Heavy hitters such as Nine Inch Nails, Green Day and N.W.A. have all moved on to the second round of Music Times' annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tournament. By combining the obsessive bracketology of March Madness with the annual naming of nominees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we allow you, the fans, to vote for nominees competitively, and therefore choose just one winner. Last year's champ was Peter Gabriel, who overtook KISS in the championship. Vote below and check back next week for the Final Four. Let's see who's left after the first round this year:
No. 1 Lou Reed versus No. 4 Joan Jett and The Blackhearts
Lou Reed got the bracket's only bye during the first round, as a reward for his influence on alternative rock and personal musicianship over the years. Now, however, he has to go against the competition, and it won't be a walk on the wild side...er, in the park. Joan Jett and The Blackhearts easily handled no. 5 seed Bill Withers in the first round, taking 78 percent of the vote and indicating that, at least among our readership, "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" had more staying power than "Lean On Me." That might not bode well for Reed who—despite being a critical darling for his work with the Velvet Underground and solo albums such as Transformer—was not necessarily aiming for a mainstream audience. Will the world recognize the influential, if not listenable, nature of work such as Metal Machine Music or will Joan Jett drop a "Cherry Bomb" on oddsmakers?
No. 2 Nine Inch Nails versus No. 3 Sting Voters in our bracket challenge treated Chic much like how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has treated the disco-era band for years: by denying them entry. Sting took the win easily in the first round, taking 71 percent of the vote despite the resurgence in popularity for guitarist Nile Rodgers following Daft Punk's Random Access Memories. The former Police bassist will face stiffer (and meaner) competition in the form of Nine Inch Nails, an act that took Reed's experiments in noise and made them palatable to a wide audience...even if the material itself was sometimes revolting. Last week's challenger, The Spinners, never stood a chance, taking less than 5 percent of the vote. Obviously NIN and Trent Reznor were up above it last week, but will they be "Down In It" against the popular bassist? He hopes that if his fans love him, they won't set him free but rather vote him into the next round.
No. 1 N.W.A. versus No. 4 The Smiths
Things were never going to be easy for N.W.A.—there will always be haters who aim to keep hip-hop out of the Hall, especially music as hardcore as that of this Compton quintet—but the collective scraped by no. 8 seed The Marvelettes without too much challenge, bringing in 81 percent of the vote. That said, its second round battle with The Smiths will be much more about ideals: Ice Cube and company representing the new face of popular music in the last 30 years, while Morrissey and his gang represent—to voters at least—the old guard of guitar-based music, although The Smiths would hate to be considered "rock 'n' roll." The rappers want to continue their journey from "Straight Outta Compton" to "Straight Into Cleveland." The Smiths might pretend not to care much at all about how you vote, but Heaven knows they'd be miserable if you didn't pull for them.
No. 2 Green Day versus No. 3 Stevie Ray Vaughn No nominee demonstrated its dominance in the first round better than Green Day, one of two participants this year that was nominated in its first year of eligibility (the other being Nine Inch Nails). The Bay-area punk group truly put the "popular" in "pop punk," grabbing 98 percent of the vote away from its competitor, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (who made the Hall of Fame in real life this year, if it makes the group's fans feel better). The second round won't be as easy as that. Stevie Ray Vaughn is an icon to rock fans, both as a mainstream guitar hero (for hits such as "Pride and Joy" and as a cult icon for his demise at the peak of his popularity). Don't expect Green Day to let off the gas despite the walloping it gave during the first round—after all, "Nice Guys Finish Last." Vaughn managed to take on one of this year's most influential nominees, Kraftwerk, during his last contest, maybe he can keep this house rockin' against the stiff competition.