Friday, December 23, 2011

It ain't un-Rock to celebrate.

I love Christmas music.  Just about any kind.  Not every, but just about.  There are some songs out there that should truly never be played again.  But overall, I look forward to breaking out my catalog of Christmas music and making my way through as much of it as I can.

So I find it a little disheartening that more people don't enjoy it.  Especially in the rock circles.  Whether they think it's hokey, or they got inundated with it as children that it now makes them sick, or they hate all organized religion so vehemently, or just Christianity in general, that Christmas music is just anathema.  But one that is actually more funny than not is the argument that rock music is about being anti-establishment and there is nothing more "establishment" than the music of both a religious and federal holiday.

Well, to put it simply, the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame disagrees with you.  And all you need to do is look at their inductees.

First off, some of my favorite albums are Christmas albums by Hall Of Famers: Booker T. & The M.G.'s, the Ventures, the Four Seasons, the Beach Boys, Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and the legendary album from Non-Performer Phil Spector (which featured Hall Of Famers the Ronettes, Darlene Love, and session players Hal Blaine and Leon Russell).  
And let's not forget Motown either.  Classic renditions of Christmas songs from the family built by Berry Gordy, Jr. including the Temptations, the Supremes, Gladys Knight And The Pips, the Jackson Five, plus original gems from Stevie Wonder  (which would also include James Jamerson and Benny Benjamin as Sidemen).  And not just Motown, but other soul greats that have chipped in at Christmastime include James Brown, the O'Jays, Aretha Franklin, Solomon Burke and Otis Redding.

The founding fathers of rock'n'roll were kind to Christmas too.  Already mentioned James Brown, Fats Domino, and Elvis, but let's not forget Chuck Berry, Bill Haley, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, the Drifters (both eras), etc.  We also can add Bobby Darin and Dion to that list as well.

Want it to be more modern?  We can go with Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers' "Christmas All Over Again", U2's versions of "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and "Ave Maria".  Past nominee Bon Jovi has also had a couple Christmas songs.  Run-D.M.C.'s "Christmas Is" and the slightly embarrassing "Christmas In Hollis" bring rap to the scene.  Love her or hate her, Madonna's a part of both the Hall and the holidays with her rendition of "Santa Baby."  Bob Seger in the early days had "Sock It To Me Santa" and in later years had a version of "The Little Drummer Boy."  Police frontman Sting gave us the ethereal "Gabriel's Message" and former Fleetwood Mac member Stevie Nicks had a somber and sincere rendition of "Silent Night".  The leading sisters of past ballot nominee Heart aso took part in the festivities.  And even though they haven't been considered yet, new-wave devotees will note the amazing "Thanks For Christmas" performed by XTC under the pseudonym of "Three Wise Men."

Even the Beatles would put out annual Christmas records for members of their fan club (produced by George Martin), including "Christmastime Is Here Again."  Paul McCartney of course went on to put out "Wonderful Christmastime" backed with the interesting "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reggae."  And while satirical at the time, we play John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" with all sincerity and hope.  Though not as blatantly holiday related, I was pleased to ring in the New Year with George Harrison's "Ding Dong; Ding Dong."

And of course there's Darlene Love and Brenda Lee, two Hall Of Famers remembered best for their Christmas material.  Or Elton John with his perennial classic "Step Into Christmas".  2011 inductee Neil Diamond also has his "You Make It Feel Like Christmas."

And how about Early Influences?  Louis Jordan and Charles Brown for instance, and hopefully soon Sister Rosetta Tharpe or Amos Milburn?

The point is, there is nothing un-Rock about Christmas.  Even the likes of future possibilities Jethro Tull and Twisted Sister have found a way to be part of the celebration.  Christmas is for all music, all genres, and all people, whether you're the people who actually celebrate the Christian aspect, those who simply love seeing the glow on children's faces when they get that new toy they wanted, those who believe in goodwill towards mankind as helping establish world peace... Christmas has something for everyone. 

And to quote the song made famous by Early Influence inductee Nat "King" Cole: Although it's been said many times, many ways: Merry Christmas to you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2012 Inductee thoughts

Well, the 2012 inductees have been announced, and it's now the time for everyone who pays attention to give their opinion. 

My first thought was, "Crap, they leaked early again?!"

Second thought: No Spinners?  Rats.

Third thought: Just what WILL it take to get Sister Rosetta Tharpe inducted as an Early Influence?

On that last point, there's an article on Future Rock Legends about why inducting Freddie King as an Early Influence is a bad idea.  I highly recommend reading it.  The only thing I can add to it for now, though I feel a separate entry about the subject brewing up inside my fingers waiting to be typed out, is that the Rock Hall has always been irregular about which blues players get in as a Performer, and which go in as an Early Influence, especially those blues players that were around at the dawn of rock and roll.  B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Ruth Brown, John Lee Hooker and Muddy Waters are all Performer inductees, while Howlin' Wolf, Elmore James, and Willie Dixon get the Early Influence inductions.  What makes Freddie King so unique is that he had no releases before 1955 and never made any Billboard chart entry until 1960, so calling him "Early" by any stretch of the imagination just doesn't hold up.

None of that really addresses Sister Rosetta Tharpe, though.  Simply put, after being featured in the Museum's "Women Who Rock" exhibit, Tharpe seemed like a lock.  And we were ultimately disappointed. 

Also disappointing, at least for me, was no Spinners.  That's more just me.  I love their music, I feel they're really deserving, but like Tom Lane said on his blog, they're bound to be back.  You don't "one and done" a truly phenomenal soul group.

Don Kirshner getting the Ahmet Ertegun Award... I never would have guessed it.  I figured his chances were about the same as bubblegum music magnates Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz.  Very pleasantly surprised.

It's worth noting that all three of the Musical Excellence Award recipients were primarily studio engineers, which strikes me as fascinating since we were unsure just WHAT was going to be done with this category.  When it was announced last year, the Foundation said it opened the door for new possibilities that weren't there before.  Honestly, I'm not seeing it so far.  Why couldn't these three have been Non-Performer inductees as well as Kirshner?  Is the mixing board enough like a musical instrument that these engineers are best placed in the category that used to be called Side-Man?  Well, if nothing else, it seems more than likely that "Musical Excellence" is not just a more politically correct version of  saying "Side-Man".  And all three deserve it, especially Tom Dowd, but congratulations to Glyn Johns and Cosimo Matassa as well.

And now for the Performers who did make the grade.  One thing that I feel absolutely must be pointed out is that this is the first time since 2006 that the repeat nominees constitute the majority of the inductees, four to two (three if you count King), which is two-thirds of the Performer inductees AND two-thirds of the repeat nominees getting in; the first-time nominees make up one-third of the Performer inductees and one-third of the first-time nominees are getting inducted.  Also, with Guns N' Roses, Donovan, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Small Faces/the Faces, and even the Beastie Boys and the spirit of Laura Nyro in the room too, we're sure to have one hell of an all-star jam at the end of the ceremonies (maybe one of Nyro's songs?  Doubt it), if egos and old wounds don't interfere.  Onto the class.
Guns N' Roses...everybody and their Aunt Ruthie called that one correctly.  And I'm proud that I'm one of the very few who correctly predicted  Laura Nyro as well.  Unfortunately, that's the extent of my correct guesses.  Still I can't be too sad.  I love the Beastie Boys and Donovan, so I'm glad they're in.  In a past entry, I wrote how I loathe the music of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but in the entry before that one, I also admitted that they were probably the most objectively deserving act on the ballot.  It's like when a referee or umpire makes the possibly tough and probably unpopular, but ultimately right call that ends up hurting your team (Suh, you don't kick another player, dangit).  They deserve to be in.  These three are also loads off my mind in terms of wrenching my predictions in the past.  Both of the Beastie Boys' previous nominations and the lone previous nominations of both Donovan and the Red Hot Chili Peppers saw me place them as pretty strong locks.  Now the year I don't pick them, all three make it.  But as I said in my recap on the Chili Peppers, I have no idea how they missed out in 2010 either.  I won't question why now and not then, just glad that it's over for those three, all deserving members.

Which brings us to The Small Faces/The Faces.  I have to phrase it gingerly, to make sure I'm not misunderstood.  Their joint nomination has been wildly unpopular, especially with member of both incarnations Ian McLagan.  And with them getting inducted like this, it's bound to spur further joint nominations, an idea to which many of us Monitors are not particularly receptive.  Add to that the fact that they were the last band to be leaked out.  Early reports only mentioned the other five, and that was all we expected, since that's all they've inducted for the past six years, and voters only got to vote for up to five.  The fact that The Small Faces/The Faces were excluded initially by the leaks leads me to believe that they finished sixth in the voting and would normally have been left out.  Naturally I don't know for fact.  I can only speculate.  Maybe the votes ran so close and they decided not to shaft the close contender.  Maybe there was tie for fifth,  and rather than cast a tie-breaker, Jann S. Wenner decided to allow six Performer inductees this time.

Whatever the circumstances, however the votes totaled, we have six Performer inductees.  To which I say, good.  Ultimately, one of the chief complaints about the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, after the usual who's not in complaints, is that they simply don't induct enough acts each year.  Maybe we can get them to push this number back up to seven, or higher.

Just induct them in the right categories.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Plug those leaks

For the Class of 2007, it was David Lee Roth of Van Halen
For the Class of 2008, it was John Cougar Mellencamp (and to a lesser extent Bob Bogle of the Ventures)
For the Class of 2009, it was Wanda Jackson
For the Class of 2010, nobody did it (that I know of).
For 2012, the safe money says if anyone, it's Axl Rose of Guns N' Roses, should they make it.

Of course, this is referring to the premature revelation of being elected for Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction, leaking the news that they've been selected before the official announcement can be made by the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation.  And for awhile, it was fun.  One act leaking it out that they've made it gives us a sneak preview.  It's like the trailers in the movies: you get a glimpse of the plot and who the major characters are, but it only heightens the anticipation and desire to actually go and see the whole movie.  It was much the same for the Rock Hall.  Knowing who one inductee would be made you all the more interested to see who got the other four seats, now that one chair has been filled.  In the case of Wanda Jackson, it was even more interesting, because it hadn't been revealed that she was an Early Influence inductee. 

But after what happened with the Class of 2011, I'm officially declaring that leaks are NOT welcome anymore.  For those who don't know, the entire Class of 2011 was leaked before the official announcement.  At first, they announced the five Performer inductees.  When I read  it, I was foremost glad that Darlene Love finally got her proper respect, but also kind of bummed that there was almost no surprise left.  Then I remembered that we still had the other categories to go.  Any Side-Men?  Early Influences?  Non-Performers?  Well, that could be our surprise.

No such luck.  That too was leaked out in short order.  There we were, we had the entire class before it could be announced.  And it felt like a letdown.  A bummer really.  The official announcement was a mere formality.  Someone joked about wikileaks ruining the surprise, but it still didn't make up for the fact that it actually kinda sucked to know before they could announce it.  It was like knowing all the major category winners from the Oscars before they could open the envelopes and announce them.

What made it worse is that NONE of the news came from the actual inductees themselves.  Alice Cooper was finally hounded into confirming the rumors, but only after the whole thing had been blown.  When an inductee lets on they're going to be inducted, you get their joy, flowing over the brim at the news, showing through even in print form.  When it comes from someone inside the Foundation, it's not the same.  Plus, that inductee only knows about THEM, not everyone else.

This year, the deadline for the votes is December 5th, this coming Monday, with the announcement slated for the 15th, roughly a week and a half later.  So, if there's any way we can spread the message around to eventually get back to whoever does it, make the message clear: DON'T LEAK THE NEWS!  Why?

1. If you're not one of the inductees yourself, you don't have the same elan they would have in announcing the news.  You're the guy who gets their jollies by wrecking the end of movies for others.

2. It's ultimately classless.

3. For us, this is like the Oscars, and we enjoy the anticipation leading up to the moment because it allows for spirited discussion as the deadline nears.  Don't take that away from us either.

4. After succesfully leaking the ENTIRE Class of 2011, there's nowhere else to go.  You've climbed Mount Everest.  No taller peak than that.  Now that we know it can be done, we realize that it's no fun, and there's no way to improve upon it further or outdo it.  Doing it again doesn't outdo it, it just makes it redundant.

So please, unless you're one of the inductees, keep your freggin' trap shut.  And once one inductee has been leaked, other inductees please don't ruin the surprise for us.  We want the elation to build up for your induction announcement so we can share your joy.  It can't build up to its proper apex if leaked early.

Thank-you very much.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Predicting the Final Five.

Did I say Thanksgiving?  Guess I meant Halloween..Now we come to the main event, trying to predict who the five inductees will be out of the fifteen nominees on the ballot.  No easy feat.  Looking at them all and trying to figure out one way or the other, trying to predict how Hall Of Fame voters will vote, trying to keep personal feelings out of it, it’s all a tough mix.  In a previous entry, I mentally slow-roasted the merits of each candidate with the seasoning of personal taste, and got what I figured would be my actual ballot if I were a voting member: Guns N’ Roses, the Cure, the Spinners, the Beastie Boys, and Donna Summer.  But how realistic would this vote be against what’s likely to happen?  Well, as tough as it is, I’ll now try to sort them out   Again, this is just my opinion regarding the likelihood that they’ll be in the Class of 2012.  The top five ranked acts are my actual prediction.  The next three or four are the ones I seriously considered but had to cut the selection down; they’re the ones that I figure are most likely to upset my prediction.  The rest are the ones I don’t figure as too strong as contenders for this ballot.  Onto the predictions.

1. Guns N’ Roses

Hard-rock band featuring famed guitarist Slash, and celebrated frontman Axl Rose.  Newly eligible, thus first-time nominee.

Why they might make it: Hugely successful band whose songs are still known today, and even received new life due to inclusions in the “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” video games series.  One of the most artistically respected bands of the ‘80s hard rock scene.  They’re also a very recognizable image in the rock world.

Why they might not: The ‘80s hard rock scene is not very artistically respected overall, negatively referred to as “hair metal.”  Also, Axl Rose’s persona of late has been much like that of Public Enemy hype-man Flavor Flav: the more exposure he gets alone, without the rest of the group, the more embarrassing he looks, which in turn reflects marginally poorly on the rest of the group.

Whom they’d pave the way for: The once-nominated-but-missed bands KISS and Bon Jovi might get another nomination once these guys are in.  They also may make it more possible for acts like Pantera and Slayer to get some recognition as well.

Their biggest threats:  This ballot is full of self-divisions.  In this case, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are the most obvious, but so are the likes of the Cure, Heart, and even Joan Jett And The Blackhearts.

In the end: For every embarrassment Axl brings about, Slash counters, letting his axe do the talking, reminding us why we loved their music.  Also, if the artistic respect for their brand of rock is laid out on a spectrum, Guns N’ Roses are closer to Van Halen than KISS.  Van Halen’s in.  I think Guns N’ Roses are an obvious choice.  And Axl’s the obvious candidate to leak the news of their selection before the official announcement.  Induction chances:  98%

2. The Cure

New-wave band that really helped ignite and fuel the independent label and underground music scenes.  First-time nominee.

Why they might make it: They’re artistically revered, with songs like “Lovesong” and “Friday, I’m In Love,” and they had just enough commercial success to gain a nod of approval from the mainstream crowd.  They’re considered hugely influential, and pretty innovative, too.

Why they might not:  There’s a hesitance to recognize bands with revolving-door lineups.  Plus, new-wave music is pretty sparse with recognition, only having Blondie in so far to help represent the style.  There may also be resentment that Sonic Youth or the Smiths aren’t representing this scene this year, though I think that’s less the opinion of those who vote and represents only those who really want to see the Smiths and Sonic Youth inducted.

Whom they’d pave the way for: The Smiths and Sonic Youth.  Plus, a number of influential indie scene rock acts.  Plus, possibly for more new-wave acts as well.

Their biggest threats: Both Guns N’ Roses and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are obvious threats, but so also is War, a band with a reputation of coolness that the Cure also has.

In the end: It seems very akin to 2007: a hair-band and an ‘80s alternative-scene band are the obvious choices.  Instead of Van Halen and R.E.M. though, it’s now Guns N’ Roses and the Cure.  And I think both will make it this time, too.  Induction chances:  95%.

3. The Spinners

Superstar Philly-soul vocal group from Detroit, Michigan.  First-time nominee.

Why they might make it: The Hall loves to recognize soul groups, and since the induction of the O’Jays, people have been wondering when the Spinners would get their turn.  They had a string of incredible soul classics in the ‘70s.  Also, having been discovered by Harvey Fuqua, of the Hall Of Fame group the Moonglows, there’s a hint of right people in the right places.

Why they might not: Even the O’Jays missed out their first nomination.  Also, with so many sub-genres on the ballot vying for some recognition, they could end up getting begrudgingly cut from some voters’ ballots.

Whom they’d pave the way for: Classic soul is getting thinner and thinner, so maybe they’ll go for the few-hit, but highly-respected soul outfit Harold Melvin And The Bluenotes, or just lead singer Teddy Pendergrass.  Lou Rawls is another possibility..  Or they may go back to New Orleans and go for the Neville Brothers..  Though still a couple years away, a Spinners induction could point to the possibility of Boyz II Men getting in eventually, as well.  And let’s add Billy Preston as well.

Their biggest threats: The combined appearances of Donna Summer and Rufus With Chaka Khan stand in their way, representing ‘70s R&B, and soul also has Laura Nyro on the ballot as well.

In the end:  The O’Jays may have missed in 2000, but that was against inductees Earth, Wind, And Fire, and the Moonglows.  The Spinners aren’t quite against those odds, and since the O’Jays, Joe Tex is the only non-blue-eyed soul nominee that hasn’t been inducted with due promptness, and I think it’ll stay that way.  Induction chances:  75%.

4. Freddie King

Blues musician from the early ‘60s.  First-time nominee, though the earliest recording artist on the ballot.

Why he might make it: Much like soul, the Hall loves the blues, recognizing it as one of the most, if not the single most, fundamental piece in the formation of rock ‘n’ roll music.  King was a true blues musician, and since they haven’t inducted a blues musician since Buddy Guy in 2005, we’re about due for another blues induction.  Also, he’s about the only candidate against whom there doesn’t appear to be any ballot division. 

Why he might not: Rather bluntly, he’s dead.  Those voters who are thinking about the ceremonies know that tribute performances aren’t as magical as seeing the genuine article perform themselves.  Also, very few R&B or pop chart hits, and only one hit album on the Top 200.  Not as much name recognition as the other nominees.

Whom he’d pave the way for: His induction could mean a nod for Albert King, or possibly a second look at the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.  It may even spark the momentum for Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble.

His biggest threats: On the surface none.  His own obscurity, perhaps, but there’s also the fact that he’s a guitar god, which can mean Guns N’ Roses, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the Cure; and also R&B, which could mean the Spinners, Rufus With Chaka Khan, Donna Summer, Eric B. And Rakim, the Beastie Boys, and even War are threats.  Strangely, they’re all threats, but none of them are.

In the end: In horse racing terminology, something keeps telling me he’s the longshot you bet on when the money is divided between the favorites, and with as many divisions going on with this ballot, it makes his path clearer.  Induction chances:  66.7%.

5. Laura Nyro

A blue-eyed-soul singer/songwriter who has had her compositions recorded by many artists.  Third-time nominee, I seeded her #7 in 2010, and dead last (#15) in 2011.

Why she might make it: She’s been widely covered by many artists, and is well respected as a songwriter.  Also, good blue-eyed soul artists usually get in eventually.  There’s another interesting factor to note:  lately the Hall Of Fame has a trend of inducting industry secrets and criminally overlooked artists of the past.  Nyro fits both of those.  And last year’s inductees include a few contemporaries and admirers of her who might vote for her.  

Why she might not: She had very few, very minor hits.  Almost none of the artists who had the hit versions of her songs are in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame either.  Lastly, she’s better known as a songwriter, so there’s the claim that she’d be a better fit for the Non-Performer category.

Whom she’d pave the way for: There are only a few serious blue-eyed soul candidates left such as Mitch Ryder And The Detroit Wheels, and Daryl Hall And John Oates, so they could follow after her.  She might also open the door for artists that made hits out of her songs, like Three Dog Night, the Fifth Dimension, or Blood, Sweat, And Tears.  And maybe even another ignored singer/songwriter like Buffy Saint-Marie.

Her biggest threats: The Spinners are another kind of soul, and the other women-driven acts on the ballot—Donna Summer, Heart, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, and Rufus with Chaka Khan—all may eat away at her chances.  And don’t rule out fellow artsy singer/songwriter Donovan either.

In the end: She might be one of those names that there’ll always be at least five other names more popular than, and as such, will always have a struggle getting in; nonetheless, they’ll want at least one female act inducted, and Laura is the female act with the least sharp divisions against her on the ballot, and I think that gives her the edge.  Induction chances:  51%

6. Donna Summer

One of the key figures of disco during the 70’s and early 80’s.  Fourth-time nominee.  I seeded her dead last (#9) in 2008, and #6 in both 2010 and 2011. 

Why she might get in: She’s royalty… the “Queen Of Disco.”  She’s got the longest list of hit singles than any of the artists on the ballot.  Very influential female singer, influencing the already-inducted Madonna, as well as other starlets of dance music.  There’s also an affirmative action side to consider, as there’s usually an effort to induct at least one racial minority, and one woman.  She fits both bills nicely and conveniently.

Why she might not: Don’t kid yourself, there’s a bias against disco, with the Bee Gees, ABBA, and Earth, Wind, And Fire representing the style—and even then some would claim ABBA and Earth, Wind, And Fire aren’t really all that disco either.  She’s missed out on tighter ballots before, too, ones that had fewer nominees.

Whom she’d pave the way for: The biggest and most obvious choice is Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston running a relatively close second

Her biggest threats: Rufus with Chaka Khan is the clearest and most present danger.  The Spinners’ style of soul and run of success in the ‘70s also stands to impede her chances.

In the end: She stands a real chance, but may fall short.  If there were more than five inductees a year, she’d have been in two years ago, I believe.  Things being what they are though, she’s a threat and while I don’t think she’ll make it, she’s my pick again for the upset special this year, but 1997 was the first and only year when any fourth-time nominee has been inducted (Buffalo Springfield, the Jackson Five, and the Rascals), and I think it’ll stay that way.  Induction chances:  49%

7. The Beastie Boys

Trio of white rappers that combined hip-hop with punk rock.  Third-time nominee, seeded #2 in 2008 and #4 in 2011.

Why they might make it: They introduced hip-hop to the suburban audience, which paved the way for the triumph of rap as the dominant style of music on the Billboard Hot 100.  Also, by blending punk rock with hip-hop, it’s pretty much impossible to say they aren’t rock and roll, even if you believe rap is not a part of rock and roll (it is).  On that note, the Nominating Committee keeps pushing for more rap artists.  They got one inducted in 2007, another in 2009, so we might be due for one this year.

Why they might not:  The other times they were nominated, there was a second hip-hop act on the ballot, and they cancelled each other out, both failing to get in.  There’s a second rap act on this year’s ballot too.  Additionally, after not making the cut first time out, one member was heard to say, “We really don’t care if we get in or not.”  While that isn’t the most scathing dismissal of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (see Daryl Hall And John Oates, Toto, Steve Miller), it may just sway voters to cast their ballot for an act that would actually appreciate the honor just a bit more.

Whom they’d pave the way for: They could be the group that gets in so that other rap groups like Public Enemy, N.W.A., and the Sugarhill Gang can get in.

Their biggest threats: Eric B. And Rakim constitute the other rap act on this list, and they’re the favorite of somewhat vocal Nominating Committee member Toure.  Other hard rockers like Guns N’ Roses and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are threats, too.

In the end: They seem like good picks every time they’re nominated, but having lost out twice on them, I’m not throwing good predictions after bad ones.  If they make it, it’ll be the third and last time they threw a monkey wrench into my predictions, but I’m not holding out hope this time.  Induction chances: 45%

8. Heart

Rock band from the late ‘70s and early ‘80s led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson.  First-time nominee.

Why they might make it: They’ve got significant name recognition and a string of hit records that still get played on classic rock and retro-music stations.  They also fall very neatly into the “classic rock” category that public outcry claims gets significantly snubbed.

Why they might not:  Their later material consists strongly of power ballads, which doesn’t strongly favor them.  It’s hard to say: the value of power ballads is relatively untested waters, but all current indicators point toward liability status.  Also, the stadium-rocker kind of candidate has mixed success getting inducted.

Whom they’d pave the way for:  Pat Benatar is someone who might get consideration in the wake of their induction, but you could also go for stadium-rock acts with lighter later works like Foreigner, Styx, and Journey.

Their biggest threats: Joan Jett And The Blackhearts are the biggest threat, but Guns N’ Roses and the Red Hot Chili Peppers are also candidates to hurt their chances.

In the end: John Q. Public is going to go into overtime, raging against their missing out.  It took Black Sabbath eight tries, and Lynyrd Skynyrd seven.  Heart will need at least two.  Induction chances: 40%

9. The Small Faces / Faces

Joint nomination of the mod-rock and blues-rock band/s from England.  First-time nominee.

Why they might make it: The Small Faces have the solid respect of the British voters.  Members of the Clash and Led Zeppelin have lauded their status.  Faces are the version known best in the Yankee part of the equation, with solid blues-rock material.  Also, Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood are two of only three people on the entire ballot who’d get in a second time if selected, and having a multiple inductee is usually a safe bet.  Plus, the Hall loves Rod.

Why they might not: Ever since the news of the joint nomination, the part of the blogosphere that pays attention to this kind of thing has erupted and is still clattering and chattering about whether or not this was good call.  Most notably, band members themselves, such as Ian McLagan and Kenney Jones, don’t seem to be in favor of this, saying that the Small Faces and Faces were two separate bands with two very different styles and kinds of appeal, and thus should be recognized differently.  Even NomCom members don’t necessarily see this as an act of identifying unity.  In an email, one member said they view the Small Faces and Faces as “two bands with a somehow continuous history.”  And this is just about the most glowing recommendation of the joint nomination out there.  (For the record, though, this NomCom member does support the joint nomination.)   All that aside, between all incarnations, they don’t have the number of hits (U.S. and U.K. combined) that other acts like the Spinners, Donna Summer, or even the Cure have in the various Billboard charts, and only a couple of those are still remembered and regarded as seminal.

Whom they’d pave the wave for: Getting the Small Faces some level of recognition, even in joint form with the Stewart-era band, might open the door for more acts that were MUCH bigger in the United Kingdom than in the United States, such as Cliff Richard And The Shadows, Status Quo, the Jam, and even Steve Marriott’s other major band, Humble Pie.  Getting Faces inducted might open the gate for more raucous blues-rock bands, and again, I’m hoping and pining for Stevie Ray Vaughan And Double Trouble.

Their biggest threats: Donovan, another British Invasion rocker, is the clear ballot-division against these guys, but honestly, the controversy regarding the joint nomination is also a major threat.  And let’s add the Cure, another British band that made more waves in England than America, but still had an impressive American showing as well.

In the end: The controversy regarding the joint nomination will either make or break their induction chances.  Really, I should have them ranked higher, but I feel that it will break their chances this year, and improve them in later years, if they do nominate them separately.  Induction chances:  35%

10. Donovan

British folk troubadour whose music included psychedelic tones.  Second-time nominee, seeded #1 last year.

Why he might make it: He’s a clever singer/songwriter with an impressive string of commercially successful hits, some of which are still known today.  Embracing both the lighter and darker sides of folk, he’s considered a pretty artsy artist overall.

Why he might not: Despite first charting in 1965, he’s considered something of a latecomer to the folk-rock game and the British Invasion scene.  As well as not really considered all that influential or innovative, he’s always been seen as middling: there, but seldom really rising to the top of the heap.  Also, from the very beginning, he has frequently been compared to Bob Dylan, which is always going to be a losing battle unless your name is Smokey Robinson.  Despite his efforts to break away from that, he keeps getting rated side-by-side with Dylan. 

Whom he’d pave the way for: He represents both the British Invasion and folk rock.  So he could open the door for other 60’s British acts not in yet, like the Moody Blues, Herman’s Hermits, Manfred Mann, and Procol Harum; as well as other folk stars, like Joan Baez, Judy Collins, the Kingston Trio, and Peter, Paul, And Mary.

His biggest threats:  The Small Faces / Faces jointly are the fellow ‘60s and ‘70s British Invasion act on the ballot.  Laura Nyro is another singer/songwriter with increasing traction each year.

In the end: After picking him as the surest bet on the ballot last year (though my rough draft only had him at #3, which is still Top Five), I’m gun-shy to call him surefire.  Especially with all the other big names of some long awaited acts present.  Induction chances:  33.3%

11. The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Funk-rock band still recording and touring today.  Second-time nominee, seeded #2 in 2010.

Why they might make it:  The only act on here that might be more influential to rock'n'roll music than the Cure. Maybe. Major force in the 90s, big in both the mainstream and underground circles. Also, with Flea giving the speech for Metallica in 2009, they’re in good graces with some of the powers-that-be.  Also, having a current album and tour going confirms their legendary status.

Why they might not:  Too soon? They didn't break through the mainstream scene until the '90s, so that may play in.  They missed out in 2010, amidst a flood of other popular names, so it’s hard to tell.

Whom they paved the way for:  Maybe the future inductions of bands like Blur.  They could even point to slow, deliberate delivery types of artists.  Ray LaMontagne when he’s eligible?  Who knows?

Their biggest threats: Guns N’ Roses are the biggest name on the ballot, and are their stiffest competition, with the Cure not too far behind.

In the end: I’m not sure why they didn’t get in in 2010, but whatever it was, I’m sure there’s more of it on this year’s ballot.  Not going for them.  Induction chances:  30%

12. War

Latin-funk band from the ‘70s.  Second-time nominee, seeded #7 in 2009.

Why they might make it: Cool funk. Memorable classics like "Low Rider," "The Cisco Kid," and "Why Can't We Be Friends" are all pleasers that make them likely candidates.  Also, Eric Burdon would be a multiple inductee, and the Hall loves to have multiple inductees.
Why they might not: Santana's already in. Can another Latin group make it? Also, innovation and influence are considered somewhat questionable. Plus, in comparison to other artists, and the politics of the Hall, they may just get lost in the shuffle.

Whom they’d pave the way for:  The only Latin act that might garner some attention following the induction of War would be Gloria Estefan/the Miami Sound Machine, who I believe become eligible next year.  Classic rock acts with that indescribable, yet identifiable intangible quality of coolness might benefit as well, and I’m thinking mainly Steppenwolf.

Their biggest threats: Rufus with Chaka Khan and the Spinners are probably their biggest threats.  The Cure also, since they also have that “cool” quality about them..

In the end:  I want to see them make it, but it may not happen. Like Donovan, they look to be lost in the shuffle.  Induction chances:  25%

13. Joan Jett And The Blackhearts

Harder-rock-but-not-quite-metal band from the ‘80s.  First-time nominee.

Why they might make it:  When an artist has an anthemic rock and roll song,, the artist has a tendency to get recognized, and if they have a few hits aside of that, so much the better.

Why they might not:  They made very little waves besides their one major hit, “I Love Rock ‘N Roll”, and what they did have was largely covers (including said major hit).  The Hall Of Fame usually prefers to honor originality.

Whom they’d pave the way for:  As well as the obvious Pat Benatar, they might also clear the path for more classic rock acts with just a few, but well-remembered songs.  Maybe Thin Lizzy or Blue Oyster Cult?  And it’s way too soon, but Jett may quite be the precedent for a future induction of P!nk.  Or even Jett’s previous band, the Runaways.

Their biggest threats: The most obvious one is Heart, but don’t overlook Guns N’ Roses’ role either.

In the end:  People who were upset over Percy Sledge’s induction in 2005 will really go nuts if this band makes it.  I don’t think that’ll happen though.  Induction chances:  20%

14. Eric B. And Rakim

Hip-hop duo consisting of one turntable deejay and one rapper.  Newly eligible, and thus first-time nominee.

Why they might make it:  They’re widely recognized as a highly influential rap outfit, with at least two, up to four albums that are required listening for hip-hop aficionados.

Why they might not:  Rap is still not having an easy time getting represented in the Hall Of Fame.  Additionally, Eric B. And Rakim never really crossed over beyond the R&B scene, and even then, they were never really superstars at any given point.  Their biggest hit, in fact, was as parenthetically credited co-artists on Jody Watley’s hit “Friends.”

Whom they’d pave the way for:  Rakim’s vocal stylings are the more influential part of the duo, and so, they’d pave the way for future inductions of rap superstars like Jay-Z and Sean Combs (whatever title they induct him under).

Their biggest threats:  The Beastie Boys are the obvious threat, as fellow rappers, but voters might not want to vote for more than one newly eligible artist, either, which makes Guns N’ Roses a threat too.

In the end:  We have yet to see a rap act get in when there are two on the ballot.  And much as was the case with Afrika Bambaataa, if an artist doesn’t transcend their genre, they’ll have a tough time getting in.  Induction chances:  15%

15. Rufus with Chaka Khan

Joint nomination of the ‘70s-‘80s funk group and the solo disco career of its lead singer.

Why they might make it:  Chaka Khan is a major name disco figure and Rufus as a group had a decent number of funky hits with some crossover success.

Why they might not:  Once again, we have a joint nomination, but this one isn’t quite as bad for the simple fact that a good number of their hits were billed as “Rufus And Chaka Khan.”  Plus there’s just too much competition against them: Donna Summer was a bigger disco diva, and War was a bigger funk band.  Also, once again, disco just isn’t too popular with the voting bloc.

Whom they’d pave the way for:  R&B-funk acts like the GAP Band are waiting in the wings, maybe also the Average White Band.  If the joint nomination thing catches on, it may even lead to a nomination for “Shalamar with Jody Watley.”

Their biggest threats:  As noted above, Donna Summer and War are the major threats, and maybe also the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

In the end:  Those who think voting for Rufus will help get Chaka Khan inducted solo at a later date probably don’t realize that this is a joint induction, and this will include her solo efforts too.  One big joint induction.  I don’t think it’ll matter though.  I think they’re too far below the radar to reappear on anyone’s screens this year.  Induction chances:  10%

So there you have it.  My predictions.  In full disclosure, my track record since I started predicting, which was for the Class of 2007 is as follows..  2007: 5/5; 2008: 4/5; 2009: 3/5; 2010: 2/5; 2011: 2/5.  And hey, those that I’ve seeded last have gotten in before.  We’ll see how I do.  Here’s hoping I do pretty well.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Don't forget the other categories!

Currently, most of the focus is on trying to figure out who the presumably five Performer inductees will be from the list of fifteen nominees.  And rightly so, it gets the most attention, it features the names that people are most familiar with, and it easily makes for the liveliest debate.  But the Performer category is only one category of inductees.  True Rock Hall Monitors are also interested in who gets inducted in the other categories.  So let’s speculate.


There hasn’t been a legitimate induction in the Early Influence category since 2000, when Billie Holiday and Nat “King” Cole got their due, and Cole’s induction indicated the possibility of legendary pre-rock singers being inducted as Early Influences in the future, since most of them dabbled in helping make jazz popular, which helped push African-American music toward the forefront of popular culture.  However, that hasn’t panned out   Now, though, we have an interesting possibility.  The “Women Who Rock” exhibit at the Hall Of Fame’s Museum in Cleveland made a specific reference to that of Sister Rosetta Tharpe.  Tharpe is one of the most supported candidates for the EI category, and since the voting process can’t guarantee any female inductees, they may want to get the biggest bang for their exhibit and induct her.  If the Hall Of Fame wanted to strike a second time, and do it with another woman, there’s no better choice than jazz queen Ella Fitzgerald, though she is a bit of a longer shot.  Otherwise, don’t look for any inductions in this category.

Picking this category is often very difficult.  The Hall Of Fame surprised us quite pleasantly when they finally honored Mort Shuman, Jesse Stone, and the songwriting teams of Greenwich & Barry and Mann & Weil in 2010.  Since last year, they honored two record company founders, they may go for songwriters again, or producers, or maybe some outside person.  Back in 2010, Roger Friedman claimed a leak confirmed that David Geffen would be inducted in 2010, and Doug Morris in 2011.  Geffen was indeed inducted in 2010, but Morris was not in 2011.  Maybe they decided to backpedal a little, but Morris does seem to have the right friends in the right places and was involved enough as a producer and a writer that it seems possible.  Honestly, the more I read about him, the less I like the possibility of him getting the honors, but there’s a chance of it happening.  On the other hand, if they do want to go for songwriters again, the recent passing of Nickolas Ashford puts him and wife and songwriting partner Valerie Simpson up at the top of the list.  Rolling Stone even did a half page eulogy of his accomplishments as half of Motown’s second biggest songwriting team.  Even though they did have an impressive string of R&B hits in the ‘70s and ‘80s, they’re better remembered as songwriters, so this is the category they’re most likely to get honors in, and this would be the optimal year to do it, so don’t be surprised.


Which now brings us to the biggest tongue-wagger and dome-scratcher: what to make of this scene?  There is a lot of question regarding the Side-Man category and the Musical Excellence Award.  And there’s an entire other blog entry to be written about the questions found here.  Is the latter a re-naming of the former, similar to calling the Non-Performer category the “Ahmet Ertegun Award”?  Interviews with some of the power-that-be suggest otherwise, saying this category will allow them the freedom to do things they hadn’t quite been able to do before; however, the news stories all treated it as if it were a simple renaming of the Side-Man category.  And to be honest, making the first such induction Leon Russell really only muddies the picture further.  Russell is absolutely worthy of induction, but you could really put him in as either a Performer or a Side-Man.  Elton John’s induction speech mentioned primarily his accomplishments as a session musician, but also made mention of his records as a primary artist.

So at this point, we’re really not sure what’s happening with this category, and it’s possible that the people at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Foundation aren’t entirely certain, either.  And maybe it’s best that they maintain that ambiguity for a little longer too, until they’re set.  If so, then the best possible induction to maintain that shroud of mystery would, in my opinion, be Ry Cooder, a prominent session man with an impressive catalog as a recording artist, too.  Another possibility would be the Wichita lineman himself, Glen Campbell, whose solo records might raise an eyebrow of suspicion, given his more country proclivities, but whose value as a side musician are impeccable enough to withstand any maelstrom of criticism.

However, if they do have it in their mind what they’re going to do, it’s a matter of sitting and watching.  If “Musical Excellence Award” is really a renaming of the “Side-Man” category, then I still stand by my recommendation of Tommy Tedesco, one of Phil Spector’s regulars, as one of the best next choices.  Or maybe they could finally get around to recognizing back-up singers, which there’s no better place to begin than with the Jordanaires.

However, my gizzard gets a bit queasy with the arrival of this category last year, and the noticeable absence of Chic and Chuck Willis from this year’s ballot, particularly the former.  I have no objection to the Musical Excellence Award essentially becoming a Lifetime Achievement category.  They have a Lifetime Achievement category, and it’d be nice to treat it as more than a subset of the Non-Performer category.  But don’t set up this category just to circumvent the nomination process and put in pet acts that you’re having a difficult time getting inducted despite many nominations.  I really don’t think this is going to happen, but you never know.

So there are some thoughts about who I feel are likely to be the next inductees in the categories other than Performer.  I’ll probably have my predictions up for the Performer inductees around Thanksgiving or so.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Arguments made

As we mull over the list of nominees this year, we come across a variety of arguments as to why this or that artist should or should not be inducted.  And really, you find this with just about any artist.  Name whatever artist you wish, and chances are at least one of these arguments will come into play.  Chances are you’ve used most of these arguments, and depending on the artists, you’ve been on both sides before.  Each one has its merits, but also its weaknesses.  And for those that have converse arguments as a reason to support or deny another artist, a lot of the same merits and weaknesses apply.  And most of them apply to this year’s list of nominees.  Some arguments are just plain ridiculous, but the main drawback to each of these is that they generally can’t be used alone.  In order to have a convincing argument, you have to be able to use more than one.  The more, the better.  Some of the more common arguments include:

1. No X before Y
--Example from this ballot: Guns N’ Roses, the Cure
--In a nutshell: This artist shouldn’t be inducted before a similar, earlier-arriving, and possibly more deserving artist is inducted.  In this case, the argument is that Guns N’ Roses shouldn’t be inducted until a band like Bon Jovi or KISS; or the Cure shouldn’t go in before Sonic Youth or the Smiths.
--Why it resonates: When a more recent choice is nominated, it gives the impression that the other artists are being tossed aside, and they want to make sure those artists aren’t forgotten.
--Its weaknesses: It wrongfully downplays a nominee or inductee’s actual merits.  Just because you think another artist is more deserving doesn’t mean that that nominee or inductee doesn’t deserve the honors as well.  The Hall doesn’t really have a chronological pecking order for acts.

2. Too soon
--Examples from this ballot: Eric B. And Rakim, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns N’ Roses
--In a nutshell: A corollary of the first argument above, really.  This says that an artist has barely been around long enough, that it hasn’t been 25 years since their magnum opus or when they hit their stride, and thus they should have to wait for other, earlier artists first.  For a band like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it means having to wait until 25 years after “Under The Bridge”, or for Guns N’ Roses, 25 years after Appetite For Destruction came out, or for Eric B. And Rakim, until 25 years after Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em.
--Why it resonates: Again, those who say this want to make sure we aren’t leaving other important acts behind for the sake of getting this year’s newly eligible big name.
--Its weaknesses: “Magnum opus” and “hitting their stride” can be pretty subjective.  And this is pretty much why the 25-year rule is in place to begin with.  And again, it attempts to downplay that artist’s merits so as to build up another, which never works.

3. One trick pony
--Example from this ballot: Joan Jett And The Blackhearts
--In a nutshell: Said artist only gave us one song or album that was worth anything and is the only reason they’re getting acknowledged.  Take that away, and we wouldn’t know or care who they are/were.  For Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” is the one trick from them, take that away, and you’ve got no case for them.
--Why it resonates: We want to make sure an artist is truly worthy, and worth should be more than one song or album.  Otherwise, we could just induct the song or album and call it good.
--Its weaknesses: It’s partially why we have the 25-year rule—to make sure the whole body of work is considered.  Aside from that though, know who else could be considered a “one trick pony”?  Inductees like Bill Haley, Bo Diddley, Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent, Frankie Lymon And The Teenagers, and even (and perhaps especially) the Sex Pistols.

4. Bad later work
--Example from this ballot: Heart
--In a nutshell: Said artist didn’t maintain a level of excellence throughout their entire career, and thus aren’t deserving.  Most commonly happens when an artist’s later work starts appealing more to the Adult Contemporary audience, which is usually considered a bad thing.  In the case of Heart, songs like “What About Love” and “Never” suggest they went soft and lost what it means to be “rock.”
--Why it resonates: The world of rock and roll prefers a burnout to a fade away.  A bitter breakup or premature death is always preferred to growing old.  How did the Who put it?  “Hope I die before I get old.”
--Its weaknesses: An artist’s consignment to one radio format or another doesn’t have as much to do with the quality of their work as it does to with the radio industry or even the promotions department of a record label.  Contemporary Hits Radio is always about what’s new, and is quick to drop an artist that’s been around for more than five years.  AC radio always appreciates name recognition.  This argument also ignores the simple fact that people age and things change.  Also, remember, “If Looks Could Kill” came from the same album that gave us “These Dreams.”  And you know whom else this argument could apply to?  Eric Clapton, the Eagles, Paul McCartney, Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, etc.  Lastly, merit for the HoF isn’t necessarily an “average” of the quality of every single song.

5. Cronyism/pandering
--Examples from this ballot: Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, the Small Faces/Faces, Guns N’ Roses, the Red Hot Chili Peppers
--In a nutshell: Their nomination is because they’re either friends with someone among the powers-that-be, a return favor, it’s pandering to the stars with some hope of a reward, or just plain sucking up in general.  Joan Jett’s tribute performance to the Dave Clark Five in 2008 supposedly put her in good graces, as did Flea’s induction speech for Metallica the following year.  Also, there’re accusations that Guns N’ Roses’ nomination is an attempt to get Axl and Slash together again.  And of course, the more we see Rod Stewart, the more we love him, so let’s put the Small Faces/Faces in there as well.
--Why it resonates: When a procedure is enigmatic and snubs crowd pleasers, nothing reassures you that they are criminally snubbed more than a cry of compromised integrity.  You may even question the timing of some nominations and find it very telling, very telling inDEED!
--Its weaknesses: The artists are usually still pretty worthy of induction even if they didn’t have friends in high places.  As far as admirers, well, isn’t that kind of what this is about to a degree?  Besides, outside of raw scientific observation (and even that can be called into question), there is nothing that is one hundred percent free from bias. 

6. Who?
--Examples from this ballot: Freddie King, Laura Nyro, Eric B. And Rakim, Rufus with Chaka Khan
--In a nutshell: The nominee has next to no name recognition, large-scale-wise.  Unless you’re a student of hip-hop, you may not be too familiar with Eric B. And Rakim, and while most have heard of Chaka Khan, they may not remember that she was in a group called Rufus.
--Why it resonates: When you call something a Hall Of Fame, you expect there be inductees who are, or at least were, famous.
--Its weaknesses: The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame seems to be about mixing those who are household names with those who made excellent music but have never gotten their due in the past, and thus are correcting an injustice.  It’s (according to them) more about musical excellence than sales.  Plus, it also depends to a slight degree of the arguer’s musical tastes whether or not they’ve heard of someone. 
--Also applies to: They had lots of sales/hits (a supporting argument).

7. They didn’t write/produce/play instruments on (enough of) their records
--Examples from this ballot: the Spinners, Donna Summer
--In a nutshell: The nominee was just the vocal delivery for the majority of their records, and not being involved enough, aren’t the true “artists” on the records, or they just weren’t/aren’t talented enough to merit induction.
--Why it resonates: ever since the Beatles, the all-inclusive musician has been the ideal on the pedestal.
--Its weaknesses:  If any good has come from American Idol, it’s the lesson that singing truly is a musical talent and those who are good singers but don’t play guitar/drums/bass/keyboards have just as much right to be called musicians as those who do, or those who play but don’t sing.  A song with lyrics needs a voice to convey the message, and those who do it well are just as much artists as the ones who wrote the words.  Also, those we call “all-inclusive” are usually more “jacks-of-all-trades”, which includes “masters-of-none.”  There are plenty singer/songwriters who are either really good at one and not that good at the other, or are mediocre at both.  Those who are blessed with one gift may not have another, and can work symbiotically with those who find their situations are reversed.  We shouldn’t punish those who were truly excellent just because it was only in one aspect.  Give them their due in the category they deserve it.

8. Not enough influence or innovation
--Examples from this ballot: Donovan, Guns N’ Roses, Heart, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, Laura Nyro, Rufus with Chaka Khan, the Spinners, War
--In a nutshell: The nominee didn’t change the music world enough by either doing something no one else had done before, or spawning legions of followers.
--Why it resonates: We want to know why we’re honoring an artist, and sometimes we’re not content with “making memorable music”, particularly if we don’t like that artist all that much.  Plus, they are presumably more objective measuring sticks for artists’ merits.
--Its weaknesses: Influence and innovation are simply not the primary criteria.  It’s “unquestionable musical excellence,” and while influence and innovation can help define that concept, sometimes music can be unquestionably excellent even if it isn’t innovative and doesn’t have imitators.  And even if “unquestionable musical excellence” is a pretty subjective tern, it has been a decent guideline so far in terms of how it’s worked out.  Also, there are kinds of influence, and even innovation, that each of us feel aren’t worthy of recognition at all.

9. Too good for the Hall Of Fame
--Examples from this ballot: the Beastie Boys, the Cure, War
--In a nutshell: The Hall of Fame is already a travesty and could never properly honor, and would in fact dishonor those acts by enshrining them, that they are above the Hall Of Fame.  (For the record, the examples listed are those I’ve seen it actually said about them, not my personal opinion).
--Why it resonates: The fandom can run so strong that if they’re not already in, it couldn’t possibly be a problem with the artist, so therefore, it’s the Hall Of Fame that is a disgrace.  It can be applied to any artist you’re passionate about.
--Its weaknesses: Induction into the Hall Of Fame is still widely considered a great honor by those that it matters to most, the artists.  Even those who have stated apathy about it or have said, “Don’t bother!” would still be honored to be inducted.  Case in point: Ozzy Osbourne when Black Sabbath finally got in.
--Also applies to: They don’t even want to be in all that much (another anti argument).

10. Not artistic enough
--Examples from this ballot: Heart, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, the Spinners, War
--In a nutshell: Their music is too appealing to the unwashed masses and not enough highbrow appeal.  If soccer moms listen to it, we don’t wanna honor it.
--Why it resonates: Music is called an art form, so those enshrined should be making higher art than those we keep out.
--Its weaknesses: Rock and roll is not exactly regarded as the artsiest musical format.  In fact, for a long time, it was considered just the opposite; it was held in lower regard than country music.  Plus what is art and what isn’t can be very subjective, and what one person doesn’t get out of a particular work, another may embrace.  Also, those who use this argument basically define art as “anything that isn’t ‘family friendly’, or that which pisses off White, conservative, Christians,” which is really an absurd metric to use.
--Also applies: Very artistic (supporting argument)

11. They suck!/rule!
--Examples from this ballot: take your pick, maybe Small Faces/Faces (hahahaha!, inside joke)
--In a nutshell: An artist’s music is beneath contempt/above reproach.
--Why it resonates: It’s a jingoistic slogan, which allows us to support an artist without having to think too critically about their lack/abundance of merit.
--Its weaknesses: It’s a jingoistic slogan that prevents us from thinking too critically about an artist’s lack/abundance of merit.  And it’s a subjective statement that at best can only result in a stalemate of opinion, without advancing the discussion further.  Even Madonna fans were surprised that there were people who don’t love and blindly follow Madge, let alone just how staunchly they hated her music.

12. The Hall Of Fame’s a joke until they’re inducted
--Examples from this ballot: the Cure, Heart, Donna Summer
--In a nutshell: The artist is so worthy that the fact that they weren’t first ballot clinchers ruins the credibility of the establishment.
--Why it resonates: It allows us to reassign blame while maintaining the unimpeachable excellence of a particular artist.  Plus, anti-establishmentarian thought demands that it’s the institution’s fault.
--Its weaknesses: They’ve inducted Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, U2, etc.  The Hall Of Fame’s credibility is pretty much intact at this point.

13. Super influential
--Examples from this ballot: the Cure, the Beastie Boys
--In a nutshell: Their influence is too big to ignore.
--Why it resonates: Again, influencing future artists is something that generally gets an artist inducted.
--Its weaknesses: The main reason this argument gets its own listing instead of just noted as the reverse of Number 8 is because sometimes when this argument is used, it is used to refer to the myriad of very minor, never-breaking-through artists that followed in an artist’s wake.  As more and more of the independent label and underground scene icons get recognized, the fact that they inspired many more indie label/underground artists is supposed to signify that they were therefore a success in this regard.  The main problem is that even if they were indie/underground, they still got famous and major name recognition.  Another example is, even though they never had a hit single, people had heard of the Velvet Underground.  Most such heroes at least had either some critical acclaim or at least some level of chart success.  When they acknowledge these kind of artists for their influence, it’s because they were not only quasi-big names themselves, but so were a lot of the artists that claimed them as influences as well.  When the Hall recognizes influence, they acknowledge the earthquake that had aftershocks, not the rattling of a small town caused by a nearby train that caused some dishes to break.

14. They’re not rock
--Examples from this ballot: the Beastie Boys, Eric B. And Rakim, Freddie King, Laura Nyro, Rufus with Chaka Khan, the Spinners, Donna Summer
--In a nutshell: Their music doesn’t qualify as “rock and roll” and therefore they shouldn’t be in.
--Why it resonates: By “rock”, they usually mean “RAWK!”  The connotation of what is “rock” music has changed to mean harder, often guitar-driven rock ‘n’ roll.  Even Gene Simmons said something to the effect of rock ‘n’ roll being hard guitar music.  It also is an attempt to remind of us of artists that are played on “classic rock” radio stations that haven’t been recognized.  Add to that, the Mainstream and Album rock charts reflect this cultural shift, and what is rock and what isn’t appears cut and dry.
--Its weaknesses:  It blatantly ignores the history of rock ‘n’ roll, of its roots in R&B, folk, gospel, country, jazz, and even some of the standard pop artists of the pre-rock era.   Early rock ‘n’ roll was largely steeped in R&B, and even most of the heroes of British Invasion came to America playing covers of R&B songs.  Plus, rock has evolved so much over the years in different forms, that there simply can’t be any definition that is both accurate AND concise.