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Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2020 Inductees: Who Got In and What It Means for Fans

Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, The Notorious B.I.G., Whitney Houston, T. Rex and the Doobie Brothers have been announced as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s class of 2020. They’ll all be inducted on May 2, at Public Auditorium in Cleveland. (The ceremony traditionally rotates between New York City and the hall’s Ohio home turf every other year.) And this year will be the first time HBO broadcasts the ceremony live, after years of taping it for broadcast several weeks later.

Here are our takeaways from this year’s nominations list:

Synth Rock Rules

The initial slate of nominees that was pared down to this year’s list of official inductees featured three generations of influential synth-driven bands: ‘70s German pioneers Kraftwerk, ‘80 British new wavers Depeche Mode, and ‘90s American industrial rockers Nine Inch Nails. Only the latter two got in.

Kraftwerk, always a bridesmaid, join Chuck Willis as 6-time nominees who are still not in the hall. NIN frontman Trent Reznor, who gave the induction speech for one of his favorite bands, The Cure, last year, will now be inducted himself alongside one of his biggest influences, Depeche Mode. “I am honored,” said Reznor, who got his start playing in bands while living in Cleveland in the mid-’80s. “See you back in Cleveland where it all began for me!”

A Big Year for Posthumous Inductions

There’s usually at least one deceased inductee in each Hall of Fame class, but this year, half of the six acts (or their central figures) are no longer with us: Whitney Houston, who died in 2012; The Notorious B.I.G., who died in 1997; and T. Rex leader Marc Bolan, who died in 1977.

Biggie Smalls is one of the only artists to get in on his first eligible year, alongside fellow posthumous inductees Tupac Shakur and Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain.

Potential Reunions

Depeche Mode fans can hope to see the band reunite at the ceremony with founding member Vince Clarke, who left in 1982 after writing their early hits, and Alan Wilder, who left in 1995. Marc Bolan’s surviving T. Rex bandmates could take the stage together for the first time in decades. And you will definitely see the Doobie Brothers with the frontmen from both of their classic eras, Tom Johnston and Michael McDonald, who have already scheduled a major 2020 tour.

Better Luck Next Time

The Hall of Fame’s official online poll only has a tiny impact on the voting process, but the symbolic significance of the will of the people has been strong. In every previous year there was a poll, the winner of the fan vote was inducted, but 2020 breaks precedent: Dave Matthews Band are the people’s champ, but they won’t get into the hall on their first eligible year. The poll’s runner-up, Pat Benatar, was also shut out in her first year as a nominee, as were Soundgarden and Judas Priest.