The Zombies' "This Will Be Our Year"
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame works in mysterious ways, as anyone angered by its annual nominations (read: everyone), not to mention inductions, knows full well.
This year’s noms, which were announced this morning, are no different, what with Def Leppard, Devo, Janet Jackson, John Prine, Kraftwerk, LL Cool J, MC5, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Roxy Music, Stevie Nicks, the Cure, Todd Rundgren, Rufus & Chaka Kahn, and the Zombies fighting it out for admission into what they like to call the “RRHOF Class of [fill in year],” as if getting ensconced in a controversial and hardly exclusive reliquary is some kind of graduation diploma for adolescent artists.
It says here that the two most deserving acts in terms of rock ‘n’ roll historical significance and influence—MC5 and The Zombies—have been previously nominated enough times (three each) such that, to paraphrase a classic Zombies song title, this could be their year. Four-timers LL Cool J and electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk, though, may well have to await their fifth.
But Janet Jackson’s third time could be the charm, assisted by her recent return to high visibility—giving her the edge over fellow R&B act Rufus Featuring Chaka Kahn, also a three-timer. A trio of two-timers—The Cure, Rage Against the Machine and Radiohead—are too together to break away from each other.
Of the first-timers, Todd Rundgren has a rabid fan following and has covered so much career territory that he would stand a chance, while Stevie Nicks might be a shew-in based on celebrity and her association with the beloved Tom Petty, though she’s already in as part of Fleetwood Mac and singling her out over the others, solo hits notwithstanding, is unfair. John Prine’s a great singer-songwriter but too folk/country for recognition by this electorate, while artsy Devo and Roxy Music, despite their qualifications, cancel each other out.
That leaves first-time nominee Def Leppard, maybe this year’s Bon Jovi as a pop-rock standout and likely inductee. Then again, when it comes to the RockHall, ours is not to wonder why, let alone make predictions.