On November 7, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will hold its 2020 induction ceremony. Like most such events this year, it will be a virtual ceremony. Six acts are being inducted into the Hall this year.
Depeche Mode released their first album, Speak & Spell, in 1981, and went straight to the British Top Ten with “Just Can’t Get Enough.” They continued to have major hits in England for 25 years. They were never quite as popular in the United States, but had some success in the late 1980s and early 1990s with songs like “People Are People” and “Enjoy the Silence.” Their most recent studio album, Spirit, was released in 2017, and they released a live album, Spirits in the Forest, earlier this year. More of their music is available at hoopla and Freegal.
The Doobie Brothers had their greatest success in the 1970s and early 1980s, changing style midway through their career. In the early 1970s, they were a Southern-flavored rock band (though they were from San Jose) with hints of folk and country; in the late 1970s, the influence of new lead singer Michael McDonald turned the group sharply towards blue-eyed soul. They had one #1 hit single in each incarnation—“Black Water” in 1974 and “What a Fool Believes” in 1979. More of their music is available at hoopla.
For a decade beginning in 1985, Whitney Houston dominated American pop and R&B. Between 1985 and 1988, she had seven #1 singles in a row, a streak that has yet to be bettered. And she hadn’t even gotten to her towering achievement, a rendition of ”I Will Always Love You” that spent 14 weeks at the top of the pop charts. She was still a significant presence in American music when she died in 2012. A greatest hits collection and more of Houston’s music is available at Freegal.
In the early 1990s, Nine Inch Nails were among the bands who brought industrial rock to the mainstream, mixing it with elements of electronica, metal, punk, and synth-rock. The band is led by Trent Reznor, who was the only permanent member of the band until 2016 when Atticus Ross officially joined him. Nine Inch Nails has won two Grammy Awards for Best Metal Performance, for the songs “Wish” and “Happiness in Slavery.” More of their music is available at hoopla.
The Notorious B.I.G. had a short career. He’d released only one album, Ready to Die, before he was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1997; his second album, Life After Death, was released two weeks later. He was a major figure in gangsta rap, rapidly piling rhymes atop one another in a voice that Rolling Stone described as a “jaunty grumble.” He topped the rap and pop charts with two posthumous singles, “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems.” Several posthumous albums are also available at hoopla.
The British band T. Rex was founded in 1967 as Tyrannosaurus Rex, a psychedelic folk band. In 1969, leader Marc Bolan shortened the name and shifted their sound; they became pioneers of glam rock, a style marked by flamboyant costumes and hairdos, a campy and androgynous playing with gender norms, and a willingness to borrow stylistically from all corners of the pop music universe. They dominated the British charts in the early 1970s, with a string of eleven top ten singles. With the exception of the 1971 hit “Bang a Gong (Get It On),” they made relatively little impression in the States. More of their music is available at hoopla.