My Top 10 Artists That Aren’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but Should Be

During the final week of June, my daughters and I went on a really cool road trip. We went to Ithaca, NY for a college visit for my oldest and to explore the gorgeous gorges there. Then we went to Niagara Falls and rode The Maid of the Mist and viewed the falls from about every conceivable angle. Then we went to Cleveland and explored cool things around the city including the A Christmas Story house and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On the way home, we stopped through Cooperstown, NY to visit the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cool trip, right?

While we were at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, there was a touchscreen terminal polling visitors about which artists they things should be enshrined in the Rock Hall that aren’t already. I entered my top choice and then saw the week-to-date and year-to-date results. I agreed with some and disagreed with others, but I thought to myself: This would make an awesome Top 10 list!

While on vacation, I couldn’t get the list together in time for July 1, especially since at the time I had already planned what that one was. So I sat on it for the month, moved artists (except for the top few) around, and am ready to share it this month. I tried to balance this list as best I could, and it features artists debuting in the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. I can’t include artists debuting in the 00s, as they’re not even eligible yet; artists become eligible 25 years after the release of their first album. I made my choices based on my opinion of their longevity and impact upon rock and roll and popular music.

I don’t own any of the photos. Most of them came from the Not in Hall of Fame website.

Are we ready to rock?


#10 – Pixies

Here’s a selection based on their significant impact on rock and roll. If you research many of the bands in the big alternative music boom of the 90s, many of them will list the Pixies among their influences. Their debut album Surfer Rosa is a favorite of many music critics and it appears on many best album lists. When the album came out in 1988, I wasn’t yet in college and not listening to alternative, so I missed out on their debut as a teen, and I’m partially ashamed of that with them being a Boston-based band. However, I do remember hearing 1989’s “Here Comes Your Man” on the radio, which is a song that I absolutely love, although it’s got a much more mainstream hook and sound than some of their other stuff. They may not have had many albums—although they’ve put out a couple in the 2010s—and those albums may not have been big sellers—they were alternative, after all, before alternative became popular—but they are definitely significant in the history and progression of rock music, and therefore belong in the Hall of Fame.


#9 – Nine Inch Nails

Another artist that has only been eligible for a few years and have made it onto the final ballot twice, but Nine Inch Nails isn’t in yet. Though Trent Reznor and company may not have had the chart success, having only four number one songs on the U.S. Alternative chart (and they were consecutive), they’ve received numerous awards and accolades, often appearing on lists of the 100 greatest artists of all time. I think back to my days in college, dancing (well, jumping up and down and fist pumping) to “Head Like a Hole.” And when I make my list of Top 10 Cover Songs, Johnny Cash’s rendition of NIN’s “Hurt” will be near the top of that list. Seriously, when the Man in Black chooses to cover one of your songs, you’ve made an impact on rock and roll. There isn’t much representation of the industrial rock genre in the Rock Hall, and if anyone deserves that honor, it’s Nine Inch Nails. And they were formed in Cleveland, so the Hall voters need to give the local boys some love.


#8 – “Weird Al” Yankovic

Hear me out on this one. His singles rarely break into the Billboard Hot 100, and he has only had one make it into the Top 10 (2006’s “White & Nerdy” peaked at #9), but let’s talk about longevity and impact. His first single (“My Bologna”) was released in 1979, and his most recent album was released in 2014. That’s a 35-year career. He is clearly eligible. He has mimicked so many different musical styles in his parodies and original songs, including rock, ska, rap, folk, country, grunge, boy bands, R&B, and everything else in between and beyond. Being able to replicate the music of so many different styles shows how musically talented he and his band are—a band that has retained the same lineup through all that time. As for impact, there are many stories of artists being honored when he courteously asks them to parody their work; several artists believe they’ve arrived as artists when Al asked them. He has his fingers on the pulse of the pop culture and often selects really popular songs to parody—and sometimes artists that are ripe for it. He is clearly impacted by what is making an impact, so therefore, he’s deserving in my book.


#7 – Mariah Carey

Before anyone argues that she’s a pop singer or an R&B singer or a hip-hop singer and not a rock and roll artist, consider the fact that there are disco artists (The Bee Gees and ABBA) and rap artists (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Run-D.M.C.) in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Historically speaking, rock and roll is a mixture of several musical genres, including R&B, so artists like Mariah deserve consideration. Let’s compare Mariah Carey—the most dominant female solo artist of the 1990s—with the most dominate female solo artist of the decade before. That would be Madonna, who is already in the Rock Hall. Madonna definitely had the cultural impact worthy of induction, and she has had a long career and several albums and singles. But let’s count the number ones. Madonna had twelve songs top the Billboard Hot 100, her first being “Like a Virgin.” Mariah Carey had eighteen songs top the charts, including a streak of her first five released singles. And she’s still putting out music and appearing on New Year’s Eve shows. She’s only been eligible for a few years, so I expect her time will come soon.


#6 – Whitney Houston

The Rock Hall has not been kind to solo female singers in general, but like Mariah, here’s another that deserves induction. Due to her early passing, she released fewer albums than Mariah and Janet Jackson (Spoiler alert: she’s later down this list), but let’s look at her 80s eponymous releases: 1985’s Whitney Houston and 1987’s Whitney. They combined for seven consecutive number one songs. And this still doesn’t count the biggest song of her career: 1992’s “I Will Always Love You” from The Bodyguard. Note, that’s a country song written by Dolly Parton, but no one can hear it any other way than the way Whitney does it. The part of the song without backing music is amazing. Whitney’s cover is the best-selling single by a woman in music history. Whitney Houston is so iconic that the stage musical adaptation of The Bodyguard, though following the plot of the movie, only contains songs from Whitney’s repertoire. I’ve seen the stage musical, and it’s amazing—more so than the movie, in my opinion. If Madonna is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—and if Aretha Franklin and Donna Summer are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—then these solo pop/R&B singers of the 80s & 90s deserve to be in there too.


#5 – The Cure

I remember a handful of their songs when I was a teenager, as a few of them—“Why Can’t I Be You?” and “Just Like Heaven”—crossed over onto the more pop-oriented radio stations I listened to then. I kinda liked the songs, but I wasn’t sure what to make of them at the time. Lead singer Robert Smith always seemed so depressed. Then I went to college, and a lot of my friends were fans. Around that time, the album Disintegration came out, and it featured “Lovesong”, which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Charts—both the main list and the Modern Rock list (where the previous single “Fascination Street” had reached the top for seven weeks). They continued making music into the 90s, including their uncharacteristically happy “Friday I’m in Love”, which is a lot of fun and still topped the Billboard Modern Rock chart. They’ve got the longevity, and they’ve definitely made an impact in terms of style. They were doing tormented music long before the emo-punk of the 90s and 00s. They’re a glaring omission from the Hall of Fame, and there’s a simple cure for that!


#4 – Pat Benatar

There’s a dearth of female rockers in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Debbie Harry was inducted with Blondie in 2006, Ann and Nancy Wilson were inducted in 2013 with Heart, and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were inducted in 2015. Looking at this list of contemporaries, it’s about time that Pat Benatar joined them. I’ve featured a few women on my list—and will feature one more—that aren’t pure rock, but Benatar clearly rocks. Just listen to some of her songs like “Heartbreaker”, “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”, “Shadows of the Night” (my favorite), “Love Is a Battlefield”, and “Invincible.” Those are all clear rock songs. She only had one Number One song in her career (“Love Is a Battlefield”), but her first six albums all went platinum, some of them multiple times. Unlike the other acts I listed here, where women fronted the band, Benatar was billed as a solo artist. Not a lot of true female solo rockers in the Hall of Fame. Let her have her place among Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Janis Joplin, and the others I’ve mentioned.


#3 – Janet Jackson

There are already a bunch of Jacksons in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Five of Janet’s brothers were inducted in 1997, and then Michael was inducted in 2001 as a solo artist. So why not Janet? Let’s compare her to her brother, the proclaimed King of Pop. When his album Thriller was released in 1982, it became the first album to produce seven Top 10 hits, including two number ones (“Billie Jean” and “Beat It”). Though not a Jackson, Bruce Springsteen repeated that feat two years later with Born in the U.S.A., none of which hit number one (“Dancing in the Dark” peaked at #2). There is only one other album to produce seven Top 10 songs, and that’s Janet’s 1989 release Rhythm Nation 1814. BUT… those seven songs all went into the TOP FIVE, including four hitting number one (“Miss You Much”, “Escapade”, “Black Cat”, and “Love Will Never Do (Without You)”) along with two others peaking at #2 (“Rhythm Nation” and “Come Back to Me”). And had “State of the World”, which received lots of radio airplay, been released as a single, she’d have sole possession of the record. But if you think one album isn’t enough impact, well, her next album janet. produced SIX MORE Top 10 hits, including two more number one songs (“That’s the Way Love Goes” and “Again”). She matched the number of Top 10 hits of her brother’s Thriller follow-up Bad, but he beat her with five number ones. Michael Jackson’s career was unfortunately cut short, but his impact was clear. Janet’s career is still going, and her 2015 album Unbreakable topped the U.S. chart, so yeah, she belongs there at least beside her brothers.


#2 – The Monkees

Seriously, why aren’t they in the Hall of Fame? There are a lot of bands from the late 60s that are similarly composed that are in, so why not The Monkees? Is it because of how the band was formed? Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Mike Nesmith, and Peter Tork were cast in a quirky TV sitcom about an imaginary struggling band, which ran from 1966-1968. They earned the nickname “The Pre-Fab Four” because their very existence was prefabricated. Songs were written for them, which they sang, but they weren’t expected to play any instruments. The show and the songs became hits, and so there was demand for them to tour. Some of them knew how to play instruments, and others learned how. Their first two albums were intended to be soundtracks to the show, and later they started writing their own songs. They’ve sold more than 75 million records worldwide, and it’s reported that in 1967, they outsold the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Pretty impressive for a fake band, isn’t it? Six of their first seven singles peaked at #3 or above, including three #1 songs: “Last Train to Clarksville”, “Daydream Believer”, and “I’m a Believer”, which reached #1 in pretty much every country where it was released. And you could say the sequences on their show were precursors to music videos. Whether they were prefabricated or not, they were successful because of their charisma and the performances of the songs written for them or written by them. They made an impact on pop culture, and they made great, catchy rock music. Still not convinced? Click here.


Before getting to MY FAVORITE ARTISTS THAT SHOULD BE IN THE ROCK AND ROLL HALL OF FAME, here are five Honorable Mentions:

Depeche Mode – British electronic rockers with an extensive discography and huge fan base. Listen to Violator, and there’s no reason they’re not in the Hall of Fame yet.

Diana Ross – She’s already in as part of The Supremes, but her solo career is also Hall-worthy.

Eurythmics – Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were innovative musicians, and as some of their new wave contemporaries are getting inducted, they should too.

Iron Maiden – There are only a few heavy metal bands in the Hall, and one more belongs. They have more than thirty albums, after all.

Radiohead – Only recently eligible, but Thom Yorke is a true innovator, and he and the band are critically acclaimed. They were nominated on their first try but passed over. Kind of a creep thing to do.




The greatest argument against Duran Duran is their early pretty-boy look—a lame style over substance complaint. Well, their substance was pure, catchy, decadent, new wave brilliance. You can’t deny that “Hungry like the Wolf” is a great song. They were part of the second British Invasion of the late 70s and into the 80s, but what they did above other bands British and American—and what is their legacy and a deserving reason to be inducted—is how they exploited the emerging phenomenon of music videos. MTV debuted in 1981, and many of the early music videos were either live footage, staged footage of the artists performing, or cheesy and low-budget sequences of the band doing silly things. Duran Duran, especially with their album Rio, took the video viewers to exotic locations and even told stories. Their videos were more like mini-movies. Would Michael Jackson’s Thriller video have happened before Duran Duran’s utilization of the new promotional media? Who knows? But if the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducts artists for their impact, then Duran Duran’s impact is enormous. They’ve got an extensive discography with ten top ten singles in the U.S. including two that topped the charts. And they’ve got longevity, with their most recent album coming out in 2015. Sure, they had great style in their videos, but they’ve also made great, memorable music. They’ve had a longer, more impactful musical career than their new wave contemporaries that have been inducted. It’s about time they get in.


Agree? Disagree? Either way, go visit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The place rocks!

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