The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2018 nominees, released Thursday, has nine first-timers on the ballot, including Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine and Nina Simone.
But, as with every year, there’s plenty of room to debate the glaring omissions, what constitutes the bar to entry and how to pin down the ever-evolving, ever-expanding meaning of “rock ‘n’ roll.”
Janet Jackson, who appeared on the ballot the past two years, was left off this time. So was four-time nominee Kraftwerk, the electronic music band.
Another shocker: Soundgarden wasn’t included this year. The Seattle rockers were among the pioneers of the grunge movement and they preceded Pearl Jam, which was inducted into the 2017 class. Frontman Chris Cornell’s death earlier this year sparked many remembrances of the band and recognizing Cornell’s place as a founding father of grunge and a vocal powerhouse.
The rock hall foundation’s nominating committee selects the names for the ballot, and nominees have to have released their first album or single at least 25 years before. According to the rock hall institution, “factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique are taken into consideration.”
Five inductees will be make it past the nominations, chosen by more than 900 historians, people in the music industry and every living inductee. The public can also weigh in on the Rock Hall’s website.
Sometimes artists repeatedly make it onto the ballot and never get inducted. Chic, not on the ballot for 2018’s class, has been nominated 11 times before. This is the fifth time the J. Geils Band has been on the ballot, and the fourth for The Meters and LL Cool J.
If LL Cool J does gets inducted, it’ll be a big year for the rapper; in December, he becomes the first rap artist to be a Kennedy Centers Honors recipient.
But, then again, who cares about getting in? Certainly not first-time nominees Radiohead, whose members in June had mixed reactions about the possibility of getting inducted.
“I don’t want to be rude. But if you ask me what I’d rather be doing that night, I’d rather be sitting at home in front of the fire or going to a gig,” Ed O’Brien told Rolling Stone. “I realized years ago that I didn’t like award ceremonies. You walk in there and you feel self-conscious. It’s just really uncomfortable.”
“I don’t care. Maybe it’s a cultural thing that I really don’t understand,” said Jonny Greenwood.
Phil Selway added: “It’s a bit like having the free bus pass in the UK when you reach a certain age. Blimey. Have we got to that point? God knows (if we’ll go).”
Thom Yorke demurred about what he thought about the Hall of Fame — “don’t ask me things like that. I always put my foot in my mouth” — but Colin Greenwood did add: “I’d be grateful if we got in. Look at the other people that have been inducted. I don’t know if everyone else will go though.”
Here’s the full list of nominees. An asterisk appears next to the first-timers:
J. Geils Band
LL Cool J
Rage Against the Machine*
Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
Sister Rosetta Tharpe*