Rock Hall 2023 Nominees Roundtable: Snubs, Surprises and More
The 2023 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees have been announced.
This year's list is an eclectic collection of artists, with nominees representing several different eras and various styles of music.
The White Stripes, Joy Division/New Order, Missy Elliott, Sheryl Crow, Cyndi Lauper, George Michael and Willie Nelson make up the first-time nominees, while Iron Maiden, Kate Bush, Rage Against the Machine, Soundgarden, the Spinners, A Tribe Called Quest and Warren Zevon have each appeared on the ballot at least once before.
The 2023 class won't be announced until May, but we’re getting the conversation started early. Below, UCR’s writers tackle the tough questions: Who got snubbed? What surprised you? And which artists will be part of the class of 2023?
1. What was your first reaction to this year’s list of Hall of Fame nominees?
Nick DeRiso: Rock Hall nominees have taken on a certain rhythm, if not necessarily a rhyme. Some seem to circle back around again, like a leather-clad comet, while others come out of nowhere. But they all fit snugly in their little genre boxes. Rock, of course – but also pop, hip hop, metal and (nowadays) country. Really, we just wait to see who pops out of which container.
Michael Gallucci: This is the first group of nominees in years that doesn't seem like an artist or two (or three) were shoehorned in to fit some quota. A couple of nominees may not have the list of credentials as some of the others, but there are no unworthy artists this year.
Gary Graff: More than anything - Warren Zevon, finally! A long overdue inclusion that will hopefully lead to a well-deserved induction. After that, I figured a lot of 70s AOR fans are still going to be unhappy without the likes of Foreigner, Styx, Sammy Hagar et al., and that there seems to be room in this particular group for the likes of Iron Maiden and Rage Against the Machine to finally have a shot at being grooms instead of groomsmen.
Corey Irwin: The Hall is stretching its boundaries. They called their shot with a statement earlier this week noting that rock 'n' roll "is not defined by any one genre, rather a sound that moves youth culture." These nominees prove that to be true. I like it, but I'm sure there will still be people who are upset.
Allison Rapp: On the whole, I was pleased to see the names on this year’s list. There seems to be a pretty balanced set of people who deserve another shot, as well as new nominees. It isn’t very often that you see a list that has the names Missy Elliott, Willie Nelson and Iron Maiden all in one place. There’s also a decent mix of styles and generations happening, which I’m appreciative of. There are, however, only four women on a ballot of 14, just over half the number there was last year.
2. Who's the most surprising inclusion?
DeRiso: Warren Zevon, to be sure. He’s been mentioned by fans and has even been the subject of petitions and web-driven awareness campaigns. But he’s somehow never gotten a sniff from the nominating committee – until now.
Gallucci: I'm happy to finally see Warren Zevon here after years of neglect. I figured his time had come and gone as newer artists become eligible. A surprising and most welcome inclusion.
Graff: Zevon, actually; it's been so long in coming that I had just about given up hope. And the Spinners again, an act that I felt would fall by the wayside after three previous nominations.
Irwin: I was surprised to see George Michael on the list. I know he had huge success, including some massively popular hit songs. Still, for whatever reason, I seem to think of his peak as being relatively short, and he's much further down in my mental list of artists worthy of Hall consideration. Maybe I just don't know enough about his career. It seems I've got some homework to do.
Rapp: I have to say, for whatever reason, I wasn’t expecting to see Willie Nelson’s name on here. It certainly makes sense, given the recent inclusion of people like John Prine and Dolly Parton, but it was almost as though I considered Nelson in a league of his own — his legacy is truly unmatched and he’s still on the road and making music at nearly 90 years old. I’m a big proponent of giving people their flowers while they’re still with us so I’m really glad to see him in the running here.
3. Who's the most surprising snub?
DeRiso: I would have lost money if someone challenged me to a bet on whether Oasis would appear on the ballot this year. It’s time to welcome a new generation of bands who can’t get along to the stage, then begin wondering who will show.
Gallucci: Now that Warren Zevon has been nominated, how about Harry Nilsson, another neglected but influential '70s singer-songwriter?
Graff: How much time and space do we have? Some are not so surprising at this juncture do we really think the aforementioned AOR giants are ever going to make the grade? I felt like P. Diddy/Puff Daddy/Sean Combs (your choice) was a definite for his first year of eligibility. Missy Elliott and A Tribe Called Quest are certainly solid contenders from the rap world, but Puffy's achievements as an artist and beyond seemed like the kind of thing that lit the nominating committee's fire.
Irwin: There are always going to be worthy acts who don't get nominated. I would have liked the Smashing Pumpkins to finally get a nomination, but overall, I think there's merit to every nominee this year.
Rapp: There are a great number of worthy people not yet in the Rock Hall — just take a look at our list of 137 of them. I’m sort of surprised they didn’t give MC5 another shot, but I guess considering they’ve been nominated a whopping six times, maybe they need to circle back to that one.
4. Who do you most want to see inducted from this class?
DeRiso: Objectively, Missy Elliott is probably the most deserving. Personally? Joy Division/New Order, who intrigued through a dark and stormy beginning before finding synth-y, sun-speckled new vistas – and it’s not even close.
Gallucci: Warren Zevon and Joy Division/New Order. They're not only personal favorites, but their influence spans generations of artists.
Graff: Zevon, absolutely. The White Stripes are worthy of a first-ballot induction, and that's not just 'cause I'm sitting here in Detroit. And it's time to finally put Maiden, Rage and Soundgarden in and make the ceremony really Rock.
Irwin: Soundgarden and Rage Against the Machine. Two titans of their era who have been nominated multiple times now. Let's get them in already so we can stop discussing their worthiness every year around this time.
Rapp: I’d really like to see Warren Zevon finally get his due. He’s been eligible for so long, he’s been omitted for so long and yet his influence — lyrically in particular – really stretches across the board in rock music. There’s a healthy population of devoted fans who have lobbied for his inclusion for years and I think it’s about time.
5. Who do you predict will make up the Hall of Fame class of 2023?
DeRiso: If Kate Bush didn’t get in while riding an astonishing wave of Stranger Things-driven interest, it may never happen. If Lionel Richie didn’t open the door for the Spinners, nobody will. There are an impressive number of return visits here, with Rage Against the Machine feeling like the best bet. Elliott, Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow could round things out nicely.
Gallucci: Kate Bush, Missy Elliott, Joy Division/New Order, Willie Nelson, the White Stripes, Warren Zevon
Graff: This always goes pear-shaped. Do we have money on it? I feel like the White Stripes and Missy Elliott have first-ballot success written all over them. Sheryl Crow, who's been waiting her turn for a nomination. Willie Nelson, because everyone's going to hope he lets them on the bus that night. Maiden thanks to a killer tour in 2021, and either Soundgarden or Rage gets the nod. Zevon, meanwhile, seems like a prime candidate for a Musical Excellence Award ... if he doesn't get voted in.
Irwin: Missy Elliott, White Stripes, Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, Kate Bush and Willie Nelson.
Rapp: Kate Bush, Warren Zevon, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, George Michael, Iron Maiden.