What the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Got Wrong This Year
KISS at the 2011 Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo
Photo by Groovehouse
You can never get a Hall of Fame induction class exactly right.
Every single year near the Super Bowl, the NFL's inductees have plenty of detractors. But there may not be a cattier Hall of Fame process than the one employed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Monday night, the Hall revealed its 2014 class, highlighted by Nirvana in their first year of eligibility and KISS finally breaking through on their 15th. Sadly, it also means they aren't fulfilling their promise of buying Cleveland's most welcoming landmark and firing everybody. Those two figures seemed to be mortal locks, one being arguably the most influential band since Zeppelin and the other once more bringing shock and macabre pageantry back to rock and roll.
But it's the names that follow -- Cat Stevens, Hall & Oates, Peter Gabriel and Linda Ronstadt -- that become head-scratchers. The Philly duo might have as much claim as anyone to grace the Hall, but Stevens? Gabriel, only four years after he made it in with Genesis? The Hall is somewhat moving into more contemporary ground and while those artists have made their waves, so have a few others whose debut singles first came before this year's litmus period of 1988.
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But a Hall of Fame's job is to properly assess careers and impact. Some bands, groups and solo artists just deserve to stroll up to the podium and accept their prize quicker than others. And this year's list of snubs is about as jarring as the first time you heard "Smells Like Teen Spirit."
The Hall has been about rewarding influencers, contributors who have shaped the history of music in varying degrees, controversial or not. If that's the criteria, then why is a band like The Cure or even Poison not opening champagne? Or even N.W.A, who not only revolutionized music by ushering in an entire genre that became a lightning rod for conservative talking heads, but helped change how we even label "offensive" content to begin with? Linda Ronstadt's take on pop holds more than how much change was brought forth by "Fuck Tha Police?" I call shenanigans. At least this year, anyway.
Induction classes are always peculiar, especially given the diversity of one such as this. It almost looks like your IPod on shuffle, a shuffle that may drive you up the wall because of how random it is. Nobody is going to deal with Linda Ronstandt and KISS back to back, but for some strange reason they'll be in the same Hall of Fame homeroom, at least for a year.
The genre and age comparisons are going to make the Hall's selection process even more intriguing. What does Nirvana's instant leap mean for their peers such as Jane's Addiction or influencers like Sonic Youth? Hell, what is it going to mean for artists whose first singles appeared in 1990, like A Tribe Called Quest?
And Pearl Jam is the year after that. Then we'll have to figure this out all over again.
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