The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has announced the nominees for its class of 2014, and it's a strong and varied group: the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Chic, Deep Purple, Peter Gabriel, Hall and Oates, Kiss, LL Cool J., The Meters, Nirvana, N.W.A, The Replacements, Linda Ronstadt, Cat Stevens, Link Wray, Yes and the Zombies.
The strong slate is particularly good news after a relatively weak 2013 class of inductees. Everybody likes the Wilson sisters, or at least all American males of a certain age do, but is Heart really one of the greatest rock bands of all time? C'mon.
A few other thoughts:
(1) Nirvana would seem to be the obvious front-runner here. The main suspense would seem to be who will fill in for Kurt Cobain during the celebration concert.
But the nomination also has ominous overtones, suggesting that the quality of the nominees will decline in a few years. The last wave of really good rock bands were the grunge groups of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, etc.
Artists become eligible for induction 25 years after their first record. Once Pearl Jam gets inducted (the band's first record was in 1991), who's left?
(2) Yes is usually considered the best progressive rock band, so the band's induction would be a big breakthrough for the category. It's odd that Rush was inducted first. It's a little bit like inducting the Kinks ahead of the Beatles. My campaign statement for Yes is here.
(3) Where's Roxy Music? Where's the Cars?
(4) So the Moody Blues aren't good enough, the Cars aren't good enough, Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry aren't good enough, Stevie Ray frigging Vaughan isn't good enough, but Cat Stevens gets nominated? Was that the "ironic" nomination?