Janet Jackson, Radiohead, Def Leppard and Stevie Nicks will join the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame next year at its 34th annual induction ceremony, along with the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies, the organization announced on Thursday.
The class of 2019, which will formally enter the pantheon on March 29 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, represents a varied cross-section of the last half-century of pop music, with giants of classic and alternative rock, as well as a couple of acts from zones that the hall still glances at only occasionally: dance music and crowd-pleasing 1980s pop-metal.
The seven inductees — the biggest class since 2004 — are mostly uncontroversial choices, which may help the hall duck the criticism it has often received because of its opaque internal politics. Three acts — Def Leppard, Roxy Music and Nicks — were accepted the first time they appeared on the ballot, while Radiohead and the Cure made it in the second time around.
The artists who didn’t make the cut, including LL Cool J, Kraftwerk and the funk band Rufus, say as much about the makeup of the hall as those that did. Here are some of the themes and inevitable squabbles of the latest Rock Hall class.
In the early years of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, which had its first induction ceremony in 1986, the winners were unquestioned gods of the genre, like Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley and the Beatles. But since at least 2007, when hip-hop finally arrived via Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the hall has been the focus of continual debate about the makeup — or even the existence — of a rock canon.
This year’s crop is unlikely to stir much controversy, unlike the recent inductions of Kiss, Bon Jovi or Journey, who, despite their success, have long been reviled by many critics and other gatekeepers on the hall’s secretive nominating committee.
The inclusion of Radiohead and Jackson should please some of the hall’s detractors. Radiohead’s snub last year mystified many observers who saw other 1990s alternative heroes like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Green Day enter the hall the instant they became eligible. And the absence of Jackson, who had been rejected twice before, was seen as symbolic of the underrepresentation of women and people of color.
Nicks, who was already in the hall as a member of Fleetwood Mac, has been recognized for her solo career. She will be the first female multiple inductee, joining more than 20 men, including Michael Jackson, Lou Reed and each Beatle.
In two of the more standard moves, the Zombies were recognized for crisp psychedelic pop like “Time of the Season” and Roxy Music, which included Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno, was inducted as one of the prime movers of 1970s art-rock.
Who was snubbed?
Those that did not make the cut this year include Devo, Todd Rundgren and John Prine, each nominated for the first time; Rage Against the Machine, on its second nod; the 1970s funk band Rufus, featuring Chaka Khan, rejected a third time; and LL Cool J, Kraftwerk and the Detroit rock band MC5, each on its fifth nomination.
That the snubbed nominees include a number of people of color, as well as genres like hip-hop and electronic pop that are poorly represented at the Rock Hall, will not go unnoticed. LL Cool J would have been just the seventh hip-hop act inducted.
Two years ago, the voters rejected Chic — the influential disco-funk band whose song “Good Times” became part of the basic vocabulary of hip-hop — for the 11th time, although as a consolation gave Nile Rodgers, one of its founders, the award for “musical excellence.”