Dire Straits and Radiohead Among Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2018 Nominees
RealClearLife's Will Levith analyzes the nominations and provides his picks for this year's class.
This week has been a major bummer for rock-and-roll fans, as legend Tom Petty passed away on Monday night, so we sort of needed a pick-me-up.
What better than to hear about all the new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees? (Tom Petty and his Heartbreakers were inducted in 2002, by the way.) For 2018’s class, there are 19 nominations, including nine who are appearing on the ballot for the first time, and an additional two that have just become eligible for the first time. They include Bon Jovi, Kate Bush, The Cars, Depeche Mode, Dire Straits, the Eurythmics, the J. Geils Band, Judas Priest, L.L. Cool J, the MC5, The Meters, the Moody Blues, Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan, Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Link Wray, and the Zombies.
Detractors might argue that this year’s crop is a whole lotta white dudes—and they wouldn’t be wrong. Just four bands are racially diverse (Bon Jovi, The Meters, Rage Against the Machine, Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan); there’s just one hip-hop artist (L.L. Cool J); and there are just 3.5 women—Annie Lenox is one-half of the Eurythmics—two of which are women of color (Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharpe).
Regardless, this is a talented bunch.
As RealClearLife has done in year’s past, we’re going to analyze the nominations below, and tell you who we think has the best shot of getting enshrined. We’re going with our five best bets. Do you agree?
Bon Jovi – If you were caught up in the hair metal fad of the ’80s and feasted on Slippery When Wet (1986)—the songs on the album, not the awful road-sign-sex-double-entendre—more power to you. Are these New Jersey rockers on par with Elvis or the Beatles? Hell no. But Bon Jovi’s legacy is without question. The aforementioned album spawned a string of hits, including “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Livin’ on a Prayer,” and “Wanted Dead or Alive.” The band also made the dubious addition to the world of film with “Blaze of Glory” from the Young Guns II soundtrack (most of which they also performed). Plus, the few hits the band has scored in modern times; Jon Bon Jovi’s voice ain’t what it used to be, but he can still put on a show.
The Cars – Staples of classic rock radio, the Cars are as much about their string of catchy hits—”My Best Friend’s Girl,” “You’re All I’ve Got Tonight,” “Just What I Needed”—as they are their incomparable guitarist/songwriter/vocalist Ric Ocasek. He’s sort of the quintessential rock guy, who ended up landing a bombshell in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit model Paulina Porizkova, despite looking like a vacuum-cleaner salesman. That said, Ocasek has also become a highly sought-after producer, having twisted the knobs on Weezer’s debut record, among others.
Depeche Mode – It’s not every day that Johnny Cash covers one of your songs. He did his own “Personal Jesus” back in ’02, and it’s a pretty stunning relic. The band itself has also been highly influential to the indie rockers of today, so that’s got to be worth something, right?
Dire Straits – Like the Cars, Mark Knopfler and company have gotten so many plays over the years on classic rock radio, that they might as well have released all their albums yesterday. In short, if you’ve never heard “Sultans of Swing,” “Walk of Life,” or “Money for Nothing” (featuring Sting on backing vocals, by the way), you may have been living in a van down by the river. Plus, that solo at the end of “Sultans.” My word! We’re going with our gut here, but we think Dire Straits are in.
Radiohead – Is Derek Jeter a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Yes. So we suspect the voters will feel the same way about Radiohead, who came onto the scene with “Creep” (listen/watch above) and then systematically rewrote all the rules of rock and roll, one by one. Their 1997 concept album OK Computer would be enough to get them in alone, we think. What could possibly keep them out?
‘Honourable’ Mention: We spelled “honorable” like the Brits do, because we truly feel that this should be the year for the Zombies. Their insanely complex and underrated pop gem, Odessey and Oracle (that’s the proper spelling), is a tour de force on par with the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds. Although you will only recognize one number from it—”Time of the Season”—we strongly suggest you explore it top to bottom.
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