Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Janet Jackson

[Note:  Janet Jackson was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019.]

It seems ironic that a singer whose music dominated an era of music, who wrote her own songs and fought hard for self-respect as a woman and as an artist, looking for “control” over her career after growing up as a child star in a massively overprotective and controlling family should have their legitimacy as a rock & roll artist harmed by an incident in the Super Bowl in 2004 that shows the double standard women in music have to face more clearly than almost any other incident of the last decade [1]. It is a sad irony as far as Rock & Roll is concerned that a woman whose whole career from 1986 onward was defined by a clear intent to take control of her life and career and to be treated as a woman worthy of respect rather than simply a pretty face should have her career and legitimacy ruined by sexual objectification in a way that is scarcely imaginable for male artists. To give but one example, John Morrison of the Doors engaged in public exposure in his concerts, even being indicted on the charge, and yet his action only cemented his legendary rock & roll status. But showing a nipple by accident on television is apparently a bridge too far for a female artist [2]. I don’t mean to sound like a feminist, but that kind of double standard is simply unacceptable. If behavior is not acceptable (and I’m certainly no fan of immodesty), it is not acceptable for anyone at all.

It is lamentable, but perhaps necessary, to discuss that bit of politics before discussing the actual music career. It is lamentable because Janet Jackson’s music career was an astounding example of immense popularity combined with genuine artistic ambition, high family drama, and an immense and positive legacy. I say this not as the biggest fan of her music, but as someone who thinks that influence, popular success and artistic ambition ought to be recognized regardless of my own personal tastes. Along with Madonna (already inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), Michael Jackson (already inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), and Prince (already inducted in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame), Janet Jackson dominated the late 80’s and early 90’s on MTV with inventive music videos, and conquered the music charts with her dance-influenced music that combined deeply personal desires for autonomy and freedom and respect (including the self-restraint of “Let’s Wait Awhile” in matters of intimacy) with catchy beats and crisp production that led to massive chart success. Whether we are talking about establishing a template of a talented and capable woman worthy of respect as a musician for the long haul or an impressive bevy of popular songs that remain iconic for their era, Janet Jackson ought to be a shoo-in for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The Contribution Of Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson’s contribution is multi-faceted and present a strong case for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Part of her contribution is her own music, which combined concept-album ambition (Rhythm Nation 1814) with solid pop hooks, dance moves, landmark music videos, popular songs, and a focus on freedom and creative control that inspired a generation of female musicians and that ended up greatly aiding the career of Paula Abdul (whose choreography work for Janet Jackson helped lead to her own stellar dance pop career). And if you want to think about the influence of Janet Jackson on music [3], looking at the career of singers like Beyonce, Britney Spears, Ciara, Pink, Mya [4], and many other women who have sought to both exploit and control their sexuality in the midst of dance-influenced pop music with powerful music videos with powerful messages of freedom and autonomy ought to provide more than enough influence on the track of modern music to make her candidacy an extremely strong one. With Madonna already in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Janet Jackson marks another obvious influence from the first decade of the MTV generation whose recent career ought not to diminish the respect for her body of work as a whole.

Why Is Janet Jackson A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Did Janet Jackson have seminal popular success? Check. Six multi-platinum albums (three of which sold more than 5 million copies in the United States), 8 platinum albums, 10 #1 singles on the Hot 100 Chart, along with 14 additional top 10 hits and 28 total top 40 hits in the United States alone, along with international success. She had three straight albums with 5 top 5 hits (one of them having 7 top 5 hits) [5]. Does her music include a great deal of artistic and creative ambition? Check. Control highlighted her desire to escape from her family’s controlling efforts to present her as a child. Rhythm Nation 1814 was a concept album about the search for freedom through music in a dystopian society. Later albums explored her love of passionate sexuality and her desire for that personal sort of freedom that appears so common in our contemporary culture (whether one praises or laments such tendencies). Did she have acknowledged and public influence? Check. Whether one looks at the continuing influence of her music, her dancing, the production values, or the fact that a generation of female singers have an open and acknowledged debt of gratitude to Janet Jackson for having provided a pathway to popular success, artistic ambition, cultural significance, and personal autonomy that remains well-trod today and will probably continue to do so as long as our culture continues along its current path.  Then there is the fact that she has had a #1 album for four straight decades, including Unbreakable in 2015.  Any of these cases alone would be sufficient, and the fact that all of them are present makes Janet Jackson an obvious choice for the Rock & Roll of Fame, one of the most obvious omissions of them all.

Why Is Janet Jackson Not In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

It seems unfathomable that someone with Janet Jackson’s lengthy and massively popular and influential career should never have even been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame when similar artists like Madonna and Donna Summer [6] have already been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Is the lasting fallout from Nipplegate enough to keep her from consideration for the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame? That would be an immensely hypocritical double standard. Is there a feeling that enough members of the Jackson family are already in the Hall of Fame? There are no candidates after Janet with the influence or popularity to merit consideration. Is Janet Jackson’s immense and popular body of work not enough to merit consideration? If not, there are very few artists who have a comparable body of work who would merit consideration on those grounds (which makes no sense when artists like Laura Nyro are inducted on vastly smaller and less influential resumes). Lest we forget, Janet Jackson was not merely a singer, but also a songwriter, dancer, and actress of considerable ability. Ultimately there aren’t any good reasons for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to deny Janet Jackson her place, but they have never needed good reasons to drag their feet on worthy inductees while making occasionally head-scratching decisions to reward vastly less deserving bands and artists.

Verdict: Forget Nipplegate. Put Janet Jackson in already, as one might prepare the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for a future of being filled with artists like Britney and Beyonce and other artists of the 90’s and 00’s and beyond when the time comes. Janet Jackson has a major role in the history of female pop musicians and their desires for autonomy in their personal and professional lives, and that is a role that deserves to be told and understood. Janet Jackson’s music and her musical career is inseparable from personal and cultural politics, and whatever one thinks about that role or those matters, cultural influence is cultural influence regardless of one’s personal views.

[1] In 2004, Janet Jackson had a wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl when her duet partner, Justin Timberlake, ripped off one layer too much on her costume, exposing her nipple on global television. I watched the Super Bowl that year from the campus of the religious educational institution I was attending at the time, and we made our own Super Bowl show, so I missed the incident but heard about it ad nauseum afterwards. It is deeply hypocritical that Janet Jackson’s career, and her chances at Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, should be ruined by having her breasts shown on television when ripping off the clothing to create the wardrobe malfunction did no harm for Justin Timberlake’s career.

[2] http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/jim-morrison-s-indecency-arrest-rolling-stone-s-original-coverage-20101210

[3] http://www.futurerocklegends.com/artist.php?artist_id=Janet_Jackson

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Jackson

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Janet_Jackson_discography

[6] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-donna-summer/

About nathanalbright

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159 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Janet Jackson

  1. Mike says:

    Nice read – and I agree 100%! Hopefully the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nomination committee will get it right soon.

  2. David says:

    Fantastic read. 100% spot on. Yes, the R&R committee needs to get over their blatant hypocrisy, especially when they have inducted artists like Madonna & Prince, whose careers were built on sex & public nudity.

  3. Janet’s hot streak was waaaaay longer than late 80s/early 90s. The “All for You” album had the longest #1 of that year (seven weeks in 2001 or 2002, IIRC). Everything from “Control” to “All for You” was a resounding success. Janet was just as hot the night of the Super Bowl as she had ever been. As for the idea that it was all intentional…why would a woman who had been in the business for over 30 years need to pull such a stupid stunt? Her album was one of the most anticipated of the year, and according to her producers, it wasn’t even half finished at the time!

    The sad part is that “Damita Jo” (the album that was released shortly afterward) is a fantastic album which features some of her best work. Like you said, for Janet to not be in the Hall is enough of a joke. But to have never even been NOMINATED? Utter bullshit.

    • I focused on the late 80’s early 90’s because her career at that point was so overwhelmingly popular. You are right, though that her popularity did extend at least until the early 2000’s, even if her album output was a little less frequent. I wholeheartedly agree that Janet’s exposure was not intentional–I think that her intention was to have the top layer of clothing taken off to show her layer of clothing underneath it, and that Justin Timberlake simply pulled too hard and exposed her. That is why I bring up the point that it is a total travesty that Janet Jackson’s career is the one who suffered while Justin Timberlake’s career suffered nothing whatsoever for his action. I also agree that it is totally ridiculous that Janet Jackson has never even been nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

  4. Telia Battle says:

    That’s a really nice blog post on why Janet Jackson is not Induct on the rock & roll hall fame.

  5. Roy says:

    I think the induction of Quincy Jones this year was in preparation for a Janet Jackson induction sometime soon. I don’t think nipplegate is the reason Janet Jackson isn’t in yet. Remember Madonna’s antics? I think Toure will throw Janet Jackson’s name down for nomination. He’s on the committee.

    • That’s an interesting view you have. I guess we’ll have to see how they work out. And yes, I remember Madonna’s antics; how could you not?

    • Mike says:

      Toure has previously campaigned for LL Cool J and also Eric B & Rakim. Not sure if he’d add Janet Jackson to his list or not.

      • I have to say that LL Cool J is on the long list of people to write about, but given that my own list of names is very broad and includes sidemen and early influences, I’m not sure when I will get to those names.

  6. Well the main point is, why all the singers today want to mimic Madonna’s popularity and fame, they all seek Janet when it comes to talent and professionalism. Remember when Britney always said Madonna was her biggest influence, but always did videos and performances in the style of Janet? And Beyonce? There wouldn’t be a Beyonce without Janet. And she totally proved thought when she did Damita Jo Part 2. Oh I’m sorry. I mean Sasha Fierce. It kind of irks me that Janet wasn’t inducted at the same time, if not before Madonna. Madonna has sold more, but Janet has had the more critical acclaim, seeing that she’s the most awarded female singer; and seeing that the RRHOF is a voted on by a lot of the same members who are members of other academies who gave Janet all those awards more than Madonna, it does bring back into the play the double standards and I hate to say it, but racism that Janet was victim too after the SuperBowl Show – which minus the accident, was one of her best live performances. I mean think about. Madonna has flashed, crotch grabbed, made out with chicks live on public or cable tv, and she’s awarded. Janet’s boob is accidentally flashed and the guy who contributed to it not only is not punished for it, but even presents Madonna with her RRHOF Award. MTV told Blender Magazine they were not going to support the Damita Jo album due to Janet’s actions, yet continued playing Justin’s videos. I leave you to decide, but a lot of this seems obvious to me. It’s time to wake up. It’s the 21st Century. Give credit where credit is due. Give her her induction: at least before the numerous acts who rips her off gets inducted.

    • Absolutely. My sentiments exactly.

    • Mike says:

      At some point the Nomination Committee is going to be forced to AT LEAST give Janet a nomination. Will it be this year? Only time will tell….

    • I absolutely agree that race is playing a part in this. I’m not saying Madonna didn’t deserve her slot (even though I wouldn’t have put her there), but…and this can’t be said enough…Janet has not even being NOMINATED. That’s ridiculous. Her list of awards is ten miles long & her mark on music can’t be even measured. At the very least, Janet should have been nominated her first available year. But this isn’t the first time the Hall has embarrassed themselves. Remember the Donna Summer debacle?

  7. jr35 says:

    Madonna was a no-brainer first-year inductee- the female Elvis, if there ever was one. Plus, she’s regarded as the most important female performer of the last three decades- her music has garnered much acclaim and what she did in her work in regards to gender, racial, religious, sexual and other social mores- unparallelled for a mainstream performer. So, there as no denying her in her first year of eligibility.

    Janet has had a strong body of work, but I do think the last decade or so has put a blemish on it to some degree-. Never mind the commercial performance, but the quality of the music itself. Plus, she’s never been regarded as important as someone like Madonna, not has she been as acclaimed. So probably not the best comparison.

    She definitely has influenced acts that have come after her, and she is deserving of a spot. For many acts, it’s just a matter of when they get in, anyhow- some have waited 10, 15, 20 or more years.

    • It certainly is true that many acts have to wait a while. However, it’s not like Madonna’s career has been unblemished in the last decade or so either, so we need to look at it from an apples to apples comparison. It is not merely the lack of induction, but the lack of nomination at all, that is striking and unjust in this particular case, which appears to be a very broadly understandable point.

    • Bucky says:

      Janet has received loads of critical acclaim. Madonna is more shock than substance.

      • Indeed, Janet has received plenty of critical acclaim, and there is more to Madonna’s career than meets the eye (perhaps the subject of a future blog entry here), but Janet has never even been nominated for the R&RHOF, which is staggering.

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  9. Marissa says:

    It’s hard to believe that Janet Jackson hasn’t even been nominated yet. Someone on that nomination committee must not care for her. Hmmmm…..

  10. Carlos says:

    Janet hasn’t released any new music in quite a while. If/when she does and if she has even moderate success, the Hall may place her in the “consideration” column. She is definitely worthy, though.

    • Janet had an album in 2009 that was fairly successful (it sold about 500,000 copies in the US). She already has enough success to be inducted, and any additional success (another gold or platinum album, another top 40 hit or two) would be icing on the cake.

      • Carlos says:

        The 2009 release was actually a greatest hits, “Number Ones”. Her last studio album was “Discipline” in 2008.

        I definitely agree, though. Any further success will only strengthen her already induction-worthy resume.

      • I look forward to seeing at least some success, even if it might be difficult for her at this stage.

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  13. Atlanta Buckeye says:

    I saw the 2014 nominations and no Janet Jackson. Linda Ronstadt is the only female artist to be nominated, and there were virtually no R&B artists. (Chic would be the exception, but they’re Disco really)
    It makes you wonder why Janet continues to be snubbed.

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  15. butt1998 says:

    Induct Janet into the hall of fame!

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  18. Mike says:

    I had an interesting conversation with a Nomination Committee member last evening. He mentioned several artists that are on the short-list to be considered for induction. Janet Jackson was one of them. He mentioned that it isn’t likely that she’ll be considered for the 2015 ceremony since it’s being moved back to Cleveland and a smaller venue. He said they’ll need “Janet Jackson’s star caliber” the following year when the ceremony returns to NYC….and LA the following year. Seems like a bunch of political BS – but I was pleased to hear that she’s at least been considered and will be again in future nomination cycles.

    I’ll keep pushing! For anybody interested, check out our Induct Janet Jackson campaign on Facebook.

    • I agree that it is political bs and that Janet Jackson’s candidacy should not depend on venue size, but the fact that she hasn’t yet been nominated suggests that they can do something even if they want to wait on having her fill up a large hall. Thanks for the note, though :).

  19. Roll Tide says:

    Now that it’s been a year since you wrote this, do you feel that Janet will get a nomination during this next round? There seems to be a bit of momentum in her favor but the fact that she remains out of the spotlight might hurt her chances.

    • I’ve heard that they wanted to “save” her nomination/induction for a large enough venue for it, but I’m not sure I’m buying that. It would be good if she had another hit album, but honestly, her body of work is far above the threshold needed for induction.

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  21. Anita Dayton says:

    What are they waiting for?

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  23. Mike says:

    No nomination yet again. Disappointing!

  24. Neil Sheppard says:

    Agree 1000%. I bet the R&R Hall of Fame committee are mostly middle aged white men. There’s no other possible reason Madonna could have been instantly inducted while Janet hasn’t even been nominated!

    • I agree; still, even a group of middle aged men ought to be able to appreciate Janet Jackson’s massive influence on contemporary music.

    • Mike says:

      It’s definitely unfortunate. There’s a batch of new blood on the Nomination Committee and that bodes well for the future. How long will the Janet snub continue? Only time will tell.

  25. Vance Vargas says:

    Is there some sort of bias against Janet Jackson here? Janet’s musical resume more than speaks for itself. How can they continue to overlook her?

  26. alexvoltaire says:

    great write-up! But what’s with this “I don’t mean to sound like a feminist”? If you say ‘this double standard is unacceptable’ that is, in fact, a feminist critique. Be proud of it, man. Own it. It isn’t something you should back away from!

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  28. Paul Brown says:

    What do you think the chances are that she’ll get nominated this year?

  29. Constance says:

    When do the nominations get announced? Janet should be on the list.

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  31. cori365 says:

    I have wondered why, too. WHAT OTHER MUSICAL ARTIST has come from a superstar family, forging her own path, and becoming a superstar herself?! I’ll wait. For that alone…Janet is in a class all by herself….and deserves to be inducted. This is a ridiculous oversight by whomever nominates these artists. This needs to happen.

  32. Jaime says:

    Whats more rock n roll than showing a tit on live tv? Damn right there’s some double standardish goin on here.

    • That’s why I made the reference to the Rolling Stone article on the Doors, which praises Jim Morrison for being so rock & roll to engage in public indecency. How this double standard is to be justified, I do not know.

  33. Diesel says:

    Janet is a true icon and legend. She has made and continues to make great music, and has inspired so many artists today who can only dream to accomplish the impact, influence and contribution to the world through her music, dance, movies and involvement with non profit organizations. One of the most awarded artist on the planet. It’s time to induct Janet in The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame!!! The time is NOW! Do the right thing and be part of history! It’s inevitable, induct Janet Jackson – always imitated but never duplicated. “In complete darkness, we are all the same, it is only our knowledge and wisdom that separates us. Don’t let your eyes deceive you.” jdj RN 1814

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  35. Mike says:

    It finally happened! Janet got that long overdue nomination. Now let’s hope she gets inducted. #InductJanet

  36. becksanidiot says:

    As a massive Janet fan, I agree 99%!!! I stronly believe that Janet wasn’t inducted b/c she’s a black woman!!! That R&R HOF is extremely racist and sexist!

    • There is always next year for them to change their minds.

    • Mike says:

      Very true. Only 8% of inductees into the Rock Hall have been female. That’s staggering and extremely disappointing since there are plenty of worthy female artists that continue to get overlooked – Janet Jackson being one of the most glaring overall snubs.

      There seemed to be hope with the Nomination Committee shake-ups that occurred in the spring of 2015. Sadly, their voting body needs to go through a similar overhaul. It truly is a shame.

  37. becksanidiot says:

    As a massive Janet fan, I agree 99%!!! Janet was inducted b/c she’s a black woman. That R&R HOF is extremely racist and sexist!

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  39. Mike says:

    Unbreakable debuted at #1 – Janet’s seventh #1 album. She’s now one of only three artists in music history to have a #1 album in four consecutive decades.

    • I will update accordingly later today.

      • Mike says:

        That’s cool. Just keeping the conversation going.

        This blog entry will likely remain popular for the foreseeable future as the “Janet Jackson snub” chatter continues. Hopefully the Nomination Committee and voting body are paying attention.

      • I appreciate you keeping the conversation going, and I hope you are right. Janet Jackson is probably the most obvious example of a snub to the RRHOF at present, and the greater the conversation about her ongoing cultural influence, the better.

  40. Marissa says:

    “Unbreakable” has received rave reviews across the board and debuted at #1. That alone should get Janet another nomination this year.

    She’s very deserving of induction.

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  43. Marissa says:

    Most experts are still predicting Janet’s induction. It would be great to see her nominated a second time in a row. She’ll get in this time!

    I found FutureRockLegends site where you can vote for many artists. Vote yes for Janet at http://futurerocklegends.com/artist.php?artist_id=Janet_Jackson – help spread the word.

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  45. Davenport says:

    I can’t believe this is even a question. Janet should have already been inducted.

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  49. Hub Bub says:

    What are the chances that Janetvwill get a second nomination this year?

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  51. Mike says:

    Let’s hope this year is the year!

    100 Fans. 100 Reasons. #InductJanet

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  55. Hub Bub says:

    Janet received a nomination!!

  56. Mike says:

    I hope everybody is voting for Janet at http://rockhall.com/vote !

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  58. Marissa says:

    Dang. Janet got snubbed again. This is beyond ridiculous!

  59. POooooooooh says:

    I am embarrassed. We won’t drive your hits……

  60. Marissa says:

    Stumbled upon this article and it makes some great points.

    “Why the Rock Hall snubs R&B legends like Janet Jackson”

    Just thought I’d share it here.

    • Thanks for sharing the article, though as a youngish (35 year old) white male myself, I hardly think that I am unaware of or unappreciative of the value of neo-soul or New Jack Swing or urban contemporary music, which I happen to enjoy a great deal of. That said, I may be fairly unusual :p. I haven’t written about Supertramp’s chances, but according to this article I had better prepare myself.

  61. Mark Banks says:

    The Rock Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place last night. I still can’t believe Janet Jackson wasn’t inducted!

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  63. Ernest says:

    Thank you for that. As an incredibly devout, impressionable at an earlier time, and deeply changed person/fan through Janet’s music and messages…I thank you for completely and beautifully covering every reason JANET should be inducted. Here’s to hoping, when it should be as you said, and I paraphrase:”OBVIOUS”.

  64. becksanidiot says:

    As a HUGE Janet fan gor the past 20 yrs., I thank you for this article and concur with it.

  65. Mark Banks says:

    It’s October 1st and I think they announce nominations during the month of October.

    • Yes, the nominations should be out soon. I think it highly likely that Janet’s candidature will get serious attention, although generally it is the arena or MOR rock acts that win the fan vote.

  66. Audrey A Bradford says:

    Those hypocrites need to stop bullshitting and place Janet in the Hall of Fame. Who runs this organization? Religious prudes? Male chauvinist pigs? I don’t get their reasoning! Give Janet Jackson her due! NOW!

  67. Mark Banks says:

    Timberlake is welcomed back with open arms, while Janet remains banned by the NFL.
    Sounds about right based on the public relations nightmare of a season the NFL is already having. The misogyny and hypocrisy are blatantly obvious here….

  68. Pathetic Janet Fans. Take it or not, Madonna is the greatest female artist of all time.

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  72. Devijan says:

    With the Billboard ICON Award, iHeart Radio Disney Impact Award, and the BMI ICON Award next month, it’s safe to say that momentum is back on Jamet’s side.

    Not to mention she just crushed the headlining spot at 2018 Essence Festival and just begun leg two of her critically acclaimed. State of the World Tour. A return to the nomination ballot this Fall looks pretty solid!

  73. Plethora says:

    Whoa. Janet Jackson isn’t already in?

  74. MikeCheck says:

    Janet was awarded the Global Icon Award at last night’s MTV European Music Awards in Bilbao, Spain. She also performed a high energy medley of Made For Now, All For You & Rhythm Nation. Janet truly is a global icon and this truly seems to be the year for her Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction. It’s long overdue. But, it sure feels good to see her receiving the recognition she deserves!

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