There’s a 25-year waiting period to gain eligibility for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – but that’s not the only requirement.

“It’s really impact and influence,” Greg Harris, president of the hall, said in a recent interview. “Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine would say it’s impact, influence and awesomeness.”

In other words, nominees – and subsequent winners – must have made a significant contribution to the development and history of rock music, though Harris also noted that the term “rock ‘n’ roll” actually encapsulates a lot of the music industry, not all of which is necessarily categorized as “rock” on the charts or at award shows.

“Rock ‘n’ roll isn’t one thing,” he continued. “It’s not just four skinny guys with long hair and guitars in the classic sense. It’s a big tent, and we embrace all of it.”

Next year will see the nomination of acts whose first recordings arrived in 1996, so the slate will presumably include a wide range of artists, but the Rock Hall typically only inducts five or six nominees per year. Many are worthy, of course, but not all can make it in. Acts can be nominated multiple times, so first-time nominees who are not selected are still eligible for future inductions.

The forthcoming class of nominations won’t be announced until the beginning of 2022, but we’re taking an early look at five newly eligible artists whose nominations look promising.

Slipknot

There is no mistaking Slipknot for any other band. While many heavy metal groups have led the charge before them, Slipknot have developed a completely engaging and often downright chaotic style of songwriting and performing that makes them one of a kind. Influenced by rock, metal, funk, prog and more, Slipknot has become one of the most recognizable acts of the 21st century and boasts over 20 million albums sold worldwide. Today, the band considers their initial 1996 recording, Mat. Feed. Kill. Repeat., as a demo, typically citing their debut album as their self-titled release in 1999. “The crazy thing is that years ago I didn’t think this band could sustain itself because of how fucking gnarly it is, how dark it is,” lead vocalist Corey Taylor said in a 2019 interview. “I wasn’t sure that this could be sustained for that long. I’m pleasantly surprised that I was wrong.”

 

Eminem

Few have embodied the kind of towering persona that Eminem has. His first album, Infinite, was released to very little fanfare, a definite disappointment but a reason for Eminem to dig deeper. For his next album, he introduced his infamous Slim Shady character – a sadistic, violent alter ego. As Slim, Enimem’s lyrics could be shocking, but they emphasized the rapper’s talent to the point where producers Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre recruited him. His next full album, The Slim Shady LP, debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and sold 480,000 copies in its first two weeks. As his career progressed, Eminem’s success both broke boundaries for the acceptance of white rappers in rap music, and also helped to popularize hip hop across the country. “Music, in general, is supposed to be universal,” he told Spin magazine in 1999. “People can listen to whatever they want and get something out of it.”

 

Fiona Apple

Vocalist and pianist Fiona Apple‘s debut album Tidal was written largely when she was still a teenager, but it was anything but immature. It arrived at the height of the mid-’90s alternative-rock race to critical acclaim: One of the singles, “Criminal,” earned her a Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance. Still, Apple did not allow that to contain her in a single box. As her career progressed, Apple’s lyrics intensified and her musical identity deepened, and her following grew. “This world is bullshit,” she said at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards. “And you shouldn’t model your life — wait a second — you shouldn’t model your life about what you think that we think is cool, and what we’re wearing and what we’re saying and everything. Go with yourself.” Even as the millennium turned and the music industry gravitated towards glitzy pop stars, Apple stood out among female musicians as an intrepid songwriter. Her latest album, 2020’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters, was awarded Best Alternative Music Album at the 2021 Grammy Awards.

 

Matchbox Twenty

Matchbox Twenty‘s impact and influence was a gradual journey. When the band released their debut album, 1996’s Yourself or Someone Like You, it was not an immediate success, selling only a few hundred copies in the first week. Undeterred, Matchbox Twenty toured America, slowly but surely gaining a following. It wasn’t until spring 1997 that the single “Push” began climbing the modern rock charts, receiving more attention from both radio and MTV. They’d finally broken through. Within two years, Yourself or Someone Like You had gone platinum five times; by 2000, 10 times. Matchbox Twenty’s second album, Mad Season, kept the momentum going, charting in the Top 5 on the Billboard 200. Fellow musicians noted the band’s talent: Lead singer Rob Thomas collaborated with Carlos Santana for the 1999 hit single “Smooth.” The band’s third album, 2002’s More Than You Think You Are, featured a song co-written with Mick Jagger.

 

Fountains of Wayne

Fountains of Wayne introduced themselves to the world several years before the smash 2003 hit “Stacy’s Mom,” releasing a self-titled 1996 debut dotted with tales of biker boyfriends and late-night excursions through New York City. Multi-instrumentalist Adam Schlesinger boosted the band’s name the same year when he wrote the title song to the movie That Thing You Do! A mixture of grungy alternative rock and spunky Brit-pop, Fountains of Wayne wrote songs that seemed built for summertime radio stations. As the years went on and each of the members became involved in various separate projects, however, the band fizzled out. Schlesinger died of complications from coronavirus in April 2020. He was 52.

 





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