So the 2012 inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame were announced today, and as I expected, some of the choices were obvious, while others made me (surprise!) kind of mad. Heading up the obvious selections is Guns N’ Roses, whose inclusion in the year 2012 should give the uninitiated a clue about the institution’s 25 year lag time. Another obvious choice was Donovan, the Scottish psych-folk artist who first rose to fame in the 60s.
Blues guitarist Freddie King was another safe and deserving choice, as was singer-songwriter Laura Nyro (RIP). It was weird for them to combine British modsters The Small Faces and The Faces into one band–this would be sort of like if they merged New Order and Joy Division (someday!)–but I guess it was hard to pick between them. Then again, isn’t “picking” the whole point of this exercise?
Before I discuss the truly enraging ones, can we talk about what a misnomer “The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame” is? I’m not one of those rockists who thinks pop and hip hop should be kept out of the canon, but I am a stickler for proper word choice. Words mean things! If they’re going to include music that is not rock and roll in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, then they should call it something else, like the “Best Music Ever Hall Of Fame,” and they should include non-rock artists not as token gestures, but in the same proportion as dudes with guitars.
Anyway, let’s talk about the Beastie Boys. As hip-hop goes, they’re one of the biggest crossover successes of all time (maybe because they’re white and started out as a hardcore band), but in a year when Eric B and Rakim were also on the ballot, the nod should have gone to them. Pretty much everyone in hip-hop today acknowledges this old school duo as a major influence, including the Beastie Boys. Are they judging groups based on how many records they’ve sold, or the role they’ve played in music history? If it’s the former, this choice makes sense. The latter, not so much.
Then we have the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Oh dear. Didn’t we all agree we weren’t going to listen to them anymore in 1999? Don’t get me wrong, I jammed out to them quite a bit in high school while dating a dude who was stuck in the nineties, but if they sounded dated in 2002, and they have continued to make similar-sounding but not-as-good music since then, I’m not sure this selection is going to hold up over time. This is especially maddening in light of all the great artists who were passed over in their favor: Heart, Joan Jett And The Blackhearts, The motherfucking Cure. It’s 2011, and new bands are still trying to figure out how to write a magical, aching love song the way Robert Smith did before they were born.
Then again, you have to remember that the whole thing is sort of bullshit, and unduly influenced by the ego and tastes of Rolling Stone EIC Jann Wenner, so perhaps we shouldn’t take it too seriously.