Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Rush was robbed. There will be no Charlie Bucket moment. They won’t be going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At least not this year. There was no invitation served via chocolate bar or however these things go down and so yes, they were screwed royally once again. But they weren’t the only band shut out: see Cat Stevens, Kiss, Can, The Carpenters, Dick Dale, T. Rex, Peter, Paul & Mary, Randy Newman, Black Flag, The Moody Blues, Public Enemy, Hall & Oates. The list is miles long and knee deep.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame revealed its short list of possible inductees for 2012 which included: the Beastie Boys, The Cure, Donovan, Eric B. & Rakim, Guns ‘N Roses, Heart, Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, Freddie King, Laura Nyro, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rufus with Chaka Khan, The Small Faces/The Faces, The Spinners, Donna Summer, and War.
I must admit I have long given up on the whole “artists most deserving induction” argument. You get no closer to understanding the minds of the nominating committee, it’s an energy zapper, and at some point in the conversation math enters the picture making you realize just how super old you are because artists aren’t eligible for induction until 25 years after the release of their first full length record.
So the conversation resembles something like: ‘Really, it’s been 25 years since so and so put out blah blah blah.. that can’t be? Shit!’ If you haven’t had that conversation yet, it’s because you are too young, but trust me Bon Iver and Arcade Fire fans, it’s coming.
The voting system remains subjective, and alleges it’s not about sales or popularity but rather artistic impact, influence and innovation. While an artist’s body of work is taken into account “musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.” Great. We won’t be seeing Air Supply in the Hall anytime soon.
In the 1950’s famed Cleveland DJ Alan Freed was credited with coining the term rock and roll, but exactly what that genre embraces in 2012 seems to have become fuzzy logic by the Rock Hall definition otherwise how does one explain Miles Davis mingling the Halls with Joey Ramone and ABBA’s Benny Andersson or Billie Holiday with country legend Hank Williams.
The answer may lie with the sub-genre system. You’ve got four categories: Performer, Non-Performer, Early Influences, and Sidemen (now referred to as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Award for Recording Excellence).
The Early Influences genre – “artists whose music predated rock and roll but had an impact on the evolution of rock and roll and inspired rock’s leading artists” – is like the Jesus/Roadie category: performs miraculous entry for some but leaves you wondering about the deviant sexual pleasures the other bands had to fulfill in order to gain entry.
For me the Hall of Fame will start to get interesting again in 2015 when Fugazi becomes eligible having released Repeater in 1990. Prior band Minor Threat are eligible now, but with only one full length album to their name, I would liken the scenario to a man with one testicle joining an orgy – too much competition – so I’ll stick with Fugazi.
Frankly it’s more a curiosity thing. Fugazi are already in the Hall of Fame as far as I’m concerned. They’ve been there for years. Though no longer a touring band and on indefinite hiatus since 2003, the band kicked ass for years and brought a little something called integrity to the table. Play as hard as you can and don’t screw over your fans. Not a difficult concept, but sadly, not a Hall of Fame criteria either. They cast a wide net of influence and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who had a bad thing to say about the band or their music. We’ll see how that plays out in the coming years.
The Beastie Boys are nominated again. Mazel Tov. I love them to death but how the hell can they be nominated before the Bad Brains? How does the influencee get in before the influencer if this is all about impact?
As you can tell, I have long given up on the whole “artists most deserving induction” argument. I have not given it a second thought. But Rush fans, you are not alone.
The 27th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held in Cleveland on Saturday, April 14. As you can tell, I won’t be watching.