Music

A Guide To The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Class Of 2021

Each year, copious amounts of digital ink are spilled over who didn’t make it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and which genres are given short shrift. But this year’s class is quite strong, so we found it more worthwhile to celebrate those who received the nod, and to give neophytes an entry point into their sometimes daunting catalogues. From a generational singer-songwriter to hip-hop icons to electronic music pioneers to a gone-too-soon guitar god, here’s our breakdown of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2021.

Performers

Tina Turner
Known for her resilience, indefatigable energy, and powerhouse performances, Tina Turner was already inducted in 1991 for her work alongside her late ex-husband Ike Turner, while her recent nod specifically acknowledges her solo career (and manages to enshrine her separately from the notoriously abusive Ike). She was the subject of a documentary on HBO Max earlier this year, and while she hasn’t put out a new album in this century, her 1984 solo comeback Private Dancer brought her to the stadium rock heights of her dreams.

Carole King
Carole King was in the music world trenches since her teens, composing hits with her writing partner and later husband Gerry Goffin. Her songs were recorded by no less than the Beatles, the Drifters, Aretha Franklin, the Byrds, and James Taylor, and her breakout as a performer in the late 1960s culminated in the release of the 1971 juggernaut Tapestry. The album offered a blueprint for the burgeoning singer-songwriter movement of the ’70s, and is still beloved for its blend of craftsmanship and emotional sincerity.

The Go-Go’s
As their 2020 documentary repeatedly declared, the Go-Go’s remain the only all-female group to land a Number One album featuring solely their own compositions and performances. Their 1981 debut Beauty and the Beat was a cornerstone of the nascent new wave movement, and blended 60s pop buoyancy with the energy of punk. Both sides of Beauty and the Beat led off with monster hits — “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips are Sealed” — which gave the band momentum for another two albums before imploding in 1985.

Jay-Z
The most demonstrative capitalist in hip-hop, Jay-Z brought tales of his hardscrabble Bed-Stuy upbringing to the masses with Reasonable Doubt in 1996, and helped launch the career of a young Kanye West with 2001’s The Blueprint. Battles still rage over which is the more definitive Jay-Z album, with a faction also making noise for 2003’s The Black Album as a dark horse favorite. In recent years he’s made more news for his investments and marriage than his music, but for someone who once reminded us that “I’m not a businessman/I’m a business, man,” that might well be a mission accomplished.

Foo Fighters
The idea that the new project of the goofy drummer from Nirvana would turn into an arena-filling,

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