Rock Hall of Fame 2016 Nominees: Perfect Timing for N.W.A, Plus 4 More Thoughts (Analysis)

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NWA pose for a portrait in 1991 in New York, New York.  

As usual, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees list generates more questions than simply "Who's going to get in?"

Janet Jackson, Nine Inch Nails, N.W.A Nominated for 2016 Rock Hall of Fame

Here are five takeaways from the potential members for the class of 2016:

Time to please the crowd?: Selections such as Chicago, Cheap Trick, Steve Miller, Deep Purple and the Cars -- not to mention Janet Jackson -- are as mainstream as they come and, on the rock side, are among the acts the Rock Hall is most often criticized for slighting. Credit some of the sea change to: A) changes in the Foundation itself, including the new makeup of the Hall's nominating committee, and B) the increasing importance of the annual HBO broadcast. Good ratings require acts that people want to see, and the people -- who, after all, have voted in the likes of Kiss, Rush and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble via the public vote -- clearly want the artists whose LPs, cassettes, CDs and even 8-tracks are in their collection. Expect to see the Rock Hall chart more of this course in the future (which should be good news to Journey, Styx and Moody Blues fans everywhere).

Should Blood, Sweat & Tears be pissed?: Or, for that matter, the Electric Flag? You can certainly make a case for Chicago, but it came along in the wake of other brass-rock pioneers who might be more appropriate in the lineage, much like it was important that Alice Cooper preceded Kiss into the shrine.

Why N.W.A's nod makes sense: The Rock Hall has clearly carved out a place for rap in its ranks, and there's no arguing N.W.A fits the precedent set by Run-D.M.C., Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy -- and the timing in the wake of Straight Outta Compton's box-office success couldn't be better. Just don't expect anybody from the Fraternal Order of Police to be willing to induct them.

Speaking of timing: It will be interesting to see if the death of bassist Chris Squire creates a "pity vote" that nets an induction for Yes, who have been nominated previously but didn't clear the hurdle (ask Lou Reed, ask George Harrison, ask Frank Zappa, all inducted within the year after they died). And will the renewed presence of Chic, with an album expected to drop in 2016, finally land Nile Rogers and company a spot after 10 nominations?

Reunions we're looking forward to seeing if they're voted in: Jon Anderson rejoining Yes after the group unceremoniously booted him out in 2008...Ritchie Blackmore returning to Deep Purple after 23 years (which he's previously said he would not do) despite legal issues over past royalties...Bun E. Carlos actually appearing on stage again with Cheap Trick after being off the road, acrimoniously, for 2010 years...Peter Cetera singing those old Chicago hits again, 31 years later, and Danny Seraphine returning to the drum stool for a night.

If elected, will they serve?: Deep Purple's Ian Gillan has commented that the Rock Hall means less to those who reside overseas than to us here in the U.S. Though we bet he'll show up. Blackmore, as mentioned, told Billboard that he probably wouldn't join his former bandmates for the honor. It would be interesting to witness the comportment of The Smiths, who have long eschewed reunion overtures. But wouldn't you love to see just how cranky Morrissey will be (although he can probably rock a tux pretty well)?


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