The nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2023 have been announced, and in an ongoing effort to include more women in the Hall, this year’s ballot is led by four iconic female artists, three of whom are first-time nominees: Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, and Cyndi Lauper. British art-pop chanteuse Kate Bush is up for a fourth time, but she has obviously gone from Hall underdog to front of the class since her previous nomination, thanks to Stranger Things.
Bush was nominated by the Hall in 2018, 2021, and 2022, but just one month after last year’s voting closed on April 29, her single “Running Up That Hill,” which had originally peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1985, was featured in a key scene of the Netflix series Stranger Things. The exposure unexpectedly caused the moody ballad to jump to No. 3 in the U.S. and chart at No. 1 in multiple other countries, 37 long years after its release, and it even established Bush as the oldest female artist to score a No. 1 hit in the U.K.
Bush therefore seems like a shoo-in for this year’s class, but it is much less likely that the famously reclusive artist will actually perform or appear at this fall’s ceremony: Bush only toured once, in 1979, then did not perform any other full live shows until 2014, when she staged her 22-date Before the Dawn residency at London’s Eventim Apollo.
Along with the above-mentioned Crow, Elliott, and Lauper, this year’s other first-time nominees are George Michael, Willie Nelson, the White Stripes, Warren Zevon, and an interesting dual nomination, Joy Division/New Order. (New Order was formed by the surviving members of post-punk band Joy Division shortly after that seminal Manchester group’s frontman, Ian Curtis, died by suicide in 1980.) Eight out of this year’s 14 nominees are ballot first-timers, although only Elliott and the White Stripes are up in their first year of eligibility. (An artist can be nominated 25 years after the release of its first commercial recording.) If Elliott gets in, she will be the sixth solo hip-hop artist and 11th hip-hop artist overall to be inducted into the Hall, but she will notably be the first female rapper to receive that honor.
Among the possible Class of 2023 artists who, like Bush, have been previously nominated are British metal pioneers Iron Maiden, ‘90s rockers Rage Against the Machine and Soundgarden, Philly soul vocal group the Spinners, and progressive hip-hop trio A Tribe Called Quest.
Looking across 2023’s ballot, it seems like Dolly Parton’s Class of 2022 induction, which she initially protested, could open the door for her fellow country legend Willie Nelson, who turns 90 this year. Last year’s long-overdue inductions of Judas Priest and Pat Benatar could respectively lay the groundwork for Iron Maiden and Cyndi Lauper getting in, and recent inductions by U.K. new wave acts like the Cure, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran, and Eurythmics could bolster Joy Division/New Order’s chances. Posthumous — and, of course, extremely deserving — nominees Michael, Zevon, ATCQ (featuring the late Phife Dawg), and Soundgarden (featuring the late Chris Cornell) could be sentimental favorites as well.
Regardless of how the voting ultimately pans out, the Class of 2023 will be wide-ranging. “This remarkable list of nominees reflects the diverse artists and music that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame honors and celebrates,” John Sykes, Chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, said in a statement Wednesday morning. “These artists have created their own sounds that have impacted generations and influenced countless others that have followed in their footsteps.”
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballots will be mailed to an international voting body of more than 1,000 artists, historians, and members of the music industry, while fans can participate in the process at vote.rockhall.com or in person at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland. Let’s just hope that if any of this year’s nominees get one of their songs prominently placed in a hit TV show, the episode airs before this year’s Rock Hall voting closes on April 28.