The groundbreaking gangsta rap of N.W.A, the catholic pan-American rock of Los Lobos, the expansive progressive rock of Yes and the boundary-stretching R&B of Janet Jackson have earned each of those acts a shot at induction next year into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which has announced its field of 15 nominees.
The field also includes Chicago, Cheap Trick, Deep Purple, the Cars, Chaka Khan, Chic, Steve Miller, Nine Inch Nails, the Smiths, the Spinners and James Brown’s backing band, the J.B.'s.
Just over half of this year’s field are first-time nominees, including East L.A.'s Los Lobos, which recently released its latest album, “Gates of Gold.” Also new to the list are the Cars, Miller and Jackson, though all have long been eligible under the hall’s rule that 25 years must have elapsed since the release of an act’s first recording.
West Coast hip-hop aficionados criticized the hall for passing over N.W.A during its first year of eligibility in 2012, and for failing to induct the Compton collective despite three successive nominations. But the recent blockbuster success of the group’s biopic, “Straight Outta Compton,” likely boosts its chances of induction this time around.
Except for Nine Inch Nails, which also made last year’s short list for induction, the acts all easily predate the 1990 date of eligibility, putting a decidedly vintage cast to this year’s batch of nominees.
For years, Chic has occupied the bridesmaid-but-never-the-bride category, having appeared among the nominees nine times without making the final cut. N.W.A is next, followed by Deep Purple and the Spinners, who were both nominated twice before this year.
The appearance of the J.B.’s among the contenders, a band that included Brown’s celebrated saxophonist Maceo Parker and trombonist-arranger Fred Welsey, fills the early-R&B slot that typifies the hall’s nominations. It’s a connection to the legacy of Hall of Fame founding member Ahmet Ertegun, the Atlantic Records founder who built his label on R&B and doo-wop music of the 1950s and who died in 2006.
Deep Purple’s presence figures to mollify hard-rock fans who perennially bemoan the group’s absence from the hall. Likewise, Yes’ presence among the nominees should quiet vociferous progressive-rock fans who annually chide the hall for its paucity of representatives of that genre.
As it has in recent years, the hall will allow fans to vote on their choices for induction at its website, www.rockhall.org, from Oct. 8 through Dec. 9.
The top five vote-getters earn a “fan ballot” addition of one vote apiece to the total cast by the hall’s 700-odd voting members. It largely is a symbolic vote, but does inform the voting members of the public’s will toward its induction process.
The 2016 induction ceremony will be held in New York in April, at a date and venue still to be determined.