Janet Jackson, Chicago to grace Hall of Fame

Pop superstar Janet Jackson and trailblazing Mexican American rockers Los Lobos received their first nominations on Thursday to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

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JanetThey will face a field that includes previous nominees such as The Smiths, the 1980s Manchester band whose moody romanticism helped create the indie rock scene, and gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A., recently the focus of a Hollywood blockbuster biopic.

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An unspecified number of winners will be announced in December and inducted in April at a ceremony in New York, although the museum is based in Cleveland.

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Jackson, the sister of late “King of Pop” Michael Jackson, became a superstar in her own right with her 1986 album “Control” that brought the edginess of the then-emerging genre of hip-hop to her R&B roots.

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Jackson, whose elaborate dance routines and social consciousness strongly influenced younger artists such as Beyonce, last week released her first album in seven years, “Unbreakable,” which is a favorite to debut at number one.

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Los Lobos, which means “the wolves” in Spanish, emerged in East Los Angeles in the 1970s as one of the original Latin crossover acts, bringing “nortenos” and other Mexican styles to US rock and roll.

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Best known for a 1987 cover of Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” Los Lobos released a new album last month that reflects on the US immigrant experience and their own aging.

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Other first-time nominees include two classic bands from the Midwestern state of Illinois: Chicago, who built off the jazz tradition of their namesake city to become soft-rock sensations, and Cheap Trick, the power rockers who packed arenas and won a particular following in Japan with anthems such as “Surrender.”

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Another Chicago native, Chaka Khan, was nominated for the first time. The 62-year-old “Queen of Funk” has been eclectic throughout her career, branching into rock, hip-hop, jazz and soul.

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Also receiving their first nods are Steve Miller, who developed a psychedelic blues style that took from American roots music; The Cars, who helped define the 1980s New Wave by bringing synthesizers into classically structured pop tunes; and, in perhaps the least expected nomination, The J.B.’s, originally the back-up band for funk legend James Brown, who was inducted on his own in 1986.

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To be eligible for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an artist needs to have released a recording at least 25 years ago, which would mean 1990.

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The new inductees will be determined by a ballot of more than 800 historians, musicians or industry players, with an online vote by fans accounting for one ballot.

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The nomination is the second for The Smiths, who in the band’s brief five years built a passionate fan base drawn to singer Morrissey’s brooding but irony-rich verse and Johnny Marr’s jangly yet intricate guitar.

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The outspoken Morrissey, who has gone on to a successful solo career, has won few mainstream awards and is known for his denunciations of the system, recently quipping, “I do not make music with the hope that I might be patted on the back with a meaningless Grammy bought for me by a major label.”

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Another second-time nominee is Nine Inch Nails, the rage-filled industrial rock band that was first eligible last year.

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It is the fourth nomination for rappers N.W.A., who shocked much of white America with their brazen denunciations of police brutality. The group, which spawned the solo careers of Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, is back in the spotlight with the biopic “Straight Outta Compton.”

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Other repeat nominees include English metal pioneers Deep Purple, cinematic English progressive rockers Yes, R&B singers The Spinners and disco titans Chic, who have been nominated a record 10 times without winning. AFP

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