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Our Picks from 2022 Rock Hall Inductees, and Those Who Missed Out

Congratulations to five of the artists who made it to this year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame list, and best of luck to two others for the next time

Shunashir Sen May 05, 2022
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Artists who made it

1. Harry Belafonte

Long before Drake, long before Michael Jackson, long before Jimi Hendrix even, it was Harry Belafonte who was introducing America and the wider western world to the joys of black music. But why just the western world? His calypso-inspired tunes reached as far as Indian shores way prior to the advent of the Internet, with classic tracks like “Coconut Woman” and “Jamaica Farewell” influencing generations of youngsters (though to be honest, we are not so sure about the present one). Suffice to say in that case that his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame via the ‘Early Influence Award’ route is well deserved.

2. Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton is a country music legend. Photo: Dennis Carney

Dolly Parton stirred up a hornet’s nest of sorts on March 14 when, after being announced as a nominee for this year’s Rock Hall list, she stated that she hadn’t “earned this right” and wanted to “bow out.” But the Rock Hall honchos were having none of it, effectively telling her, “Nothing doing, honey. You are nominated and that’s that!” Parton eventually made a U-turn, saying she’d “graciously accept” the honor if she were inducted, which is exactly what’s come to pass. And if you ask us, justice has been served for the decades of service she has put in to put country music on the global map.

3. Duran Duran

Duran Duran divides opinion. But love them or hate them, you can’t deny their staying power and the way they have reinvented themselves over the course of three decades. The same band that gave us hits like “Come Undone” and “Ordinary World” in the Eighties showed how they’d shifted gears by 2015 when they released a thoroughly modern song like “Pressure Off,” which had slick 21st-century production aesthetics and a collaborator as contemporary as Janelle Monáe. But if we had to recommend one track from their extensive discography, it would be “What Happens Tomorrow,” a tune so uplifting that when you are down and out, it will caress your back in a comforting manner.

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4. Eminem

Eminem disrupted the rap scene in the 1990s. Photo: Craig McDean

So what if he’s a rapper being inducted into ‘Rock’ Hall? So what that he made it to the list in the very first year that he was eligible for it? Who’s going to grudge Eminem this feather in his cap? Simply put, he changed the face of music in the late Nineties when he burst into the hip-hop scene as a white man in a black world. In fact, his lightning-speed delivery has only become faster with time (keep up with the lyrics in “Fall” from the 2018 album Kamikaze, and we’ll send you a medal). And it’s not just about the speed but also about the poetic content – to quote Seamus Heaney, Nobel laureate and former professor of poetry at Oxford University, “[Eminem] has sent a voltage around his generation.” Truer words have rarely been uttered.

5. Eurythmics

If you ever need any evidence of the sheer sass that Annie Lennox possesses, all you have to do is visit YouTube and check out her performance at the Grammy Awards in 1984. In it, the vocalist of Eurythmics sings their greatest ever hit, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This),” sporting Elvis-like sideburns and dressed in a gender-neutral black suit. She owned the stage pretty much like Elon Musk owns Twitter right now, and though Lennox and Dave Stewart – the other half of Eurythmics – have many other hits under their belt, this track alone makes them worthy of a Rock Hall nod, at least in our books. 

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Artists who missed out

A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest are a pioneering hip-hop act. Photo: Legacy Recordings

The year was 1990. Tupac hadn’t hit the scene yet, nor had Biggie Smalls. But that’s when A Tribe Called Quest launched People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, their debut album that changed the future of alternative hip-hop. The rhymes in the record were so tight that even a sailor wouldn’t have been able to open them had they been a rope with a knot. Their later albums like The Low End Theory enjoyed more commercial success. But with People’s Instinctive Travels, ATCQ – an act that comprises black Muslim members – showed the world how rap music can cut across not just racial, but also religious divides.

Beck

Beck’s music embodies a variety of sounds. Photo: Mikai Karl

There are fans of heavy music reading this list who would rage against the fact that Rage Against the Machine and Judas Priest didn’t make it as this year’s inductees. But we’d like to shift the focus on a relatively softer artist, Beck, the American lo-fi exponent who is a musical shape-shifter. Yet, to borrow from the title of his greatest hit, it’s no matter that he was a “loser” this time around. Life generally gives you a second chance, and we are quite sure that the Grammy-winning artist will be considered for a nomination again in the future.

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