The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has revealed the nominees for its class of 2021.
They include Rage Against the Machine, JAY-Z, Foo Fighters, Kate Bush, Chaka Khan, DEVO, Iron Maiden, The Go-Go’s, Carole King, New York Dolls, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Fela Kuti, Mary J. Blige, Todd Rundgren, and LL Cool J.
Sadly, only five of the nominees can get voted in. Those left out, however, won’t exactly be in poor company. Many great artists have been shut out from the warm confines of the Cleveland institution. Here’s a list of 20 artists who have yet to be enshrined, accompanied with rankings and our semi-formal arguments for their inclusion.
As this list proves, however, things do change.
20. Warren Zevon
Number of Years Snubbed: 27
Number of Albums: 12
Chart Performance: Thanks to “Werewolves of London”, Warren Zevon’s third studio album, 1978’s Excitable Boy, remains the late singer’s most successful effort to date, peaking at No. 8 and finally going Platinum in 1997. Outside of that, he saw relatively modest success — his final album, 2003’s The Wind, topped at No. 12 and was certified Gold — which perhaps explains why he’s been cruelly excluded all these years.
Accolades: After spending years behind the scenes, where he wrote for The Turtles and toured as a session musician for The Everly Brothers, Zevon really came into his own. He collaborated with greats like Jackson Browne and Fleetwood Mac, eventually becoming rock critics’ favorite best-kept secret. Although he’s remained a cult icon, even long after his sudden 2003 passing, his trademark wit and intuitive lyrics continue to inspire countless musicians year after year.
Number of Years Snubbed: 21
Number of Albums: 3
Chart Performance: Not surprisingly, Marquee Moon nor Adventure graced the U.S. charts. However, Marquee did slot at No. 28 on the UK Charts and Adventure even peaked on the same chart at No. 7.
Accolades: Television have no snazzy awards to their name, though their influence is paramount. Critics contend that Marquee Moon remains a cornerstone of alternative rock as it has experienced a wealth of acclaim. In 2003, Rolling Stone ranked it as No. 128 in their 500 greatest albums of all time, and in that same year, NME ranked it as the fourth greatest album of all time.
18. Nick Drake
Number of Years Snubbed: 27
Number of Albums: 3
Chart Performance: Nick Drake’s albums sold terribly upon release, but have since become essential albums posthumously. His final studio album, 1972’s Pink Moon, sits at No. 321 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums of All Time list.
Accolades: Since his early death, he’s been cited as an influence by R.E.M., The Cure, Lucinda Williams, Ben Folds, Badly Drawn Boy, Lou Barlow, Mikael Åkerfeldt, and many more. Pink Moon ranked No. 45 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums.
17. Iron Maiden
Number of Years Snubbed: 17
Number of Albums: 16
Chart Performance: With little radio or television support, Iron Maiden have sold over 90 million records worldwide. And yet regardless of the lineup shifts, several of their albums have received platinum and gold albums both stateside and overseas, specifically 1982’s The Number of the Beast, 1983’s Piece of Mind, 1984’s Powerslave, 1985’s live release Live After Death, 1986’s Somewhere in Time, and 1988’s Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
Accolades: As of October 2013, the band have played over 2,000 live shows throughout their career. In 2002, they received the Ivor Novello Award for international achievement, and in 2005, were also inducted into the Hollywood RockWalk on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA.
Wait a Second… Iron Maiden have been nominated for 2021.
16. Rage Against the Machine
Number of Years Snubbed: 4
Number of Albums: 4
Chart Performance: Given their political inclinations, Rage probably could care less about the Billboard charts, but they should. Each one of their records — even their final LP of covers, 2000’s Renegades — scaled the charts, with 1996’s Evil Empire and 1999’s Battle for Los Angeles claiming No. 1. What’s more, they’ve all been certified Platinum by the RIAA; in fact, both their 1992 self-titled debut and Evil Empire went 3x Platinum.
Accolades: Same thing. Could probably give a shit about awards, too, but of course that didn’t stop them from winning two Grammys for Best Metal (“Tire Me”) and Hard Rock (“Guerilla Radio”) Performance out of six nominations. And while Cleveland has yet to show them love outside of two nominations, they have been inducted into Kerrang’s own Hall of Fame. Better yet, NME gave ’em a Heroes of the Year Award back in 2010. Again, they do not care.
Wait a Second… Rage has been nominated for 2021.
15. New Order
Number of Years Snubbed: 15
Number of Albums: 10
Chart Performance: Through their 68 total releases — including LPs, EPs, and singles — New Order have been an unstoppable presence in the UK charts with three Gold albums, two Platinum compilations, three Silver albums, and, you know, the best selling 12-inch single of all time with “Blue Monday”. Stateside, they secured two Gold albums and their Substance compilation was even certified Platinum.
Accolades: Chart success aside, they’ve only been nominated once by the Grammys, and it wasn’t until 2005, and it was a small nomination at that (i.e. Best Dance Recording for “Guilt Is a Useless Emotion” off Waiting for the Siren’s Call). Still, the outfit’s one of the most critically-acclaimed and influential acts of the last 30 years, changing the face of techno, rock, and pop forever.
Number of Years Snubbed: 9
Number of Albums: 6
Chart Performance: Surfer Rosa spent 60 weeks on the UK Indie Chart, peaking at No. 2. In 2005, a solid 17 years after its release, it was finally certified gold by the RIAA. Its followup, Doolittle, peaked at No. 98 on the US Billboard 200 and at No. 8 on the UK Albums Chart. In 1995, it was certified gold by the RIAA. Bossanova, however, was released on a major label (Elektra) and nabbed No. 70 on the Billboard 200 and No. 3 on the UK Albums Chart.
Accolades: Both Surfer Rosa and Doolittle are consistently cited as one of the greatest albums of the ’80s and the most important albums in alternative rock, having influenced everyone from Nirvana to Radiohead, The Strokes to Pavement. It should be noted their 2009 box set, Minotaur, received a Grammy nomination and that Doolittle ranked No. 14 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums.
Number of Years Snubbed: 19
Number of Albums: 9
Chart Performance: Devo’s critically acclaimed debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! reached No. 12 in the UK and No. 78 in the US. However, its 1980 follow-up, Freedom of Choice, went Platinum in the US and Gold in Canada, making it their highest-selling album. 1981’s New Traditionalists and 2010’s Something for Everybody peaked at No. 23 and No. 30 on U.S. charts, respectively.
Accolades: Their cult acclaim has only awarded them the first-ever Moog Innovator Award, which they received in 2010 at Moogfest in Asheville, NC. What’s integral about Devo is their pioneering sound and style, which impacted New Wave, industrial, and alternative in addition to how music videos could be conceived. Duty Now for the Future ranked No. 66 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums. They were once again passed over by the Hall of Fame after being nominated this year.
Wait a Second… DEVO has been nominated for 2021.
12. Pat Benatar
Number of Years Snubbed: 22
Number of Albums: 12
Chart Performance: Let’s see, Pat Benatar has two multi-Platinum albums (1980’s Crimes of Passion and 1981’s Precious Time), five platinum albums, three gold albums, and 15 Top 40 singles, including four No. 1 hits (“Hit Me with Your Best Shot”, “Love Is a Battlefield”, “We Belong”, and “Invincible”). To date, she’s sold over 30 million records worldwide.
Accolades: Benatar was unstoppable in the early ’80s, walking away with four consecutive Grammy wins in the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance: 1981 for Crimes of Passion, 1982 for “Fire and Ice”, 1983 for “Shadows of the Night”, and 1984 for “Love Is a Battlefield”. She was an icon then and she remains one today with her music featured in every facet of pop culture. And yet, her battle against Cleveland continues as she lost her nomination in 2020.
11. Sonic Youth
Number of Years Snubbed: 14
Number of Albums: 16
Chart Performance: Sonic Youth’s final album, 2009’s The Eternal, peaked at No. 18 on the Billboard 200 and was the band’s highest charting album of their career. However, it did clock in at No. 01 on the US Billboard Tastemakers Albums.
Accolades: In 2009, they won an Innovation in Sound award at the Q Awards. Outside of that, however, zilch — which is quite depressing given their jaw-dropping legacy of 16 studio albums, seven extended plays, three compilation albums, seven video releases, 21 singles, 46 music videos, and eight releases in the Sonic Youth Recordings series. To date, their legacy has redefined the way critics and musicians look at music altogether, having influenced the alternative and art house scenes for decades. Daydream Nation ranked No. 51 among Consequence of Sound’s Top 100 Albums.