It’s way too early, but since others are posting their lists of possible Class of 2018 nominees, here’s mine. I proceeded on a perhaps-mistaken assumption: if you look closely at this year’s ballot, there were no acts that had been nominated in both of the previous two years, except for the perennial Chic. Nine Inch Nails? Absent. The Spinners? Gone. The Smiths? AWOL. I think they will follow that trajectory again, with the important exception of Janet, who becomes the new Chic. So, lots of worthy acts that were nominated the last two times out- The Cars, Chaka Khan- are going to be passed over, if that’s true. I assumed- maybe wrongly- that there would again be 19 acts on the ballot, with a great deal of chronological and stylistic breadth. I do think, though, that the Hall will back a bit away from70s/80s classic-rock dominated ballots after the last two years. You can still get good ratings and still generate strong classes by incorporating other genres.
1. Radiohead: A near-undeniable first-ballot nominee
Beck: Lots of critical love, lots of longevity, ticks the country box (FRL noted that Beck may not be eligible until the ballot for 2019. If that’s the case, cue Rage Against the Machine.)
3. Janet Jackson: a new baby, a big name, the strongest netroots Rock Hall campaign ever, and a matriarch of modern R&B. She’ll be back.
4. LL Cool J: There’s going to be a rap artist on every ballot from now til kingdom come. With NWA and Tupac in, the first great solo rapper returns to the ballot and becomes the man to beat.
5. A Tribe Called Quest: Of course, there might be two rap acts…
6. Nina Simone: I’m still shocked this has never happened given the recent documentary. She becomes the Baez/MC5 super-political pick.
7. War: Curiously, War gets nominated every time the ceremony is in Cleveland, and in three year intervals…
8. J. Geils Band : Our requisite critics’ pet blues act.
9. Eurythmics: The Rock Hall loves soulful singers. With my “two noms and a bye-week” trend in play, The Cars sit out and Annie Lennox makes her first appearance on the ballot.
10. Nine Inch Nails: With a ceremony in Cleveland, expect Trent Reznor to come roaring back on the ballot.
11. Moody Blues: Given the last two classes, the Nom Com must surely realize that classic rock bands have a significant leg up- 7 out of the last 11 artists fell clearly into that category. I’d expect the Hall to pull back in favor of other eras and genres, but give that crowd an important sop: a long-overdue nom for The Moody Blues. Our fan ballot winner.
12. Kraftwerk: A progenitor of modern electronica, and in my opinion, the most important act not in the Hall. Thankfully, lots of people at the Hall realize this as well.
13. The Cure: Unlike fellow 80s alternative act The Smiths, The Cure is actually likely to show up for a ceremony reasonably intact. Jane’s Addiction and Depeche Mode were the closest acts in their M.O. last time, but we’ll probably see the return of teen angst.
14. Motörhead: I think this will be who Dave Grohl will champion. With Deep Purple in, Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and solo Ozzy seem next in line, and it’s anybody’s guess which of them they will nominate.
15. Big Star: Holly Robinson is an underrated influence on the committee, and she recently wrote a book on Alex Chilton. If Steppenwolf and MC5 can show up on a ballot, is Big Star really that great a stretch?
16. The Spinners: They were absent last time around, but Dave Marsh and Cliff Burnstein want them in.
17. New York Dolls: Last nominated way back in 2001, The New York Dolls’ mixture of early glam and punk are too influential to be ignored.
18. Devo: Another important new wave-ish, electronica-based act, and it’s strong connections to Ohio give them an advantage this year. (Two of its members were at Kent State when the infamous shootings happened, leading them to believe in humanity’s DE-eVOlution.)
19. Link Wray: I’ve got to believe there is still a critical mass of aficionados of early rock and roll on the committee. Maybe Wray’s coverage in the recent Sundance film will help him return to the ballot for the first time since the Class of 2014.
Obviously, these aren’t my ~official~ predictions, just my attempt to figure out the front-runners in this new year. If I had to guess who would get in out of this lot, I’d say Moody Blues, Radiohead, Janet Jackson, Nine Inch Nails, Nina Simone, and maybe Eurythmics or LL Cool J if there’s six. What do you think?