In case you haven’t heard, Axl Rose, lead singer of Guns N’ Roses and professional crazy person, has followed the proud example of The Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten by declining his acceptance (as part of GnR) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Axl’s letter was firm but surprisingly polite, merely insisting that while he begrudged no one in the band (past or present) their right to take credit for the group’s accomplishments, there was simply no chance of the band’s classic lineup reforming. (Axl referred to intimations of such a reunion as “misguided attempts to distract from our efforts with our current lineup of myself, Dizzy Reed, Tommy Stinson, Frank Ferrer, Richard Fortus, Chris Pitman, Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and DJ Ashba.” Geez, with heavy hitters like Frank Ferrer and DJ Ashba, why even waste time worrying about Izzy and Slash?)
Anyway, no, Axl Rose will not be showing up at the Rock Hall’s induction ceremony this Saturday night. Nevertheless, Guns ‘N Roses will still be inducted (courtesy of Green Day) and the rest of the band will likely still perform a brief smattering of their classic songs, albeit with a different lead singer. But who will that replacement singer be? Well, it has to be someone from a later generation of rock—no peer of GnR’s would so support their induction before being inducted themselves, and no predecessor would be likely to expend that kind of time and energy on the band. And it’s probably gotta be someone whose musical path can in some way be traced back to Axl and Guns—it’d just be uncomfortable to have someone like Brandon Flowers of The Killers or, uh, Gotye trying to rep the Appetite for Destruction lifestyle.
Who are the most likely candidates, then? Well, let’s lay some odds.
SCOTT WEILAND: EVEN MONEY
The obvious favorite to replace Axl in GnR is the guy who had outrageous success doing so (in essence) once before. Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland sold a couple million records last decade as the lead singer of Velvet Revolver, which featured such ex-Gunsers as Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum. Weiland might not be able to hit the high notes as well as Rose did once upon a time, but the boy can strut with the best of them, and we assume he has a solid amount of practice at the Axl Shimmy—as crucial a part of the performance as any.
KID ROCK: 5 TO 1
Perhaps the last truly great balls-out rock star, and certainly the best one still going in any relevant capacity. The Kid ain’t exactly a GnR disciple—they’re a little too West Coast to jibe perfectly with his southern sensibilities—but no one understands the essence of rock quite like Rock, and we have no doubt that he could put together a very respectable “Paradise City” or “Nighttrain” on relatively short notice. He might even add a rap breakdown to “Paradise,” which it’s always sort of been crying out for.
JOSH TODD: 15 TO 1
Who? That question is the only thing separating Todd from the very top of this list. You can probably count the list of rockers of the last 15 years who have heeded the lessons of late-’80s L.A. metal as prudently as Buckcherry (of “Lit Up” and “Crazy Bitch” fame), but Todd never quite made it to that top strata of rock stardom, and anybody who recognizes his name without the Buckcherry context has probably long since pawned his TV for more Jack and coke money, so it wouldn’t exactly be the Hall’s best-possible get. You can probably throw the guy from Hinder (Austin Winkler!) in here too.
FRED DURST: 25 TO 1
He’s back, you know. What better way to re-introduce himself to the world, in his new digs as a member of the Young Money crew, than to pay tribute to the best nu-metal frotman of his day? (OK, maybe a stretch for Axl/Guns, but c’mon, have you ever listened to “One In a Million?” “Out ta Get Me?” GnR were basically the white N.W.A.) Plus, this way, maybe Lil Wayne and Birdman show up as well just for the heck of it—Weezy can play the acoustic on “Patience” while Birdman whistles the intro.
LANA DEL REY: 50 TO 1
You know the Rock Hall’s all about grabbing those headlines, and few names would demand more copy than rumored-but-c’mon-not-really Axl girlfriend Lana Del Rey’s. The “Video Games” singer is already a pro at the awkward live performance anyway, and it’s been a while since the internet exploded over something LDR-related. Plus, girl could probably do a mean “Don’t Cry.”
AXL ROSE: 75 TO 1
A rock star’s got the right to change his mind, doesn’t he? You can’t underrate Axl’s general mental instability and general impetuousness here—this is the guy who took a decade and a half to record Chinese Democracy, after all. Who’s to say that he won’t check his DV-R queue, conclude there’s nothing really worth watching, hop in his gyrocopter and head over to Cleveland for a last-minute Rock Hall performance? To call it impossible would be doing the Hall-of-Famer a great disservice.