After the surprisingly wonderful Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Concert presented on HBO over the weekend (review to follow), Bruce Springsteen said, “if there is any justice at all, my next guest will be inducted to the RRHOF in 2010! Ladies and Gentlemen, Darlene Love!”
Darlene Love? Are you serious, Boss?
On that note, I’d like to consider this year’s list of potential inductees while reviewing the criteria the RRHOF uses for inductions.
- The Chantels
- Jimmy Cliff
- The Hollies
- LL Cool J
- Darlene Love
- Laura Nyro
- Red Hot Chili Peppers
- The Stooges
- Donna Summer
This list, while an accomplished list of artists, is not among rock and roll’s “A” list. Most of the “A” artists are already in.
What are the RRHOF’s criteria anyway?
The Hall is concerned with “recognizing the contribution of those who have had a significant impact on the evolution, development, and perpetuation of rock and roll.” These are pretty broad criteria. What is the calculus for measuring significant impact?
As you would suspect, there is no empirically justifiable calculus for admission to the Hall; it’s all up to the discretion of the induction voters. In fairness, with only one major exception and a few minor ones, the committee has done a terrific job with the inductions. The RRHOF’s inductees provide a broad and relatively complete pastiche of what you would put under the umbrella of Rock and Roll. It’s an incredible accomplishment, far from the “joke” some naysayers claim it is.
What concerns me are the forces that come into play when the committee must choose from a list of “B” players like the one in 2010. This tacit mandate to induct five per year forces a lousy hand. Can’t the Hall make inductions every couple of years now rather than yearly? This would ensure only “A” players get inducted, thereby maintaining the significance of those already in the RRHOF.
This forced hand created Hall’s most troubling induction, Madonna. While Madonna may strap on a Les Paul and strum a few barre chords on her recent tour, in no universe is rock and roll. Yet there she is, crawling through the door of the RRHOF, on the floor, with her bustier and man biceps – paving the way for the consideration of other marginal rock and rock artists like this year’s shoe in Abba.
Abba’s music is just weird. They are weird. While Agentha’s spandex is slightly rock and roll, the music isn’t. It’s artificial show tunes, as evidenced by the success of Mamma Mia. While they’ve sold more records than all the other nominees combined, voting them in paves the way for who, Andrew Lloyd Webber? Once you let Madonna in, you have to consider them seriously.
I suspect they’ll be inducted.
Red Hot Chili Peppers, while not an “A” list act, are THE only deserving act on this year’s list. Does anyone doubt they are Rock and Roll? They perform with their shirts off, they have tattoos, and they have a bass player named Flea. They continue to produce great music and listen to Stadium Arcadium. They rock!
They will be inducted, #2.
Donna Summer sold 130 records and created some of the best Disco music. If there is room for Madonna, there is room for the queen of disco. Jeff “Skunk” Baxter’s solo on Hot Stuff is totally rock and roll!
She will be inducted #3.
Before becoming a hit machine for Phil Collins, Genesis pioneered progressive rock. While the Hall ignores prog-rock, Collin’s recent bout with a disorder that ends his drumming career ensures their induction – only if they promise to keep Peter Gabriel and his flower costume home.
That’s it—no one else.
The only possible exception is Laura Nyro. A savant at songwriting and pioneer in the singer/songwriter movement of the late 1960s, she penned many hits for other artists. One of David Geffen’s earliest clients, I suspect she’ll be voted in, despite her annoying voice and stage fright. The Hall loves this type of artsy artist.
The rest, forget them.
The Kiss army will, of course, be offended and assault me with makeup, but other than Rock and Roll All Night, their music never even rise to the level of decent. Bad singers and bad songs. No!
Jimmy Cliff is more a movie star than an artist. Bob Marley is already in.
Holly’s recording of All I Need is the Air that I Breath disqualifies them. This is despite Long Cool Woman rocking very hard!
LL Cool J has terrific abs and mediocre songs.
Darlene Love? Ronnie Spector already represents Phil Spector. Enough with the Wall of Sound already.
Finally, the Stooges. Only if Shemp is included! Ba-dump-bum! Were it not for Iggy Pop’s agelessness and perpetually shirtless body; no one would pay attention to these guys. That alone does not make them rock and roll. Their music is terrible.
I still hold hope for the reconsideration of Chicago and Yes.
The Yes Album, Fragile, and Close to the Edge are fantastic hat tricks. Forgive them for Trevor Horn and the Owner of a Lonely Heart. Don’t lump Jon Anderson with Geddy Lee. Induct them!
Similarly, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago, and Chicago III is a similar hat trick. These guys pioneered jazz rock and horn-infused arrangements. Terry Kath’s guitar startled even Hendrix. Forgive them for Peter Cetera and David Forster. Wait, check that; no forgiving David Foster.