The Embarrassing Class of 2016
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just released their class of 2016 inductees.
And, of course, it is absurd-iculously bad.
And I actually care about this stuff.
A Quick Recap
As many of you probably know, I started writing about this subject a long time ago. It started, for me, after they inducted Green Day about 20 years early (letting them jump a long line of deserving punk inductees). In July, I wrote a post detailing why I thought this was an unfair and poorly timed induction.
In that Green Day blog post, I started to examine ways that they could change the nomination process and also considered bands that maybe should be considered.
Finally, last October, when the Rock Hall released their nominations, I wrote a piece grading the artists nominated, complaining about many of them.
So, of course, the actual inductees were disappointing to say the least.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2016
So, first, congratulations to all of the inductees. Millions of people are probably thrilled. I am not a hater, I have nothing against any of them, and I don't begrudge anyone nomination.
Special congrats to Cheap Trick and most specifically NWA for, IMHO, well deserved induction. I was also excited to hear Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielson talking about how the induction would probably mean a reunion with estranged (and awesome) drummer Bun E. Carlos.
But, he probably could do without making him sound so replaceable, Bun E. was a HUGE part of the appeal of Cheap Trick.
Why The Nominations are so Disappointing
The first reason, others were more deserving.
I don't want to belabor the point but Kraftwerk invented electronic music, the ame electronic music that dominates all popular music today. Kraftwerk also formed the basis for many of hip-hops most influential early samples. In other words, they were important in pioneering the two most dominant forms of music around today.
Joy Division is still hugely culturally significant, they also pioneered a form of music, and have contemporary bands doing new cover versions of their songs every year. There are dozens of books about them and multiple movies. The outgrowth of their music resonates from the 70's all the way to now.
Second, the Rock Hall did not follow their own criteria.
As I posted months ago the criteria is:
To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence. We shall consider factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of induction.
How many times have you ever accused Deep Purple of influencing other artists or of excellence in music?
Do contemporary bands cover Chicago songs every year?
Third, you left out most of the deserving nominees on the induction list.
Nile Rogers pioneered the fusion of funk and pop that became the best of disco. Yes, I am not a huge fan of disco, but, this blog is named after a song framed on a Nile Rogers Chic sample. Dude can play.
The Cars were one of the most influential bands of the 80's and Ric Okasic still produces albums for successful artists today. You can hear his influence throughout pop music.
The JB's were more musically talented than virtually anyone else on the list, and samples of the JB"s music have been heard throughout hip-hop for the last 20 years.
But, as much as I am not a huge fan, Janet Jackson was/is the most influential artist, in many ways, on the whole list. And the only woman. Millions of women started loving music because of Janet.
I tried to play devils advocate in my earlier piece, but, even then, I admitted she should be an inductee.
I also made a case for Chaka Kahn and The Smith's in my earlier piece.
The only artists I was 100% sure should not gain entry were Chicago and Deep Purple.
Also, name one influential song by Deep Purple beyond Smoke on the Water? I bet nobody but a die hard DP fan could name four total DP songs period.
I know Chicago has sold more albums than virtually anyone else in history, I know people love them, but ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ, I have never felt they rocked at all.
I could take Chicago, but Deep Purple? Musical Excellence?
Finally, while I disagree with their inclusion, I do have to comment on the really stupid "naming particular members" policy the Rock Hall uses.
Because bands frequently change lineups, the Rock Hall chooses which members can actually be inducted, which is silly to me.
Let the bands decide. If they bring 20 members, it is their induction, who cares.
The most public example of this was when the Kiss induction was limited to the original four members.
Why Do I Care?
I love music.
I spent years searching crates for albums, years practicing drums, my whole life enthusiastically sampling every album I can (for this years top 20 albums list I would estimate I listened to over 200 albums).
I was in bands, managed bands, write about music almost every day, and am always excited to hear every album I see that looks like it could be good.
To me, this stuff really matters.
I have no personal grudge against Deep Purple or Chicago, I just don't think they deserved to be inducted.
Who makes the Hall makes a difference to me,
That's why, again and again, I find myself saddened by their bizarre choices.
What do you think of the 2016 RORHOF inductees? How crazy do you think I am about this (or anything else)? I would love to hear your perspective, leave a comment!