Can we officially say Janet Jackson is having the best week ever?

Not only has Unbreakable gotten uniformly good reviews, but her 11th album is set to debut atop Billboard’s Top 200 chart (her sixth album to do so), and it was just announced today that she is nominated for induction in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This is an honor her fan base has been campaigning for since she became eligible in 2007.

A wildly eclectic list of legends is eligible for induction this year. As I’m fond of doing, let’s run down the list of nominees alphabetically. This list in particular is quite heavy on they’re not in yet?

The Cars | The Boston-based new wave band has one of the classic debut albums of all time. Thankfully, they didn’t stop at one great album. For a solid decade, Ric Ocasek, the late Ben Orr and company spun off hit after hit. They hit their stride in the early days of MTV with smashes like “Shake It Up”, “Since You’re Gone”, “Drive”, and “You Might Think”, which had one of the most eye-popping videos of the Eighties. I could’ve sworn they’d already been inducted.

Cheap Trick | Power-pop is being well represented in this list of inductees. Led by high-flying vocalist/heartthrob Robin Zander, Cheap Trick emerged in the mid Seventies. They are best known for their classic Live At Budokan album and its smash single “I Want You To Want Me”. “Surrender” gave them another indelible classic, and after a couple of lean years, they returned to hitmaking prominence in the late ’80s. The hard rock power ballad “The Flame” gave them their one and only #1 hit.

Chic | For the record-setting 10th year, Chic is nominated for induction. Can someone just vote these guys in already? Are we still carrying a grudge against disco?

At any rate, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards were two of the disco era’s most accomplished songwriters and musicians. Chic’s hits “Le Freak”, “I Want Your Love” and “Good Times” were far more than “just” disco songs, though, and Chic’s recorded output reveals an “A” level of talent. They’d be worthy of induction even if not for Rodgers and Edwards transforming into top-shelf producers, working with the likes of Diana Ross (also not in the HOF), Duran Duran (also not in the HOF), Steve Winwood, David Bowie, and many others.

Chicago | Chicago’s early material features some of the best horn-spiked pop/rock/jazz of the Seventies. As the calendar pages turned, however, they became more of an adult contemporary juggernaut with hits like “If You Leave Me Now”, “Hard Habit To Break” and “Look Away”. Peter Cetera, who handled lead vocals on the first two of those songs, has one of the most recognizable/identifiable voices of that era, perhaps second only to Steve Perry of Journey (also not in the HOF. WTF?)

Deep Purple | What do I know about Deep Purple? “Smoke On The Water” (a “classic rock” tentpole) and Ritchie Blackmore. Sorry, can’t say I know much about these guys. Oh wait, they recorded “Hush” too, right? That’s a great song.

The J.B.s | Bootsy Collins. Fred Wesley. Maceo Parker. Bobby Byrd. Jabo Starks. Each of these musicians played behind James Brown, who I contend is the most important American musician of the 20th century. For that alone, I’d induct them. That wasn’t all they did, though. The J.B.s also recorded their own albums (even if they were James Brown records in all but name), scoring a massive hit with “Doing It To Death” (which you might know as “I’m gonna take you hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiya!” or “we’re gonna have a funky good time!”)

Janet Jackson | Janet and Madonna have been the pre-eminent female artists of the past thirty years. Her run of hit albums from 1986’s breakthrough Control through 1997’s The Velvet Rope reveals an artist who is as pop-savvy as she is creative…and eclectic. Capable of seductive slow jams, aggressive funk, dance-pop and whatever the fuck some of the more out-there songs on janet. and Rope were, Janet should not be dismissed as a producer’s pet, “just” a dance diva, or as Michael’s little sister.  She’s a fucking legend. And it’s about time the world at large recognized that.

Chaka Khan | Can the congregation join me in an “about time” here?

Chaka Khan is my favorite female vocalist. Ever. Capable of bending notes like pretzels, she was the sassy frontwoman of Rufus in the ’70s, spellbinding listeners with hits like “Tell Me Something Good” and “Stay”. As a singer, she injected feeling into important tunes like “I’m A Woman (I’m A Backbone)”. As a songwriter, she penned “Sweet Thing”, one of the prettiest love songs of all time. As a solo artist, she scored with “I Feel For You” and “I’m Every Woman”, and released a string of excellent albums well into the Nineties. As a vocal arranger/background singer, she’s worked with Stephen Bishop, Joni Mitchell, Steve Winwood (“Higher Love”), Robert Palmer (“Addicted To Love”) and more. The only thing better than Chaka getting inducted would be someone sneaking Patti LaBelle on the ballot and getting her inducted too.

Los Lobos | The gentlemen of Los Lobos are still best known to the casual listener for the soundtrack of 1987’s Ritchie Valens biopic La Bamba. Previous and subsequent work found them incorporating a near-unfathomable cross-section of genres (from the nortenos and boleros of their youth to country, soul and rock) into their own East L.A.-based musical stew. Much beloved by rock press (and artists) of a certain age…although maybe not Paul Simon.

Steve Miller | Steve Miller’s name is synonymous with ’70s rock. Just a few of his many hit singles: “Jet Airliner”, “The Joker”, “Fly Like An Eagle”, “Abracadabra”, “Rock ‘n Me”. There are several million people who can sing his greatest hits album from front to back. The video age kind of swallowed him whole, but he can still pack ’em in on tour.

N.W.A. | The men who brought gangsta rap to your doorstep, the N.W.A. story doesn’t need repeating. Chances are you just saw a dramatized version of it at the multiplex over the summer. If there’s any sure thing once the final inductees are read this year, it’s that Dre, Cube, Eazy, Ren and Yella will be among them. Money talks.

Nine Inch Nails | Hey look! It’s another Apple shareholder!

Seriously, Trent Reznor’s a fucking genius. Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral should be in every record collection. Furthermore, he’s still making interesting music a quarter-century later, and how many folks that reached the peak of their commercial success in the grunge era can say that? Wanna ask Billy Corgan how that manufactured angst is working out for him these days?

The Smiths | Do you think that inducting Morrissey and Marr will open the floodgates for British acts of the ’80s to be inducted? I mean…The Cure, Depeche Mode, New Order, Duran Duran, George Michael. And that’s just the top-tier. Although The Smiths (and Morrissey solo) are really a one-note act, they’ve played that one note very well over the years.

The Spinners | This Detroit-based soul crew is actually more associated with Philly’s R&B scene (thanks to their long association with songwriter/producer Thom Bell). Nevertheless, they had a solid decade of hits under their collective belt, from “It’s A Shame” (which was co-written by Stevie Wonder and was their one major hit at Motown) to 1980’s “Working My Way Back To You” and “Cupid” medleys (capitalizing on nostalgia) and featuring gems like “Sadie”, “The Rubberband Man” and the Dionne Warwick debut “Then Came You”.

Yes | A lot of fans feel like progressive rock bands haven’t gotten their due, something that’s begun to change with the induction of Rush and Genesis. Yes is certainly an important part of that movement. Bassist Chris Squire (who passed away earlier this year and probably helped their chances of induction by doing so) and singer Jon Anderson were the group’s founding members focal points, but a number of highly influential musicians wound up passing through Yes’s ranks over the years, including Trevor Horn, Trevor Rabin and Rick Wakeman.

Primarily known as an album-oriented band, Yes has at least two major radio classics: “Roundabout” (with a killer bass line that surprisingly has not been sampled to death) and 1983’s #1 “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” (which has, in fact, been sampled to death).

In recent years, an element of the voting has been opened up to fans. If you place your vote here, it will be tabulated, and the top five vote-getters will comprise a “fan ballot”.  The final inductees will be announced in December, with the induction ceremony taking place in the spring of 2016.

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