The best of the best, the cream of the crop, the sundae cherry- that’s what you’d expect to find musically in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. You’d think there would be a fine cross section of all musical genres, and that you will find plenty of sparkling examples of each. You won’t.
This is not to say that the inductees already enshrined are not deserving, because aside from the Sex Pistols and their one album- they are. The problem with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (RRHOF) is the selection process, or lack thereof by which future members are chosen.
One would think that selecting members for an elite group which represents a medium that effects and inspires people every day- would probably be a laborious, tedious, long, drawn-out process. It is not. Instead of including large numbers of the music industry, such as producers, artists, long-time music journalists, and music fans- people that know something about music, each new class of nominees is selected by a handful of individuals employed by the RRHOF.
What this means is that if these few people have either never heard of a great artist, or just don’t like them, then that artist is doomed. Shouldn’t the public- the people actually buying the albums, have a say in who gets nominated? Certain artists have been nominated just because of what record label they were on, the politics run deep, and this is sad. It isn’t supposed to be about choosing someone because your ex-frat brother now owns their record label, or because you just think that prog-rock just takes too much time to understand. Sex Pistols indeed.
Once the nominees are picked, then they are sent out on ballots to 1,000 industry “experts” for their final judgment. (Are these the same “experts” that picked Jethro Tull instead of Metallica at the ’89 Grammies? Hmmm?) There is nothing wrong with this, other than the alarming fact that the nominee group is skewed from the beginning. It’s like asking you if you like red Jell-O more than yellow Jell-O. You just don’t have much to work with. It’s all about the favorites of the selection group. The cool kids. Plus, there is a set number of inductees known before the votes are tallied. Before? So no matter what happens, if all the nominated artists fail to reach the minuscule 50% approval vote- even if this happens, someone is still getting in. This year it happened to be five, five nominees were getting in no matter what. The RRHOF denies any vote tampering either, but refuses to release vote totals publicly. What for?
What this really means, is that the uber-popular acts will always get in to the Hall, but maybe the not so mainstream artists will be overlooked. 2007 is the first year a rap/hip-hop artist has been inducted (Grandmaster Flash), even though the Dave Clark Five allegedly received more votes. The Hall just felt a rap artist should be included, final vote counts be damned. No tampering though, we promise!
Other enormous oversights have been in the areas of progressive rock, and heavy metal. It took the Hall years to come around and finally induct the pioneering Black Sabbath, but unfortunately groups like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest shouldn’t hold their collective breath.
Rush, an incredibly successful prog-rock band, has been around since the early 70’s, and is fifth in consecutive gold and platinum albums- behind only the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Kiss, and Aerosmith. Rush’s commercial success and rabid fan base has not translated into induction. The real travesty here is that Rush has never even been nominated. This is outrageous in itself, especially when one considers much lesser acts that have imploded after one album (again, see Sex Pistols) are in. Someone is holding a grudge within the selection “committee” or just doesn’t like songs that make you think. It is narrow minded thinking like this that could doom the likes of King Crimson, Tool, and even Public Enemy. People can only handle so much truth, so it seems. Hey, hey- the Monkeys anyone? Don’t laugh, it could happen.
Can’t you just imagine it at the nominee selection meeting, “Boy I remember those Monkeys… fun stuff. Good entertainment. And they did outsell The Beatles and the Stones combined in ’67 you know.”
And they would have been awesome to induct with Johnny Rotten, almost as perfect as their contrived irreverence. Both bands.