REO Speedwagon? Foreigner? Meatloaf?
Don’t groan, but those acts – and many of their borderline contemporaries – are likely going to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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Someday. Probably pretty soon. Because, well, they’ll need to put someone in.
And they certainly haven’t been minting many new rock acts of note in the 21st century, as the latest millennium has delivered plenty of important new hip-hop and pop artists — and, umm, Cage the Elephant.
It’s not hard to name a good number of future Rock Hall of Famers who released their debut albums over the last 23 years. Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, and Beyoncé would certainly make the shortlist. But try to narrow the list to just rock and you’re left with … well … what?
That’s exactly what we are attempting to find out here, as we handicap the race to the Hall of Fame for rock bands that released their first albums in the the 2000s.
The result is not pretty.
But it’s also something that should make Thin Lizzy feel really good about its chances of someday being enshrined in Cleveland next to Elvis, Aretha, the Beatles, Roxy Music and R.E.M. Because all these borderline Rock Hall-caliber acts from yesteryear – Boston and Blue Oyster Cult to Bad Company and yes, REO Speedwagon – are going to look a whole lot more appealing to voters when the option is Bowling for Soup.
So, here we go. We’ll start with the (super) long shots and work our way down to the (somewhat) safer bets. And, remember, we are only dealing with rock and roll here – which, after all, is the namesake of the hall, even though voters have been straying away from the genre (for obvious reasons) and drawing from other fields like country and hip-hop in recent years. Look for that trend to continue.
Rock bands must have released their debut albums no earlier than 2000 to be eligible for consideration.
Dexys Midnight Runners Might Have a Better Chance
The greatest metal band to emerge in the 2000s would be a shoo-in for induction – if the Rock Hall was located in Paris, not Cleveland. Yet, so many listeners in the U.S. still define metal by Metallica’s The Black Album – which, indeed, remains an awesome definition – so this hard-hitting French avant-garde troupe will likely be left on the outside looking in.
24. Mumford & Sons
Wow, that call to award Babel the 2013 Grammy for Album of the Year — over Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, mind you – just keeps looking worse and worse. And Mumford’s Rock Hall chances have followed suit.
23. Imagine Dragons
Imagine there’s no Rock Hall. Because if the Dragons somehow manage to get in then, well, they might just as well tear down the Cleveland facility and build a Carl’s Jr. (I’ll have a Western Bacon, with extra BBQ sauce, please.)
22. The Shins
The indie-rock hall of fame, yes. The one with Dylan, Fats, Nina and Metallica? Um, no.
21. Alabama Shakes
Brittany Howard is an amazing talent, but she might end up having a better shot of being inducted as a solo artist than as the Shakes’ lead singer. With just two full-length studio releases on the books, it’s just too early to make a call here.
20. Vampire Weekend
Pretty great band, but I’m afraid that the same number of Rock Hall voters will care about this precious indie-pop act as do about an Oxford comma.
Not Before Meatloaf
19. Tame Impala
The problem here is that no one on the induction committee has likely ever listened to Tame Impala. But, now that I think about it, that might actually play in the band’s favor.
18. The 1975
Matty Healy has got the band on the right road. But they need to fashion a couple more good albums – and maybe even their first great one – to be considered legitimate contenders. Plus, the dude has just got to stop ticking everybody off.
17. TV on the Radio
After its first three albums, the phenomenal Brooklyn act sure looked like it was headed straight to the Rock Hall. Yet, it has lost so much of that momentum in more recent years – as fans continue to wait (and wait) for a follow up to 2014’s Seeds.
16. Kings of Leon
They’re not the most critically beloved act, but the lasting appeal of such selections as “Use Somebody” and “Sex on Fire” could eventually take the Followill brothers (and cousin Matthew) to Cleveland.
15. Arcade Fire
These Montreal indie-pop champs had so much going for them and probably would’ve been in the top five on this list a few years back. Then those disturbing sexual misconduct allegations were made against band leader Win Butler, greatly diminishing Arcade Fire’s chances of making the Rock Hall.
Will those first two blockbuster albums be enough to land Amy Lee and gang in the Rock Hall? Probably not. So, they better hope for a later-era hit – something that is certainly not out of the realm of possibilities.
13. Greta Van Fleet
I don’t get it. But many do. Enough so, in fact, that these Frankenmuth, Mi rockers may someday join their heroes Led Zeppelin in Cleveland.
12. Arctic Monkeys
The fact that the Monkeys are headlining arenas is probably more a sign of how few good rock acts there are these days rather than a sign of how good these guys are.
11. My Chemical Romance
Will the number of T-shirts they’ve sold at Hot Topic help or hinder their campaign for the Rock Hall? Probably the latter. Yet, the group’s popularity hasn’t diminished, even as its best material continues to drift further and further away in the rearview mirror.
It’s the older albums – especially the triple-platinum Riot! from 2007 – that will first get people thinking that these Tennessee rockers might be Rock Hall-worthy. Yet, it’s the continued strength of the latter efforts that could really seal the deal.
Probably Cleveland Bound
9. Maroon 5
I’m really, really sorry to bring this one up. But there’s probably no stopping TV celeb Adam Levine and company from getting into the Rock Hall – but, hopefully, not before the far-superior Hootie and the Blowfish.
8. The Strokes
Their discography is incredibly lopsided, tilting, of course, toward the 2001 debut Is This It? – which stands as one the greatest records, of any genre, released in this still-young millennium. Yet, everyone has been ready to put the band in the Rock Hall basically from the moment that record was released.
7. The Black Keys
The duo checks pretty much all the boxes, from strength of catalog to critical acclaim to commercial success. Plus, Dan Auerbach’s connections in the industry – strengthened through his Grammy-winning work as a producer – certainly won’t hurt matters.
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Karen O. and company greatly strengthened their already-plausible case for induction with the release of last year’s excellent Cool It Now, which was the NYC indie-rock act’s first full-length since 2013’s Mosquito.
Move Over, Cheap Trick
Who would have thought that Damon Albarn’s presumed side project would likely be Rock Hall-bound? Especially given that Blur will likely always be on the outside looking in. Yet, this cartoon band has defied the odds, delivered the goods and outlived any questions of being a gimmick. The only question left to ask is whether The Archies will come out of retirement to induct them.
4. Florence & the Machine
Florence Welch has looked – and certainly sounded — the part of a future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer right from the start. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for 25 years since the release of the multiplatinum-selling 2009 debut Lungs for the band to be eligible for induction.
3. The Killers
There’s not a band on this list that would get my vote above The Killers. Great live act. Fantastic Studio albums. Cool sound. Big sales numbers. Memorable songs. Perhaps the best frontman of his era.
The U2 of the 2000s is definitely – and deservedly — headed for the Rock Hall. Their numbers are astronomical, ranging from a steady run of sold-out stadium tours to some 100 million albums sold. Throw in the Grammy wins and nominations – even for their mediocre affairs (and, yes, we’re looking at you, Everyday Life) – and this is an open and shut case.
1. Linkin Park
The surest bet of the bunch? It’s got to be Linkin Park, the massively popular and influential SoCal rap-rock outfit that first burst onto the scene with the Diamond-certified Hybrid Theory in 2000. The group’s overall catalog is rock solid, the music has aged incredibly well and its influence is undeniable. And the outpouring of grief following Chester Bennington’s tragic death in 2017 illustrated just how much Linkin Park has meant to people over the years. Indeed, the band deserves to go in its first year of eligibility – 2025 – a la Pearl Jam and Eminem. As a bonus, voters can check rap-rock off their to-do list and then we won’t have to worry about Limp Bizkit getting in.
To see our running list of the top 100 greatest rock stars of all time, click here.