Every year, the music community gets together to debate about one topic: the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is not just limited to the people that may or may not get in, but what makes a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer? Hell, what is defined as rock and roll? I bet if you ask 20 different people, you will get 20 different answers as to who they would have in this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class. Each nominee has a good argument as to why they should be in. However, not every nominee is going to get the call from the Hall. With that said, here’s my personal Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ballot for the Class of 2021.
One of the most prolific rock bands of the 1990s, the Foo Fighters formed in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death. Dave Grohl recruited Nate Mendel and William Goldsmith to form a band. Goldsmith was replaced not long after by Taylor Hawkins, who has been with the group ever since. Their self titled debut album was released in 1995, and it was certified platinum by the RIAA. The Foo Fighters put out 10 studio albums, and had 10 number one hits on the US Alternate Charts to go along with 25 Top 10s.
The Foo Fighters have won 12 Grammy Awards, highlighted by 4 Best Rock Album wins in 2001, 2004, 2008, and 2012. In the latter year, they were nominated for six Grammy awards, the second most that year of any artist. For me, the band makes it for their longevity, their success in their genre. This is the band’s first year of eligibility, so we could see a first time group get the nod into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Go-Go’s are tough because there is an argument that can be made that they are not rock and roll. Even if they are not qualified as rock and roll, they do fit in the genre of new wave. Plenty of new wave bands have gotten in, and the Go-Go’s do not make it in just because of their success, but they were revolutionary as well.
The Go-Go’s are composed of Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock, Kathy Valentine, and Jane Wiedlin. They were one of the first all girl groups to make their mark in the new wave style of music, and they also wrote their own songs with Caffey and Wiedlin taking that role. Their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, was certified triple platinum.
However, a knock on the all girl group is that they only had two songs make it into the Top 10 on the Billboard Charts. We Got the Beat peaked at number 2, while Vacation only made it to 8. For being trailblazers for their time, and being an influence for many girl groups to follow, The Go-Go’s have my vote as Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.
I was shocked to learn that Iron Maiden was not already in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It felt like it was a given, but the heavy metal band from the United Kingdom has yet to be enshrined. The group was released over 40 albums, and won over 29 awards.
The main members of the group are Bruce Dickinson, Dave Murray, Adrian Smith, Steve Harris, Janick Gers, and Nicko McBrain. In the United Kingdom, the band had an astonishing 27 songs reach the Top 20, which is virtually unheard of for a heavy metal group. They are often cited as one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time, and they have been an influence on countless other acts, such as Metallica, Anthrax, Fozzy, and Slipknot.
As late as 2020, Iron Maiden was still releasing new content for it’s countless fans. They have 45 years of experience, and it does not look like the band if going to slow down anytime soon. Out of everybody on the ballot this year, Iron Maiden is probably the one I am most confident is going to make it, considering Metallica and other heavy metal bands are already enshrined.
Carole King’s induction comes with a little bit of a caveat. She wrote 118 songs that were on the Billboard Hot 100, which is a record among female songwriters. However, she already is in the Hall of Fame for her songwriting talent, so her nomination in 2021 is for her solo career. To me, that is also a no brainer. Carole King should be in for both her singing and her songwriting.
King’s most successful album was Tapestry, which she released in 1971. Her song “It’s Too Late/I Feel the Earth Move” spent 5 weeks at number 1 before getting knocked off by Indian Reservation. Only a week later, You’ve Got a Friend by James Taylor took the number 1 spot, a song previously recorded by King. The album was certified diamond in 1995, only one of 92 to reach that spot. Besides Tapestry, she recorded 24 other solo albums.
King also had 4 more songs reach the Top 15 on the charts over her career. With the success of Tapestry and with the number of albums she recorded to go along with her songwriting, King is another choice for me as an easy lock for the Class of 2021.
This is another nominee that’s coming with a little bit of a catch. Tina Turner is already in the Rock Hall as a duo with her ex-husband, Ike. The pair experienced much success throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Once the 1980s rolled around, Tina went solo, and she experienced a career renaissance.
The Queen of Rock and Roll was nominated for numerous Grammy awards, and her album Private Dancer went platinum all over the world. Her song What’s Love Got to Do with It was voted the 495th best song of all time by Billboard in 2018. Following the success of Private Dancer, Turner released the albums Break Every Rule and Foreign Affair, each of which were certified platinum multiple times. Break Every Rule had eight singles off the album, with Typical Male peaking at number 2. She also recorded the title track for the James Bond film GoldenEye in 1989.
Most people look at Tina Turner’s career in two halves: the start of her career with Ike in the 60s and 70s, and her career comeback in the 80s. She was a superstar once again as a solo artist, and she was loved all over the world. Both halves of Turner are Rock and Roll Hall of Fame worthy.
2021 will mark the first year that Dionne Warwick in on the ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That is unbelievable, considering the amazing career that she had. 56 of her singles reached the Billboard Hot 100. She also has been known for her longevity, starting her career in the 1950s and recording songs as late as 2019.
Warwick was named the Best Selling Female Artist by Cashbox Magazine each year from 1969 until 1971. She reached superstar level in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with eight of her singles reaching the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. The biggest hit of hers until that point, Then Came You, was her first number 1 single. Many years later, her song That’s What Friends Are For reached that spot in 5 countries.
Warwick’s albums may not have been the best selling, as only 2 of them went platinum. Despite this, her voice is recognized all over the world. She is one of the most successful female solo artists of all time, and for that, Dionne Warwick gets my final vote for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
I almost considered putting in Chaka Khan after landing on the ballot for the third year in a row, but with a crop of successful female soloists, she was the one I had to leave out.
Same goes for Rage Against the Machine, who made my ballot last year, but it would have been hard to put both them and Iron Maiden in the Hall in the same year.
There’s an argument to be made for Todd Rundgren as well for his songwriting and singing career, but the class would have been too crowded for me to induct him. Next year has some potential for Rundgren.
Finally, I could see Jay Z making it, in all honesty. As much as I am of the belief that rap artists should be in a separate hall of fame, the precedent set by Tupac and The Notorious B.I.G help Jay-Z’s argument to get the call for the Hall.
So there is my personal ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2021. There are some huge names this year and I expect a mix of people I mentioned and people I did not to compose of the Class of 2021. In May, we will find out who makes it and who does not. As always, long live rock and roll!
Photo Credit on Featured Image: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Twitter