Call it the Woke & Roll Hall of Fame.
This year, the first-time nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame — music’s most exclusive club — range from a black female rapper to a gay male pop heartthrob to an ’80s icon known as much for human rights as artistic achievement.
On Wednesday morning, Missy Elliott, George Michael and Cyndi Lauper were among the 14 acts making the short list to be inducted into the 2023 rock hall class. And not one of them symbolizes the white male establishment of so-called “classic” rockers that has dominated the institution.
But, quite frankly, the RRHOF is running out of those old dudes to enshrine.
Whether it’s in their heart or not — let’s hope it is — they have to look beyond the traditional types from the ’60s and ’70s school of rock upon which the organization was built.
Another first-time nominee is Sheryl Crow, who surprisingly is just getting a nod after being eligible since 2019, while repeat contenders include Kate Bush — no doubt buoyed by the “Stranger Things”-driven success of “Running Up That Hill” — the New York hip-hop posse A Tribe Called Quest and protest rockers Rage Against the Machine.
And following Dolly Parton’s induction in 2022 — after she initially withdrew, thinking that she wasn’t “rock” enough — there’s also country legend Willie Nelson getting his first nomination at almost 90.
And while other first-time nominees — including the White Stripes , Warren Zevon and the new-wave mash-up of Joy Division/New Order — feel more like usual suspects, there has definitely been a significant shift in the rock hall.
Last year, they inducted Parton, Eminem and Lionel Richie — none of whom could “rock” their way out of a paper bag. And before that, Jay-Z, Whitney Houston, the Notorious B.I.G. and Janet Jackson all joined the rock-hall nation.
And this year, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame even found a little love in its heart for the Spinners — the smoothest of ’70s soul vocal groups — right alongside rock gods Iron Maiden and Soundgarden.
Here’s hoping that more inclusion and diversity will be represented when the inductees — which fans can vote for at vote.rockhall.com — are announced in May.