Earlier this month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for its 2022 class. By and large, most of the artists on that list are worthy of enshrinement and the nominating committee did a good job at selecting candidates this year aside from some acts that had been on the ballot in the past not making a re-appearance. Voters who have been mailed ballots have until sometime in the spring to send in the five artists they believe should be inducted and those ballots will be tallied up to create the class.
Last year, six artists were inducted – Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Jay-Z, Carole King, Todd Rundgren, and Tina Turner – and several more such as Kraftwerk and LL Cool J were inducted through special side categories. Out of the 16 artists on this year’s ballot, anywhere from five to eight might be inducted depending on how large the class is and whether any of these acts will get in through those aforementioned side categories, no matter how controversial that move is.
This article will go through each candidate and predict their likelihood of enshrinement this year. Whether I, the author, personally believe they should go in has little to do with my predictions. Instead, I’m looking at past Hall classes and voting patterns to figure out who could be on stage later this year accepting an induction.
I’ve also listed some “similar candidates”. These are not acts I believe “should” be here “instead” of artists on the ballot. That is a common argument that is made with Rock Hall nominees because there is such a log-jam of worthy artists that the Hall might never get around to clearing. There’s hundreds of acts that could be in the Hall, and maybe genres, scenes, and whole countries that have been ignored are underserved over the past 35+ years. Instead, the similar candidates are articles who could be on the ballot given the style/era of the actual nominee, or whose own nomination or induction potentially would become likelier given the nomination/induction of the artist they’re listed under.
With that out of the way, let’s go through the 17 nominees from 2022.
Eligible since: 2019
Previous nomination: 0
Notable songs: “Loser” (1994), “Where It’s At” (1996), “The New Pollution” (1996), “Lost Cause” (2002), “E-Pro” (2005)
Similar candidates: Sonic Youth (eligible since 2008), Pavement (eligible since 2015), Smashing Pumpkins (eligible since 2016), Liz Phair (eligible since 2019), Sleater-Kinney (eligible since 2020)
Chance for induction this year: High. Beck burst onto the music scene in 1993 with his mix of alternative rock and slacker hip hop on the Top 10 hit “Loser”. Over the next three decades, Beck has forged a one-of-a-kind, genre-busting career that has brought him critical acclaim and commercial success, highlighted by his 1996 masterpiece Odelay. You never know what he’s going to sound like the next time he shows up – folky and introspective like on Sea Change and Morning Phase, funky and offbeat like on Midnite Vultures and The Information, synthy and accessible like on Hyperspace or even some other new style. All the while, Beck has been a consistent presence on rock radio and has influenced a ton of artists across all styles of music in his wake. Beck has established himself as one of the most popular and enduring artists from the ‘90s alternative explosion, which has less representation that you’d expect in the Hall right now. Beck seems to have everything going for him getting in this year on his first appearance. If he doesn’t it will be a surprise, and because of a ballot filled with worthy artists that debuted before him.
Eligible since: 2000
Previous nominations: 1 (2020)
Notable songs: “Heartbreaker” (1979), “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (1980), “Shadows of the Night” (1982), “Love is a Battlefield” (1983), “We Belong” (1984)
Similar candidates: Eddie Money (eligible since 2003), Foreigner (eligible since 2003), The Bangles (eligible since 2007), Billy Idol (eligible since 2007), Cyndi Lauper (eligible since 2009)
Chance for induction this year: Medium/high. Pat Benatar cut her own path across the 80s with her brand of urgent pop-rock, with songs that were catchy enough for Top 40 radio but edgy enough to still gain rock cred. Her videos made her an MTV staple, and her enduring songs have made her into a reliable touring act who continues to be a draw to this day. Uniquely, Benatar’s nomination also includes her guitar, songwriting partner, and husband Neil Giraldo. There’s a lot of love for Benatar out there and there was surprise when she didn’t get in on her first try in 2020, but this is a crowded ballot and she may come up short once again. She seems like a selection a voter might be considering as their fifth pick with several other nominees. Still, considering how much she’s admired in the industry and remains a well known name, she’s always an outside chance.
Eligible since: 2004
Previous nominations: 2 (2018, 2021)
Notable songs: “Wuthering Heights” (1978), “Babooshka” (1980), “Running Up That Hill” (1985), “Hounds of Love” (1985), “This Woman’s Work” (1989)
Similar candidates: Scott Walker (eligible since 1992), Bjork (eligible since 2003), Talk Talk (eligible since 2009), Tori Amos (eligible since 2017), Fiona Apple (eligible since 2022)
Chance for induction this year: Low/medium. Bush is widely admired by music critics (myself included) and her influence can be heard on the next 40 years of singer-songwriters that came after her. Her first six albums provided a middle-point for fans of new wave, early alternative, and progressive rock, and her 1985 album Hounds of Love is hailed as one of the best records of the ’80s. That should warrant an instant induction, but being a critical favorite doesn’t guarantee an induction; Just ask Los Lobos or John Prine. In the United States at least, Bush was an artist whose impact was felt through her influence and her cult following, not album sales or chart hits. Up until very recently, it was tough for an artist whose impact was felt primarily in Europe to get in. That’s changed, and if there’s someone on this ballot who fits that bill who could get in, it’s Bush. I’d certainly love to see her in.
Eligible since: 2003
Previous nominations: 2 (2019, 2021)
Notable songs: “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” (1977), “Jocko Homo” (1978), “Whip It” (1980), “Girl U Want” (1980), “Through Being Cool” (1981)
Similar candidates: Sparks (eligible since 1997), Split Enz (eligible since 2001), XTC (eligible since 2003), The B-52’s (eligible since 2004), They Might Be Giants (eligible since 2012)
Chance for induction this year: Low. Devo are influential on the development of electronic pop, quirky “geek rock”, and the medium of the music video, but they’re also still synonymous with “one hit wonder” due to their lone top 40 hit “Whip It”. It does seem like their earlier avant-garde material like their landmark 1977 debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! LP has become as well known as their one pop hit. There are several acts in the Hall too with one hit to their name, even some you wouldn’t expect, so they’re not a longshot per se because of that. They also have a devoted fanbase and influenced a ton of later new wave and alternative artists. Even though the argument for their induction is much stronger than a casual observer might think it would be, I don’t see them getting in this year. Certainly not this soon after the more groundbreaking Kraftwerk got smuggled into the Hall through another category, and definitely not with Duran Duran on the ballot.
Eligible since: 2007
Previous nominations: 0
Notable songs: “Planet Earth” (1981), “Hungry Like the Wolf” (1982), “Rio” (1982), “The Reflex” (1984), “Ordinary World” (1993)
Similar candidates: The Psychedelic Furs (eligible since 2005), Simple Minds (eligible since 2005), INXS (eligible since 2006), Tears for Fears (eligible since 2007), Culture Club (eligible since 2008)
Chance for induction this year: High. I actually think the Duranies might even be a lock. They have pretty much everything you’d want in a Hall inductee: A name everyone knows, with a lot of hits over a long span of time, iconic visuals, considerable influence on both contemporaries and later artists, and a long-lasting career that regularly produces new material. Also, they’re a much discussed Hall snub, and it seems like the NomCom are trying to get some of those out of the way. There’s a lot of artists from the 80s heyday of MTV on this ballot, and Duran Duran are the biggest of all of them and are certainly going to have the most attention. Pencil them in along with the next act.
Eligible since: 2022
Previous nominations: First-year eligible
Notable songs: “My Name Is” (1999), “The Real Slim Shady” (2000), “Without Me” (2002), “Lose Yourself” (2002), “Love the Way You Lie” (2010)
Similar candidates: Wu-Tang Clan (eligible since 2018), Nas (eligible since 2018), Outkast (eligible since 2019), Snoop Dogg (eligible since 2019), Busta Rhymes (eligible since 2022)
Chance for induction this year: Lock. There’s no way Eminem doesn’t get in this year, he’s an absolute lock. He could potentially be in danger of what happened to Radiohead, where a for-sure first-ballot inductee didn’t get in on their first go presumably because so many voters thought they were a sure thing. Could that happen to Eminem? Maybe, but probably not, especially not in the aftermath of his performance at the Super Bowl half-time show this year. Consider Marshall Mathers a given; The discussion instead is who will join him on stage later this year as fellow inductees.
Eligible since: 2007
Previous nominations: 1 (2018)
Notable songs: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (1983), “Who’s That Girl?” (1983), “Here Comes the Rain Again” (1984), “Would I Lie to You?” (1985), “There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)” (1985)
Similar candidates: Grace Jones (eligible since 2001), Siouxsie and the Banshees (eligible since 2004), The Human League (eligible since 2004), Joy Division/New Order (eligible since 2004/2007), Pet Shop Boys (eligible since 2010)
Chance for induction this year: Low/medium. Duran Duran’s presence on the ballot is going to make things tougher for Eurythmics than other MTV acts like Devo or Pat Benatar because the Duranies seem like such a sure thing. Eurythmics certainly have the credentials to warrant an induction, but they might need a few more tries and a ballot less crowded with ’80s new wavers to get in.
Eligible since: 2000
Previous nominations: 2 (2018, 2020)
Notable songs: “Living After Midnight” (1980), “Breaking the Law” (1980), “Headed Out to the Highway” (1981), “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’” (1982), “Painkiller” (1990)
Similar candidates: Rainbow (eligible since 2001), Motorhead (eligible since 2003), Iron Maiden (eligible since 2005), Saxon (eligible since 2005), Dio (eligible since 2009)
Chance for induction this year: Medium. It’s a real shame that the Hall keeps ignoring metal. There are several metal-adjacent hard rock acts in the Hall like AC/DC, Def Leppard, Guns n’ Roses, Deep Purple, and Kiss, but for actual metal? Only two bands are in: Black Sabbath and Metallica. For such an enduring genre – one that’s popular the world over, let’s not forget – that’s a shocking lack of coverage. Judas Priest and Iron Maiden seem to be the two names that the Nom Com has been looking to honor, and they’re the right bands to go next, but neither have gotten the votes to get in. Hopefully that changes soon and one of these bands cracks some class in the future. Unless the Hall ups the number of inductees, 2022 doesn’t look to be it for Judas Priest. Some voters just don’t like metal, and others may want to focus their attention on something else.
Eligible since: 1996
Previous nominations: 1 (2021)
Notable songs: “Confusion” (1975), “He Miss Road” (1975), “Water Get No Enemy” (1975), “Zombie” (1976), “No Agreement” (1977)
Similar candidates: Countless non American or British artists that have never been nominated for the Hall, but in terms of the African continent: King Sunny Ade (eligible since 1993), Paul Ngozi & Ngozi Family (eligible since 2001), Tony Allen (eligible since 2001), Angélique Kidjo (eligible since 2007), Bhundu Boys (eligible since 2008)
Chance for induction this year: Medium/high for a side category induction. Fela Kuti is another artist who is well loved by music critics, but whose name does not ring a bell to others in the industry, especially in the US. That likely means he’s not getting in through the mainline ballot in favor of names that are more familiar. That’s a shame, too. This has been something I’ve harped on for over a decade now, but the Hall needs to do way better in recognizing artists from outside of the United States and the United Kingdom. Rock ‘n’ roll may have started in the US, but it became a truly global art form and the Hall needs to reflect that. I’m glad the Nom Com has pushed for Fela for two consecutive years – he’s a great choice to start with, he’s truly a juggernaut of music for an entire continent that is often unfairly ignored when it comes to entertainment – but there’s got to be something else like an international wing or an international inductee every year. That’s why I think he might actually get in this year through one of the side categories as opposed to a mainline induction like the Musical Excellence category. It would be weird, but it would be a way for the Hall to start recognizing artists like Kuti now instead of waiting for years for them to finally make it in.
Eligible since: 1992
Previous nominations: 5 (2003, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
Notable songs: “Kick Out the Jams” (1969), “Motor City is Burning” (1969), “Ramblin’ Rose” (1969), “Back in the USA” (1970), “Sister Anne” (1971)
Similar candidates: The Sonics (eligible since 1991), The 13th Floor Elevators (eligible since 1992), Love (eligible since 1992), Hawkwind (eligible since 1996), Jonathan Richman & The Modern Lovers (eligible since 2002)
Chance for induction this year: High, for a side category induction. Looking at how many times they’ve been on the ballot, the Nom Com sure wants the MC5 in the Hall don’t they? I get it, I understand their importance on the development of punk rock, but there’s plenty of other late ‘60s and early ‘70s acts that fit that same bill that have never made a ballot appearance. Their legacy really boils down to one album, 1969’s Kick Out the Jams, and again there are plenty of acts who have one big album that seem like better inductees than the MC5. Still, here’s another artist who would be perfect for a side category. The Hall is now considering artists who came after the birth of rock ‘n’ roll but were important on the development of a subgenre to their Early Influences category with Kraftwerk and Gil-Scott Heron’s inductions last year. The MC5 is another case like them, and given that the Hall wants them in, and off this ballot, that might be where they land this year.
New York Dolls
Eligible since: 1999
Previous nominations: 2 (2001, 2021)
Notable songs: “Personality Crisis” (1973), “Looking for a Kiss” (1973), “Trash” (1973), “Jet Boy” (1973), “Babylon” (1974)
Similar candidates: Slade (eligible since 1995), Jobriath (eligible since 1995), Television (eligible since 2001), Buzzcocks (eligible since 2003), Motley Crue (eligible since 2007)
Chance for induction this year: Medium/high, for a side category induction. Are the going to Hall induct the New York Dolls the same way I think they’re going to induct the MC5 this year? Yeah, I think so. Although it would have been better for them to just not put them on the ballot at all if that’s what the plan is. In terms of short-lived influential but unsuccessful 1970s bands, I think the case for induction for the Dolls is a little better than the MC5 due to them influencing both punk and glam metal, but I think the Hall is more dead set on getting the MC5 in due to their five previous nominations as opposed to the Dolls’ two. If the New York Dolls don’t get in as an early influence with the MC5 this year, expect them to do so next year.
Eligible since: 1989
Previous nominations: 0
Notable songs: “Coat of Many Colors” (1971), “Jolene” (1973), “I Will Always Love You” (1973), “Here You Come Again” (1977), “9 to 5” (1980)
Similar candidates: Willie Nelson (eligible since 1987), Gram Parsons (eligible since 1993), Emmylou Harris (eligible since 1994), Lucinda Williams (eligible since 2005), Lyle Lovett (eligible since 2012)
Chance for induction this year: High. Everybody loves Dolly Parton, and that love’s probably going to get her in the Hall no problem this year. I think the Hall needs to be choosy with what country stars get in the Hall: They should either have been involved with a country-rock style or an influence on it. Dolly, through her songwriting especially, is a key influence on the Americana and alt-country styles. Her mainstream crossover success and ubiquity also definitely help her. Consider her less of a lock than Eminem or Duran Duran, but definitely someone I won’t be surprised is announced as an inductee this spring. Even though she’s a country artist, she’s one of those nominees that a voter is going to see on their ballot, think “Why wasn’t she inducted in the 90s?” and give her a vote.
Rage Against The Machine
Eligible since: 2018
Previous nominations: 3 (2018, 2019, 2021)
Notable songs: “Killing in the Name” (1992), “Bulls on Parade” (1996), “People of the Sun” (1996), “Guerilla Radio” (1999), “Sleep Now in the Fire” (1999)
Similar candidates: Faith No More (eligible since 2011), White Zombie (eligible since 2011), Cypress Hill (eligible since 2017), Incubus (eligible since 2021), Deftones (eligible since 2021)
Chance for induction this year: High. Rage’s relatively small discography of just three albums of original material and a covers album are not necessarily a hindrance when their impact is taken into consideration. Rage were not only a best-selling act, but they’re one of the few metal bands from the mid and late ’90s to garner critical acclaim along with their popularity. Their political lyrics and Tom Morello’s unique guitar style helped them stand out from other hip hop/metal fusion acts in the ’90s as well. Like Judas Priest, they’d also actually fulfill a metal quota that the Hall lacks, albeit from a completely different scene and era. Some voters may not like the out of chronology thing, but they’ve done it for other genres including metal. The Hall is definitely under pressure to acknowledge metal beyond Black Sabbath and Metallica, as seen with the side-category induction of Randy Rhoads last year. If they continue on that path this year, I expect Rage to be the name that’s called as opposed to Judas Priest as worthy as both artists are.
Eligible since: 2007
Previous nominations: 0
Notable songs: “Truly” (1981), “All Night Long (All Night)” (1983), “Hello” (1983), “Stuck on You” (1983), “Dancing on the Ceiling” (1986)
Similar candidates: The Pointer Sisters (eligible since 1999), Commodores (eligible since 2000), Luther Vandross (eligible since 2002), Phil Collins (eligible since 2007), George Michael (eligible since 2013)
Chances: High/medium. Richie is unquestionably a big name, and the Hall is sorely lacking representation from 1980s R&B and mainstream pop. It does feel like the Commodores should have been inducted before Richie got in solo, much like how fellow 80s icon Peter Gabriel got in solo after Genesis were honored. However, nothing says the Commodores can’t get in after Richie either: Clyde McPhatter, Neil Young, and Rod Stewart were all inducted for their solo careers before being recognized as members of The Drifters, the Buffalo Springfield, and Faces, respectively. I’d consider Richie to be just outside the top five in terms of locks. If there’s six or seven mainline inductees this year, and this ballot definitely goes deep enough to warrant that, I wouldn’t be surprised if his name is one of them.
Eligible since: 1997
Previous nominations: 0
Notable songs: “You’re So Vain” (1972), “Mockingbird” (1974), “Nobody Does It Better” (1977), “You Belong to Me” (1978), “Let the River Run” (1989)
Similar candidates: Judy Collins (eligible since 1987), Harry Nilsson (eligible since 1993), Fairport Convention (eligible since 1993), Warren Zevon (eligible since 1995), John Prine (eligible since 1997)
Chances for induction this year: Medium/high. Now that Carole King is in the Hall as an artist, Simon is the next ‘70s singer-songwriter to get a shot. She might make it in too, considering her name recognition and influence on contemporary singer-songwriters like Taylor Swift. Like Parton, Simon is an artist that voters might check off out of surprise that she’s not in yet even though she’s been eligible for decades. But this is also a crowded ballot and some of those voters might come down to picking between Parton or Simon. Even if she doesn’t get in on this ballot, Simon is very likely to get in next year or the year after.
A Tribe Called Quest
Eligible since: 2015
Previous nominations: 0
Notable songs: “Can I Kick It?” (1990), “Check the Rhime” (1991), “Scenario” (1991), “Award Tour” (1993), “We the People” (2016)
Similar candidates: De La Soul (eligible since 2014), Queen Latifah (eligible since 2015), Common (eligible since 2018), The Roots (eligible since 2019), Fugees (eligible since 2019)
Chances: Medium. Tribe are unquestionably important and influential, and they would be a great first inductee in the alternative/conscious hip hop genre. But the Hall voters unfortunately only seem to want to put one rap act in a year as a mainline inductee, broken only by them awkwardly inducting LL Cool J through a side category. Eminem is an obvious first ballot hall of famer and that means that Tribe is likely to be overlooked. A real shame, too. Should they be in? Absolutely. Will they get in? I don’t think so, at least not this year.
Eligible since: 1988
Previous nominations: 1 (2021)
Notable songs: “Walk on By” (1964), “I Say a Little Prayer” (1967), “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” (1967), “Then Came You” (1974), “That’s What Friends Are For” (1985)
Similar candidates: Mary Wells (eligible since 1986), The Spinners (eligible since 1987), Barry White (eligible since 1988), Roberta Flack (eligible since 1995), Diana Ross (eligible since 1996)
Chances for induction this year: High. Like a lot of artists on this ballot, Dionne Warwick ticks so many induction boxes: she’s roundly beloved, influential, is one of the most successful pop artists in chart history, had a long career fueled by songs everyone knows and which brought her hits into the 1980s, and she’s still well known to younger generations due to her often witty presence on Twitter. So it came as a surprise that she didn’t get in on her first go last year. If there’s one detraction from Warwick’s case for induction, it’s that many of her biggest hits are firmly traditional pop songs as opposed to a style closer to rock. But how many artists that are already in the Hall dabbled with standards and MOR during their career? Aside from Lionel Ritchie, there’s no other artists in the realm of R&B on the ballot, and I think she might actually have a better chance than Ritchie. Some voters that might have otherwise ticked Ritchie’s name off might instead not because they think he should go in with the Commodores first. There’s no such second-guessing when it comes to Warwick. Ultimately, I think she has enough of a unique presence on this ballot that she probably makes it this time
Who do I think will get in?
I think this year’s class will definitely include Eminem, and Duran Duran and Dolly Parton are probably getting inducted as well. After that, I’m a little less certain. I think Beck’s in, and this seems like long-time nominee Rage Against the Machine’s year. Dionne Warwick seems like she’d be in as well. As I mentioned in the write-up above I also think the Hall might sneak in a few of these nominees into side categories. Those side-categories seem like they’re wide-open now: Early influences is no longer just for pre-rock ‘n’ roll era artists, and the Award for Musical Excellence has always had a nebulous definition since they changed it from the “sidemen” category even though there’s plenty of session musicians worthy of induction, and there’s also many figures worthy of induction in the non-performer category. Ultimately, here’s my prediction of the class using only the nominees:
- Duran Duran
- Dolly Parton
- Rage Against the Machine
- Lionel Richie
- Dionne Warwick
- Early influence: MC5
- Award for Musical Excellence: Fela Kuti
Out of the other nominees, I think Carly Simon and Pat Benatar are just outside the bubble. They could just as easily be inducted instead of Warwick, Parton, and/or Ritchie this year. If they don’t get in this year, I think both Simon and Benatar get in on their next appearance. As much as they’re worthy and would be great picks for underrepresented genres, I don’t think A Tribe Called Quest or Judas Priest are getting in this year. Kate Bush, my personal favorite artist among the inductees, is sadly also probably not in this year as thrilled as I would be about her getting in. The Hall should also be able to induct seven main inductees, seemingly their maximum possible class size, this year due to the depth of the ballot. It would be a real shame if they only put in five artists like they have in some years.
If I had my own ballot, I’d definitely check off Duran Duran, Kate Bush, Fela Kuti, and A Tribe Called Quest, but I keep going back and forth on who my fifth choice would be: Dolly Parton? Pat Benatar? Judas Priest? Eurythmics? I think I’d ultimately pick Pat Benatar because she seems like a more likely inductee than Priest or the Eurythmics, three of my other choices are personal favorites that seem less likely to get in, and Parton feels like a surer thing without my vote.
Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see until later this spring to see who gets into the Hall. The fan vote on the Rock Hall website runs until April 29, so it’s entirely possible we’ll hear who will be inducted as early as May.