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Singles and Albums

So. The Rock Hall, as I discussed in my last post, dropped a new category on us all of a sudden: singles. The idea was to honor exceptional songs, whose artists were not presently in the Rock Hall. Although Little Stevie Van Zandt suggested that this doesn’t mean that these artists will never be nominated or inducted at some future date, this does have some of the makings of a “back-door” induction. And this is especially so for artists who probably couldn’t make it through if they were up against modern legends like Radiohead, or potential classic rock icons like Jethro Tull.

I’ve listed my immediate- and in no respect comprehensive- list of 20 possible singles, and 20 possible albums to induct by artists not presently in the hall. (A couple, such as Ben E. King are inducted as part of other groups. And Carole King, of course, is already in as a non-performing songwriter.) I tried my best to pick songs and albums whose artists were deserving of some attention from the Rock Hall but were unlikely to be inducted any time soon. Part of the challenge was limiting this to artists whose career and impact could best be incapsulated in one single or one album. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t do quality work elsewhere, of course, but it’s the main way in which their legacy is remembered (such as Link Wray and “Rumble”, or Chubby Checker and “The Twist.”) Therefore, I tried to avoid artists with a lengthier career that didn’t have one particular standout record (such as The Smiths, Kraftwerk, The Spinners, Kate Bush, and others.)

Some singles:

  1. “My Guy”- Mary Wells
  2. “Please Mr. Postman”- The Marvelettes
  3. “Stand By Me”- Ben E. King
  4. “Personality Crisis”- New York Dolls
  5. “Rapper’s Delight”- Sugarhill Gang
  6. “Love Will Tear Us Apart”- Joy Division
  7. “This Revolution Will Not Be Televised”- Gil Scott-Heron
  8. “American Woman”- The Guess Who
  9. “Remember (Walking in the Sand)”- The Shangri-Las
  10. “I Will Survive”- Gloria Gaynor
  11. “Wild Thing”- The Troggs
  12. “Chantilly Lace”- The Big Bopper
  13. “Layla”- Derek & the Dominoes
  14. “Whip It”- Devo
  15. “In the Still of the Night”- The Five Satins
  16. “Inna Gadda da Vida”- Iron Butterfly
  17. “The Train Kept A-Rollin'”- Johnny Burnette & the Rock n’ Roll Trio
  18. “Miserlou”- Dick Dale
  19. “Gimme Some Lovin'”- Spencer Davis Group
  20. “Maybe”- The Chantels

Albums:

  1. Odessey and Oracle– the Zombies
  2. Tapestry– Carole King
  3. Forever Changes– Love
  4. Planet Rock– Afrika Bambaataa
  5. Trout Mask Replica– Captain Beefheart
  6. The Modern Lovers– The Modern Lovers
  7. Shoot Out the Lights– Richard and Linda Thompson
  8. All Mods Con– The Jam
  9. Music for Airports, Vol. 1– Brian Eno
  10. Marquee Moon– Television
  11. Grievous Angel– Gram Parsons
  12. Pacific Ocean Blue– Dennis Wilson
  13. The World is a Ghetto– War
  14. In the Court of the Crimson King– King Crimson
  15. Grace– Jeff Buckley
  16. CrazySexyCool– TLC
  17. Bat Out of Hell– Meat Loaf
  18. What’s the 411?– Mary J. Blige
  19. Boston– Boston
  20. The Stone Roses– The Stone Roses.

Any others? The singles’ list, especially, was difficult to cut down– just off the bat, “Happy Together,” “Duke of Earl,” “Kick Out the Jams,” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” might have been included.

The more I think about it, the more okay I am with these new categories– provided that they are done right. That means inviting the honorees to the ceremony, even if time restraints prevent them from performing. That means announcing them before the damn ceremony in the first place. But the potential here is great– every single act I’ve listed for albums, for example, would have a tough time getting voted in the usual way, with the exception of Carole King. The same goes for the artists who made those 20 singles– many of them have been nominated, or at least considered for nomination, by the committee. Yet, the larger voting body is reticent to give much attention to early rock, most forms of alternative, and R&B. The albums, especially, will allow for the Rock Hall to more credibly give attention to alternative and experimental artists who are absent from most ceremonies.

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This is going to be a quick post, just so I can say that I’ve done something on the Countdown during the month of March. Several weeks ago, SLAM magazine produced its list of 100 greatest NBA players of all time. You can see the final results here, and an ESPN list that came out a year earlier here. I like both lists, and they were compiled by folks with a lot more NBA know-how than I. But there were still some puzzlers that struck me as false– Barkley over Karl Malone in the SLAM list? Ridiculous. Barkley made better copy, for sure, but Malone had a longer, significantly better career that culminated in two MVPs and the second-most points scored of all time. There was also a tendency to favor players with the allure of legend (such as Pete Maravich and Connie Hawkins) over more substantively accomplished athletes.

Here, then, is my own list of the top 100 NBA players of all time. While I tried to accommodate questions that will necessarily come from ranking players across ages– would George Mikan’s game hold up today? Would Russell Westbrook’s ranking be reasonable if he stopped playing tomorrow?– I ultimately came back to a single question: who gave their team the best chance of winning it all? If there’s demand, I might elaborate on my choices, but for now, I’ll just list my choices.

  1. Michael Jordan
  2. Lebron James
  3. Bill Russell
  4. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  5. Magic Johnson
  6. Tim Duncan
  7. Kobe Bryant
  8. Larry Bird
  9. Wilt Chamberlain
  10. Shaquille O’Neal
  11. Jerry West
  12. Hakeem Olajuwon
  13. Moses Malone
  14. Oscar Robertson
  15. Kevin Durant
  16. Karl Malone
  17. Stephen Curry
  18. Julius Erving
  19. Kevin Garnett
  20. John Havlicek
  21. Dirk Nowitzki
  22. John Stockton
  23. Elgin Baylor
  24. Scottie Pippen
  25. Isiah Thomas
  26. Bob Pettit
  27. David Robinson
  28. Charles Barkley
  29. Dwyane Wade
  30. Jason Kidd
  31. Chris Paul
  32. Walt Frazier
  33. Elvin Hayes
  34. Patrick Ewing
  35. Allen Iverson
  36. Russell Westbrook
  37. Steve Nash
  38. Bob Cousy
  39. Gary Payton
  40. Dolph Schayes
  41. Clyde Drexler
  42. Willis Reed
  43. Rick Barry
  44. Paul Pierce
  45. Kevin McHale
  46. Reggie Miller
  47. Ray Allen
  48. James Harden
  49. George Mikan
  50. Wes Unseld
  51. Earl Monroe
  52. Dominique Wilkins
  53. George Gervin
  54. Dave Cowens
  55. Alonzo Mourning
  56. Kawhi Leonard
  57. Tony Parker
  58. Bob Lanier
  59. James Worthy
  60. Sam Jones
  61. Bill Walton
  62. Bernard King
  63. Nate “Tiny” Archibald
  64. Bob McAdoo
  65. Hal Greer
  66. Paul Arizin
  67. Dennis Johnson
  68. Nate Thurmond
  69. Dikembe Mutombo
  70. Robert Parish
  71. Dwight Howard
  72. Vince Carter
  73. Adrian Dantley
  74. Carmelo Anthony
  75. Alex English
  76. Kyrie Irving
  77. Sidney Moncrief
  78. Chris Mullin
  79. Bill Sharman
  80. Joe Dumars
  81. Chris Bosh
  82. Chris Webber
  83. Dave DeBusschere
  84. Tracy McGrady
  85. Jerry Lucas
  86. Draymond Green
  87. Dave Thompson
  88. Pete Maravich
  89. Pau Gasol
  90. Chauncey Billups
  91. Grant Hill
  92. Lenny Wilkens
  93. Anthony Davis
  94. Manu Ginobili
  95. Ben Wallace
  96. Paul Westphal
  97. Jack Twyman
  98. Maurice Cheeks
  99. Mark Price
  100. David Bing

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So. As many of you know, I. Love. Disney. World. And not just visiting the parks, but learning about them, and celebrating their rich history, particularly the optimistic, collaborative view of the future purported by 80s and 90s Epcot Center.

Well, I just finished up my 10th visit, or the David Tennant Trip, as I like to call it. Just for some background, my last visit was exactly four years ago, under somewhat uncertain circumstances (my doctors found a lump on my neck, and I was waiting for a biopsy to determine what, exactly, it was. Thankfully, it was merely the outgrowth of a bone that had been broken many years ago and grew together funnily.) Also, my wife and I were going with kids. Not our own– they don’t exist yet. Rather, we took my wife’s brother and his wife, as well as their three kids, ages 7, 5, and 3-almost-4.  We stayed at adjoining rooms in the Art of Animation Resort.

Rather than cohere this into a narrative, I’m just going to list some stray impressions from my trip. If you’ve gone recently, I’d love to hear how your experiences may have approximated or differed from my own.

  1. One thing in Disney’s credit– we stayed at a value resort, and we rarely, if ever, felt like we were getting second-rate service or that we were receiving an inferior experience.
  2. Okay- Hollywood Studios. It has been my least favorite park for some time, and we also visited at a difficult point in its development. Soon, Toy Story Land and Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will be up and running. But now? Great Movie Ride is being overhauled as a fun Mickey ride. Nothing’s in the building that used to house Art of Animation or Monster Sound Show. Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the Beauty and the Beast show, and Indiana Jones are still around, but are showing their age. The park has given up any pretense to being a functioning studio– the backlot tour is long gone and you won’t see Disney animators plying their craft- but the new stuff isn’t ready yet. Star Tours, Toy Story Mania, Tower of Terror, and Rock’n’Roller Coaster are still doing brisk business and are insanely fun– but that’s not a full, satisfying day in the parks.
  3. The kid’s meals were affordable and reasonably priced. Disney will find other ways to gouge you, of course, but I’m glad that’s not one of them.
  4. Also, the queues have only gotten better over time, with activities and videos to keep you entertained while waiting. Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain deserve special props.
  5. Fastpass is absolutely essential. If you intend to visit some E-ticket rides during your visit, make sure that you book Fastpasses as early as you can. I booked only a few days after my window opened, and was already restricted for some prime rides like Frozen Ever After.
  6. Speaking of which: what happens if a ride breaks down during your Fastpass window? We found out when Frozen Ever After unceremoniously broke down, to the great consternation of our 7 and 5 year-old nieces. Graciously, Disney lets you use your Fastpass at any other ride. So, Heather and I took the 3-year-old on Spaceship Earth a second time (he really wanted to go on “the big ball”) and the 5 and 7-year-old went on Soarin’ with their parents. And loved every minute of it.
  7. Those princess actresses do amazing work. We saw Anna, Elsa, two Rapunzels, Belle, two Ariels, Snow White, Mary Poppins, and Aurora during our trip, and they were poised, clever, and responsive. All the more impressive, since the 3-year-old’s interaction with each princess involved him listing off the presents he got for Christmas. The Rapunzel at the Akershus princess breakfast was a dead-ringer who had the mannerisms down.
  8. Not counting character greetings, I only did four attractions for the first time this trip: Goofy’s Barnstormer, Toy Story Mania, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, and Navi River Voyage. Barnstormer and Voyage were disappointing (Ariel’s singing was very flat on the latter), Toy Story Mania is an incredibly fun ride that I would never do without a Fastpass, and Navi River Voyage is a worthy return to form for Disney in the genre of slow, immersive, atmospheric boat rides.
  9. The 7-year-old and her dad waited nearly 40 minutes in line and were nearly ready to ride, when my niece could no longer hold her bladder and asked to use a bathroom. They were discouraged that they lost their place in line, but a cast member noticed, and gave them both Fastpasses. Very classy.
  10. Future World in Epcot needs some work. Future World East is a shambles, with both Wonders of Life and Universe of Energy down. Eventually UoE will become a Guardians of the Galaxy attraction, but still…that whole section of the park looks deserted, especially with Mission: Space underperforming.
  11. I am again amazed by Finding Nemo: the Musical in the Animal Kingdom. I sang its praises when I ranked Disney attractions almost three years ago, and I stand by my positive assessment: it’s the best theatre presentation in the parks by a country mile.
  12. I’m delighted that the ladies stamping passports and doing Kidcot activities in the American Adventure were both from Puerto Rico. A courageous choice in an era of resurgent white nationalism.
  13. I’m less delighted at some of the choices in the Voices of Liberty repertoire in the American Adventure pavilion. They are an elite a cappella group in period garb. Having them sing tripe like “God Bless the U.S.A.” is beneath their dignity and their talent.
  14. It’s incredibly cool to see my nieces and nephews enjoy rides that I loved as a kid. The 7-year-old ~got~ Spaceship Earth and asked good questions about its various scenes. The 5 and 3-year-old were just smitten with Figment. Even things that I wasn’t sure would fly for kids who grew up with on-demand shows on youtube- such as Carousel of Progress and the Peoplemover- were big hits.
  15. Holy crap, Bippity Boppity Boutique. We paid for the three kids to experience this (including the 3-year-old boy’s knightly transformation), but it was worth every penny. They each got lots of individual attention, and were all clearly moved by the experience. Within seconds of being issued his foam sword and cape, and swearing his knightly oath, my nephew started whacking us with the sword and humming the Imperial March. Very disconcerting.
  16. Sit down restaurant round-up: Kona Cafe at the Polynesian continued to do great work. I had a kickass pistachio-encrusted mahi-mahi with parsnip puree. San Angel inn- where my wife and I had our best meal of the trip in 2014- was our worst table service meal of the trip this time. Slow, unresponsive service- but the margaritas were great as usual. I was surprised by how good the Jungle Cruise Skippers’ Canteen was; my dinner was a tasty veggie curry stew, my drink was a pretty decent sangria, and our server, Emma, was amazing.  Akershus princess buffet? Well, you pay for the experience not the food, but at least there was a Norwegian buffet with some neat fish dishes and flaky pastries.
  17. The crowds were at a great point during our first two days– since the WDW Marathon crowd had gone home and the MLK Day vacationers hadn’t arrived. By our last day- in Epcot- crowds were big and intense, to the point where we waited nearly 40 minutes in line for Living with the Land! And it was cold! My brother-in-law coined the term “riding the struggle bus” to describe the 3-year-old’s behavior, but believe me- between the cold, the crowds, and the exhaustion of four days in the park, we were all on the struggle bus that day.
  18. And I have come to realize that I love Disney World more when there are people I can share it with. Watching three little kids observe the magic for the first time was tremendously rewarding, and I’m grateful that the adults outnumbered them!

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Recently, there has been a spate of sports blogs that have tried to gauge the 50 greatest NBA players of all time. Not ranking them necessarily, but merely listing them. When the NBA officially chose the 50 greatest of all time in 1996, it was a momentous occasion indeed- 47 of those honored gathered together at the subsequent 1997 All-Star game (only an injured Shaq, a reticent Jerry West, and a deceased Pistol Pete were missing.)

Here we are, over 20 years later. We’ve seen an entire generation of players come and go since then, adding their own contributions to the NBA pantheon. To honor them, I’d like to post my own list of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

To do so, I had to kick out quite a few of the originals, each of whom was a giant in his own way. But I had to account for limited playoff success, a lack of accolades, and other nitpicks. Alas, this meant getting rid of:

  1. Nate Archibald
  2. Dave Bing
  3. Dave Cowens
  4. Billy Cunningham
  5. Dave DeBusschere
  6. Clyde Drexler
  7. Hal Greer
  8. Jerry Lucas
  9. Pete Maravich
  10. Robert Parish
  11. Bill Sharman
  12. Nate Thurmond
  13. Wes Unseld
  14. Bill Walton
  15. Lenny Wilkens
  16. James Worthy

Some brutal cuts here. It was arbitrary, but players who were arguably never one of the 7 or 8 best players in the league at any one time had to go, so goodbye Wilkens, Thurmond, Parish, and Worthy. Others had short primes (Maravich, Walton) or were the second-or-third-best guy on a good team (Unseld, Cowens, Cunningham, DeBusschere, Greer, Sharman, Worthy). I had to get rid of stat-padders (Lucas), a great citizen who nonetheless shouldn’t have made the 50 at 50 the first time around (Bing), and a guy whose game hasn’t especially aged well, Clyde Drexler– by far and away the toughest cut of them all.  I did keep three sublime “second bananas” or complementary players who might have had trouble carrying their own team: Kevin McHale, Sam Jones, and Scottie Pippen. To me, Pippen’s perimeter defense, McHale’s skills in the paint, and Jones’ penchant for last-second heroics and his 10 rings made them indispensable.

  1. Kobe Bryant
  2. Stephen Curry
  3. Tim Duncan
  4. Kevin Durant
  5. Kevin Garnett
  6. Dwight Howard
  7. Allen Iverson
  8. Lebron James
  9. Jason Kidd
  10. Steve Nash
  11. Dirk Nowitzki
  12. Chris Paul
  13. Gary Payton
  14. Paul Pierce
  15. Dwyane Wade
  16. Russell Westbrook

To me, Lebron, Kobe, Curry, Duncan, Garnett, and Nowitzki were no-brainers. Pierce’s all-around skills and clutch-time theatrics made him one of the last additions to the list, Paul may be the best all-around point guard the game has seen, Wade won 3 rings–including a Finals MVP, Payton is one of the very greatest perimeter defenders ever. Nash won two MVPs, and even if those were questionable, he revolutionized the game, and made it more fun, buoyant, and watchable. Iverson dragged a subpar team to the Finals, and is arguably the most culturally significant player of the new millennium. Kidd earned a ring with the Mavs and led an equally subpar Nets to two Finals appearances. Westbrook is now an MVP, made a Finals appearance, and repeated Oscar’s feat of averaging a triple-double. Howard might be my most controversial choice among the newbies, but I needed to include at least one post-Shaq center, and he’s far and away the best candidate. Pierce is the one exception to my customary “must make at least one all-NBA team” rule, but I’m okay with that.

So, that would leave my all-time Top 50 as:

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  2. Paul Arizin
  3. Rick Barry
  4. Charles Barkley
  5. Elgin Baylor
  6. Larry Bird
  7. Kobe Bryant
  8. Wilt Chamberlain
  9. Bob Cousy
  10. Stephen Curry
  11. Tim Duncan
  12. Kevin Durant
  13. Julius Erving
  14. Patrick Ewing
  15. Walt Frazier
  16. Kevin Garnett
  17. George Gervin
  18. John Havlicek
  19. Elvin Hayes
  20. Dwight Howard
  21. Allen Iverson
  22. Lebron James
  23. Earvin “Magic” Johnson
  24. Sam Jones
  25. Michael Jordan
  26. Jason Kidd
  27. Karl Malone
  28. Moses Malone
  29. Kevin McHale
  30. George Mikan
  31. Earl Monroe
  32. Steve Nash
  33. Dirk Nowitzki
  34. Hakeem Olajuwon
  35. Shaquille O’Neal
  36. Chris Paul
  37. Gary Payton
  38. Bob Pettit
  39. Paul Pierce
  40. Scottie Pippen
  41. Willis Reed
  42. Oscar Robertson
  43. David Robinson
  44. Bill Russell
  45. Dolph Schayes
  46. John Stockton
  47. Isiah Thomas
  48. Dwyane Wade
  49. Jerry West
  50. Russell Westbrook

What do you think? I’d be the first to admit how difficult it was to cut people from this list. Some of the hardest cuts were: Carmelo Anthony, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Dominique Wilkins, Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Tiny Archibald, Wes Unseld, and especially Clyde Drexler. Indeed, this list was so competitive, I had to cut some MVPs: Unseld, Bob McAdoo, Dave Cowens, Bill Walton, and Derrick Rose. I kept Monroe on largely for his cultural impact on the game, bringing an array of street ball moves into the big leagues. And I almost put Yao Ming in for similar cultural reasons- namely, his role in expanding the league’s reach globally. If you would have made any different choices, let me know in the comments!

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A small change

I will post more here soon– sorry to have left the Countdown dormant. Between 5 weeks of grading hell (why did I assign my students so much writing? Why are so many students enrolled in my classes this term?) and writing an article for a Canadian theological journal, time has been crunched.

But I want to post publicly a small change in my #RockHall2018 predictions. I’m swapping out Dire Straits for Eurythmics. The Eurythmics, in my mind, have the winning formula: profound influence on post-2000 pop, and an iconic visual style as the voting committee reflects the MTV age.

So, just to recap: I think the #RockHall2018 class will be: Moody Blues, Radiohead, Bon Jovi, Nina Simone, The Cars, and Eurythmics.

Having said that, I now think any number of surprises could happen. I originally perceived Moody Blues as a mortal lock, but that seems perhaps less likely the more I think about it–a similar prog group, Yes, struggled to get in on their first ballot and in terms of influencing the overall direction of rock and roll, they just aren’t as strong as I once thought. Bon Jovi? Raw critical contempt for them may hurt, whatever the fan vote says. Radiohead seems less of a surefire thing, especially with competition from Rage. So, we will see! Maybe The Zombies, who are creeping up in the fan vote, will secure a spot. Judas Priest could very well succeed, especially if the Nom Com has been adding more metal-friendly voters on the sly. Rage could win under the right circumstances. So could Link.  And that’s saying nothing of any little games that may happen with the other categories. Will Sister Rosetta be an Early Induction as many suspect? Others think Nina Simone is primed for Musical Excellence. The great–and frustrating–thing is that it is so hard to gauge how any of this will develop. For all we know, we may get a face-palming choice like Sting for Musical Excellence or something.

We’ll see! Voting closes in a little over a week. And with a ballot this strong, it would be hard to come away disappointed from whatever class develops, unless we get another monochromatic or exclusively male set of acts again.

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So…we are now about 4 or 5 weeks out from the Rock Hall announcing its nominees. At this stage in the game, we’ve heard predictions from almost all of the Rock Hall monitors with blogs or websites of their own. I encourage you to click on links taking you to the well thought-out, persuasively argued predictions from Troy Smith, Michelle Bourg, E-rockracy, Tom Lane, Donnie Durham, Charles Crossley, and the star around which we orbit, Future Rock Legends. Lots of other people made predictions on the Future Rock Legends board or in my comments section, but I had to draw the line somewhere, or a fun weekend activity would devolve into tedious number-crunching. Please accept my apologies if your picks weren’t included in this analysis.

One name is notably absent from this list, and that is Philip, who hosts Rock Hall Monitors. Earlier in the summer, Philip wrote a conscientious post encouraging the Nominating Committee to put out a ballot consisting entirely of women and/or persons of color as a means of addressing endemic discrimination in our society. It got a lot of pushback from many quarters, but Philip stuck to his guns. Rather than post a “protest prediction,” he abstained from making choices this year. I likewise urge you to read what he has to say.

To recap, my own picks were: Radiohead, Rage Against the Machine, LL Cool J, Nina Simone, The Zombies, Janet Jackson, War, J. Geils Band, Soundgarden, Eurythmics, Nine Inch Nails, Link Wray, The Smiths, Warren Zevon, Roxy Music, The Shangri-Las, The Spinners, Moody Blues, and PJ Harvey.

Each list had its own character, as always. Troy favored lots of returning nominees, especially from last year’s set. Charles’s list is almost a half-protest: he has 8 picks nobody else chose, and lots of choices from rock’s earlier years. I tended to focus on who has been a bit more high-profile as of late, and developed a two-years-out-of-three philosophy that is probably absolute nonsense.

But all of these lists share some common assumptions: more and better female nominees, a wide range of genres, and a strong presence from Tom Morello, Questlove, and newcomer David Grohl. With the exception of Troy, we all think the Hall will tone down the strong 70s classic rock flavor of the last two years.

Of course, we don’t know if there are more new members, or if some older members of the nominating committee have been shown the door, or left of their own volition. But that is what makes this so fun! Can we master the mind of the notoriously unpredictable Nominating Committee?

Between the 8 of us who made predictions, we agreed unanimously on four artists: Radiohead (the obvious first-year nominee), LL Cool J (a returning nominee who seems like the logical choice for the next rap act), Janet Jackson (a guaranteed ratings boost and one of the greatest hitmakers not in the hall), and Link Wray (who is projected to benefit from the new Rumble movie and Stevie Van Zandt’s brazen endorsement.)

At a near-unanimous 7? Everyone pegged The Cars except for me.

6 out of the 8 think Rage Against the Machine will be on the ballot on their first eligible year, and The Moody Blues will be on the ballot after a quarter-century of eligibility!

5- a narrow majority- are banking on 80s alternative mainstays The Smiths; the Nine Inch Nails; (both nominated for the Classes of 2015 and 2016 but passed over this year) and in the wake of Chris Cornell’s death, Soundgarden.

Half of us can foresee Eurythmics, Warren Zevon, and Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk shows up about half the time, and David Letterman gave a very public nod to Zevon in last year’s ceremony. But for half of us to pick Eurythmics because it basically “feels right?” That’s…interesting.

Three votes for a lot of acts- many of them returning nominees who may or may not show up: The Spinners, War, The Zombies, Roxy Music, Joe Tex, and Bad Company.

A tiny minority of two predictions each for: Nina Simone, Carole King, J. Geils Band, The Marvelettes, Los Lobos, Joe Cocker, Pat Benatar, and Black Flag.

And, of course, there are some elliptical choices. I was alone in suggesting The Shangri-Las and PJ Harvey. Michelle’s were Judas Priest (a popular choice last year), Carly Simon, The Commodores, and Big Star. Troy was delightfully all over the map with MC5, Boston, Peter Frampton, Donny Hathaway (!), Chaka Khan, and Steppenwolf. E-rockracy went with one-and-done nominees Jane’s Addiction and Procol Harum, alongside Motorhead, Foreigner, X, Todd Rundgren, and Alanis Morissette. X was an especially clever choice that would satisfy punk fans and those clamoring for more women in the hall. I wish I had thought of it. Donnie was alone in suggesting Patsy Cline (the only pure country artist on any list), Mary Wells, Kool & the Gang, and the late, lamented George Michael. Charles Crossley had an armada of unique picks: John Coltrane, The Guess Who, The Clovers, Wu-Tang Clan, Roy Brown, Cyndi Lauper, Bon Jovi, and Big Mama Thornton. FRL went with an artist who has been generating a lot of chatter on the site’s message boards (Stevie Nicks) as well as Chuck Brown, Billy Preston, and finally Harry Nilsson in the singer-songwriter slot. Tom Lane didn’t have any picks that weren’t shared (and it’s not like he was being derivative; he was one of the first to list his predictions! Go figure.)

Recent nominees that none of us predicted include The Cure, The Replacements, Depeche Mode, Bad Brains, The Meters, The JBs, and Sting. Other noteworthy absences were Willie Nelson, A Tribe Called Quest, The MonkeesSmashing Pumpkins, any blues act whatsoever aside from J. Geils, Mariah Carey with nearly twenty #1 hits, and the recently deceased Glen Campbell.

What do you think, readers? There are some great picks I wish I had thought of: X, Joe Tex, Stevie Nicks…and I have a funny feeling about The Guess Who this year. But every year, the Nominating Committee surprises us and makes us consider an artist that nobody saw coming. At any rate, in a little over a month, we’ll see who was right.

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who would you see?

My friend and fellow Rock Hall guy, Donnie, posted an interesting question on Facebook. If you could go back in time and see any five artists perform in each decade– who would you pick? Here’s my answers.

1950s:
1. Peggy Lee: a great, versatile talent we don’t talk about today. You wouldn’t have wanted to hear “Fever” live in some badly lit nightclub?
2. Tom Lehrer: Arch, sarcastic, and smarter than everyone in the audience.
3. Harry Belafonte: The calypso craze made Belafonte perhaps the first black teen idol to make it into the mainstream market.
4. Little Richard: Undoubtedly the best showman from rock and roll’s pioneer generation (sorry Elvis), Little Richard’s show would have been gospel and flimflam all rolled into one sexually ambiguous ball of energy.
5. Sam Cooke: One of my favorite singers at a time when he was turning gospel into soul.

1960s:
1. Hamburg-era Beatles: Even McCartney and Starr will tell you the band stopped trying on stage once the screams and shrieks made them inaudible. Instead, I want to see five Beatles on uppers in the Top Ten Club, slowly honing their craft and becoming the greatest rock and roll band ever. I might also try to make out with Astrid if Stu isn’t watching.
2. Aretha Franklin: She’s the Queen of Soul. You think I’m wasting one of my picks on The Dead?
3. James Brown: Brown. At the Apollo. Not to be missed.
4. Nina Simone: I’d give anything to watch her act vacillate between easy lounge music and prophetic condemnation of Jim Crow.
5. Sly & the Family Stone: When they had their shit together, they were the greatest band of their time.

1970s:
1. Elton John (Captain Fantastic era): I saw him a few times since the mid-90s, but I would have rather seen him wearing feather boas, playing loads of deep tracks, and with the full range of his soaring tenor voice intact.
2. Linda Ronstadt: As her Parkinson’s worsens, I realize this is another act I’ll never see live IRL. Instead, take me back to the 70s, with her powerful cover versions and the best pipes in the Top 40. (Also, 1974-era Ronstadt is my celebrity crush.)
3. Allman Brothers: Rock and roll’s greatest (and most disciplined) jam band.
4. The Who: They say that put on the best concert ever in the city of Buffalo at Rich Stadium. The rain starting coming down the minute they began “Love Rein O’er Me.”
5. Parliament-Funkadelic: Let’s see who won that epic battle between parliament’s “get down” and “get up” factions.

1980s:
1. Queen: Was there any greater frontman than Freddie Mercury at the height of his powers?
2. Michael Jackson: Or any all-around performer better than Jackson at the height of his?
3. Bruce Springsteen: I was going to put Guns N Roses in this spot, but screw them. I’ll take a three-and-a-half-hour spiritual experience at the Meadlowlands.
4. Kool & the Gang: Multiple people tell me that this was the best concert they ever went to. I have to see for myself.
5. Dire Straits: Mark Knopfler is currently sitting at the top of my “I need to see this guy before I/he dies” list.

1990s:
1. Nirvana
2. TLC
3. Jimmy Buffett: when Parrothead-mania was still in effect, but he wasn’t overcharging for concert tickets yet
4. A Tribe Called Quest: I’d love to have seen the rap group I most respect.
5. Great Big Sea

2000s:
1. Amy Winehouse: One of the greatest voices of her generation, gone too soon.
2. Enter the Haggis
3. Lady Gaga
4. Alicia Keys
5. Macy Gray

2010s:
1. Sara Bareilles: 
2. Mumford and Sons: There are places where emergent Christians have written masses centered around “Sign No More.”
3. Florence & the Machine
4. Zac Brown Band
5. Aloe Blacc: His take on Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels” blew me away. Should me way more famous than he is.

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