Predicting the 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class

Story posted October 28, 2019 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by CommRadio Arts & Entertainment Staff

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has released its list of nominees for 2020, which includes 16 high-profile names in the music industry. Typically, five to six artists are chosen every year to receive the coveted honor. The CommRadio Arts & Entertainment staff came together to pick the top six nominees most deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame Class of 2020.

Fans can vote online at or on Google by searching “Rock Hall Fan Vote.” Fans have the chance to vote for up to five artists once per day. Voting will be available until Jan. 10, 2020. The 2020 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held at Public Auditorium in Cleveland, Ohio on May 2, 2020.

The Notorious B.I.G.

Brooklyn’s own, The Notorious B.I.G. has been officially announced as a nominee for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2020.

The late hip-hop superstar, also known as Biggie Smalls, is one of nine artists on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Other notable first timers include Whitney Houston, Motörhead, Thin Lizzy, Pat Benatar, Soundgarden, T. Rex, the Dave Matthews Band and the Doobie Brothers.

2019 was the first year that The Notorious B.I.G. was eligible for induction, but his first nomination comes in 2020. Artists are eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25 years after the release of their first album or single, and Biggie dropped his critically acclaimed album “Ready to Die” in 1994.

If Biggie were to get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, he would join an elite group of hip-hop acts. There are currently only five hip-hop artists who have been inducted: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Run-DMC and Tupac Shakur. Tupac is the most recent inductee, entering the Hall in 2017.

Biggie and Tupac worked closely in their careers and rivaled each other with their own individual success. They are arguably the two greatest rappers of their generation and have often sparked heated debates over who was more talented.

Will he be inducted?

Yes. The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shukar are often said to be on the same level talent-wise, and Tupac happens to be the only solo hip-hop act currently in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Tupac was inducted in his first year as a nominee, so it seems likely that B.I.G. would follow suit. Rolling Stone has called Biggie the “greatest rapper that ever lived" and Billboard has crowned him the “greatest rapper of all time,” so it only makes sense for his accomplishments to culminate with induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.  —Connor Trask


Whitney Houston

The late Whitney Houston, one of the greatest voices to ever grace the music industry, is a nominee for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020. This is Houston’s first ever appearance on the ballot, alongside household names like The Notorious B.I.G., Thin Lizzy and Pat Benatar, to name a few.

Houston is responsible for selling more records and receiving more awards than any other female pop artist in the 20th century. Throughout her career, Houston won 30 Billboard Awards, 22 American Music Awards, two Emmy Awards and six Grammy Awards. Houston was the first artist to have seven consecutive singles top the charts: a run that included “Saving All My Love For You” in 1985 and her legendary cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” in 1992. “I Will Always Love You” was purchased by more than 20 million people globally, making it the best-selling song by a female artist of all time.

Though Houston was one of the most popular entertainers of the 1980s, it has been rumored that she hasn’t been nominated before due to her lack of songwriting. Still, the Hall has had a tendency to honor genius vocalists, such as the great Aretha Franklin: the first woman to enter the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame back in 1987.

Will she be inducted?

Most likely. It’ll be a challenge, due to the fact that Houston is up against other nominees that are arguably more “rock ‘n’ roll” than she is, but Houston has long been a driving force in the music industry with a that legacy can’t be denied by even the greatest rockers. Houston will most likely be posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.  —Emily Mugno


Dave Matthews Band

Formed in 1991, the Dave Matthews Band has far surpassed the stereotype of being the average party or college band. With founding members Dave Matthews, Carter Beauford, Stefan Lessard, LeRoi Moore and Boyd Tinsley dropping their debut album “Under the Table and Dreaming” in 1994, they put themselves on the map as more than just a one-trick pony.

With more than 25 years of touring and studio experience, the Dave Matthews Band has put out everything from slow and tender ballads like “Crash into Me” or the deep cut “Sister,” to hard-hitting instrumentation and face-melting vocals from frontman Dave Matthews (check out any live version of “American Baby Intro.”)

Through nine studio albums, the band’s growth is visible. From the early recordings of “What Would You Say” to the beautiful lyrics of “Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin),” the Dave Matthews Band has never stayed in one spot. This is largely due to the wide variety of backgrounds that the members of the band have brought. Dave Matthews was born in South Africa and was mostly self-taught on his instrument of choice: the guitar. That background led to the funky chord progressions and lack of standard structure prominent in much of the band’s work. In combination with Beauford and LeRoi, who both started as jazz musicians, each member is able to contribute to the drive the band needs to bring everything together. The most recognizable sound though is the violin from Tinsley (who left the band in 2018). The violin gives songs like “Tripping Billies” and “Lie in Our Graves” the unique variation to put the band into its own genre. With new member Buddy Strong on the keys, the Dave Matthews Band has proven that it is continuing to evolve its sound.

When thinking of the Dave Matthews Band, live shows are often what comes to mind. With personality bursting from Matthews each night on stage as he dances to the rhythms or jams out to one song for 20 minutes, the Dave Matthews Band has become a must-watch live act. To some, the jam sessions may go on for too long, but for true fans, it is easy to see that each show is unique from the last.

Will they be inducted?

Maybe. The Dave Matthews Band will certainly ring in the most support for induction from its large, dedicated fan base. However, other fan favorites such as the Doobie Brothers and Pat Benatar could push the Dave Matthews Band to the 2021 inductee class. Still, it’s very possible that they’ll be able to pull through in 2020 just the same.  —William Roche


Pat Benatar

The electrifying blonde bombshell Debbie Harry was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2006 along with fellow members of Blondie. The dynamic Joan Jett was inducted in 2015 alongside her iconic Blackhearts. However, there is still one unrelenting female voice of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s rock scene who has yet to be accounted for. Pat Benatar brought the rock world to its knees with her impressive solo career, and now that artists of the same caliber have been inducted, it’s this member of rock ‘n’ roll royalty’s turn to be recognized.

Rising above the expectations of those who claimed she “didn’t have the look,” Benatar erupted onto the rock 'n' roll scene in 1979 with her blistering hit “Heartbreaker.” Although she achieved immediate commercial success with her platinum-certified debut studio album “In the Heat of the Night,” her career would face several challenges due to her strict advertising as a sex symbol. She was upset that the music industry couldn’t see that she could be both aggressive and soft: sexy, but also more than just her body. Frustrated by the confines of the male-dominated rock ‘n’ roll genre, Benatar set out to prove that femininity could be just as powerful.

She lent her unyielding stage presence to classic tracks such as the explosive “Love Is a Battlefield,” the uplifting “We Belong” and the dynamic “Invincible.” With hit after hit, Benatar proved that she could move far beyond her sexual appearance and was more than capable of exhibiting just how much of a powerhouse of talent she was. Benatar broke all sorts of barriers to become the iconic rock ‘n’ roll legend she is today. She has opened the door for so many other female artists and maintains a defiant rock ‘n’ roll image that still endures to this day.

Will she be inducted?

Probably not. Benatar often gets cast aside, as many forget her contributions to rock ‘n’ roll. Considering that it has taken her this long just to be nominated, it seems unlikely that she will make it into the 2020 class. However, her work, alongside other rock goddesses like Debbie Harry and Joan Jett, is undeniable. Pat Benatar shouldn’t be overlooked. If she is inducted, it will be a major victory for the music industry.  —Scott Perdue


Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode is making an appearance on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ballot for the second year straight. Considering everything the band has accomplished, it is unlikely that it will be waiting for induction much longer.

The British band developed a synth-heavy sound that reverberated around the world. Suffice it to say, Depeche Mode’s style played a major part in shaping popular music of the 1980s.

The band got off to a quick start after its first album “Speak & Spell,” released in 1981, cracked the top 10 of the UK charts. This album is most notable for hit single “Just Can’t Get Enough.” This upbeat track charted in nine different countries and is just as catchy today as it was nearly four decades ago.

“Speak & Spell,” alongside other albums like 1987’s “Music for the Masses,” defined British synthpop and new wave in the ‘80s, and the upbeat sound that topped the charts would go on to influence later successful artists like Coldplay and No Doubt.

Will they be inducted?

Yes. Depeche Mode was a driving force throughout the 1980s in terms of musical innovation. Synthpop was one of the defining genres of the decade, and that’s thanks in large part to the contributions of Depeche Mode. The band’s body of work and popularity should be enough to get them into the Hall of Fame in 2020.  —Jim Krueger


The Doobie Brothers

Few bands defined the classic rock sound of the 1970s better than the Doobie Brothers. Formed in San Jose in 1970, the Doobie Brothers quickly found critical and commercial success, thanks to their laid-back, feel-good rock ‘n’ roll sound, replete with catchy guitar hooks and smile-inducing lyrics. These elements are especially prominent on some of their biggest hits of the early ‘70s, including “Listen to the Music,” “China Grove” and “Long Train Runnin’,” all of which are still played as endlessly on classic rock radio today as they were 40 years ago.

Eventually, the Doobie Brothers evolved their sound, toying with country-inspired bluegrass on the timeless “Black Water” as well as soul and funk on their grooving cover of  “Take Me in Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While).”

But the biggest changes came in 1975 with the addition of soulful vocalist Michael McDonald. As original lead singer Tom Johnston’s health worsened, Johnston took a back seat and allowed McDonald to take over at the mic. McDonald would soon take creative control of the band as well, and the result was a turn toward a more pop-oriented sound, performed with great success on hits like “Takin’ It to the Streets” and “What a Fool Believes.”

Though the Doobies would take a break in 1982, they would return in 1987 and have been touring ever since.

Will they be inducted?

Yes. Due to their ability to successfully roll with the changes and deliver hours of joy through their music to listeners all over the world, the Doobie Brothers are more than deserving of a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The voting committee has welcomed a fair share of classic rock legends into the Hall over the past five years, so it wouldn’t be a surprise at all to see the Doobies finally earn their rightful spot in 2020.  —DJ Bauer



DJ Bauer is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

Jim Krueger is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email

Emily Mugno is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email

Scott Perdue is a junior majoring in secondary education. To contact him, email

William Roche is a junior majoring in film-video. To contact him, email

Connor Trask is a senior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email

About the Contributors

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DJ Bauer

Senior / Broadcast Journalism

David “DJ” M. Bauer Jr. is a senior from Valencia, Pennsylvania majoring in broadcast journalism at Penn State. He is an editor, writer, producer, and play-by-play announcer for the CommRadio sports department. His writings include the Weekly NFL Game Picks series, Bauertology, and the NCAA Bubble Watch series. He is the co-host of the CommRadio talk show 4th & Long alongside Jeremy Ganes. Alongside Andrew Destin, Andrew Field and Zach Donaldson, he is one of CommRadio’s Penn State football insiders, a group of elite writers who cover Penn State football in depth during the 2020 season. He was also a production intern for the Frontier League’s Washington Wild Things baseball club. If you’d like to contact him, email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).