Ten NJ songs that should be considered for Rock Hall’s new singles category

From left, Henry “Big Bank Hank” Jackson, Michael “Wonder Mike” Wright and Guy “Master Gee” O’Brien of the Sugarhill Gang.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame opened up a whole new can of worms by introducing, last night, a new category for singles, in which it can recognize influential songs by artists who have not yet been (and may never be) inducted in the artist category. The first six singles inductees, and you can’t really argue with any of them, are “The Twist,” by Chubby Checker; “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats; “Rumble,” by Link Wray and his Ray Men; “Louie Louie,” by The Kingsmen; “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” by Procol Harum; and “Born to Be Wild,” by Steppenwolf.

But what gets in next? Here are some of the leading candidates by New Jersey artists. Some are sure bets; a few, maybe, long shots.

NOTE: I have not included singles by artists who have already been inducted into the Hall, as it doesn’t seem to be the Hall’s intent to include those in this category. And I’m assuming that just like artists have to have debuted 25 years ago to be considered for the Hall, singles must have been released at least 25 years ago.

Here are the songs, with links to the songs’ pages on NJArts.net’s 350 Jersey Songs list. Of course, there are many other worthy candidates as well. If you think I made a major omission, please let me know in the Comments section, below.

“Rapper’s Delight,” The Sugarhill Gang. A song that is, to hip-hop, basically what Bill Haley & the Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock” is to rock ‘n’ roll.

“I Will Always Love You,” Whitney Houston. Houston should already be in, in the artist category, of course. But as long as she’s not, the Hall should at least put one of her songs in. This one just happens to be the best-selling single by a woman, ever.

“It’s My Party,” Lesley Gore. Her breakthrough hit, and one of the most indelible singles of the early ’60s.

“Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” Frankie Valli. This brings up an interesting question. Valli is in the Hall as a member of The Four Seasons, of course. But he hasn’t been inducted as a solo act. Should songs like these be included?

“Stand by Me,” Ben E. King

King is in the Hall as a member of The Drifters, but this solo release deserves recognition as well.

“I Don’t Want to Go Home,” Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.

“Blood and Roses,” The Smithereens.

The Jukes and The Smithereens are in a similar boat, important bands that perhaps have not had the kind of sustained commercial success necessary to get into the Hall. But it would be great if, at least, these signature singles could be included.

“Anyone Who Had a Heart,” Dionne Warwick

Warwick, like her cousin Houston, should be in the Hall herself. But as long as she’s not, the Hall could recognize her by inducting this 1963 single, the first of her 12 Top 10 hits.

“Sun City,” Artists United Against Apartheid. Steven Van Zandt, who is already in the Hall as a member as the E Street Band, helmed this important all-star anti-Apartheid single after leaving the group.

“Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl),” Looking Glass

Quite simply, one of the greatest singles of the 1970s.

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