Analyzing The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Written By Patrick Ortiz
As a musician, the pinnacle of success is securing a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; is it though? Some will undoubtedly agree to this statement because we have this subconscious need to look to a :professional” or trusted source to formulate our opinions. Your favorite musician doesn’t have to be in a prestigious category to be considered great. So, what/who warrants which bands make the cut?
According to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame website, in order for a band or musician to be eligible for a nomination, it be at least “25 years after the release of their first commercial recording. Besides demonstrating unquestionable musical excellence and talent, inductees will have had a significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.” Let’s break that segment down a little, shall we?
Whether a band “demonstrates unquestionable musical excellence” or not is, arguably, a subjective statement, but in this case, this quality is left up to the views of “1,000 historians, members of the music industry and artists—including every living Rock Hall inductee—and the five performers receiving the most votes become that year’s induction class.” Considering the fact that inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame only began back in 1986 and a multitude of posthumous inductions had to be considered, there will definitely be some over-sites of deserving acts (we’ll get to some of those in a minute).
Then there comes the argument about what classifies as rock and roll. Obviously, the panels are willing to expand the scope from traditional rock music with inclusions like Tupac Shakur, Miles Davis, and others who do not traditionally fit the “rock and roll” mold. Rest assured, all of the pivotal blues legends like B.B., Muddy Waters, and even John Lee Hooker are in there! But there are definitely missing links within several categories for inexplicable reasons. Some of the most head scratching cases are the prog rock monsters Jethro Tull and King Crimson, electronic-rock pioneers, Nine Inch Nails, hip-hop legends Outkast, jazz icon John Coltrane, and many more. On their website, the Hall of Fame goes with rapper Ice Cube’s inspiring words about the definition of rock and roll: “Rock & roll is not an instrument; rock & roll is not even a style of music. Rock & roll is a spirit. … It’s been going since the blues, jazz, bebop, soul, R&B, rock & roll, heavy metal, punk rock and, yes, hip-hop. And what connects us all is that spirit. …Rock & roll is not conforming to the people who came before you but creating your own path in music and in life.”
The reason I am bringing this topic up is because the committee recently released several names of potential nominees for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019. Some of these names are long overdue and some, in my opinion are questionable. I wanted to quickly go through some of the artists and talk about why I think they deserve a spot in the Hall of Fame.
The 2019 Nominees!
Stevie Nicks is of course one of the incredible members of the esteemed rock band Fleetwood Mac. Nicks along with the rest of the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 1998 due to their massive impact on the music industry and for having one of the highest-grossing albums of all time in Rumours. Nicks officially began her solo journey thirty-seven years ago when she released the successful debut album Bella Donna which included top hits like “Edge of Seventeen” and “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around.”
Although she is already inducted, this would be the first time Stevie Nicks will be nominated as a solo artist, and with her illustrious career, she most definitely deserves an induction. Astonishingly, if she gets in, this would mark the first time a woman was inducted twice!
This nomination marks the second time the genre-defying English group Radiohead have been considered for an induction. Although they have a strong, supportive fan base and have garnered respect from a multitude of musicians across the board, Radiohead’s music can be a difficult pill to swallow for some. Beginning in 1985, the band has since navigated every realm from Brit Rock like Oasis to experimental electronic rock music. Their 1992 hit “Creep” is recognized as a worldwide hit that can still be heard at karaoke bars all over the world, becoming the bane of the band’s existence.
Now they have evolved into a musical force with a sound all their own. Their 1997 album Ok Computer caught fans and the industry off guard and is still marveled in 2018 as a landmark masterpiece. Radiohead have continued to the push themselves to their musical brink and they remain in a separate category to this day. Besides showing unrivaled excellence in the music, I would definitely say the band satisfies the committee’s requirement for having “significant impact on the development, evolution and preservation of rock & roll.”
I’m actually surprised they haven’t been inducted yet. The English rock band the Cure not only had some pivotal songs and albums, but they are also credited as pioneers of the goth rock movement. Yes, black nail polish on men can be attributed to lead singer Robert Smith. Although their mainstream success has all but faded, it is hard to deny their heavy impact throughout their forty-two-year career.
Check out the full list of 2019 nominees here!