For evidence of Newton’s third law of motion, one can always cite the nominating process for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. For every action—six inductees making the cut into the Hall’s esteemed walls—there is an equal and opposite reaction: the internet’s customary hair-pulling and rage-tweeting about the important artists once again omitted.
Later this month (Oct. 30, in fact), the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony will officially induct Tina Turner, Carole King, the Go-Gos, Jay-Z, Foo Fighters and Todd Rundgren, a generally unimpeachable list of names that deserve Hall recognition. And yet it’s stunning how many vital, paradigm-shifting artists still have not received the Rock Hall imprimatur. The helpful website notinhalloffame.com/rock-and-roll keeps an updated tally of hundreds of the institution’s most glaring snubs.
Looking over this list, patterns emerge: Punk, metal and their splinter genres are the redheaded stepchildren of Rock Hall nominators. Heavy, weird and potentially alienating music, no matter how influential, remains the hardest sells for these kingmakers, whose collective taste is no doubt more pedestrian than mine. Looking back, it’s almost a miracle the Velvet Underground made it.
With all of this in mind, I combed through the list and curated songs for the top 20 artists I believe are most deserving of recognition. Who else most deserves Rock Hall respect?
Dick Dale, Ghost Riders in the Sky
Devo, Uncontrollable Urge
The Smiths, Bigmouth Strikes Again
Sonic Youth, Catholic Block
The Monkees, Not Your Steppin’ Stone
The MC5, Starship
King Crimson, The Great Deceiver
Joy Division, Atmosphere
Brian Eno, I’ll Come Running
Big Star, The India Song
Gram Parsons, In My Hour of Darkness
Willie Nelson, Come on Back Jesus
Toots & the Maytals, Pomps and Pride
The Replacements, Waitress in the Sky
Warren Zevon, The Factory
Captain Beefheart, Click Clack
Motorhead, (We Are) the Road Crew
Dr. Dre, Stranded on Death Row
Rage Against the Machine, Wake Up