The 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees list is here, and as usual, it’s huge — and polarizing.
On Wednesday (February 10), the Cleveland Museum announced its latest class of nominees, a portion of which will be officially inducted in the fall this year, after the Rock Hall announces the top vote. That list is long and impressive, and it includes the following artists: Jay-Z, Foo Fighters, Mary J. Blige, Iron Maiden, Tina Turner, the Go-Go’s, Rage Against the Machine, Kate Bush, Devo, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Todd Rundgren, and Dionne Warwick.
To secure a slot in the nominees field, the Rock Hall’s criteria stipulates an artist “must have released its first commercial recording at least 25 years prior to the year of nomination.” For Jay-Z, this marks his first year of eligibility, as his debut LP, Reasonable Doubt, dropped in 1996. Also notable is Dave Grohl’s nomination with Foo Fighters; if he’s inducted, it’ll be for a second time, as he was inducted with Nirvana in 2014.
King, likewise, was previously inducted in 1990 along with her songwriting partner Gerry Goffin. As the Rock Hall points out in its announcement, King and Turner, if they make the inductees list, will become the second and third female artists to be inducted twice. (Stevie Nicks became the first in 2019.) Khan had previously been nominated both as a solo artist and with her band, Rufus.
Seven of this year’s 16 nominees were included for the first time ever, including the Foos and Jay-Z, along with metal icons Iron Maiden, new wave favorites The Go-Go’s, R&B/hip-hop stalwart Mary J. Blige, Afrobeat pioneer and activist Fela Kuti, and longtime vocal legend Dionne Warwick. The Rock Hall also says this class of nominees is its most racially diverse since 1996, as Rolling Stone reports.
Naturally, news of the ballot has fueled conversations on social media about the Rock Hall’s past treatment of women and artists of color, and plenty of tweeters expressed incredulity at how an artist like Turner wasn’t already inducted.
We’ll have to wait until May to see who makes the list of inductees for 2021. Until then, the Rock Hall’s “international voting body of more than 1,000 artists, historians, and members of the music industry” weighs in on the ballot to make the final choices about who makes it in. As fans, you have power, too.
You can cast your own ballot and make your voice heard now through April 30 right here.