Who Could Make Up the 2023 Rock Hall Class?: Roundtable
A whole new collection of artists are ballot-ready for the first time, including Queens of the Stone Age, Missy Elliott, Muse and more. An act becomes eligible 25 years after the release of their first recording, meaning these newcomers all debuted in 1997.
Their names will be adding to the continually growing list of famous artists who remain on the outside looking in. Could 2023 bring the long-awaited inductions of bands such as Iron Maiden, Soundgarden, the New York Dolls, Motorhead or Rage Against the Machine? What about acts like Motley Crue, Styx and Jethro Tull, who are still awaiting their first nomination despite decades of success? And then there's Ozzy Osbourne, who was inducted with Black Sabbath, but surprisingly has not received consideration as a solo act?
Our UCR writers tackled the tough questions below, making their best predictions for the 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class.
1. Which 3 of the newly eligible acts have the best chance of induction?
Allison Rapp: Queens of the Stone Age seems like a relatively safe bet. I can also see the Black Eyed Peas and Missy Elliot being strong contenders. Rap and hip hop artists have begun to earn more of their due from the Hall, and those are both great examples of innovative artists whose legacy and influence extends beyond their most popular commercial years.
Ryan Reed: To be clear, I don’t think any of these artists are getting in straight away. I think they’ll all miss the final cut for at least a couple years, though it wouldn’t shock me to see all of them on the initial nominee list. On paper, Queens of the Stone Age seem like a lock: hugely successful rock band, catalog chock-full of bangers, tons of critical praise. But when you consider that Soundgarden still hasn’t punched a ticket, how could you expect Queens to do it so quickly? Missy Elliott also feels obvious: tons of huge singles and albums, widely hailed as one of hip-hop’s most innovative artists. If any of these three get in, my money’s on her. Finally, there’s Destiny’s Child — their resumé isn’t quite as impressive, but … Beyoncé.
Corey Irwin: Queens of the Stone Age, Muse and Missy Elliott all seem to have pretty strong cases for enshrinement ... but not this year. In fact, I'd be surprised if any artist who becomes eligible in 2023 even appears on the ballot in the next 5 years.
Bryan Rolli: Queens of the Stone Age seem like the safest bet, given Josh Homme’s classic-rock resume and status as one of the genre’s “new” elder statesmen alongside the likes of Dave Grohl and Jack White. Muse certainly has the box-office receipts, album sales and musical virtuosity to justify their inclusion (they also started off worshipping at the altar of Radiohead, who got inducted in 2019), but I think their poppy, patently uncool misfires in recent years will preclude their nomination in 2023. And if the Rock Hall continues to welcome hip-hop and R&B artists into its ranks, then Missy Elliott — the bestselling female rapper in Nielsen history — is a no-brainer, especially on the heels of Eminem's induction.
2. Which previously nominated artists do you expect to get another look in 2023?
Rapp: It wouldn't surprise me if Kate Bush appeared on the ballot again, especially after how prevalent her name has been over the last year or so. And I think there may be a repeat of Chaka Khan or Mary J. Blige. The 2022 class sort of skipped out on a number of female soul/R&B artists, so I could see either of those women getting another shot.
DeRiso: Rage Against the Machine still feels like a smart bet. A Tribe Called Quest remains very worthy. How cool would it be if the more recent inductions of Depeche Mode and Duran Duran opened the door for New Order? As for old-school rock acts, we’re down to a group of former nominees who’ve been eligible forever, including Motorhead (20 years), Thin Lizzy (27), Steppenwolf (29) and Procol Harum (30). Unfortunately, that doesn’t bode well.
Reed: The holy grunge trinity, according to pretty much everyone with ears, is Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. The first two are in; the last one isn’t. It’s time to finally rectify that one; it almost seems like a clerical error at this point. Chaka Khan has been nominated roughly 900 times, so I’d expect her to get another shot. Then there’s Iron Maiden, who earned their first nod in 2021, and Rage Against the Machine. (I also really hope, after dominating pop culture via Stranger Things, that this is Kate Bush’s year.)
Irwin: I expect 2023 to be a big catch-up year for the Rock Hall, so look for some long-running bridesmaids to finally become brides. Rage Against the Machine (4 previous nominations), Devo (3) and MC5 (6) all seem like good bets to get another look. I remain shocked that Soundgarden hasn't been inducted. And, as has already been mentioned, the Kate Bush fanfare hit a new level this year. Her finally getting inducted would be icing on the cake.
Rolli: I would love to see Iron Maiden get another nomination now that Judas Priest, their closest metal brethren and most obvious competition, has finally gotten inducted. Chic is ripe for reconsideration, especially following the induction of Duran Duran, their repeat collaborators and lifelong acolytes. And for God’s sake, can the Rock Hall quit messing around and finally do right by MC5?
3. How about artists who have previously been eligible, yet still haven’t gotten a nomination. Any first-timers we should expect among next year's nominees?
Rapp: I'm pretty sure I said this last year too, but it's baffling to me that Warren Zevon has never been nominated. He's been eligible since the Rock Hall opened in 1995 and is continuously cited as an influence and inspiration for years by people who have been inducted. To leave him out feels like forgetting to put a floorboard down on a new house. I also could see Ozzy Osbourne getting a nomination for his solo work: 13 albums seems like it would warrant that by now. But I wouldn't "expect" anything.
DeRiso: Many of the biggest remaining classic-rock acts have never been nominated, including Bad Company (eligible for 23 years now), Blue Oyster Cult (25), Emerson Lake and Palmer (27), King Crimson (28), Jethro Tull (29) and the Guess Who (32). Pearl Jam’s recent inclusion could perhaps bolster the candidacy of never-nominated Alice In Chains, who’ve been eligible for seven years. Personally, I’d love to see Big Star, the godfathers of college rock, get their due after a quarter century of eligibility.
Reed: Despite Liam Gallagher’s apparent lack of interest, it’s hard to believe Oasis hasn’t earned a nomination: They’ve been eligible since 2019, so they’ve paid their dues in purgatory. And it’s mind-blowing, given the Hall’s expansion into hip-hop, that Outkast haven’t even been nominated. Who doesn’t like Outkast? How is this even possible?
Irwin: It feels like the Rock Hall is still very reluctant with '90s acts. Yes, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Nine Inch Nails, Green Day and Radiohead are in, but maybe this year we'll finally see Smashing Pumpkins, Alice In Chains, Blink-182 and/or Weezer get a look. Another wild card would be Motley Crue. We know they've got the fanbase, and people are finally recognizing their influence on other artists. After years of self-proclaiming they've been blackballed from the Rock Hall, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Crue finally get nominated.
Rolli: Alice In Chains is criminally overdue for a nomination as they approach a decade of eligibility. With Pantera launching their semi-reunion tour and Ozzy Osbourne ostensibly resuming his No More Tours II trek next year, two of metal’s biggest snubs could reasonably get their day in the sun. And this might just be wishful thinking, but the Monkees’ ongoing critical reevaluation — especially in light of Michael Nesmith’s death last December — ought to justify a Rock Hall nod. Better 31 years late than never.
4. Dolly Parton’s inclusion in the 2022 class was criticized by rock purists, then she ended up being the star of the induction ceremony. Who’s the next country artist you think will receive consideration?
Rapp: John Prine stands out to me as a strong possibility. He was nominated a couple years ago in 2019, and when you've got people like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen singing your praises, that's a pretty good sign that your influence is strong.
DeRiso: The Rock Hall should lean in hard on classic-era outlaw country, which shared the same outsider attitude and passion for illicit substances. In keeping, Willie Nelson makes perfect sense.
Irwin: Garth Brooks and Willie Nelson seem like inevitable inductions. But, in keeping with the Hall's tradition of waiting too long, only to recognize an artist after their death, I'll predict Loretta Lynn gets the next nomination.
Rolli: Willie Nelson. He’s a countercultural icon, a marijuana legalization advocate and a forefather of outlaw country — in other words, an all-around American badass. He revolutionized the music industry and turned Austin into a new country music mecca when Nashville wouldn’t take him. (Of course, Music City eventually saw the light and jumped at the chance to claim him as their own). His discography spans more than 60 years and nearly 100 albums. Nelson is the Bob Dylan of country music — which is to say he’s influenced the genre incalculably while also transcending it.
5. Does Judas Priest’s induction this year mean the Hall will finally catch up on overlooked metal acts?
Rapp: Perhaps, but the reality is that someone is always going to get stiffed. Iron Maiden may get another overdue shot, also Motorhead. It may take a few years before the Hall is sufficiently caught up!
DeRiso: As long as the Rock Hall continues to hand out the equivalent of field-day participation ribbons, sure.
Reed: It’s a good start, but I’d say it’ll continue to be a slow trickle rather than a sudden flood.
Irwin: Well, the Award for Musical Excellence seems to have given them a nice loophole to induct worthy artists who -- for one reason or another -- struggle to get general support. That means criminally overlooked acts like Motorhead, Iron Maiden and Slayer might finally get in, but don't expect there to ever be more than one metal act nominated in any given year.
Rolli: I wouldn’t get too excited about metal’s future Rock Hall prospects just yet. They might pare down their “one for you, 10 for us” approach to “one for you, five for us,” but at that pace, it’ll still take years, possibly decades for even the biggest, most influential names — Iron Maiden, Slayer, Megadeth, Dio, Ozzy Osbourne — to get inducted. Heavy metal won’t have its due representation in the Rock Hall until we start seeing niche and/or critically reviled acts joining the ranks. Justice for Motley Crue!
Bonus: Fill in the blank. 2023 will be the year that ______ finally gets into the Hall.
Rapp: MC5. They've been nominated so many times – six! – which perhaps in and of itself proves they belong.
DeRiso: The New York Damned Dolls For Pete’s Sake.
Reed: Kate Bush.
Irwin: Tough call between Rage Against the Machine or Soundgarden ... I'm picking the latter.
Rolli: New York Dolls.
The 10 Best Moments From the Rock Hall 2022 Ceremony
Why the Go-Go’s ‘Flipped Out’ Over Rock Hall Induction