Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2015: The Best of Next Year’s Newly Eligible Bands
Earlier this week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its class of 2014, a typically odd assortment of artists that includes Nirvana, Hall & Oates and Kiss. About the only thing the honorees share in common is that they each released their first record at least 25 years ago. That’s the Rock Hall’s eligibility criteria, and when the 2014 voting begins, those industry folks with access to ballots will be free to nominate acts that debuted in 1989. As it happens, that year saw many great bands hit us with their first shots, and what follows are five we’d like to see in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2015.
This one’s a sure thing — unless voters forget that the quintessential ’90s pop-punk band actually dropped its first piece of product, the ‘1,000 Hours’ EP, right at the tail end of the preceding decade. Nirvana got in on their first try, and given that Green Day did arguably as much to bring American underground punk rock to the masses, they deserve to have their jackets hung next to Elvis’ jumpsuits and John Oates’ mustache and whatever else they’ve got behind the glass.
Nine Inch Nails
Trent Reznor plugged in his ‘Pretty Hate Machine’ in ’89, and the world hasn’t been the same since. As the creative force behind Nine Inch Nails, Trent combined the abrasiveness of Ministry with the synth hooks of New Order and the theatricality of David Bowie, and in doing so, he turned grinding industrial music into viable Top 40 pop. NIN are responsible for a string of classic albums, and they’re still going strong. The only way they won’t make the Hall is if greybeard voters are still freaked by that ‘Closer’ clip.
The scraggly, lo-fi indie rock sound we all know and love begins with Pavement’s ‘Slay Tracks’ EP, which turns 25 next year. Given that the Replacements didn’t make the cut this year, Stephen Malkmus may have to wait a while, but the similarly influential and noncommercial Velvet Underground eventually snuck in, so there’s still a chance we’ll see the Cali slacker icon jamming with Paul Shaffer.
These guys are often credited with — or accused of — inventing emo, but the stigma attached to that dreaded word doesn’t sully albums like 1990’s ‘Unfun,’ which arrived a year after their debut single. Jawbreaker made bracing, tuneful punk rock about serious topics, and it’s not their fault that many of the musicians they’ve inspired make whiny-ass records about how their girlfriends won’t trade hoodies with them (or whatever).
In 1989, singer-guitarist Mac McCaughan and bassist Laura Ballance didn’t just found Superchunk — the eternally zippy, hyper-melodic alt-rock crew they’ve piloted, on and off, ever since — but they also founded Merge Records, one of the most important indie labels of all time. Superchunk’s discography is filled with terrific EPs, LPs and singles, and their two most recent discs — ‘Majesty Shredding’ and ‘I Hate Music’ — prove they’re still relevant and capable of bashing out vital rock ‘n’ roll. Relevant and vital? On second thought, there’s no place for them in the Rock Hall.