climax of one of her shows, c. 1986

My picks for the 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

The infamous museum in Cleveland where the legends are celebrated.

It’s around that time again for every music lover’s favorite debate: who will get in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this time?

It always comes up near the end of the year every October. Last year, we saw very unique picks such as The Cure, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Chaka Khan, Kraftwerk, Todd Rundgren, John Prine, LL Cool J and Roxy Music among others. The class also seems less focused on hard rock and classic rock as previous nominations. It seemed at the time that it was a breath of fresh air after so many years of the list being paraded by the classic rock set.

The list of nominees for the 2020 class is trying again, however, with inducting more classic rock and hard rock acts as acts like Judas Priest, Motorhead, Thin Lizzy and semi-classic rock acts such as the Doobie Brothers, T. Rex, Soundgarden, MC5, Pat Benatar and Todd Rundgren dominating the list.

The total list of nominees include those acts along with Whitney Houston, Depeche Mode, the Notorious B.I.G., the Dave Matthews Band, Nine Inch Nails, Kraftwerk and Rufus featuring Chaka Khan rounding out the 16. So in many ways, while rock music dominates the nomination list, the total list is almost similar to last year’s picks. The big difference, however, is only a few acts on this list could be considered “critical favorites”. Most of the acts nominated can, in one way or another, be considered a “populist” nominee.

Yet, this list is a little harder to predict than most because few know where this could go with so many scenarios and shockers that could happen with a list this complicated. For most of us, we would like for the Hall to have larger classes. The 2019 class included 7, which could be a start of a change despite the Hall insisting that they won’t make the same decision as they considered a class of five to be the “standard rule” though history proves they haven’t quite lived up to that standard, mostly inducting six at a time. The same can happen in 2020 with this complex list of inductees.

This entry is about who I think the Hall would indeed pick for its class just on the strength of the big names on here. I’ll also go into depth about who I think will eventually miss out on that chance to have their name etched in stone inside the infamous hall in Cleveland, where the ceremony will be held on May 2, 2020 at the Public Auditorium.

I’ll break it down to four shoo-ins, a fifth pick where anything goes and a possible sixth or seventh if they decided to go down that road and please everyone like 2019’s class did.

SHOO-INS:

The Doobie Brothers during its Michael McDonald phase, c. 1976

THE DOOBIE BROTHERS

Before I start to say why these guys will get in, let me first say that this list is not in my personal order but this is judging on the momentum I see each act having at the moment and as far as bands go, no other band has had momentum, save for the fan poll, as much as the Doobies. Much like Van Halen and the Drifters, the band benefits on having successful eras with two different front men. If David Lee Roth and Sammy Hagar defined Van Halen and Clyde McPhatter and Ben E. King defined the Drifters, then Tom Johnston and Michael McDonald defined the Doobies. Debuting in the early 1970s with Johnston, the San Jose, CA outfit debuted in a blaze of glory based off rockers such as “Listen to the Music”, “Long Train Runnin'” and “Black Water” before Johnston became seriously ill and McDonald took over as the piano-playing frontman for 1976’s Takin’ It to the Streets. Whereas Johnston led the band to a mostly blues rock groove, McDonald’s blue eyed soul delivery put the band on so-called yacht rock territory, especially with the soft rock classic “What a Fool Believes”. The Doobies eventually split up in the early 1980s with McDonald enjoying a successful solo career. By 1989, Johnston returned to reform the Doobies and he remains their frontman to this day. In recent years, McDonald has also performed in reunion gigs leading up to this year when it was announced that Michael would tour with them for their 2020 world tour. With that and Irving Azoff in their corner, I feel nothing is really keeping the Doobies from earning their (rightful) place in history.

Benatar in rock mode while filming the music video to her hit “You Better Run”, c. 1980.

PAT BENATAR/NEIL GIRALDO

There’s a reason I put Neil Giraldo’s name besides Pat’s but this will be after I tell you why it’s taken such a long goddamn time to get one of the Queens of Rock in the Hall. As has been explained numerous times over the years, the Hall has essentially been nothing more than a man’s world. In its 33-year history, the Hall has only inducted 68 women in total, including four vocal groups (the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Shirelles and the Ronettes), at least seven bands where women fronted the band (Gladys Knight & the Pips, the Staple Singers, Jefferson Airplane, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Blondie, Fleetwood Mac, the Pretenders and Heart), a duo (Tina Turner with Ike), three women in songwriting partnerships (Carole King, Cynthia Weil and Ellie Greenwich), and 25 solo inductees (18 in the “performer” category and 7 as “early influences”).

So what would be a reason to block Pat’s induction? Misogyny. Pat proved as late as 1979 and through the early Eighties that she could hang with the boys of rock. With hits such as “Heartbreaker”, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot”, “You Better Run”, “Promises in the Dark”, “Hell Is For Children”, “Shadows of the Night”, “Love is a Battlefield”, “Invincible” and “We Belong”, Benatar not only became one of the Queens of Rock alongside Tina Turner and Joan Jett but also became one of the early queens of MTV during its album rock-oriented phase. So with that reputation, why has it taken so long to nominate her? Maybe it had to do with Pat herself. For years, it was alleged that Benatar wouldn’t accept a nomination if her longtime husband since 1982 and musical partner since 1979 wasn’t included and apparently news sources have since confirmed that Benatar’s partner is included in the nomination list and would accept the induction with his famous wife. Pat credited Neil for turning her career around and helping her to kick down the doors for female musicians in rock. So for that purpose, Pat was finally nominated for next year’s class.

Question is, “will she enter?”

My answer is, “you bet your last money she will!”

QUEEN OF THE NIGHT: Whitney in full diva mode, c. 1995

WHITNEY HOUSTON

Do I even need to explain? Maybe I do…sorta. First off, she’s by far the biggest name on the list. Think about it though: WHY not? It’s like not inducting Kiss in 2014 or Bon Jovi in 2018. And in 2019’s class, Janet Jackson was the biggest name on that list. I can’t really see a scenario where for some odd reason, Whitney is left out of the list. Houston also has the most hits of anyone in this caliber and the second best-selling act on the list is Depeche Mode. Also, she was unarguably the most influential vocalist of a generation or two and especially for African American artists, where she made her breakthrough on MTV with her pop-soul brand becoming one of the first black “non-rock” acts to earn heavy rotation on the formerly rock oriented channel, something both Michael Jackson and Prince often get credit for. She also broke through on pop radio at a time in the mid-1980s when radio was going through its own segregation.

Whitney was also an immediate icon upon the release of her self-titled debut LP, Whitney Houston, in February 1985. Three of the five singles released from the album went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (the sentimental “Saving All My Love for You”, the frenetic dance-pop “How Will I Know” and the inspirational anthem “Greatest Love of All”) and the album stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for 14 weeks in 1986, leading to a Grammy Album of the Year nod and a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (“Saving…”) and sales of more than 20 million copies worldwide. It would’ve stopped there had she not released her sophomore LP, Whitney, in 1987 and launched four more consecutive number one hit records (the disco anthem “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, the dramatic “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”, the dance rock-oriented “So Emotional” and the sentimental “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”), which had her breaking singles records by Elvis, the Beatles and Bee Gees, all of whom have already been inducted, setting a record of seven consecutive number one hit singles, a record that more than 30 years later still holds up.

Then of course, the album that became the world’s best selling album of the ’90s – The Bodyguard – and the songs that turned her from a pop culture icon to a permanent legendary figure of popular music – “I’m Every Woman”, “I Have Nothing” and the ultimate love anthem, “I Will Always Love You” – from 1992. With a grand total of 11 No. 1 singles and 24 Top Ten singles from 1985’s “You Give Good Love” and the re-release of Houston’s legendary performance of the Star-Spangled Banner at Super Bowl XXV in 2001, Houston’s achievements are simply enormous.

Houston’s impact was not just commercial but it didn’t hurt matters for her and I don’t see why anything should block her from induction. With Pat and Neil getting nominated together, Whitney would be the sole solo female inductee.

So if you ask me, “will Whitney be inducted?”

As she would say, to paraphrase from her in reverse, “hell to the yeah”.

Dave Matthews performing, c. 2010s.

DAVE MATTHEWS BAND

Lots can be said about this band and almost none of it is good if you go by critical analyses or by so-called rock “purists”. When it was first announced that the Dave Matthews Band was nominated for induction to next year’s class, the usual “purists” came out of the woodwork to argue that Dave wasn’t “rock” so why is he in there? Both Whitney and fellow nominee the Notorious B.I.G. also get a similar argument but the Dave Matthews Band seems to be the act that is getting the most vitriol from their nomination. But no one could predict that the band would be leading the fan poll. But that’s not really the only reason I feel this act is a shoo-in. Another reason has to do with the Hall of Fame itself. It first leaked that the band would be a first year nod by the Hall’s head, Joel Peresman, plus the band has collaborated with many of the acts who are in the Hall. Much like the Doobie Brothers and Whitney (Clive Davis), they seem to have friends in high places that could be more than enough to get them in. Another reason why seems more simple: “get Phish in, man!”

And now that’s done, let’s get to the one act that could fill in that fifth spot:

A sweaty Trent Reznor at the height of his powers, c. 1994

NINE INCH NAILS

Before the 2019 ceremony, Trent Reznor didn’t look too favorably on the Rock Hall, having criticized the Hall’s politics before. But after inducting the Cure, Reznor’s opinion on the Hall did a 180. I have admittedly done the same about Reznor. Back in 2015, Reznor’s project (I don’t dare call NIN a group and the Hall doesn’t either since it’s only listed Reznor’s name on their site) had went as high as No. 2 on the official RRHOF fan vote for 2015 and then, almost inexplicably, he didn’t get in when the list of inductees for that class was announced. And then he was never called for induction again…until now. Up until recently, I thought his chances weren’t good but after thinking about it over and over, this is actually a great chance he MAY get it this time. Just because you make the top 5 of the fan vote don’t mean you’re an automatic shoo-in to the Hall as fellow 2020 nominee Judas Priest proved a few years before. Never has an act since the Hall allowed people to vote online in 2013 ever seen all five of the top 5 inducted immediately. And there’s no chance of that happening this year, be it 3 or 4. So this is one reason why I think things bode well for Trent. Still not sure if the Hall will actually induct him but just based on the background, he would seem to be the one that would be inductee #5 if it stops there.

Here’s why it wouldn’t.

As I’ve said earlier in this post, ever since they decided to make “5” the minimum number years before, the Hall has proven to break that tradition, most often inducting six members and inducting a few others in other classes such as Musical Excellence or Early Influence. I predict a sixth act WILL get in at least. And that honor goes to:

Marc and his team of glam misfits, c. 1972

T. REX

Like most of the acts nominated this year, T. Rex were nominated solely for influence and innovation. In the United States, they only had one top ten hit (the classic glam stomp “Get It On (Bang a Gong)” from 1971) and a top 40 album (1972’s Slider, featuring its magnetic founder and frontman Marc Bolan in his iconic top hat) but without them, mainly every act that mixed cock rock with a bit of camp and androgyny wouldn’t have emerged (David Bowie being one great example) or an established act wouldn’t have tried to match up (Mick Jagger). Bolan’s mixture of machismo with feminine sensibilities and a love for the ridiculous (glitter on his face and chest, eyeliner, a messy frock of curls draped down his shoulders, etc.) not only brought in glam rock but also influenced many of the legends of punk rock but Bolan went further: it’s hard to imagine Prince emerging in the ’80s without the influence of Bolan. Little Richard may have predated camp rock in the conservative Fifties but Marc Bolan was camp rock’s ultimate innovator. It’s fitting that recent inductee Def Leppard played a part in getting T. Rex’s name in there. Similar glam outfit Roxy Music’s induction also played a part in why T. Rex’s name is brought, hoping for a repeat…and they might get it.

Lots of voters hope for a seventh pick next year. It might or might not happen. Depends on votes and this is when I can guess who may get that slot. Least two examples.

Judas Priest with that “you’ve got another thing comin'” look, c. 1983

JUDAS PRIEST

In 2018, Judas Priest was nominated for the first time ever to the Hall and a berth at fifth place at the Hall’s fan poll seemed to assure them entry. However, when the final list was announced, many fans of the legendary heavy metal act were shocked to see them getting looked over. Much like Nine Inch Nails, it didn’t seem possible for the band to get another chance. Until now. Now they’re back at where they ended last time: No. 5 on the fan poll and if you’re a Judas Priest fan, I wouldn’t bet on them getting in anytime soon unless more metal aficionados join the committee. They could count on Def Leppard and other metal acts like Black Sabbath to vote for them but it won’t be enough. BUT if a seventh inductee is picked, they could still get in. It’s not too much of a guarantee though. Historically, the Hall has not treated heavy metal with much respect and that may be due to the influence of former committee member Jann Wenner and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Plus with them being nominated alongside Motorhead and Thin Lizzy, it possibly cancels all three of them out of getting the nod. Motorhead and Thin Lizzy probably have more going for them than Judas Priest. But if we learn anything about the Hall: just because you’re considered Hall worthy doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get picked. But don’t count them out on a potential 2021 nomination and subsequent induction.

Rufus and Chaka Khan shortly after “Tell Me Something Good” broke them in the mainstream, 1974

RUFUS FEATURING CHAKA KHAN

One thing has been sure after six nominations combined, the Hall wants to induct Chaka Khan. By any means necessary. But for obvious reasons, they’ve struggled to put her in. Like Whitney, Khan is considered one of the greatest singers of all time and her influence on vocalists is massive. But maybe not as massive as Whitney and that could lead to problems down the line. There are more R&B oriented bands that should get in before they do (The Spinners, Commodores and the Stylistics from the ’70s and the Marvelettes from the ’60s). One reason for their nomination may be due to them being from Chicago. So far, bands such as Earth, Wind & Fire, Chicago and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band have gotten in but Rufus haven’t so that can still lead to some wanting to vote for them. Will that be enough though? No telling but I do think it may be possible for just one reason: if Whitney and Chaka both get in next year, Chaka could sing her own classic, “I’m Every Woman”, which both legendary divas made into a hit nearly 20 years apart. And that would be the only reason to induct them both. Plus, can you imagine a jam session with McDonald and Khan?! I sure can.

Now onto acts that could pass for Musical Excellence:

A dream goes on forever? A solemn Todd Rundgren posing in 1973

TODD RUNDGREN

Last year, Todd Rundgren placed third on the official fan vote. Then when the final names were picked, his name was NOT one of them. Yet, now here he is back on the list. This time, he’s much lower so to some watchers, that could bode better for his chances and it will…through the back door. Rundgren’s body of work to me is not strong enough for an induction as a performer despite his obvious talent as a singer-songwriter and musician. I feel Rundgren has a better chance in Musical Excellence due to his production work and work with the Nazz and Utopia. Rundgren is pretty influential otherwise, however. Without him, there wouldn’t be power pop, Hall & Oates (Rundgren produced one of their earliest albums) and some of the acts nominated like Depeche Mode probably wouldn’t have existed without using Rundgren as a template. Do I think Todd will be in one day? Yes, maybe, if he doesn’t get in for M.E. If not Rundgren, you ask, then who else?

Kraftwerk in front of world time clock in Keio Plaza Hotel, Tokyo, September 1981. (Photo by Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images)

KRAFTWERK

Besides from MC5, Rundgren and T. Rex, the only other act seen more for their influence and innovation was the quartet from Germany. Save for the 1974 hit “Autobahn”, Kraftwerk is not known for having hit records but without them, there wouldn’t be disco or hip-hop, at least inadvertently. They are known as the godfathers of techno and electronic music and some acts who’ve recorded under those genres got in. But Kraftwerk will once again be on the outside looking in. The 2019 controversy of the switch from Kraftwerk and Janet Jackson may do a lot to why they’re nominated again but the domination of rock means they don’t have much of a chance, especially with Depeche Mode splitting the vote. But like Rundgren, they could get a backdoor induction to the Musical Excellence category. Many reasons I picked these two is due to what happened to CHIC. CHIC remains the most nominated act in the Hall’s history to not be inducted. At the end, they picked CHIC founder Nile Rodgers for a Musical Excellence award. And it’s likely either Rundgren or Kraftwerk could get that honor. Depends on the mood: since Rundgren is nonchalant about his choices, that could give Kraftwerk the opening.

CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR (for sure):

British heavy rock band Motorhead pose with pistols, London, 1978. Left to right: guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke, drummer Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor and bassist and singer Lemmy (Ian Kilmister). (Photo by Estate Of Keith Morris/Redferns)

MOTORHEAD

In hindsight, they should be in immediately. But they probably won’t. But I’ll pick them as the wildcard. The hard rock legends were of Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello’s picks and Morello seems to know what he’s doing. Still, the question remains if they’ll get in. In the future? Sure. But if we know how they treat hard rock acts, it may take a while. But I don’t count them out for a potential induction this year.

Thin Lizzy onstage, c. 1976

THIN LIZZY

Another act Morello picked that (finally) got a nod was the Irish hard rockers Thin Lizzy. Mainly known for “Whiskey in the Jar” and “The Boys Are Back in Town”, I would consider them the Cheap Trick of 2020 but without the induction. Like Cheap Trick, they didn’t score many charted hits or had a successful live album, but they have one of those unmistakable rock anthems in “The Boys Are Back in Town”. And for some, that could be enough. I mean, Percy Sledge is an inductee and he only had one huge hit (“When a Man Loves a Woman”) but his induction was mainly due to what he did for a committee member’s wedding. So that right there shows you the politics around the Hall. But I don’t think they stand a chance this year. I won’t count them out but they won’t be in for 2020. That’s a fact.

Soundgarden more than a decade after busting out of their “Rusty Cage”.

SOUNDGARDEN

This is a bittersweet inclusion. Early after the nominations were announced, I immediately made them one of my picks for 2020 but overtime, I saw their chances decreasing for an induction. And that’s mainly because there’s far too many posthumous acts nominated (Whitney, most of T. Rex except for Bill Legend, the Notorious B.I.G., Phil Lynott, most of MC5, most of Motorhead). And unfortunately this is where Soundgarden is left out due to Chris Cornell’s untimely passing. IMHO they should get in. The Hall gave Chris a tribute! That should matter, right? Well yeah and no. The fact they didn’t get a nomination immediately after Cornell’s death in 2017 tells me they really had no support before they finally did get a nomination. And that doesn’t help them. Grunge seems to join hip-hop and heavy metal as one of the most despised genres for the Hall. I wouldn’t be surprised if they manage to get in but you would have to extend the Hall’s show for that.

“Damn, why they always compare me to Pac?” A solemn Biggie Smalls poses, 1995

THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.

After the many tries to get Queens-based rap icon LL Cool J in, the Hall is trying again with someone that seems more like a surefire bet: Brooklyn’s Christopher Wallace, aka the Notorious B.I.G., and for good reason. The late gangsta rap titan has been on many critics’ all-time lists of hip-hop greats. On paper, it does seem like he could be a shoo-in. Here’s why you shouldn’t count your lucky stars on a Biggie induction so early: one thing is sure: Biggie is dead. You can only induct enough late legends until the ceremony looks more like a funeral than a celebration. Another thing that troubles Biggie’s chances: he died when he became a superstar. In late 1994, three years after entering the hip-hop scene on The Source‘s Unsigned Hype column, Biggie released his debut, Ready to Die. The album became an instant hip-hop classic due to the successes of songs such as “Juicy”, “Big Poppa”, “Warning” and “One More Chance”. But beef and bitter rivalries overshadowed his success at the time so the Bed-Stuy native wasn’t able to enjoy his success. He seemed ready to turn over a new leaf with his next album, 1997’s Life After Death, with “Hypnotize” being the first release. However, before its release, Biggie was shot to death so its ultimate success came post mortem. Now you may be wondering, “well, lots of legends got in and they were here too briefly too.” Well, that’s true. What’s also true is Jimi Hendrix (27), Janis Joplin (27) and Otis Redding (26) released more than one album and had more hit singles. You could also say the Sex Pistols released one album during their lifetime but they were noted for being one of the founding fathers of punk. And unless you were deep in hip-hop, you wouldn’t know a lot of his singles.

“I own his soul, his and Puffy’s.” – 2Pac about the Notorious B.I.G.

Then here’s the third strike against him: 2Pac. In many of the lists Biggie makes as far as great hip-hop acts, Biggie is almost always No. 2, not No. 1. Who’s at the top? Tupac Shakur, his arch-nemesis. What makes it hard for Biggie is few can mention him without bringing 2Pac up. The same can’t be said in reverse. 2Pac was probably the most iconic rapper in history so it seemed like a no-brainer to induct him right away, which they did in 2016. Not saying Biggie’s music doesn’t hold up but even in that context, Pac is brought up as he claimed that a lot of what made BIG a star was due to him going through 2Pac’s grooming school (according to Pac himself, he told BIG when they met in 1993, “rap for the women, not the brothas because women will get in and then the brothas would want it too (I put “women” and “brothas” in replacement of more subtle words Pac used).” Because he felt BIG owed him more, especially after the infamous 1994 Quad shooting that led to their bitter, fatalistic rivalry, it helped to put fault into BIG as a dominating force. Pac would possibly continue to overshadow BIG. These possibilities put BIG’s chances in doubt even though he remains a big name (no pun intended).

They are likely to try again with BIG if he doesn’t get in this year but I rather they had nominated Nas.

Depeche Mode on 12/7/87 in Chicago,Illinois. (Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage)

DEPECHE MODE

Like many early picks, I did have them pegged for an induction. But now? I’m not so sure. They have momentum but would it be enough for an induction? Maybe not. It would’ve been best to nominate Duran Duran instead or maybe Devo. But you’ll be seeing these guys again.

The “You ain’t ever, EVER, EEEEVER, getting in” award:

“Induct us or we’ll haunt you in your dreams!” MC5 in 1970

MC5

Can the Hall just give it up? Seriously. I have no problems with MC5 musically or even politically but they’re NOT Hall of Fame worthy at all. There are far better ’60s acts that deserve an induction including the Shangri-Las, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and Tommy James & the Shondells. My best bet is get “Kick Out the Jams” in as a single but leave them out of future inductee nomination lists. Stop trying to make Fetch happen.

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And there you have it: my picks for the 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. You don’t have to agree with me but you can respect it.

Guess it's time to start over…

I’ve been meaning to get on this WordPress blog for a while since creating it following the infamous Tumblr porn purge of December 2018. But I guess since I’ve had this for almost a year without adding much but editing the page, might as well start writing now.

This is actually my second WordPress blog. The first one was so old that I forgot the name of it. But I guess it’s not a thing to start over again. So anyway, reintroducing myself: my name is Timothy, I’m from North Carolina and I’m a music/history/art buff.

What you’re gonna see on this blog is my likes, my dislikes, my opinions, some music and videos I like and whatever. But for now, enjoy this post. Thanks!

-Timothy