This morning, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced 17 nominees for this year’s inductions. In May, the Hall’s voting body will narrow that number down to the five to seven artists in the Class of 2022:
A Tribe Called Quest
New York Dolls
Rage Against the Machine
First Time Nominees
Artists become eligible for the Rock Hall 25 years after their first commercial recordings, so artists who debuted in 1996 have their first shot this year. Eminem, who released his independent album Infinite in ‘96 but did not become a mainstream star until 1999, is the only artist who’s been nominated in his first eligible year in 2022. If inducted, Eminem would follow the Notorious B.I.G., 2Pac, and Jay-Z as the fourth solo rapper in the Hall, and he would be the second white hip-hop act in the hall after the Beastie Boys. Some of the biggest artists who became eligible this year that were snubbed include Erykah Badu, Fiona Apple, Matchbox Twenty, Nickelback, Spice Girls, Lil Kim, and Slipknot.
Eminem isn’t this year’s only first-time nominee. The six others are A Tribe Called Quest, Beck, Duran Duran, Dolly Parton, Lionel Richie, and Carly Simon. Parton has been eligible the longest, for 29 years, and this is Beck’s fourth year of eligibility.
An Eclectic Ballot
2022’s nominees may be one of the most varied slates in Rock Hall history, representing a cross-section of different genres, sounds, and time periods. Although country is a dominant influence on countless artists in the Hall, Dolly Parton would be arguably only the second full-on country act in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, following Johnny Cash, who was inducted in 1992. Eminem and ATCQ continue hip-hop’s slow march of acceptance into the Hall, but the two biggest ‘90s alternative acts in this year’s lineup, Beck and Rage Against the Machine, fused hip-hop with rock. The recent inductions of Depeche Mode and The Cure have cleared the way for more ‘80s British bands like Duran Duran and Eurythmics to get their first nominations. And softer pop from Dionne Warwick and Carly Simon is in contention against loud, weird cult rock bands like Devo and MC5 and heavy metal heroes Judas Priest.
Women in the Hall
Last year was a big one for the Rock Hall inducting women. It was the first time that three female artists got into the Hall in one year: Carole King, Tina Turner, and the Go-Go’s. That record could be broken with Pat Benatar, Kate Bush, Eurythmics, Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, and Dionne Warwick in the running this year. Previously nominated women who have still yet to get in include Chaka Khan, Mary J. Blige, The Chantels and The Marvelettes, Esther Phillips.
There are still a lot of women with notable careers who have yet to be nominated once, however, including Cher, Alanis Morrisette, Bjork, The Carpenters, Tori Amos, Mariah Carey, Cyndi Lauper, Big Mama Thornton, The B-52’s, No Doubt, Garbage, The Bangles, Hole, The Runaways and Sleater-Kinney. In recent years, Stevie Nicks and Tina Turner became the first women to be inducted into the Hall two times – Diana Ross, who’s in the Hall with the Supremes but not as a solo artist, is the best bet to become the next female double inductee.
The Consolation Prize Problem
In addition to the main Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there are some additional awards, created to honor sidemen and non-musicians. Sometimes those awards have been awarded to people who were also major artists nominated for the Hall proper, sometimes becoming a sort of problematic consolation prize for oft-nominated acts. Carole King and her ex-husband and songwriting partner, Gerry Goffin, were given the Ahmet Ertegun Award for non-performers in 1990. It took over 30 years for her to get nominated again for the Hall proper and finally get in.
The Award for Musical Excellence, which until 2010 was known as the Sidemen category, has become sort of a default consolation prize in recent years. Chic was nominated for the 11th time in 2017. When they didn’t get in, founding guitarist Nile Rodgers received the Award for Musical Excellence, and Chic hasn’t been nominated for the Hall proper ever since.
LL Cool J was nominated for the fifth time in 2021, and when he didn’t get in, he was given the Award for Musical Excellence alongside Billy Preston and Randy Rhoads. If you watched the ceremony as broadcast on HBO last year, you’d be forgiven for believing that LL Cool J is in the Hall proper the same way the Foo Fighters and the Go-Go’s were, given the lavish video package and live performance for LL. But Chic and LL Cool J are still not really in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and are still as deserving of a full induction as they were before.
Rage Against The Machine, which hasn’t been nominated for four of the five years they’ve been eligible, are shaping up to be one of the Hall’s perennial bridesmaids. If they don’t get in this year, don’t be surprised if they get thrown an Award for Musical Excellence.
With a relatively young slate of nominees, most of the artists up for the Hall in 2022 are still among the living, with the exception of Fela Kuti, A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg, and most of the original members of New York Dolls, whose guitarist Sylvain Sylvain died shortly before their previous 2021 nomination. Meat Loaf, who died in January, has never been nominated. In 2021, key members of The Monkees, Kansas, The Moody Blues, The Gap Band, and Digital Underground died, and those bands were all passed over for consideration in 2022.
The Rock Hall’s site has an official fan vote, and on the morning of the nominations, Pat Benatar led the voting, with Dolly Parton in second place and Fela Kuti trailing in last place. The induction ceremony traditionally alternates between New York City and the Hall’s hometown Cleveland. The 2021 ceremony was held in Cleveland in October, but it hasn’t been announced where this year’s ceremony will be held.