Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Peeking in the parents' closet: reactions to the 2020 ballot.

By the time I hit publish on this entry, the nominees for the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's Class Of 2020 will have been announced, and the race off and running.  As I type this, it's still an hour and a half before the live announcements.  And I live on the West Coast, which should tell you how excited I must actually be.  I had planned to sleep until 4:30 for the 5:00 livestream out here, but no-go.  I've been tossing and turning with such excitement that my cat Mickey doesn't even want to snuggle at my feet tonight/this morning.  He's curled up in my chair, forcing me to bring the laptop into bed with me.  It just isn't the same.  When my laptop purrs, it means something's wrong with it.  But the excitement is still there.  As has been said in the past, this is like Christmas morning for us.

Speaking of Christmas morning, I remember as a child when my older brother told me that--SPOILER ALERT--there was no Santa Claus and that our parents were buying our presents and storing them up in their closet for us.  Or hiding them under their bed.  I remember joining him in sneaking into their room during Advent and seeing the presents there before they'd had the chance to wrap them yet, knowing ahead of time what we were getting for Christmas.  Year after year we did this.  Finally one year, I realized that I didn't want to know ahead of time what in fact I was getting for Christmas.  This may also have been about the time I stopped thumbing through the various catalogs (this was pre-internet shopping, after all) with exuberance to see what delighted my eyes and thought would be cool to have, but I decided that knowing ahead of time ruined the spirit of it for me, having to pretend to be surprised and all that.

Well, if the announcements of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame's nominees and inductees are like two Christmas mornings for us hobbyists each year, then we have our own version of peeking in the parents' closet.  It's when we go actively looking for the clues to tell us who the nominees are, or the inductees.  Some of these just plain fall into our lap.  Like our parents letting slip what'll be under the tree for us on the 25th, John Sykes, the newly appointed chairman of the Foundation, has personally leaked the announcments of the Notorious B.I.G., T. Rex, and Depeche Mode as nominees ahead of time.  Biggie of course was no surprise.  In my family, that's like asking for new a baseball mitt, because I'd outgrown my old one, and my parents were delighted that I had a sport that I loved playing.  I usually played either catcher or first base, by the way, sometimes second.  Anyway, Sykes did that, probably as a teaser to get us more excited.  Well, it didn't work for me.

Of course, I'm typing all this presciently, now an hour ahead of the announcement, because I type slowly and change wording willy-nilly, but we're also treating the statement by Paul Schaeffer that he'd be going to bat for Willie Nelson as hardcore proof that the country legend would be on the ballot.  Paul Schaeffer doesn't always make it known whom he's pitching, unlike Tom Morello, so the mention of Nelson from Schaeffer certainly does seem telling.

And then there are the clues that we've gone and looked for ourselves.  Last year, our community managed to figure out that there were seven inductees, and who they were, the night before they were revealed, by going to the website and typing in each nominee with the URL tags of "inductee," and depending upon whether we were redirected or got an error message, we knew who the inductees were.  This year, we've done that again, by keeping track of whose nominee pages from last year have vanished and whose were still up and running, which not only confirmed Depeche Mode, but also told us that the J. Geils Band and Kraftwerk would be back again.  Also, by searching the recent media packages that the Hall has put out to revamp their image, based on who gets mentioned the most, it seems we have reason to believe that Duran Duran, the Go-Go's, Whitney Houston, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden, Pat Benatar, and the Dave Matthews Band are also on the ballot this year.  I'm putting all these names in bold type ahead of time, too, so we'll see if I have to remove that typeface from any of those names in just under an hour now.

If I'm alone in this feeling, so be it, but I really don't want to know ahead of time who the nominees are.  It's not going to alter the reality of who's on the ballot and who's not by finding out early. I can wait until Christmas morning itself to find out, even if I have trouble sleeping the night before.  The contents under the wrapping paper aren't going to change if I wait to know what they are.  For the record, I don't blame Future Rock Legends at all for what any of it.  That site, being a dot-com site, and by the ads that are on the page, is clearly a revenue-generating enterprise for the owner, so he has a financial stake in this.  Also, he has a reputation for being a better source of information than the actual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame website.  Seriously, a fan site is a more credible source than the institution's own site.  That's saying something, and maintaining that reputation requires diligence, so no issue with him doing what he does.

I guess I don't understand the impetus for the rest of us.  Again, maybe I truly am alone in this regard.  And maybe it's because with all the names being bandied about as being likely to be inducted, none of them actually excite me.  I like Duran Duran, the Go-Go's, Whitney Houston, and even Motley Crue, but when I make a list of favorite artists, none of them crack the Top 50, perhaps not even the Top 100.  Maybe that's the damper on my enthusiasm, and maybe that's the signal that I need to find a new hobby.  I don't think I will though, knowing myself.  You guys are stuck with me.  I've said it before too: most of my favorite acts are already in the Hall, for which I am very grateful, and of those that aren't, most of them are tough sells, best case scenarios.  I would be through the roof with excitement if Chubby Checker or Lesley Gore got on the ballot.  Love their music.  But Sykes seems to be dead-set on nailing the door shut on any pre-Nixon-presidency artists.  I'd also be giddy (and be certain Hell froze over) if DC Talk somehow got on the list; I love all five of their albums.  But seriously?  Never going to happen.  How happy I'd be if not just the Spinners, but Harold Melvin And The Blue Notes, or the Stylistics, or the Delfonics, or some more '70's soul got on.  Diversity seems slow in coming though.  Most of the women whose musical legacies make my eyes light up are already in, too, but the Pointer Sisters and Gloria Estefan both seem to have long waits for recognition, and most of the rest are pre-Nixon.  The closest shot I have to having an artist I really get excited listening to getting on the ballot is "Weird Al" Yankovic, whom I finally got a chance to see in concert last month.  And that ain't happening anytime soon either.  But many of you ARE gleeful fans of Duran Duran, T. Rex, Depeche Mode, etc.  I swear I'm not trying to take that away from you: binge-listening to the nominees continues to be a highlight for me every year, really getting to know artists' catalogs.  Nor am I trying to ruin it for you by saying I'm what you have to look forward to.  I am a pretty moody person at times, typing while sleep deprived, having briefly paused to turn off my alarm clock, which just went off, which means we're now a half hour away from the announcements.  Stream-of-consciousness blogging isn't a thing for a reason, folks.  But I'm still at a loss for why we need to deduce the answers ahead of time.  It's like trying decode the prophecies to find out when the world will end; you could be wildly wrong and you likely won't get all the answers you're looking for.  Is it the thrill of the hunt?  What then?  Suppose you actually figure them all out, 100%.  That feeling never comes again.  Like the Christmas when I actually got everything on my wishlist and getting presents never meant as much to me ever again, I feel like getting all the nominees (and inductees) ahead of time would only kill the thrill of the big announcements, not just this year, but every year afterwards, and I don't want that for you.  Enjoy the ride, the thrill, the suspense, the surprises.  Let yourself enjoy the roller coaster ride.  I'm still trying to get that sense of elan back.

So that's about all I've got to say prior to the announcements.  Still 20 minutes to go.  Gonna proofread what I've got so far, and I'll see after the break.

(five second musical break)

Welcome back everybody, hope you had a great break.  I hope over the break you allowed yourself some sense of wonder and delight.  Maybe even something that made you utter an awestruck "Goingo."  We have the nominees, and I've had to remove the boldface from several of those names.  Those that are still in bold are confirmed nominees.

Looking at the list of nominees, I predicted 5, maybe 5 1/2, depending on your bent.  In addition to Biggie and Depeche Mode, I also correctly predicted the MC5, Todd Rundgren, the Doobie Brothers to be on the ballot, plus another nomination for Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, though I only selected Chaka as a soloist.  I'm actually more excited that I correctly predicted there would be 16 nominees, and there weren't too many others who actually thought there'd be actually be exactly 16.

Onto the rest.  Classic rock rules the roost big time.  There's just no getting around it.  Along with the Doobie Brothers, Pat Benatar, T. Rex, and Todd Rundgren, we have Motorhead, Judas Priest, and Thin Lizzy.  And while Pat Benatar does represent the push for more women to be in the Hall, she's almost a token pick.  She deserves to be in, just as the Doors did, but just as AlexVoltaire called the Doors "the safe pick for being dangerous," Benatar is the woman that rockists tout to prove they're not anti-women, just anti-not-guitar music.  And whoa, two metal bands!

Speaking of women, Whitney Houston finally appears on the ballot.  I'm so glad to see her make the ballot.  I worry about her chances, but it's just so huge that she's actually nominated.

Sykes' vision of progressing forward is in motion too.  Not only do we have the Dave Matthews Band, but Nine Inch Nails returns to the ballot, and Soundgarden finally breaks onto the ballot too.

That's mentioning all the nomineees.  What's more interesting though is who missed.  The fan kiosk turned out to be pretty much nothing.  No Motley Crue, Blink-182, Iron Maiden, Cher, or solo Freddie Mercury.  Rage Against The Machine is off this year.  I thought they'd be on instead of Nine Inch Nails.  '80's post-punk got dissed pretty hard, except for Depeche Mode, though their career was much longer than that.

And I've already said it on Twitter and on FRL, but I'll state it again here: I don't know who all it will be, but I very easily see this being another 2016: four dad-rock bands and one rap act (if we're lucky).  Maybe a hint of 2018 with one woman inducted (who could still be strongly in the dad-rock wheelhouse).  So, I'm already setting myself up for disappointment here.  Looking for pleasant surprises.

And with that, it's time for me to get ready for work.  Enjoy the games, and may the fortunes be ever in your favor.

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