Monday, September 10, 2018

Predictions on the 2019 ballot

Several others of the hobbyist community, those who follow the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, have already laid in their predictions.  Their predictions for who will be nominated and placed on the ballot, that is.  People generally are thinking along the same lines, predicting a lot of similar names, and now, I'm going to level a prediction.

After a season's abstinence from predicting the ballot, I'm back and formulating my thoughts.  Harboring no illusions of any great changes coming from that peculiar institution, the names to appear here will be pretty safe, standard picks.  I don't even have a left-field nominee this year, though there were a couple names I was considering for that purpose.  And after having spent this year revealing and explaining the selections of my passion project, the energy level is a bit low, so with any luck, this will be a shorter predictions post that what other hobbyist bloggers have written.  They mostly break down into segments.

First off are the young guns.  Normally, we'd be calling this the evaluation of newly eligible artists, but after last year, it needs to be a little more encompassing.  Sure, I still think we'll have two newly eligible artists on the ballot.  For starters, Beck has got to be a bit of a darling with the powers-that-be.  His music, his image, his quirks... they all scream "prime candidate for immediate induction," or at least they did as recently as ten years ago.  His induction no longer seems as sure, but his nomination should still be happening.  In the same boat, at least in my opinion, we find OutKast, the hip-hop duo whose pop sensibilities were just so infectious, so catchy, and crossed over so effortlessly, that getting them on the ballot also seems like a relative no-brainer.  However, I think we'll also see the return of our two acts that were newly eligible last year.  First off, the seemingly sure shot Radiohead should return after somehow missing out last year.  It's a tradition that includes Aerosmith and Queen, so Radiohead should be back for another pass, hopefully with less controversy involved.  Likewise, expect Rage Against The Machine, with guitarist Tom Morello on the Nominating Committee to be given a second shot at their induction.  Those four should be the primary representatives for the youngest generation of eligible artists.

However, it wouldn't be a Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame ballot these days without it being mathematically possible for there to be an entire induction class of classic rock staples.  To that end, I think we'll see Judas Priest return for the second time in a row.  The Hall may even wish to forgo nominating another prog-rock act to focus on representing metal a little more.  As the preferred classic rock act that missed out last year, they're a strong bet to return.  But there will also be some new names appearing on the ballot to maintain the classic rock funnel.  The big story to break this past year in our circle has been the revelation of how Irving Azoff has managed to work from an unofficial nomination seat and get his clients inducted.  Most are currently eyeing to see if the Doobie Brothers make the ballot.  Maybe now that we know about it, the spell will be broken, but it'd be foolhardy to bet against it at this point, so I'm going to predict them to be on the ballot as well.  Another classic rock name that should appear will be Bad Company, after a recent tweet with a picture of Paul Rodgers and Little Steven, it appears very likely that this will be the act that the bandanna man will fight for in the room.  And with classic rock rolling strongly right now, it's more a matter of "when" than "if."  Two more names that have been coming up quite a bit throughout the past year, though not from anybody close to the Foundation, have been Foreigner and Def Leppard.  It seems a little unlikely that there'd be two metal acts on the same ballot, but then again, ask any hardcore metal fan, particularly that of Judas Priest, and they'll tell you that Def Leppard and all of hair metal isn't really heavy metal at all.  We'll see if any of the people in the room agree with that sentiment, but either way, it's a possibility, as names from the Previously Considered column continue to end up with nominations, and even some with inductions.  As for Foreigner, we know the connection to the late Ahmet Ertegun, and also that Jann S. Wenner is in their corner, so it's wise to keep them in mind too.  Lastly, because they're clearly a priority right now, let's throw in the J. Geils Band to be nominated again, too.

The J. Geils Band also fit into the next category that isn't so much about their chances of being nominated, but more of names to be wary of, should they reappear.  What do the MC5, the Zombies, and Depeche Mode all have in common?  They've all been on the ballot for both of the past two years.  Lately, the trend has been that if an act has been nominated three consecutive years, the Hall is very serious about them, and wants them in, no matter what.  Chic notwithstanding, it's a list that includes Laura Nyro, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, and the Cars.  So, I'm predicting them all in a manner of throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.  Keep an eye on those names and see who comes back for the third consecutive nomination.

With the introduction of the Singles category this year, it seems unlikely that we'll see nominations for Chubby Checker, Procol Harum, Steppenwolf, the Kingsmen, or for Link Wray.  But where they're slamming the door on Link Wray, it could be the opening of the door for Dick Dale, another guitar legend with a group behind him that should be included in the nomination, but likely won't be.  Soul hasn't been fairing so well lately, but that doesn't stop the Hall from trying, so hopefully we'll have another nomination for the Spinners.  Post-punk has had a hard time getting in, but not too much trouble getting nominated.  Just a blind pick, let's predict Pixies to get a nod.  OutKast represent hip-hop ably, so I think LL Cool J will be getting a bye this go-around.  However, we could look at an electronic act that has been sampled in hip-hop and rap.  Kraftwerk has been playing a steady game of every other year lately. so I think this is their year to return.

Which brings us to the ladies.  Despite Steve Miller's plea and admonition, the Hall doesn't really work toward nominating more women.  They seem relatively impervious to social influence, thinking they did their part when the museum unveiled their "Women Who Rock" exhibit a few years ago.  But there will still be a few women on the ballot.  After missing out on being nominated last year, I think they'll give Janet Jackson another chance.  And they've been nominating Chaka Khan in some capacity the past few years.  I don't include her in the "three consecutive" paragraph above though, because it's been split between her solo career and her work with Rufus.  I'd like to see both of them get in, but I think it'll be the solo efforts that will be recognized this time.  And speaking of solo efforts, the final prediction to be nominated will be the solo career of Stevie Nicks.  She's already in with Fleetwood Mac.  I'm basing this prediction based on the public poll feature at the museum.  It's absolutely no guarantee, of course, but consider the fan ballot as a parallel.  When the top vote-recipient of the fan ballot gets inducted every year since the fan ballot was introduced, it's that correlation that begins to look like causation.  But now let's suppose the Hall is considering upping the game.  No longer do the fans have just a combined ballot, but what if they also have a combined nomination?  What if the top two vote-getters in the Hall end up being the "fans' submissions" in the boardroom, prior to the Feast Of The Giant Sandwich?  It just might be that this tool will be used to give the fans a say on the Nominating Committee.  Naturally, there's a world of difference between those who are able to make the trek out to the museum in Cleveland and being able to just vote online, which is where the parallel proves inexact, but could this be a further part of the hook to drive up the museum's attendance and bottom line?  I don't think that's entirely outside the realm of possibility.  It's a very tenuous prediction, but it's an alpha test both for the Foundation and for us hobbyists.  Maybe it will have no effect whatsoever, but let's predict her to make it and see if she actually does get nominated.

And by my math, that makes nineteen names, which is how big the ballot has been recently.  As I said, full of safe picks.  Nothing unexpected, and I don't think there's a name that isn't or won't be on someone else's predictions list.  But I'm okay with that.  As a disclaimer and reminder, these aren't necessarily the nineteen names I want most to see on the ballot (though now that I'm predicting them, the more I get right, the better I feel about my skills); these are just the ones that I feel will be nominated.  So, recapping, because I do that a lot these days:

Bad Company
Dick Dale
Depeche Mode
the Doobie Brothers
the J. Geils Band
Janet Jackson
Judas Priest
Chaka Khan
the MC5
Stevie Nicks
Rage Against The Machine
the Spinners
the Zombies

Monday, September 3, 2018

Songs Of Proof: Previously Considered

If you read this blog with any regularity, then you probably also frequent the Future Rock Legends web page, an invaluable site for information pertaining to this little hobby of ours.  When I first starting hanging out there, one of the more interesting things I found was they not only had a list of every act that had been nominated in the past, but also artists that had been "considered."  Now, to be completely clear, what it means to be "considered" in terms of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is still a little foggy.  For the longest time, I've assumed that it essentially meant that an artist was formally submitted to be put on the ballot, but never actually made it to the final ballot.  While I'm still fairly certain that this is indeed what is meant, an episode of "Who Cares About The Rock Hall" where they had a former member of the Nominating Committee as a guest, mentioned that no less than Ahmet Ertegun himself tried to make a pitch for Foreigner.  As I type this out, Foreigner is still not listed on Future Rock Legends' page of "Previously Considered" artists.  Maybe Ahmet mentioned Foreigner in a tangent while submitting another artist, or maybe I've been operating under a wrong assumption.  Either way, Foreigner is not on this list.

And it's quite an extensive list.  Even when weeding out the names that have been officially nominated before, there are still over a hundred names on this list!  That's a lot of names over the years.  And reading this list, there are names that make you say, "Yes! Absolutely!" and names that make you say, "Huh, I guess it really is all about who you know."  And as with the songs for Past Nominees, I've found it a useful habit to keep songs for all these artists too.  A lot of the nominees over the years have come from this list, and it has been an interesting spectacle to see names like Rush go from not even being on this list, to being on it, to being nominated, and then becoming inductees.  It's not always newer artists on this list either.  I remember when names like Brook Benton and Freddy Cannon were not on this lesser roll call.  And now they are.  And they have songs to honor just being submitted in the room shortly before the Feast Of The Giant Hoagie.

Which brings us to the songs.  All 113 of them, if my count is accurate.  Even 113 sentences would be a little tedious to both write and read.  So, this time, I'm just going to list the artists and their songs, and let that be that.  If you have any questions about why I chose a song for an artist, please feel free to ask me in the Comments below, and I'll explain as well as I can.  Since this is the Previously Considered list, though, I will also say that if a Song Of Proof is going to be changed, this is the stage it's most likely to happen in.  I've changed several in the past at this stage, and it could happen again.  Except for Todd Rundgren.  That one will never change, because who doesn't love a good rock and roll song that you can polka dance to?  And as always, any Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Songs Of Proof will still be mentioned.  The two that used to be on this list, but got inducted in the Award For Musical Excellence category, those two being the E Street Band and Ringo Starr, have been removed from this part of the playlist.  Also, since the Dominoes have been nominated, I'm not including a second song for "Billy Ward And The Dominoes;" it's the same group, for the most part.  So try not to let your eyes glaze over too much.  Time to honor our Previously Considered, but never actually nominated, artists for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Lee Andrews And The Hearts: "Teardrops"
Paul Anka: "You Are My Destiny"
Ashford And Simpson: "Solid"
the Average White Band: "Pick Up The Pieces"
Bad Company: "Rock 'N' Roll Fantasy"
Brook Benton: "Kiddio"
the B-52's: "Love Shack"
the Big Bopper: "Chantilly Lace"
Big Brother And The Holding Company: "Piece Of My Heart"
Black Flag: "Rise Above"
Blind Faith: "Can't Find My Way Home"
Blood, Sweat, And Tears: "You've Made Me So Very Happy"
Blues Incorporated: "Keep Your Hands Off"
the Blues Project: "No Time Like The Right Time"
Boogie Down Productions: "Love's Gonna Get Cha (Material Love)"
Pat Boone: "Why Baby Why"
Bobby Brown: "Humpin' Around"
Chuck Brown: "Bustin' Loose"
Johnny Burnette And The Rock 'N' Roll Trio: "The Train Kept A-Rollin'"
Canned Heat: "Let's Work Together"
Freddy Cannon: "Abigail Beecher"
Captain Beefheart: "Diddy Wah Diddy"
Chubby Checker: "The Twist"
Patsy Cline: "Crazy"
Joe Cocker: "The Letter"
Judy Collins: "Song For Judith (Open The Door)"
the Commodores: "Brick House"  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Easy")
Ry Cooder: "Feelin' Bad Blues"
Country Joe And The Fish: "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine"
Crazy Horse: "Southern Pacific"
the Crystals: "Then He Kissed Me" (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Da Doo Ron Ron (When He Walked Home)")
Dick Dale: "Misirlou"
the Spencer Davis Group: "I'm A Man"
Def Leppard: "Photograph"
Delaney And Bonnie: "Only You Know And I Know"
De La Soul: "Me, Myself, And I"
Devo: "Whip It"
Dr. Hook: "Walk Right In"
the Doobie Brothers: "Jesus Is Just Alright"
Lee Dorsey: "Ya Ya"
Nick Drake: "Pink Moon"
Emerson, Lake, And Palmer: "Lucky Man"
Fishbone: "Sunless Saturday"
the Five Keys: "Ling Ting Tong" (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Close Your Eyes")
the Five Satins: "In The Still Of The Night" (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "To The Aisle")
the Flying Burrito Brothers: "Christine's Tune"
the GAP Band: "You Dropped A Bomb On Me"
Lesley Gore: "That's The Way Boys Are"
Johnny Hallyday: "Gabrielle"
Tim Hardin: "Simple Song Of Freedom"
Slim Harpo: "Baby, Scratch My Back"
the Harptones: "Why Should I Love You"
Donny Hathaway: "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know"
Herman's Hermits: "No Milk Today"
Hot Tuna: "Winin' Boy Blues"
Whitney Houston: "I Wanna Dance With Somebody Who Loves Me"
Ivory Joe Hunter: "Since I Met You Baby"
Iron Butterfly: "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida"
Iron Maiden: "Run To The Hills"
Mick Jagger: "Just Another Night"
the Jam: "Town Called Malice"
Tommy James And The Shondells: "Mony Mony"
the Jayhawks: "Waiting For The Sun"
Jethro Tull: "Bungle In The Jungle"
George Jones: "He Stopped Loving Her Today"
Grace Jones: "I'm Not Perfect (But I'm Perfect For You)"
Fela Kuti: "Zombie"
the Last Poets: "E Pluribus Unum"
Living Colour: "Cult Of Personality"
Love: "Alone Again Or"
Manfred Mann: "Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)"
the Marshall Tucker Band: "Heard It In A Love Song"
the Monkees: "The Girl That I Knew Somewhere" (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Valleri")
Motorhead: "Ace Of Spades"
the Neville Brothers: "Spirits Of The World"
Sinead O'Connor: "The Emperor's New Clothes"
Junior Parker: "Next Time You See Me"
Teddy Pendergrass: "Close The Door"
Pixies: "Here Comes Your Man"
Poco: "Crazy Love"
Billy Preston: "Will It Go Round In Circles"
Cliff Richard And The Shadows: "Summer Holiday"
Keith Richards: "Take It So Hard"
Roxy Music: "Love Is The Drug"
Todd Rundgren: "Bang The Drum All Day"
Otis Rush: "I Can't Quit You Baby"
Mitch Ryder: "Sock-It To Me Baby"
Sade: "Paradise"
Doug Sahm: "(Is Anybody Going To) San Antone"
Boz Scaggs: "Lido Shuffle"
Jack Scott: "Goodbye Baby"
Gil Scott-Heron: "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"
Neil Sedaka: "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do"
the Shangri-La's: "Leader Of The Pack" (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Long Live Our Love")
Simple Minds: "Sanctify Yourself"
Huey "Piano" Smith And The Clowns: "Don't You Just Know It"
Sonic Youth: "Teen Age Riot"
Sonny And Cher: "The Beat Goes On"
the Sugarhill Gang: "Rapper's Delight"
Ten Years After: "I'd Love To Change The World"
Rufus Thomas: "Walking The Dog"
Three Dog Night: "Joy To The World" (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Celebrate")
Peter Tosh: "Legalize It"
the Treacherous Three: "The Body Rock"
T. Rex: "Bang A Gong (Get It On)"
Tina Turner: "Better Be Good To Me"
the Turtles: "It Ain't Me Babe"
Junior Walker And The All-Stars: "Shotgun"
Junior Wells: "Little By Little"
Barry White: "Never Never Gonna Give You Up"
Lucinda Williams: "Get Right With God"
Johnny Winter: "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
X: "Los Angeles"

And with that long list, we are not only done with our look at the Previously Considered, but also our entire run of the Great Playlist.  The end of the Songs Of Proof.  I hope you've enjoyed reading this series as much as I've enjoyed compiling it and writing about it.  I do have other songs squirreled away on my computer too, of artists that have never been considered, but might conceivably be considered or nominated someday.  I'm choosing to not even get into that list because everybody's going to be quick to mention one artist that I should have stored away, but don't at present.  And really, we can debate who might be and who should be all day long.  That's part of the allure of this hobby of ours.  This entire project, though, is simply a reflection upon who is and who has been, the names that we definitely know of.  And that's where the line is being drawn.  I want to thank everyone who has read this series, everyone who's weighed in, either in the Comments sections, or on social media or other forums.  And once more, feel free to add your thoughts or questions about this or any previous entry in the series in the Comments section below.  And even those who haven't weighed in, but just read.  I hope I've prodded your brains to think about similar undertakings in our celebration of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  Hopefully, I gave at least one person the curiosity to check out an artist, or at least a song.  Soon to come,  my predictions for the nominees for the upcoming ballot for the Class Of 2019.  I don't guarantee that it'll follow the weekly deadline that I set for myself on this project, but it'll be soon.

Once again, thank you for your readership.  It's been fun sharing and celebrating this passion project that has continued even as my career in commercial radio appears to be entirely in the past.  It's clearly evolved beyond that now, and it's fun to see where it will take me in the future.  So, that's where we'll continue to look.  Thank you for taking this journey with me through The Great Playlist: The Songs Of Proof Celebrating The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Songs Of Proof: Past Nominees

Whenever someone loses out on an award, like an Oscar or an Emmy, they try to be gracious about it by saying something like, "It's an honor just to be nominated."  Sadly, though, they are seldom remembered by the next year's awards season.  This, of course, is because awards like those are about that specific year's accomplishments, unless it's a Lifetime Achievement award.

However, awards like induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame are by very definition, lifetime achievement awards of a sort.  Missing out one year does not mean an inductee has to continue to perform at a stellar level to be considered for nomination the next year.  That's good too, because with the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, many nominations and inductions are posthumous.  And when one considers the bottleneck of artists that have never even been nominated--and if you haven't noticed that before, just do a cursory search for it: you'll be inundated--it is indeed substantially meaningful to be nominated for the Rock Hall, even if you believe the Foundation is corrupt and cronyistic through and through.

Which brings us to this song list.  Because being nominated is such an honor in and of itself, all the past nominees for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame have also been awarded songs for the great playlist.  And at one time, I was indeed updating the list by burning new CDs as new artists were added to it, and other ones got off the list by being inducted.  I may take that up again; however, as the digital age renders the CD-R less profitable a product, there may come a time when I have to reserve all my stock just for continuing classes.  As of right now, the songs for past nominees comprise two discs, and since they were last burned in 2012, they include some artists that have since been inducted.  This list, though, will be current and focus on those that have not been inducted as of 2018.  This is useful to me for two reasons: one, as a hobbyist, it's a great way to help remember all of the past nominees; two, if and when they are inducted, they already have a song selected for them for when they are inducted.  The Songs Of Proof seldom change, after all.

And it is with that, that I announce we will indeed look at all of the Past Nominees.  However, since I don't wish to write over forty lengthy paragraphs as I have done for the inductees, and I'm sure you don't want to read that many either, the format will be much simpler.  Artist, song, short sentence or two about why that particular song was chosen.  Less challenging for us all that way.  So now, let's honor those who've only received the lesser honor of just being nominated.

Johnny Ace: "Pledging My Love"  In addition to being his signature song, it's a powerful crossover R&B ballad that a lot of other enduring R&B ballads took a cue from.

Bad Brains: "I Against I"  A fast, punk-like driving number with rap-like lyrical delivery, it captures a lot of the features that made them influential.

Afrika Bambaataa: "Planet Rock"  Also a signature song that showcases pioneering hip-hop turntable wizardry, showing the block party roots that hip-hop emerged from.

Kate Bush: "Love And Anger"  It showcases her bohemian lyricizing, and frames it within a song structure close enough to the more conventional definitions of rock and roll music.

The Chantels: "Maybe"  This song was a milestone for girl group records, and has a rhythmic structure that isn't too unlike later songs by the Shirelles, Crystals, or Angels.  (Vocal Group Hall OF Fame Song Of Proof: "Look In My Eyes")

Chic: "Good Times"  Even before I chose "Le Freak" for Nile Rodgers, I was using this song because this is a landmark record for hip-hop, dance, and R&B music.  Its importance is monumental.

The Cure: "Friday I'm In Love"  Post-punk is unusually melodic, and the beauty of how hooky this song is, combined with Robert Smith's vocals that are somewhat abstract, and yet very attainable to workaday people, sums up a good chunk of their influence.

Depeche Mode: "Just Can't Get Enough"  Sorry liquidmuse, even in the Past Nominees list, there are still some songs that are used because they are my favorite by the artist.

The Dominoes: "Sixty Minute Man"  Not only infectiously catchy, but overtly sexual, and massively successful, crossing over to the pop charts... back in 1951!  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Have Mercy Baby")

Eric B. And Rakim: "Let The Rhythm Hit 'Em"  This is a serious jam, where Rakim showed his full potential as an emcee, and Eric B.'s work was immaculate.

Eurythmics:  "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)"  Annie Lennox is described as having an androgynous beauty to her, and songs like this one definitely heighten that feeling of robotic androgyny.

The '5' Royales: "Baby, Don't Do It"  As the '5' Royales were inducted in the Early Influence category, this song carried over for them, as it was the song chosen for them when they were languishing in this column. This song will be removed from the "Past Nominees" song list next time I burn CDs for this group.

The J. Geils Band: "Love Stinks"  It may not be their most bluesy song, but it's a staunch rocker that you can tell just from listening to the studio version that it's an awful lot of fun to perform live.

Janet Jackson: "Nasty"  It's a quintessential song of new jack swing and is also surprisingly empowering.  One of her biggest hits too, it shows Janet at her best.

Wanda Jackson: "Let's Have A Party"  This song has since been removed from the Past Nominees list, but it was her song throughout the whole project and remains so for her now.

Elmore James:  "Dust My Broom"  Elmore was inducted before I even knew the Hall existed.  For some reason, he was nominated once for a Performer, then later inducted as an Early Influence.  But it's the same song chosen either way.

Jane's Addiction: "Been Caught Stealing"  One of their best-known songs and biggest hits, and given they have such a relatively small catalog, it's safe to say this one really does capture their general spirit as a band.

The J.B.'s: "Doing It To Death"  Though credited to "Fred Wesley And The J.B.'s," it doesn't violate the sole credit rule, as Wesley was a member and not an outside artist, and this is just how they were billed for this masterfully funky song that showcases their talent and why James Brown wanted them behind him.

Judas Priest: "You've Got Another Thing Coming"  It might piss off metalheads to use the hit song over the preferred album cuts, but this song is still a good one and does them justice, and is a good song to introduce newcomers to Judas Priest and original stylings of heavy metal in general.

Chaka Khan: "I'm Every Woman"  A feminist anthem, this song lets her cut loose and sing with great power, allowing her to stand out.

Ben E. King: "Stand By Me"  It's sad that some people think it's the song and not the singer, and though King didn't play an instrument creating this immortal rhythm line, his lyrics are just as legendary for the way it peals out, giving it an earnest feel, lauding the mutualism that could be found in standing by him.

Carole King was inducted as part of a songwriting duo, though there is much clamoring for her to be nominated again as a Performer.  If she is, I will swap out "I Feel The Earth Move" and make it her Performer Song Of Proof, and make "It Might As Well Rain Until September" her Non-Performer Song Of Proof, as that song captures that Brill Building quality to a tee.  However, I intentionally am waiting to make that swap until she's nominated again due to the number of "Small Hall" thinkers who think that induction wraps up her solo career too.

Freddie King: "I'm Tore Down"  This song serves brilliantly to honor his blues chops.  It would've been an even better selection had he been correctly inducted as a Performer, and since his Early Influence induction was an intentional sidestep, I see no reason to swap it out for an earlier song.

King Curtis right now has no Song Of Proof for his Performer nominations, as he was inducted before I created this list.  He was nominated the first six years, disappeared, and suddenly reappeared to receive a Sideman induction.  It'd be nice to seem him given another shot as a Performer nominee, this time including his Noble Knights, and if that happens, I have "Memphis Soul Stew" on standby for that very purpose.

Kraftwerk: "Autobahn"  This twenty-two minute gem clearly and wonderfully demonstrates their importance to modern music, particularly in Europe, both in terms of sonic architecture, and in the image that musicians often choose to project.

LL Cool J: "Mama Said Knock You Out"  The man really helped make rap an emcee's game, and hard-landing lyrics from him packed the full punch to do just that.

Los Lobos: "Will The Wolf Survive"  Since "La Bamba" is already used for Ritchie Valens, and since this song epitomizes their influences and their style much more perfunctorily, this is definitely a solid choice to use for this band of musicians' musicians.

The Marvelettes: "Please Mr. Postman"  Make no mistake: the Marvelettes are so much more than this song, but the song is also of such historical importance that it couldn't be ignored.  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Beechwood-45789")

The MC5: "Kick Out The Jams"  Again, another group that is much more than the one big song, but this song captures a lot of punk's youthful and rebellious spirit, while also still being incredibly fun.  Perfect song to use.

The Meters: "Cissy Strut"  This song showcases more of their funky side than their New Orleans roots, but there are still sightings of the Big Easy's musical DNA.  Plus, just has a nasty groove to it that will not be denied.

The New York Dolls: "Personality Crisis"  Considered a classic proto-punk song, I just love the antic lunacy that this jam just seems to embrace.  I've never looked for one, but I hope there's a music video for this song that predates MTV.

Nine Inch Nails: "Into The Void"  I'm admittedly not as knowledgeable about industrial music, but when I binge-listen to Nine Inch Nails, this song seems to most adequately represent the overall feel and mood of the catalog of this act.

Gram Parsons: "In My Hour Of Darkness"  Such a sweet, sweet piece of music, this song not only is a shining example of the beginnings of alternative-country, I think it also epitomizes what I mean when I say "country gospel," though Parsons was definitely not in that box either.

Esther Phillips: "Release Me"  This one was tricky.  Much of her fame came as the chanteuse for Johnny Otis's ensemble, but this take on a country classic really reaches out to show what she was capable of, too.

Procol Harum: "Whiter Shade Of Pale"  Since I have no plans to honor the Singles category at this time, there's no reason to swap out this important song that lays the foundation for progressive rock.

Radiohead: "Paranoid Android"  Radiohead is not of band of "eras," but continually evolves; nevertheless, showcasing the transition from "Creep" to OK Computer seems to cover the most important bases for a lot of casual listeners, and even some of the fans.  I think this song does that.

Rage Against The Machine: "Bulls On Parade"  Hatred for Republicans and their platform, nearly screamed lyrics, guitar playing that enhances that anger... this song has it all for them.

The Replacements: "I'll Be You"  I'll be honest, I'm not too familiar with their discography, but I love this song so much, I don't think I'd swap it out even it proved to be wholly aberrant of their general work.

Rufus with Chaka Khan: "Ain't Nobody"  An amazingly funky jam with solid backup vocals, it really captures the bulk of the commercially successful music and even hints and some of what wasn't or wouldn't be.

The Sir Douglas Quintet: "Mendocino"  I hate "She's About A Mover," and this song is a better example of Tex-Mex music anyway.  It was between this one and "Dynamite Woman."

The Smiths: "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now"  The almost hypnotic combination of Marr's guitar and Morrissey's voice, plus all the melancholy that Morrissey is known for.  Perfect fit, more perfect than a hand in glove.

The Spinners: "I'll Be Around"  Proof that Philly soul could be funky as well.  Great vocals, great harmony, great beat, great arrangement.  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "It's A Shame")

Steppenwolf: "Born To Be Wild"  This is still an iconic song that young people even today have heard of, and it's a good example of the kind of rock and roll that would eventually evolve into heavy metal.

Sting: "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free"  Not only is it his biggest hit as a soloist, but it also captures that ethereal feel that much of his solo efforts strove for.

Joe Tex: "Show Me"  It's a rollicking soul song that exemplifies that proto-rap vocal delivery that Tex is often credited for, and also features the message for both men and women, something he did with several of his songs.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe: "Strange Things Happening Every Day"  While it's unlikely for a person to be inducted in two different categories, it's even more unlikely that those two categories would be Performer and Early Influence, especially under their own name, and not part of another effort.  So, there's no impetus to include her in the updated Past Nominees set list in the future.

Conway Twitty: "It's Only Make Believe"  Since rock and roll's definition was even more nebulous at the time that Conway Twitty first broke through than it is now, I guess it makes sense that he was considered a teen idol rocker at one point.  This song is the biggest example of that time before he went on to country superstardom, and even foreshadows his future career, I would say.

War: "Low Rider"  War may be the epitome of what constitutes "cool funk," and no other song captures that spirit better than this one.  So funky, and still popular with the rockist crowd.

Mary Wells: "My Guy"  As with the Marvelettes, this woman is so much more than the big #1 hit, but the landmark accomplishment, as well as the enduring popularity of this song makes it the obvious selection.

Chuck Willis: "Betty And Dupree"  Since Ma Rainey is honored with "See See Rider Blues," that disqualified it being used for this man.  Fortunately, my selection is almost a carbon copy and exemplifies his work as the Stroll King.

Steve Winwood: "Roll With It"  Even though this song is incredibly bright and upbeat, it still manages to capture that easygoing and optimistic feeling that pervades some of this man's other solo hits.

Link Wray: "Rumble"  Once again, it's a monumental record that sadly has overshadowed the entire artist's achievements, but is still a great song and a benchmark of rock and roll.  So let's go with that.

The Zombies: "Time Of The Season"  So, yeah, I went with the obvious choice again, though I could have easily have gone with "Tell Her No" or "She's Not There" as they both contain that moody, jazzy, baroque feeling that this band was known for.  Add a pinch of psychedelia, and you have the reason they should be inducted.

And with that, we have completed our look at those that have been nominated for the Performer category, but did not make it.  Since each entry is short and formatted, no need for a recap.  What I will say though is that we are STILL not done with our look at representative songs for acts.  Stay tuned for the next installment!  And as always, feel free to comment below with your take on any of these.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Songs Of Proof: The Class Of 2018

You've been on a trip through the past.  A past that began in 1986.  You are now hurtling forward in time.  There's the signpost up ahead.  There went the signpost up ahead.  No worries, that wasn't the correct destination anyway.  Welcome back to present day.  It is 2018 once again, and the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame has returned to normal... You are travelling back in time, back to when the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame made more sense....

Just kidding.  We've finally made it to the most recent class, and it seems the trajectory of classic rock domination has held strong.  Four of the six inductees are bands that have at least one song still in fairly regular rotation on classic rock stations.  The other two inductees are the only people in this class who aren't White men.  They're both Black women... and they're both dead.  And yet in spite of it all, come time for the ceremony, that proves the least of the travesties.  I don't know who was on staff for the ceremonies of classes past that was let go before this one, but hire them back, NOW!  Or whoever was hired in time for this one, can them immediately.  Fortunately, the songs for my playlist have nothing to do with how the ceremony went.  The video clip package for Van Halen helped me pick their song for them in 2007, but for the most part, no, no bearing whatsoever.  So let's try to ignore the ugliness and just celebrate the music.

Bon Jovi:  And of course, we try to ignore the ugliness by starting with the most infantile act at the ceremony this past year.  The inductees were the youngest, they acted the most immature, and so did their presenter.  But there's no denying the impact that their music has had over the years.  They were one of the biggest of the hair metal acts of the '80's, they managed to survive and remain popular after grunge and other forms of alternative rock broke big and became more popular.  Their use of hooks, whether in their songwriting or instrumental breaks, made them a band you couldn't ignore.  You were going to know who they were one way or another.  Even as a child, I knew several of their songs, perhaps primarily because I have older siblings.  Growing up, one of my older siblings tried to turn me into a metalhead and made me mix tapes of '80's metal.  Songs that I liked.  Hair metal comprised the vast majority of those mix tapes.  Guns N' Roses, Van Halen, and of course, Bon Jovi appeared frequently.  "Born To Be My Baby" and "Bad Medicine" were my two favorite songs.  However, neither of those songs were the choice here.  That honor, of course, goes to "Livin' On A Prayer," because despite the musical diversity that the '80's brought, that song has been named the song that epitomized the decade of the 1980's.  That's a pretty significant achievement, and it makes it the obvious choice to represent Bon Jovi here.

The Cars:  As many people have noted, this is the band that just befuddles everyone how they missed their first two times.  Critics loved them, and fans loved them.  Maybe they just didn't have enough pull with their fellow musicians the first two times.  Whatever it was that held them back the first two times, the third time was the charm.  It was a little sad that they didn't quite sound as good at their induction as they did on their records, but it was great to see them on stage again, as complete as they could be, giving it to the people one more time.  Their infectious new-wave stylings, the diversity afforded by having two lead singers, the guitars, the driving drums, the keyboard fills, the occasional background vocals that could tastefully fill a record.. there's a lot to like about the Cars.  And I say that as someone who absolutely hates "Drive."  It really seemed germane to say that because that seems to be the song everyone loves.  I really enjoy the Cars, even if I despise that particular song.  So I didn't use it.  I wanted to go with something a bit more upbeat, that really utilizes their unique synthesizer sound and really captures the way they made new-wave a bit more rocking.  And what could be more true to rock and roll than an open invitation to celebrate life with judgment-free dancing?  If rock and roll is more of an attitude than a style of music, then the apotheosis of that attitude, reflected in the music, is the call to self-expression, particularly through dancing without fear of judgment.  In the case of the Cars, they wanted you on the floor, even if all you could do was "Shake It Up."

Dire Straits:  We've just gotten over the one low point of the ceremony, and we've come now to the other.  Whatever amazing accomplishments Dire Straits achieved, they had to be inferred, because there was no presenter to rattle off the statistical and the emotional highlights that the music of Dire Straits meant for him, her, or them.  All we know is what being in Dire Straits meant to the members of the band who didn't have the surname "Knopfler."  However, the music of Dire Straits opened up the doors for members of the band, particularly Mark Knopfler, to become firmly established and build strong bridges to other members of the industry.  At least, that's my theory on how they got in, particularly since fellow musicians comprise a decent chunk of the voting bloc.  As legendary as "Money For Nothing" is, I didn't use that one.  It has everything and nothing to do with the particular word that once referred to a bundle of wood and is now considered offensive.  It's not an aversion to the word itself, but to use the rest of the lyrics that surround that word or not to use those lyrics, you now have to decide which version you want to use.  Rather than choose between the edited and unedited versions, I just chose a different song.  My personal favorite is "Walk Of Life," but it's just too joyful with its vivacious keyboard riffs that it's just too atypical of the band's general style.  With that, I've determined that the low-key, moody "Sultans Of Swing," with its licks in between the cracks, best fits the bill to represent Dire Straits in the great playlist project.

The Moody Blues:  At long last, we come to Kristen Studard's favorite band.  Or not.  It's fun to bring up though.  The importance of the Moody Blues, though, is monumental.  Arguably the first prog-rock band, the Moody Blues also managed to continue to incorporate driving rhythm while infusing classical themes.  It's a balance that not every prog-band managed to maintain, and it makes the Moody Blues a bit more enjoyable for me.  There's intellectual stimulation, and then there's drug-addled mumbo-jumbo.  The Moody Blues did a bit of both with their songwriting, but even when they strayed into the nonsensical, they at least managed to keep it melodically interesting.  The song I've chosen to salute this band with is "I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)."  The choice is partially due to the proclivity of choosing songs that are about rock and roll, but it's more than that.  Its symphonic arrangement plays off the drums and guitar playing in a way that is both frenetic and controlled.  It's far from archetypal of progressive rock, and yet it captures its potential for linking itself firmly within the traditional parameters of what many consider rock and roll.  It gently, yet noticeably pushes the envelope.  They were more than just singers, they were a tremendous rock and roll band, and long overdue for their induction.  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Ride My See-Saw")

Nina Simone:  When Future Rock Legends predicted her as a nominee a few years ago, I thought it was a left-field prediction with no chance of fruition.  Moral of the story: keep learning.  My first encounter with her magic and music was "For A While" written by Bob Gaudio of the Four Seasons.  The second encounter was a commercial that used "Color Is A Beautiful Thing."  I don't remember what the product was that was being advertised, but I do remember the song's simple beauty, and that it made me happy to listen to it.  That's some amazing power, to make people feel good about a message of change, and of civil rights.  And that was far from the only time Nina could do it.  "The Other Woman" is a song of such heartbreaking beauty, and she makes the homewrecker a person to sympathize with.  She had compassion for people, but had fire, too.  Between her condemnation of Mississippi and "(You'll) Go To Hell," she showed compassion without embracing a message of "I'm okay, you too!"  Since she only cracked the Top 40 once, I didn't feel quite as bound to use a hit song for her.  And as a jazz artist who never considered what she did to be rock and roll, we are once again faced with the need to use a song that connects her enough to the diaspora to justify her Performer induction.  In the case of Nina Simone, the problem wasn't finding a song, it was narrowing it down to a single song.  Having covered Screamin' Jay Hawkins and the Animals, there are plenty of choices.  I actually narrowed it down to two songs.  I especially love "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free."  Nina's tickling the ivories on it, but it reminds me of Booker T. Jones' work on "White Christmas" from his group's Christmas album.  And the song's overall feel would fit right in with the rest of Otis Redding's catalog.  When I hear this song, I like to sing along and try to sing it like Otis Redding: "I wish I could give/All I'm longin' To give/I wish I could live/Like I'm LOOONNGGIN' to live ah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-I wish I could do..."  You get the idea.  But I didn't use that song.  The song I did use is a bit more plodding of a song, but could still pass for a soul song, just not an Otis Redding song.  Instead, the song I chose sounds like it could have been performed by a soul vocal group, like the Chi-Lites, the Stylistics, or especially the Dells.  Still a great song whether you call it jazz or soul, it's "To Be Young, Gifted And Black."

Sister Rosetta Tharpe:  For the hobbyist community, or just for music lovers in general, the omission of Sister Rosetta Tharpe was probably the greatest oversight of all by the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  Some have even gone so far as to credit her as the primary inventor of rock and roll.  An axe-slinger with a powerful gospel message and singing voice.  I wouldn't go so far as to say she invented rock and roll, but boy did she have a hand in its creation, both in her work with Lucky Millinder and songs of her own credit afterwards.  Speaking of Lucky Millinder, I was absolutely floored by the record, "Shout, Sister, Shout" and wanted to use that to represent Sister Rosetta Tharpe here, but then I learned that that song was in fact credited to Lucky Millinder, and not her.  Shucks.  Fortunately, she has enough solid material to pick an alternate song.  The record that ended up being chosen for her is "Strange Things Happening Every Day."  It's definitely one of her bigger hits, and one of the most cited tunes of hers as being important.  She was such an obvious choice for the Early Influence category, it really does make one ponder again, what was she doing on the main Performer ballot in the first place?  Whatever the reason was, they inducted her correctly... I guess strange things really are happening every day.

The rest of the inductees from this class are actual songs.  The Singles category.  The truth is, I really haven't decided on including those six songs.  We don't know what's going on with this category, and there are so many questions and concerns surrounding it, that until the ill-ease surrounding the category itself is resolved, our celebration of the Class Of 2018 will remain at just six songs, and not twelve.  Which means this review is wrapped up.  For those who include my seeding Sister Rosetta Tharpe to make the Early Influence category, it could be argued I went 4/6 in my predictions this last go round.  And we may be done with our celebration of the inductees, but we are not done with the great playlist yet!  Start thinking about those past nominees that haven't quite made it yet.  We'll be honoring them next week!  Meanwhile, recapping:

Bon Jovi: "Livin' On A Prayer"
the Cars: "Shake It Up"
Dire Straits: "Sultans Of Swing"
the Moody Blues: "I'm Just A Singer (In A Rock And Roll Band)"
Nina Simone: "To Be Young, Gifted And Black"
Sister Rosetta Tharpe: "Strange Things Happening Every Day"

Monday, August 13, 2018

Songs Of Proof: The Class Of 2017

After the disappointing homogeneity with the Class Of 2016, people were keeping a suspicious eye on the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame to see what would happen with this next class.  Watchers were not only keeping a close eye on the ballot, but  also on the fan ballot, making sure that it doesn't get hacked again.  After a class that was overwhelmingly classic rock, surely a class that was only about half classic rock would appease the hobbyist community, right?  Well, apparently not.  Why?  Well, maybe to some, it just seemed that the other inductees were a matter of either being obligatory or being tokens.  One of them seemed to be both.

The other reason that this class seemed to be unsatisfying is because it is what Mark Twain described as the other great tragedy in life: getting what you want.  After eleven failed nominations, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation finally showed their hand: it was really all just about the love for the one guy anyway.  For those who'd been clamoring to just give a special award to the guy, the result was unsatisfying.  For those who opposed this side door induction, this was infuriating.  For fans of that group, it was downright appalling.  So, with all these shenanigans going on, the fact that they still found time to make half the Performer inductees classic rock acts just did not fly with much of the hobbyist crowd.  Besides them, there's the obligatory induction of a newly eligible band that was a darling for the Nominating Committee, a seemingly token pick of a female Performer, the aforementioned side door inductee, and the rapper that was both an obligatory newly eligible and also a token African-American inductee.  But again, it's not a bad class; it's just hard to feel we got the greatest class we could have had from this ballot.  At the very least, we're happy that they inducted six Performers instead of just five.  With the Award For Musical Excellence inductee, we get seven.  Seven inductees saluted with seven songs.

Joan Baez:  As was the case with Miles Davis, the most basic problem with choosing a song for the inductee stems from the fact that even the Performer inductee doesn't consider their music to be rock and roll at all.  At her induction, Baez said that she wasn't really rock and roll, but that she had an immense impact on rock and roll.  That much is absolutely true.  Largely the reason we know who Bob Dylan is, her own music also had a wide impact on America at large.  And while she was folk, folk's roots and traditions share some of the history from which we also get country, western, bluegrass; and it is therefore quite possible to blend the parent style in with the child style.  It's also kind of ironic that she was such a huge influence on Bob Dylan, one of the most original artists of our time, considering that she herself often needed encouragement to be more daring and original, whether it was writing her own songs, or using a wider variety of instrumentation, or even using backup vocalists.  It's a long way from her live performance of "We Shall Overcome" to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."  As with Miles Davis, I felt the key was to choose a song with a sound that was as close enough to what we might generally consider rock and roll that it would justify her induction.  To that end, I went with "Blue Sky," with it brazen guitar sound (brazen for her, at least) and solid beat, it's a pretty rockin' song, so maybe Joan is a part-time rocker, just enough to warrant her induction.

Electric Light Orchestra:  I have to admit, I had never heard of Electric Light Orchestra until I was a teenager.  I was working in a restaurant as a dishwasher, and one of the cooks was telling me about them, how they used orchestral instruments to create a tremendous sound.  I asked, "Like Chicago?"  "Kind of..." was the reply.  Well, where Chicago used horns, Electric Light Orchestra used strings.  Their production was impeccable and their sound was unique and unmistakable.  A hit making machine to boot, this was a band that was well loved by the public, and with Jeff Lynne in the studio, they were also extremely well-connected in the industry.  It's little wonder they got in as soon as they were nominated.  The choice of song for this act is kind of fun for me, because the hobbyist community includes a very ardent fan of Electric Light Orchestra.  So, unless I choose the exact song that that fan would choose, I know I'll be disappointing at least one person with my selection.  Of course, the fact that I'm restricting it to one song probably disappoints that fan.  And because they had so many hits, I want to make sure the song chosen was a sizable hit.  Further disappointment!  Fortunately, I did not use "Don't Bring Me Down," though I do love that one.  Later Electric Light Orchestra songs don't capture that original uniqueness, as the band was greatly reduced by that point.  That said, I maintain that "Hold On Tight" sounds like it could have been a Jerry Lee Lewis song with its pumping rhythm and tone color of Jeff Lynne's voice on it.  A tribute to the Killer, and I will insist on that until my dying day.  Anyway, I actually chose "Turn To Stone," with its phasing sound, string slides, vocal harmonies, driving rhythm, and everything else about it that just seems to fully capture the ethos of the band that the Beatles might have evolved into had they not broken up.

Journey:  When the nominees on this ballot were announced, there was little discussion about who would finish first in the fan vote.  Of course, it didn't hurt that Journey took off early, took off fast, and had a gigantic lead by the end of the first day.  After that, there was nothing else to discuss.  Journey had a lot of things going against them, keeping the band out for so long.  Journey is right up there among the first five acts one tends to rattle off when they talk about "corporate rock" from that era.  My first experiences with Journey were also rather negative.  The station I used to work for was in the Adult Contemporary format so when I thought of Journey, I thought of "Open Arms" and "Faithfully."  Of course, they had many, many more hit records that those two.  They certainly weren't a one-trick pony band, and yet, when they are discussed in modern times, it's usually one song that everyone remembers them for.  The resurgence of popularity for Journey, particularly for "Don't Stop Believin'" is something of an inexplicable phenomenon, even more so than how and why rickrolling began.  Between the television show "Glee," its popularity at weddings, and general pervasiveness, that song, and Journey as a whole, have become something that, good or bad, seems to embody Americana as a concept.  That's why "Don't Stop Believin'" is used here, even though it is far from my favorite song by them.  (Vocal Group Hall Of Fame Song Of Proof: "Lights")

Pearl Jam:  When Nirvana got nominated, I took the time to research them, and found out that a lot of the preconceived notions I'd held about grunge were due largely in part to the songs of Nirvana, not realizing they were responsible for the songs that gave me those notions.  When Pearl Jam got nominated, I similarly took the time to listen to more of their music.  And while I was surprisingly delighted to learn that Nirvana was responsible for much of the grunge I liked,  with Pearl Jam I was less than impressed.  Whereas Nirvana expressed a lot of exothermic anger and pathos, Pearl Jam's anger and pathos was more endothermic, the sound of dying inside, rather than raging to stay alive.  And it was still every bit as authentic of grunge as Nirvana.  Overall, I just don't care for their music, but I still recognize the importance of their music in helping direct the flow of rock and roll during the '90's.  They helped direct that flow in an even and steady manner.  Perhaps that's why I chose to use "Even Flow" to represent them.  And because it was one of the songs that annoyed me the least when researching them a bit further.  It was also the heaviest sounding well-known song of theirs.  It just seemed like the perfect choice over all.

Nile Rodgers:  As much as I could love to file this one just after Joan Baez, it wasn't Chic being inducted, but just Nile Rodgers.  This is one of those situations where hobbyists like me kind of say, "Yes... but no..."  On its face, it's not a bad induction.  Nile was certainly a whiz of a producer in the studio and also lent his musical chops in a sideman-like capacity numerous times.  His resume outside of Chic is quite impressive.  So, there should be no objection, right?  Well...  A lot of naysayers of Chic's repeated nominations squarely pegged it as a way of showing love for Nile Rodgers, because he was a founding member of the Foundation, and was on the Nominating Committee for a long time.  The whole business of repeated nominating Chic was just a facade to gladhand Nile Rodgers and thank him for being him and for all he's done within the Foundation.  Unfortunately, the voting bloc didn't feel that Chic's music was up to snuff.  Even more unfortunately, the subcommittees decided to shove a huge middle finger toward the voting bloc and insist on inducting Nile Rodgers this way.  Yet even more unfortunately, the music of Chic--the legacy of being sampled, the intense guitar work, the funky rhythms, the sultry singing--seems to have been flung by the wayside, proving those naysayers right.  I hope Chic comes back, even if for no other reason than to justify Nile's induction in this category as being genuinely about his extraneous work.  That said, even if Chic does come back and get inducted, the song for Nile here will still be Chic's "Le Freak," because it's on Chic's records that you can most easily identify all the production and musical prowess that Nile lent to other artists throughout his extensive career.

2Pac:  As a legendary rapper, a solo superstar, and something of a martyr, it was only logical to induct this Vulcan on his first year of eligibility (Thought I forgot about that joke, didn't you?).  There's no doubt that 2Pac made a monumental impact on the world of rap, and the world of music as a whole, but his career and legacy of songs also does present a potential quandary for the Hall.  See, 2Pac had a huge string of hit songs, both on the pop and R&B charts, but on very few of them was he the sole artist of credit.  If you remember my guidelines from the first post in this series, explaining the whole idea, I specifically said I tried to use songs where the inductee is the only artist of credit, as much as possible.  Well, during the mid-90's, it seems that hip-hop and rap created a new culture, where credit is given to as many as possible, to share the wealth and the fame.  Even superstars like Jay-Z and Sean Combs have several records where there is also a credit of "with," "featuring," or "introducing," or some sentiment like that.  How will this play out in the Hall?   After all, can a rapper be deemed worthy of induction if they aren't the sole artist of credit on at least one of their big hits?  As I said, this probably speaks more to a cultural shift, one that is most prominent in the rap community, but has branched out to pop, rock, electronica, and other styles.  No one does non-credited guest appearances like Paul McCartney on Donovan's "Mellow Yellow," or like Mick Jagger on Carly Simon's "You're So Vain."  Now, even the spoons player has to be credited.  Again, it's probably more of a cultural thing than an issue of lacking talent.  In this case, I managed to sidestep it though, because 2Pac's the only credited artist on "Keep Ya Head Up," a great jam with a good beat, positive message, and mad rapping skills.  There really was little need to look further once I found this song.

Yes:  Except for 2015, prog-rock has been on a fairly steady march since Rush finally got the nod in 2013.  Peter Gabriel brought his prog roots to his solo career, Deep Purple had ties to it with Lord's keyboard work, the Moody Blues got the nod this past year, and of course, we have Yes in this class.  Despite being prog, they had a pretty lengthy chart history, especially once the Album Tracks chart debuted in the '80's.  Before that, they were making legendary songs that people still love to crank up.  I'm not a big fan myself, as I'm not big into prog, Jon Anderson's voice always grated against my tympanic membrane, and "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" was completely ruined for me during my time working at McDonald's, where sophomoric co-workers used to sing along with this when it came on the Muszak, but insisted on singing it as "Owner Of A Smelly Fart."  Man, I'm so glad I don't work there anymore.  Despite that, their '80's stuff is more interesting to me, but I still went with an earlier song to salute Yes.  Funny enough though, I don't know if this song is considered a medley or not.  I've seen some say yes, others say no.  I tend to think of it as similar to a Queen song, where they change moods in the middle, and finish out the end in that second mood.  I don't see the two parts being incongruous with each other; it's just a shift.  The first part is definitely the classically inspired part; the other is the solidly rocking part.  It's "Your Move (I've Seen All Good People)"

And with that, we are at the end of our look at the Class Of 2017.  For those who don't quite remember, you can argue that I either went 5/6, or because Chic was seeded seventh, and Nile got in, that I went 5.5/7.  A lot of people did just as well as me predicting this class too.  As for the songs chosen, what do you think?  Do you agree with the song selections?  What song would have chosen instead?  Have your say in the Comments below.  Recapping:

Joan Baez: "Blue Sky"
Electric Light Orchestra: "Turn To Stone"
Journey: "Don't Stop Believin'"
Pearl Jam: "Even Flow"
Nile Rodgers: "Le Freak" by Chic
2Pac: "Keep Ya Head Up"
Yes: "Your Move (I've Seen All Good People)"

Monday, August 6, 2018

Songs Of Proof: The Class Of 2016

Getting to the final stretches, we've come now to the Class Of 2016, the first of three classes that have a lot of hobbyists worried, regarding trends, goals, and vision on the part of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  And yet, a lot of people are excited.  There are those who don't like the lack of stylistic diversity, those who are even going so far as to say the Hall is showing its true racist and misogynistic colors, those who think the Hall is kowtowing a little too much to the populist sentiment, and those who are praising the Hall for finally doing justice to the arena-packing titans of guitar rock.  Despite the differences in opinion, there is one thing that everyone agrees about these three classes: they are the most recent classes to be inducted.

In all fairness, there is also a fair amount of consensus that these three classes are signals of a dam busting.  There's also general agreement that these classes are filled with inductees who are at least fairly deserving of the honor.  This particular ballot also came saddled with the scandal of the horrendously hacked ballot, where the top five recipients of votes in the fan vote all seemed to spring up overnight to take the lead, and whose vote totals all went up in almost identical increments every time one refreshed the voting results page.  The Hall denied any and all shenanigans about the vote being hacked, but curiously enough, they did implement daily voting limits from IP addresses.  It seems a ridiculous path to travel to secure what is in the end only one vote, but what some won't do.  And the inductee results didn't fall the way that the hacker hoped either, as only three of the five got inducted this year, plus a fourth classic rock staple, and a rap act.  When the class was first announced, I nicknamed it "French vanilla ice cream," so now let's take a lick at--er, look at--this class and salute them with some songs.

Bert Berns:  Amidst the controversy of the hacked fan vote is also the controversy of a conflict of interest.  The announcement of Berns' induction was very closely tied to the news of the Broadway musical based on his work, backed very heavily by, among others, Little Steven, who is on the Nominating Committee for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, and almost certainly served on the subcommittee that determined the Ahmet Ertegun Award inductee this year.  Whatever claims of impropriety may fly, Bert Berns was a songwriter who I'd heard of years before his induction, and was a co-founder of Bang Records, the last co-founder to be inducted (both of the Erteguns and Jerry Wexler were the other founders).  Many of Berns' works are lesser-known R&B records that history and the Oldies radio format haven't been quite so kind to, but a few of his compositions have held up quite nicely over time.  Additionally, Berns is at least in part responsible for bringing the United States a solo Van Morrison and elevating Neil Diamond from staff songwriter to singing superstar.  It is a sincere hope of mine that one day, his occasional songwriting partner, Jerry Ragovoy, will also be inducted.  Meanwhile, for Bert Berns, the selection is the pop-rock interpretation of his R&B original, "Hang On Sloopy" by the McCoys, who were also on Bang Records.  This song was chosen partially because it's such a well-known and fun song, and also because "Twist And Shout" has already been used to salute the Isley Brothers in the Vocal Group Hall Of Fame.

Cheap Trick:  Even though it ultimately doesn't matter what took so long once an artist is inducted, it's still sometimes fun and productive to wonder what in particular kept an artist out for as long as they were.  In the case of Cheap Trick, it could possibly have something to do with the lighthearted feel to many of their best-known and best-loved records overshadowing their talent.  Much like the Coasters, whose humorous subjects masked their tight harmonies and driving R&B, Cheap Trick's bounciness and ebullience of delivery might have made some decide they weren't serious musicians.  Maybe they just didn't do enough abstract or socially conscious records.  Or maybe "The Flame" just didn't sit well enough with the movers and shakers at the Hall.  Whatever the reason, it was easy to take their nomination for granted, and just glaze over them in favor of other acts on the ballot.  Even I ranked them thirteenth in merits and seeded them ninth in my official prediction.  But voters for the Hall as of recent tend to slot one vote for an act that is purely a pleasure to listen to, and for this year, Cheap Trick fills the spot.  That's not to say they weren't influential, but the pleasure derived from listening to their records may have been a contributing factor to what made them influential, as opposed to new and flashy tricks and licks with their instruments.  Because of that, I think it's perfectly acceptable to use my favorite song by them in this set, simply because I like it best.  And that's why it's "Dream Police."

Chicago:  As deserving and overdue as Chicago was for their nomination and induction, I kind of didn't want to see them make it.  Part of it was out of frustration with the hacked fan vote, even though Chicago's first-place finish was indeed legitimate, and also because of a fellow hobbyist who concocted the conspiracy theory that with former Illinois senator Barack Obama as president, the universe finally let the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup, the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series after over a century of disappointment, and that Chicago would be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  And even though the rest of the hobbyist circle wanted to give this member a refresher on the difference between correlation and causation.... dammit, that's exactly what happened!  This juggernaut of the '70's simply could not be held back once nominated.  Their style of jazz-rock that first electrified audiences with "Beginnings," "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is," and "Feeling Stronger Every Day," soon gave way to smoother sounds and attempts at blue-eyed soul.  Some suspect this later era is what took so long for Chicago to be nominated, that they went soft way too early in their career, making lesser-grade music.  I don't think their later stuff is entirely terrible.  Even the oft-ridiculed, "You're The Inspiration" could have become a soul classic if it had been interpreted by Stylistics, the Delfonics, or maybe even covered in the early '90's by Boyz II Men.  But it's their early stuff that people think of when they talk about the music that made them worthy of induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  I first thought about using "Make Me Smile," because it's such a great song, and after Peter Cetera refused to attend the induction ceremony, it was seriously tempting to revert back to it, but Peter is an integral and inextricable piece of their legacy, so it had to be a song with him in it, and that helped secure the surety of "Twenty-Five Or Six To Four" as the song to pay homage to his band.

Deep Purple:  "Smoke On The Water" is the song being used for Deep Purple, simply because it's a rite of passage for a budding guitarist.  Whether you want to play lead or bass guitar, this is a song that has to be in your arsenal at some point.  So much so, that it wrongfully caused Deep Purple to be written off as a one-trick pony for so many years, keeping them out of the Hall.  Can you imagine a Hall where "Smoke On The Water" was inducted in the Singles category, and thus used to skirt any further discussion of Deep Purple?  I'll let you all sit and pontificate on that for some time.  Of course, Deep Purple was so much than that one song, between "Highway Star," "Hush," "Woman From Tokyo," and many others, Deep Purple's case has actually proven to be quite archetypal for heavy metal bands: to be known for one major song that fared pretty well, and have a deep and riveting catalog for those who dared to go sonic-spelunking.  Along with Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, Deep Purple is considered one of the three major founding heavy metal acts, and with Jon Lord's organ work, which even today is atypical for metal outfits, they are considered to have had some ties to the world of prog-rock as well.  Perhaps the most telling piece of evidence to speak to this band's merits and credibility is that even music critic, former Nominating Committee member, and longtime barricade against Deep Purple's induction Dave Marsh conceded that when he sat down again and gave Deep Purple's music a more thorough listening, even he became convinced of their musical prowess and cheered for their induction once they broke through.  I'm not sure, but I think this is the heavy metal equivalent of a sinner accepting Jesus as their savior on their deathbed.

The Steve Miller Band:  I don't care what anyone else says, it's the Steve Miller Band.  That's what the legendary music is credited as, so that's what they inducted.  If Steely Dan can be inducted with just two members, if a future Nine Inch Nails induction would most likely be only Trent Reznor, if a theoretical induction for the Turtles could be justified with only Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan (though I hope not!), if a theoretical induction for Paul Revere And The Raiders could be justified with only Paul Revere and Mark Lindsay (again, hopefully more than just these two!)--then we can say the Steve Miller Band has been inducted even if the eponymous member is the only member who was inducted.  Of all the classic rocks inducted this year, and of all the ones that were on the ballot for this class, this one seemed to be a rather hard sell, perhaps because Miller was nominated as a soloist, perhaps because his guitar solos weren't rip-roaring, showboating displays of flying fingers, distortion pedals, and body angling to make them look even more difficult; perhaps because his music had a cooler feel than a harder drive.  Whatever the reason was, it's also worth noting that of all the classic rock acts from this ballot, his was also the most rooted in the blues, where rock and roll music's DNA is most often credited as having originated.  "The Joker" has a slow, bluesy drawl to its mood, as does the ethereal "Fly Like An Eagle."  Even the big hit, "Abracadabra" has a sound that still has the juice of the blues dripping off the meat, similar to records by the Yardbirds and the Animals.  "Serenade" is one of my all-time top ten favorite songs.  It's a song that brings me back to a state of evenness.  When I'm sad, it raises me up.  When I'm hyper, it helps gently and gracefully restore a sense of tranquility when it's needed.  It's great to sing along to, cathartic even.  Too bad it wasn't a hit single for the group.  Sticking to my rules a little more stringently, I chose a song with a similar feel to it, though it isn't from the same album.  "Swingtown" gets the place of honor in the playlist for the Steve Miller Band.

N.W.A.:  I often like to be a stickler for using full names at least once when referring to a musical act.  After much careful deliberation, lasting a grand total of two seconds, I've decided not to do that here.  It was actually a sad moment for me when N.W.A. did not get inducted on their first nomination.  If there was any moment when there could have been two rap acts inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in the same class, with the current way of doing business that the Hall has, it would have been 2013, with N.W.A. sharing the stage with Public Enemy.  Perhaps within twenty years, we'll reach a point where it'll be too mathematically improbable to not have two rap acts in the same class, and that wall will be knocked down.  It was even more disappointing when N.W.A. couldn't get in on their second nomination.  Or their third.  With the help of the Straight Outta Compton movie, the fourth time proved the charm.  Statistical curiosity: there are only five acts that have been inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame on their fourth nomination, and three of the other four were inducted in 1997, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band being the other one.  N.W.A. had the tenacity to rap about the ugly side of life that more polite circles tried to ignore.  N.W.A. put it up in people's faces and sometimes demanded change, but more often let the audience figure out that the status quo was too ugly to be maintained.  Whether it was racism, crime, misogyny, or even getting down, the common thread to the music was that the reality of everyday life was presented in the vernacular, vulgar or otherwise, without apology, without fancying it up, and without compromise--in other words, "With Attitude."  There, you got two-thirds of the full name from me..  And while I avoid saying the full name of the band, there's no escaping the full name of "Fuck Tha Police," the song that really grabbed national attention, cemented their legacy, and with Dr. Dre as the judge, has the added bonus of vocal appearances by at least four of the five members (was DJ Yella in on it too?  Maybe he could have been the bailiff or something) indicting a system that unofficially still had ideological remnants of the Jim Crow era.  It's too important not to use, even if it's not my favorite.

And with that, we come to the end of this short class.  As mentioned earlier, when the inductees were announced, it was a realization that the dam had busted, and the popular classic rock format was gushing forth.  After three classes of it, there's a lot of murmuring in the hobbyist community that the dam had better be repaired by the time the nominees for the Class Of 2019 are announced.  What I'm not hearing though, is John Q. Public agreeing with that sentiment.  Having seen lists of snubbed acts go to three hundred, some even five hundred (wish I were joking), it can confidently be said that we have not satiated the rabid rockists' collective blood lust either.  Will it continue?  That's for another post.  Meanwhile, the point of mentioning it is that because we didn't really anticipate the busting through of classic rock, I only went 2/5 in my predictions for this class.  In all fairness, I did predict two other classic rock acts to make it; I just happened to pick the two from the ballot that didn't make it this time around.  By 2018, we would induct the final two, and those are soon to come.  Returning to this class, and wrapping it up, do you agree with the song selections?  They are mostly obvious or semi-obvious choices, but all solid selections, in my opinion.  Feel free to weigh in in the Comments section below.  Recapping:

Bert Berns: "Hang On Sloopy" by the McCoys
Cheap Trick: "Dream Police"
Chicago: "Twenty-Five Or Six To Four"
Deep Purple: "Smoke On The Water"
the Steve Miller Band: "Swingtown"
N.W.A.: "Fuck Tha Police"

Monday, July 30, 2018

Songs Of Proof: The Class Of 2015

Time marches on, and we have reached the Class Of 2015 for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.  There is a strange feeling tied to this one, but it’s hard to put a finger on or a name to.  Perhaps it's the two seeming side-door inductions.  We have the final Beatle inducted for the second time, but it’s under rather suspect circumstances.  We have an Early Influence inductee that had been nominated as a Performer years ago.  We also have six Performers inducted.  There’s a blues-rock outfit that was a pet project for some of the higher-ups among the big names at the Foundation, but it’s not a bad inductee by any means either.  We have the man who has been nicknamed “the Godfather of Punk” being inducted for the second time, but it’s bittersweet as the induction is posthumous.  There’s the newly eligible act who keeps us facing forward, but not many agree was among the most deserving candidates from the ballot.  We have a female-fronted, few-frills rock band that many like, but also largely regard as a cover band.  There’s a second blues-rock band that was originally called a solo artist’s nomination, until fans took to social media and called on the Hall to right the wrong.  Lastly, there’s a soul singer/songwriter that had never been nominated, and as far as we knew, had never even been considered, yet manages to jump the unofficial queue and go straight in.

Though it is entirely a matter of hindsight, this is also the year before the classic rock format really storms the gate and begins to dominate.  In all fairness, there was almost always a possibility for it to be that way.  When you look at the ballots for every year since the turn of the millennium, it has usually been mathematically possible to have a class that was predominantly acts that still have at least one song getting played on classic rock stations.  Not every year, but most, especially those that had more than nine nominees.  This year, though, we managed to keep a somewhat diverse class, though classic rock is at least half the class this year, so it kind of feels like the beginning in hindsight.  Perhaps it's a feeling of missed potential.  Fellow hobbyists called this class a mediocre class from a great ballot.  You can't please everyone, and there's probably at least one naysayer for every inductee on this list, as well as one person who is happy.  Put it all together, and you have a class that, if nothing else, did put out some great music, regardless of what criteria you may value more highly when considering nominees.  Feel free to jam out to the following songs.

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band:  Most fellow hobbyists rated this act as being fairly deserving, but would often have trouble rising to the top.  Well, they didn't in 2015.  Others have noted that this is a band that was a pet cause for Jann S. Wenner to get inducted.  As the name suggests, they were firmly rooted in the blues of the older tradition.  However, they are considered among the first of the younger generation to pick up on the blues.  They proved you didn't have to be middle-aged or older to be world-weary.  That world-weariness packed into a short lifespan is most evident in their classic "Born In Chicago," the song that I'm using for them.  If nothing else, this induction is another one of those that is about elevating amazing musicians that may not have been fully appreciated in their day.  Given the diversity of talent in the band, and the other musicians that those members went on to back up, "underappreciated" might even be called an understatement. 

The "5" Royales:  As far as categorization goes, I file this group under the letter "F," just to make sure that's clear.  In a previous entry, I expanded at great length about the debacle surrounding the Early Influence induction of the "5" Royales, and the broader practice of taking previous nominees and inducting them as Early Influence inductees, as well as the issues surrounding the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's treatment of the Early Influence category.  Commenting on that even further would be pretty redundant.  In any event, as they were inducted in the Early Influence category, it behooves me to pick an earlier song of theirs.  As a precursor to the music we now call soul, "Baby, Don't Do It" is a wonderful example of the influence of the "5" Royales: their harmonies, their passion, the way the song flows--it all blends together to create an early '50's R&B masterpiece that served as a template for the rock and roll that was to come.

Green Day:  The story is that this band almost didn't get put on the ballot for 2015, because everyone there had pet causes and was sure that somebody else would nominate them.  That's what happens when an act seems so obvious, they hide in plain sight.  As one of the biggest names in alternative rock during the '90's, as well as an act of decidedly (American) liberal principles, and having been available for the Hall at previous ceremonies, Green Day was a sweetheart for the Nominating Committee.  The hobbyist community was slightly less impressed.  That said, Green Day almost won the fan vote this year, making it the first time, and really the only time, that the fan vote was truly that competitive.  They lost the lead in the final weeks, but having held onto it for as long as they did, it speaks very highly of their popular appeal, even amongst a crowd of nostalgic favorites.  The song I chose for them is "Basket Case," one of their earliest efforts.  The song speaks pretty solidly to Green Day's overall identity.  They felt they had a lot to complain about, and wanted to vent, but they also were riddled with a fair amount of self-doubt and self-loathing.  Rage and a modicum of fragility set to punk influences, Green Day speak somewhat ably for the younger generation, which may explain why some people hate Green Day, and some people hate the generation that grew up listening to them.

Joan Jett And The Blackhearts:  Joan Jett And The Blackhearts are a perfect example of an act that I like, but would have never carried the banner for, even more so than ABBA.  Always on a ballot of fifteen nominees, I never ranked them higher in merits than thirteenth.  However, they never ranked lower than fourth in terms of my personal taste.  That may have been the key to their induction.  Members of the voting bloc may have decided to use one of their five votes for an act that they just purely enjoy listening to, and voila, Joyce DeWitt's doppelganger becomes an inductee!  Many dismissed her and her band as a cover band that really brought nothing new to the table, but they were still great to listen to, Jett herself is still a paragon and example for women who want to rock out.  Besides which, her version of a particular song did indeed become an anthem.  It's an anthem for how people discover their love of rock and roll, it's an anthem for stadium rock in general, and it's an anthem for what we do here, and why we care about the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame: because we love it.  And naturally, it's being used here.  "I Love Rock 'N Roll," and do we ever say that.

Lou Reed:  He is often known as the Godfather Of Punk.  The former leader of the Velvet Underground, his solo career hasn't had a very difficult time becoming critically respected, but it has had a much harder time being loved by the public.  Little wonder when one album is just a continuous running of a feedback loop.  I once read an article stating that Lou Reed only wrote two types of songs: songs about drugs, and songs about transvestites.  I'm pretty sure the latter is how they justify the existence of "Walk On The Wild Side," which also does mention drug use.  Even though his best-known solo songs don't sound either like Velvet Underground songs, nor do they sound very punk-like, his influence also includes his keen songwriting skills  And as much as I love songs like "Perfect Day" and "Satellite Of Love," it is that aforementioned "Walk On The Wild Side" that is used to pay tribute to Reed as a soloist, because of its deceptive simplicity, tackling of taboo subject matter, and how he made look it effortless.

Ringo Starr:  In another entry, I talked at great length about Ringo Starr's music as a soloist and what it means to me, what higher artistic purpose it serves, and why it's wrong to take it for granted.  What makes the side door induction of Ringo Starr even more infuriating, though, is that they never even tried nominating him, before deciding to shoehorn him in this manner.  It's like looking at a fresh chess board and laying your king down before making any other move.  Since this side door induction of Ringo is nonsense, in my opinion, I'm simply using to use the song I had chosen for him when he was on the Previously Considered list.  I didn't choose a Beatles' song, nor did I choose a '70's song by another artist that Ringo drummed on.  I chose one of his own hits as a solo artist.  I noted before how the idea of musical therapy is a theme in a few songs of Ringo's.  I chose "Oh My My" because it not only sings about the boogie-woogie remedy, but it's also about that place of feeling lowdown that we've all felt, it's about everyday love, and it's about the love of life.  That is Ringo through and through, and that's why I chose that particular song to represent him.

Stevie Ray Vaughn And Double Trouble:  This act was the biggest snub on my list until 2015.  And I was pretty upset at first when they were originally planning on just inducting Stevie Ray Vaughn as a solo act, before the fans took to social media to demand the inclusion of the rest of the band.  Perhaps the biggest thrill of all was when this band managed to just squeak ahead of Green Day within the last few days and win the fan poll.  This jumping band helped repopularize, rejuvenate, and revitalize the blues, breathing new life into its bars.  Another important thing to note about this band is that they're one of the first inductees to have limited success on the pop charts, in this case none, though the Vaughn Brothers did chart with "Tick Tock;" but to have substantial popularity on the Album Tracks chart, which eventually evolved into the Mainstream Rock chart.  It was a new outlet that finally served to recognize rock's increasing preference for the album format, rather than being thought of in terms of singles.  While it still broke down chart entries as songs, the requirement for release as a 45 RPM single was gone with this chart.  "Crossfire" is not up for consideration, as it was used to salute Leo Fender.  With the way that Stevie Ray Vaughn And Double Trouble made the blues jump up in the public consciousness again, it may be said that they got the house a-rockin', and so it seems most fitting to use the song "The House Is Rockin'."  So obvious.

Bill Withers:  As I've said multiple times before, I  was rather surprised when there was so much initial buzz surrounding him even before the Nominating Committee had met.  I didn't believe his nomination seemed likely at all.  And then he was on the ballot.  It took a bit of coming around, but I did eventually predict him to make the Hall, mainly because......?  I guess I just got caught up in the hysteria for him, and I benefited from it this time.  Not that there was anything wrong with him, I just didn't really see how it would be possible, but I just deferred to what others were saying and went with it.  I chose to use "Lean On Me" to represent him, even though it's pretty atypical of his general sound.  "Grandma's Hands," "Use Me," or "Ain't No Sunshine" would probably have served as a better example of his general sound, but I chose this song for a very special reason.  When I evaluated the nominees from this ballot on their merits, I commented that "Lean On Me" was the artistic equal to songs like "Blowing In The Wind," and that needed to be recognized.  For anyone who ever said R&B was incapable of the same level of artistry as "rock," as it is commonly understood, this song should be absolutely sufficient in shutting them up completely.  It's a wonderful song besides, having been covered by an '80's synth pop band, and even by Christian rap/rock/soul trio DC Talk.  It's a timeless song, like all great rock and roll, and that's why it is used here.

And with that, our look at the Class Of 2015 is complete.  For those who want a reminder, I went 4/6 predicting this ballot.  Do you agree with the song selection?  What songs would you have chosen?  Mention them in the Comments below.  Recapping:

the Paul Butterfield Blues Band: "Born In Chicago"
the "5" Royales: "Baby, Don't Do It"
Green Day: "Basket Case"
Joan Jett And The Blackhearts: "I Love Rock 'N Roll"
Lou Reed: "Walk On The Wild Side"
Ringo Starr: "Oh My My"
Stevie Ray Vaughn And Double Trouble: "The House Is Rockin'"
Bill Withers: "Lean On Me"