Jay-Z and Foo Fighters Are Nominated for the Rock Hall of Fame
Foo Fighters, Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, Iron Maiden and Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti are first-time nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 36th Annual Induction Ceremony, announced on Wednesday.
They lead a group of 16 nominees, including several who have received nods at least twice before: Devo, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, and Todd Rundgren.
After many complaints that the hundreds of candidates in the hall over the years have been predominantly white and male, this year’s ballot is the most diverse to date. Seven of the 16 nominees are female acts and nine are performing artists of color.
The women on the ballot include the Go-Go’s and Dionne Warwick – both of whom receive their first nods – as well as Kate Bush, Carole King, Chaka Khan and Tina Turner.
This year’s induction ceremony is slated for fall in Cleveland, home to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and museum.
To some extent, the latest nominee number expands a pattern that has prevailed for the past half a decade or so, with a handful of alt-rock heroes and rap gods as near-guaranteed safe-things; Foo Fighters and Jay-Z have just passed the hall’s approval threshold of 25 years since their first commercial recordings were released. Dave Grohl, the leader of Foo Fighters, is already in the Pantheon as a member of the 2014 Nirvana class.
A few recycled names from previous years’ ballot papers give an idea of the advocacy projects on the Hall of Fame’s secret nomination committee. Rundgren, the versatile singer-songwriter and producer, whose solo career dates back to the early 1970s, has been nominated for each of the last three years. Rage Against the Machine, the agitprop rap metal band whose planned reunion tour was interrupted by the pandemic last year, has been nominated three times in the last four cycles. LL Cool J has now received a total of six nods.
Iron Maiden, whose lightning-fast guitar riffs and demonic images helped shape heavy metal in the 1980s, has been approved since 2005.
This year’s nominations also contain some surprises. Kuti, the Nigerian band leader and activist who fused James Brown’s funk with African sounds to create the Afrobeat genre – and was introduced to many Americans through the 2009 Broadway musical “Fela!” – would be the first West African award winner. (Trevor Rabin, a member of Yes, who joined in 2017, is from South Africa.)
And the hall’s nomination committee – a group of journalists, broadcasters, and industry insiders – clearly made an effort to highlight some of pop music’s many deserving women. The pressure to do this has been increasing for years. In 2019, critic and academic Evelyn McDonnell counted the 888 people enrolled to date and found that only 7.7 percent were women.
When Janet Jackson and Stevie Nicks gave acceptance speeches earlier this year, they urged the institution to diversify its ranks. “What I do is open the door to other women like, ‘Hey man, I can do it,'” said Nicks.
If elected, King and Turner Nicks would join as the only artists to be included twice. King was recorded with her songwriting partner Gerry Goffin in 1990, and Ike and Tina Turner joined in 1991.
More than 1,000 artists, historians and music industry professionals will vote on the nominations. The venue will once again conduct a single “fan vote” based on votes collected from members of the public on the venue’s website, rockhall.com. The candidates will be announced in May.
In December, the Hall of Fame and Museum announced plans for a $ 100 million expansion that would add a third to their museum’s footprint.