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  • Jim Bessman

Foo Fighters, New York Dolls bookend 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations


New York Dolls performing "Babylon"


Glancing at yesterday's 2021 nominations for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, three of the seven first-time nominees look to have an advantage, starting with Foo Fighters.


But really, Foo Fighters is nothing without Dave Grohl—already an inductee with prior band Nirvana. Grohl is one of the rare artists who transcends the bands he’s in, due to immense talent and an immensely positive personality that will likely carry him and the other Foos in a second time.


The Go-Go’s have certainly long been worthy but underappreciated, but the RockHall nominating committee could no longer deny them now that they’ve been subject of a fab documentary, not to mention Broadway musical--plus an acclaimed memoir by Go-Go Kathy Valentine and current use of the band’s signature hit “We Got the Beat”’s in a drug commercial.


But if the timing is right for The Go-Go’s, fellow first-timer JAY-Z is so big he’s probably timeless, and no doubt a shoo-in. Of the other first-time nominees, Iron Maiden could conceivably follow the lead of metal inductees KISS and Black Sabbath, though Judas Priest couldn’t make it in two tries. Carole King’s already in as a songwriter, but the Hall may want to reward her as an artist with her own estimable body of hits.


That leaves Nigeria’s late, great Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, the nominee with the least name recognition (read: no chance), and Dionne Warwick, who certainly is deserving, and like The Go-Go’s, now in the news due to suddenly becoming an 80-year-old Twitter star and trying to land a biographical TV series.


So Warwick has an outside chance, as does Chaka Khan, whose seventh nomination total (with Rufus and by herself) may be the charm. But Khan’s up against a couple other female R&B powerhouses in Mary J. Blige and previous inductee Tina Turner (in already with Ike Turner), and voters looking for genre balance have some tough choices.


Veteran rapper LL Cool J could likewise get blown out by JAY-Z if voters have room for only one top hip-hopper. Nominated twice before, Rage Against the Machine, in this list of nominees, seems kind of meh. Devo, back with its second nomination, had only one Top 20 hit, but thanks as much to their futuristic sound and stage presentation are being feted with vinyl figures from pop culture toy collectible giant Funko--arguably a greater honor.


That leaves three: England’s Kate Bush, truly a singular singer-songwriter adored at home but with little visibility here. On the other hand, Todd Rundgren has long enjoyed a sizable and intensely loyal fan base, and has covered enough territory as a significant singer-songwriter/producer to give hope that his third nomination will put him over.


And among Rundgren’s many prestigious productions are the historic first New York Dolls album—The New York Dolls, 1973--and 36 years later, their fourth, Cause I Sez So (2009). The Dolls now round out the 2021 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations, and whatever one means when uttering the loosely defined term “rock ‘n’ roll,” no artist in this group better fits it.

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