The inductees for next year’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame class have been announced, and they are gravel-voiced troubadour Tom Waits, cheese-pop king Neil Diamond, New Orleans stalwart Dr. John, Spectorized diva Darlene Love and shock-rock giant Alice Cooper. Along with Leon Russell, who’ll get inducted for his work as a sidemen, those five artists will be inducted in a ceremony next March.

Although I can’t say I’m a huge fan of any of the artists nominated, I’m well aware of their place in rock history and while I suppose one could quibble about their qualifications for the Hall of Fame (particularly Love, whose catalog is remarkably small), we’re also not the nomination or induction committee, so why argue?

All of the artists being inducted this year have been passed on numerous times, so maybe the induction committee decided it was time to grandfather some of these folks in? Or maybe the diversity of the artists that were considered for induction split the voters, especially where it concerned artists who could be considered disco (Chic, Donna Summer), rappers (LL Cool J, Beastie Boys) or artists who are deemed not musically substantial (Bon Jovi).

While LL and the Beasties will almost certainly be inducted at a later date, I wonder if time’s running out on Chic and Summer. Both artists have been nominated several times without garnering enough votes to get in. I’d certainly say that out of the artists that got left off this year (a list that also includes Donovan, Chuck Willis, Laura Nyro, J. Geils Band and Joe Tex), I’d say they’re the ones with the best “stats” as far as career longevity goes. Considering who critically reviled Bon Jovi has been for much of their career, I’d be extremely surprised to see them ever get a nod.

One thing’s certain to come out of this year’s inductees-NO one can say that they were chosen for the sake of public interest or ratings, since this might be the least “big-name” set of inductees in the Hall’s entire history.

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