IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

One song from each Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominee that's worth your time

These tracks from the 15 nominees evoke memories and are worth adding to your playlist.
illustration of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers
Kelsea Petersen / TODAY Illustration / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Since the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees for 2024 were announced a month ago, there have been a number of articles and a number of social media comments debating who is deserving of induction. Do you “Believe” that Cher is worthy? Are things gonna go Lenny Kravitz’s way in the voting? Do Mariah Carey and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame belong together?

OK, now that we’ve gotten a few puns out of our system … as the conversation around the nominees continues, we thought we’d break down who’s on the ballot this year and highlight one song from each nominee that you’ll want to check out. Read on to see our selections.

Who are the nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2024?

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation on Feb. 10 announced the following nominees for 2024, listed here in alphabetical order: Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Cher, Dave Matthews Band, Eric B. & Rakim, Foreigner, Peter Frampton, Jane’s Addiction, Kool & the Gang, Lenny Kravitz, Oasis, Sinéad O’Connor, Ozzy Osbourne, Sade and A Tribe Called Quest.

Ten of the 15 artists on the ballot are first-time nominees: Carey, Cher, Foreigner, Frampton, Kool & the Gang, Kravitz, Oasis, O’Connor, Osbourne and Sade. (Osbourne is already in the hall as a member of Black Sabbath.)

In order to be eligible for a nomination, an individual artist or band must have released their first commercial recording at least 25 years prior.

Learn more about the nominees and how to cast a fan ballot here.

When will the inductees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2024 be announced?

The inductees will be announced in late April. The induction ceremony will be held in Cleveland, the home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in the fall. The ceremony will be streamed live on Disney+.

What can you tell me about the nominees’ music?

We could simply tell you about each artist’s biggest songs — and we will, to some degree — but we thought we’d go beyond the greatest hits for some of the nominees and share with you a track that holds special meaning to us, or a deeper cut you may not be familiar with or have forgotten about. After alllllll … you already know that Oasis’ defining hit is “Wonderwall.”

Mary J. Blige, ‘Just Fine’

“Just Fine” was the lead single to my mom’s playlist for making our family pancakes every Saturday morning. The whole album, “Growing Pains,” is good (highly recommend!), but I remember “Just Fine” the most because I really used to think (and still think) “Just Fine” was about my mom.

My mom worked a job she hated for decades, had two rambunctious kids with full schedules to keep and a supportive husband to help manage their relatives’ declining health. But still, week in and week out, she managed to muster up whatever she had left after a taxing week to create an oasis for herself and share it with us. That’s part of what the song is all about, the singer told MTV in 2007. — Randi Richardson

Mariah Carey, ‘Obsessed’

While Mariah Carey may be best known as the Queen of Christmas, she should also be known as the Queen of Diss Tracks. Many may think of Drake or Nicki Minaj as leaders of the space in recent years, but not much can compare to the genius of “Obsessed” by Mariah Carey. To catch up, rapper Eminem had taken shots at Carey and her then-husband, Nick Cannon, in his songs for several years, leading Carey to release “Obsessed” as the lead single to her 12th studio album, “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” in 2009.

And she didn’t hold back. With lyrics like, “Finally found a girl that you couldn’t impress/ Last man on the Earth, still couldn’t get this” and, “All up in the blogs saying we met at the bar/ When I don’t even know who you are,” Carey reinforces she’s not thinking about whoever this person is — while she’s clearly living rent-free in their mind. The kicker of course is: “I’m the press conference, you a conversation.” The track reached the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 back in 2009, and also had a resurgence on TikTok a decade later, when a teenager filmed herself dancing — and sobbing — to the song in 2019. And truly, what’s more rock ‘n’ roll than that? — Anna Kaplan

Cher, ‘Believe’

Few artists truly deserve the “icon” title for having a lasting impact on the music industry — Cher, 77, is one of them. She first became a household name as one-half of the folk-rock duo Sonny & Cher with husband Sonny Bono. “I Got You Babe”— their first single from their debut album in 1965 — became a global hit, landing at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 list and knocking the Beatles’ “Help!” out of the top spot on the U.K. charts. After her divorce from Bono in 1975, Cher reinvented herself and her sound. Her pop anthem “Believe,” which arrived in 1998, became one of the best-selling tracks of all time and transformed music production. The Auto-Tune heard on “Believe” helped popularize the correction tool as an instrument, birthing the “Cher effect” that has altered pop music ever since. During an appearance on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” in December 2022, Cher recalled making the single and said when her record company suggested removing the Auto-Tune she replied, “You can take it out over my dead f---ing body.” — Ariana Brockington

Dave Matthews Band, ‘Crash Into Me’

When they hear “What Would You Say,” scores of fans are no doubt taken back to college and someone popping in the Dave Matthews Band album “Under the Table and Dreaming” on a CD player at a fraternity party.

And if you listen closely enough to “Ants Marching,” you can probably hear the birds chirping while someone kicks a hacky sack in the quad as you head to Econ 101 on a random Tuesday afternoon.

The group, though, really hit a nerve with the desire and longing conveyed in the ballad “Crash Into Me,” a sort of “I wish I could have you” track masquerading as a love song.

Its slow cadence and thoughtful texture is romantic and misleadingly sweet.

Close your eyes and, yes, you can be taken back to a memory in your own life.

Matthews himself couldn’t help but note the passage of time related to the track, which brings us full circle to the idea that his music can take you back.

“This is the song of a 26-year-old, a 25-year-old. Now I’m a 56-year-old, so then it changes what you want to sing about,” he told GQ in 2023. “I mean, I still want to sing about it, but I’m like, ‘Easy pal. Rein it in.’ I throw my back out too often to sing that song.” — Drew Weisholtz

Eric B. & Rakim, ‘I Know You Got Soul’

In 1987, the Long Island, New York-based duo Eric B. & Rakim released their debut album, “Paid in Full.” Rapper Rakim, then just a teenager, seemed to single-handedly propel the genre forward with his controlled lyrical flow and pioneering use of internal rhyme schemes.

DJ and producer Eric B. added his own magic by creating the album’s sound, which relied more heavily on samples than did classic hip-hop.

It all came together beautifully on “I Know You Got Soul,” the album’s fourth track. “I Know You Got Soul” grabs drum samples from a 1971 Bobby Byrd song of the same name (which was recorded with James Brown’s band), blends it with a Funkadelic sample and then tops it off with Rakim’s hilariously boastful verses (“Show my rings and my fat gold chain/ Grab the mic like I’m on ‘Soul Train’”).

Recognizing its genius, the British dance act M/A/R/R/S sampled Rakim rapping the phrase “pump up the volume” from the song and wove it throughout its groundbreaking dance club hit “Pump Up the Volume” soon after. — Gina Vivinetto

Foreigner, ‘Cold As Ice’

In 1977, I was barely 9. Though I was young, there was no mistaking the electric chill that went up my spine upon hearing the first staccato piano notes of “Cold as Ice” play through the radio. Once Lou Gramm started in with, “You’re as cold as ice/ You’re willing to sacrifice our love,” with his distinct, passionate voice, it was all over. I’d never heard anything like Foreigner before — or since. Providing the soundtrack to most, if not all, of my formative years, songs like “Waiting for A Girl Like You,” “Hot Blooded” and “I Want to Know What Love Is” feel as woven into my history as my first car, the junior prom and Friday night football games. But it’s “Cold as Ice” that still makes the hair on my arms stand up when I hear it come through the speakers and defines a rock band that churned out one hit after another, summarily becoming a “Juke Box Hero” for an entire generation. — Sarah Lemire

Peter Frampton, ‘Do You Feel Like We Do’

If any album encapsulates the excess and bravado of arena rock in the 1970s, it’s the mega 1976 double live album “Frampton Comes Alive!”

Sure, Frampton goofs around on his robot-sounding talk box — kind of like Auto-Tune slapped onto guitar strings — but make no mistake, “Frampton Comes Alive!” was real rock. Thrashing guitars. Drums. Bic lighters waved in the air, probably, during the ballads.

And what were rock stars famous for in the 1970s? Overindulgence. “Woke up this morning with a wine glass in my hand,” Frampton, who looks like a flaxen-haired guitar god on the album’s cover, sings as he kicks off the final song, the made-for-an-arena-tour anthem “Do You Feel Like We Do.”

“Do You Feel Like We Do,” which stretches on for more than 14 wild minutes, has it all: a call and response with the audience; the aforementioned talk box thingy; guitar solos (yes, plural); lyrics about enjoying “champagne for breakfast,” all topped off by the very rock ‘n’ roll vow, “Come on, let’s do it again!” — Gina Vivinetto

Jane’s Addiction, ‘Jane Says’

Born in the late ‘90s, I wasn’t around for the peak of Jane’s Addiction, but that didn’t stop my dad from ensuring I was raised with a formative knowledge base of alternative rock anthems. When I was a baby, I’m told my dad created an acoustic lullaby version of “Jane Says,” somehow shifting the lyrics about a woman with a drug problem and an abusive boyfriend to something more child-friendly.

Whether rocking out with my dad in the living room when he arrived home from work or jamming to WXRT while driving around Chicago with the windows down, Jane’s Addiction hits like “Been Caught Stealing” and “Three Days” were part of our everyday soundtrack.

Lead vocalist Perry Farrell launched Lollapalooza as part of the band’s farewell tour in 1991, which brought my dad out to the earliest days of the now wildly successful music festival. When I was old enough (in my dad’s eyes — my mom had another view), he took me and some friends to Lollapalooza for the first time, and our family has gone ever since. — Becca Wood

Kool & The Gang, ‘Celebration’

A party anthem if there ever was one, it’s hard to imagine a wedding, birthday or bar night without Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration.” Inviting everyone within earshot to come together and bring their good times (and laughter, too), this Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit is, in and of itself, a celebration that’s stood the test of time. The funky guitar riff that kicks off this classic is soon joined by a jubilant horn line and groovin’ bassline that practically guarantees there won’t be a single soul still sitting by the time the final chorus fades out. Releasing a string of hits throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s including “Get Down on It,” “Fresh” and “Ladies Night,” the iconic ode to gals having a night out on the town, it’s Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” that still brings down the house every time. Yahoo! — Sarah Lemire

Lenny Kravitz, ‘It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over’

With or without a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, Lenny Kravitz is already a rock legend. His iconic look and decades of hits like “Fly Away” and “Are You Gonna Go My Way” have solidified him as an icon, but it wasn’t until his song “It Ain’t Over ‘til It’s Over” was featured in an episode of “Euphoria” in 2022 that he captured the hearts of Gen Z, too. The song exploded on TikTok, inviting a younger generation to get into the world of Lenny Kravitz. (Plus they learned he’s related to Zoë Kravitz — major bonus points.) — Anna Kaplan

 Oasis, ‘Acquiesce’

Even at their peak, brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher were known as much for their squabbling as they were for their Britpop anthems. That’s partly what makes the B-side “Acquiesce,” which you can find on the 1998 compilation “The Masterplan,” a standout in their catalog. For one thing, it’s the rare Oasis song that prominently features vocals from both Gallaghers. For another, it contains these lyrics in the chorus, sung by Noel: “Because we need each other/ We believe in one another/ And I know we’re going to uncover/ What’s sleeping in our soul.” Because we need each other … those words weren’t meant to describe their relationship, but they do serve as a reminder that when they were on the same page in their heyday, there were few rock acts that could touch them. — Shane Lou

Sinéad O’Connor, ‘Haunted’

It’s easy to define O’Connor, who died in 2023, by her well-documented mental health struggles before her death or her infamous 1992 “Saturday Night Live” appearance when she tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II as a statement against child abuse in the Catholic Church, nearly a decade before it became a mainstream issue.

Reducing her to those moments, though, simply isn’t fair.

It cannot be forgotten that she sure could sing. Much has been said and written about her worldwide smash, “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and for good reason.

But O’Connor’s music echoes in other tracks, too, including the wistful “Haunted,” a 1995 duet with Pogues singer Shane MacGowan, who also died in 2023.

Her angelic voice effortlessly falls in line with MacGowan’s voice, her silky tone harmonizing with his sandpaper-and-gravel timbre.

“Haunted” is indeed haunting, a love song that stays with you after it’s over — it’s a movie in song form that makes you think, as you tap your fingers against the steering wheel while it plays, reminding listeners O’Connor was so much more than we realized. — Drew Weisholtz

Ozzy Osbourne, ‘Bark at the Moon’

The “Prince of Darkness’” video for his 1983 song “Bark at the Moon” was memorably terrifying for a child who had not yet cracked double digits.

The clip featuring Osbourne as some sort of mad scientist in a lab turning into a werewolf had me watching “Bark at the Moon” before I would cry into the pillow.

It looked like it was edited with the urgency of an overdue homework assignment and was as visually menacing as Osbourne’s voice and throbbing guitars sounded.

It was one of those videos I would catch while up late on a Saturday night watching MTV with my older brother.

I couldn’t process what it was — I just saw a werewolf, with lots of smoke and thunderous guitars that was not pop-friendly and hardly seemed campy.  

Yes, it was terrifying to a child, and perfectly in line with Osbourne. — Drew Weisholtz

Sade, ‘Nothing Can Come Between Us’

In the summer of 1984, my older brother handed me a cassette and said, “Listen to this.” I popped Sade’s “Diamond Life” into my player and was instantly hooked by the smooth sax accompanied by Nigerian-born singer Sade Adu’s warm, throaty words, spoken during the intro, “He’s laughing with another girl and playing with another heart,” before launching into the first verse of “Smooth Operator.” Unlike other albums in my collection, there weren’t any fast-forward skips on “Diamond Life.” Instead, from “Your Love Is King” to “Cherry Pie,” every track was an earworm, melodic and mesmerizing. Around the time my cassette grew worn from repeated listens, Sade released its third album, “Stronger Than Pride,” in 1988. On it? The song “Nothing Can Come Between Us,” a hypnotic, rhythm-driven track that despite being lesser known than some of the band’s other hits, embodies cool in its jazzy ode to making love last. With lyrics like, “It’s about faith, it’s about trust,” “Nothing Can Come Between Us” is among Sade’s best, earning it a permanent place on my Spotify. — Sarah Lemire

A Tribe Called Quest, ‘Luck of Lucien’

A Tribe Called Quest was such an important rap act that choosing just one song to showcase feels daunting. Let me admit right now, I’m gonna blow this.

The Queens, New York-based group blended brainy verses with laidback beats, while grabbing samples from seemingly disparate acts like Stevie Wonder, the Beatles and Lou Reed.

When the group’s members, led by emcees Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, weren’t raising our consciousness by rapping about the vulgarities of consumerism, or the evils of racism and date rape, they allowed themselves to get silly. Yep, you guessed it. I’m choosing a silly song: “Luck of Lucien” from the act’s masterful 1990 debut, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.”

The funky tune is a tribute to the influential Black French rapper Lucien Revolucien. And it’s smooth as all get-out. A slow, head-bouncing delight. Over bass and horn samples from jazz trumpeter Billy Brooks’ “Forty Days,” Q-Tip spins an amusing tale of a Frenchman who “came to America to find liberty” but ended up in some unspecified legal trouble and hightailed it back to Paree.

Along the way, Q-Tip makes us snicker by poking fun at poor Lucien’s très French arrogance with the ladies and culinary choices. “Escargot? Lucien, you eat snails?” Q-Tip asks. Oui. — Gina Vivinetto