Any sort of hall of fame is bound to be a polarizing institution, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is no different. The new batch of nominees for the 2010 class were released earlier today, and it's an eclectic list that is bound to spark a ton of debate over the next few months (right up until the actual inductees are announced in December). Bon Jovi, Donovan, Alice Cooper, Dr. John and Neil Diamond have all been nominated for the first time, and they are joined by Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Chic, Laura Nyro, Joe Tex, Chuck Willis, the J. Geils Band and Tom Waits.
That's a pretty wide range of people, ranging in styles from classic rock to metal to hip-hop to soul to folk to whatever it is that J. Geils Band used to play. If I had a ballot (and believe me, I do not), I would cast my lot for four of those nominees.
These guys absolutely must get in, as they seamlessly straddled the worlds of rock, hip-hop and pop music (don't forget that they opened for Madonna once) while impressing everybody in those respective genres. Old-school hip-hop people respect them, and the rock world has always loved them for their always-present hardcore leanings and their association with Rick Rubin. As a bonus, they remain relevant, as their coming-soon album Hot Sauce Committee, Pt. 1 is hotly-anticipated.
Can you believe that the band who brought us Slippery When Wet has been doing their thing for as long as they have? No other hair metal band survived the alt-rock era better or more completely than Bon Jovi — not Guns N' Roses, not Mötley Crüe — and they are the only band from that era still making relevant records that people want to hear. I would vote them in just so they could represent the hair metal era (but they get bonus points for "You Give Love a Bad Name").
If you're talking about influence, it begins and ends with Waits. Though he has never sold very many albums, he has always mashed together his incredible songwriting abilities with a playful approach to arranging and recording. Plus, he has one of the most amazing voices in the history of music. If Elton John and Billy Joel are both in (and they both are), then Waits should walk in without a second thought.
LL Cool J
Say what you will about hip-hop people in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but LL Cool J changed the way people think about rap music in a live setting and helped usher it out of the streets and into the lives of mainstream radio listeners. I would seriously vote for him just for his performance on "MTV Unplugged," which was an incredible piece of television that re-arranged a lot of people's concepts about what rap was and could be.
Who would you induct into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Let us know in the comments!