Bon Jovi, Rock & Roll Hall Of Famers? It Could Happen...

This morning the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced this year's ballot of nominees, with the winners to be announced in December and inducted next March in New York.

Fifteen names are on this year's ballot, ranging from hip-hoppers, proto-metal icons, British Invasion bards, power-poppers, swampers, singer-songwriters and a handful of funk and soulsters.

As the years go on, each subsequent crop of nominees seems to get more volatile and argument-baiting. We have now moved past the first great era of rock and roll, blues and soul, which was rife with locks for the Hall, and are settling into the era in rock history where some genres became blurred and others were marginalized.

Artists become eligible for the ballot 25 years after their first recording is released, so metal, hip-hop, punk rock's second wave, hardcore, New Wave and early electronica acts will all be up for consideration soon, whether the organizers like it or not. Some already are, such as recent inductees Metallica and Run-DMC.

So yes, that means Guns N' Roses will be eligible next year - the 25th anniversary of the Live ?!*@ Like a Suicide EP - and only four more years until Nirvana. That doesn't even take into account major and influential acts like Rush, KISS, Stevie Ray Vaughan, The Smiths, T. Rex, Thin Lizzy or even the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, who have all been eligible for years and have not even made the ballot yet.

As critical evaluation catches up public sentiment and adoration, you will possibly see more bands and artists going in the Hall with a quickness. Kraftwerk gave birth to a myriad amount of genres and wormholes, as did Big Star, who may all be gone by the time the Hall even gets to recognizing them.

You can argue back and forth all day about who is deserving and who is not. Do hip-hop and rap acts like Public Enemy and N.W.A. deserve to be next to the Beatles and the Stones? Their influence was surely as important and crossed musical boundaries just like the others, especially in their own communities.

Rocks Off handicapped this year's list for you to help you make your imaginary vote on this year's ballot. Maybe one day Rocks Off will have a real vote, but until then we can only sit on the side and bitch and moan. Seriously, no Devo?

Alice Cooper: Alice Cooper has been eligible since 1994. This year should be his year, as his band's influence grows ever the more evident in current stage acts like Lady Gaga. Surely KISS can't be far behind.

Beastie Boys: The New York trio's name was first up for consideration in 2007, and with a new album looming and Adam Yauch making a constant recovery from throat cancer, their presence grows ever needed. If Run DMC is in, then surely these guys will be. If anyone on the voting roster had any reservations, the bands history and pull the past 20 years should make up their youthful indiscretions.

Tom Waits: This is a tough call. On one hand, you have a fervent following of people who hang on Waits' every word and phrase. But then you have a group that doesn't get it. Acid-soaked voice, industrial-sounding instrumentation, bizarro lyrics. Waits in the Hall would more or less be an off-handed nod to Captain Beefheart, who trafficked in the same part of the musical world.

Bon Jovi: This is where uber-popular sentiment will win out over artistic merit. Bon Jovi essentially released their own greatest hits with Slippery When Wet and made their mark touring with nice-looking guys at the helm. Everything was ridiculously catchy, and their appearance at the ceremony would be worth a hefty amount of ratings points, but this nomination could have easily went to someone like Thin Lizzy.

Chic: God love Nile Rodgers, but the band that wrote "Le Freak" over Rush? We don't even like Rush that much, and we still can give them props. As long as we are letting disco acts in the hall, throw in KC and the fucking Sunshine Band. Thanks a lot, yuppies.

Neil Diamond: Before Generation X discovered and lionized Diamond, this would not have been a possibility. In fact, it would have been laughable. Diamond was for your parents and, we dare say, your grandparents. But along the way his songwriting skills, live shows and a few Rick Rubin albums clued us all in at what was really going on. But if Diamond makes it one day soon and not Lou Reed, that's a problem.

Donovan: It's odd that Donovan isn't in yet, seeing that he would have gone in with Bob Dylan and everyone else in his scene. Hopefully he makes it in this year, after being ready since 1990, along with Randy Newman and John Mayall.

Dr. John: He's regarded as a deity in some circles, but Dr. John has been eligible since 1993. His performance after being nominated would be enough to get him in, though, with the untold amount of guests joining him.

J. Geils Band: This band is always overshadowed. Always opening for other people, and never really standing on their own, at least in the regard of the public. They are still that band that did "Centerfold" for many folks. If they make it in, why not the Cars? That's criminal.

LL Cool J:Too poppy. If the hall lets in hip-hop, they will want you to fiery and influential. LL Cool J was too fun, and almost devoid of controversy.

Darlene Love: She made some of the best Phil Spector records come to life. She has to be in this year. "She's A Rebel" speaks for itself.

Laura Nyro: That voice was haunting as hell, and the hall would be exposing Laura Nyro to a new audience with a vote inside.

Donna Summer: Really? You haven't even let Sonny & Cher in yet!

Joe Tex: Yes, a million times yes. The late Baytown native made so many great soul records. If anything, do this for DJ Brett Koshkin.

Chuck Willis: He's not known to many, but Willis would have been an icon. He passed away during surgery for stomach ulcers in 1958, right when his single "What Am I Living For?" was released.

Rocks Off's Picks: Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Beastie Boys, Bon Jovi, Donovan

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