Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Let's look at this year's possible Rock & Roll Fall Of Fame inductees.

Every year, the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame announces its final list of nominees before the list is dwindled down to a smaller number in December. And every year (for the past three years) I’ve been called upon to dissect the list for the various outlets I happen to write for. That said, it is with great pleasure that I note that this is the first year I will be able to do that while having a blog as well.

Because the only group I ever truly wanted to see get in got in last year (Genesis), my rails against Jann Wenner and the Hall Of Fame are going to be tamed now more than ever. Yes, there are still some injustices when it comes to this thing, but hey, as long as Phil Collins and Peter Grabriel can now call themselves members of this particular exclusive club, I feel as though most other atrocities can be justified.

But alas, here we are. Prepare yourselves for a long post with a few videos sprinkled in here and there for your viewing pleasure. What you get is a paragraph, a percentage of how much I think they will indeed get voted in when the final votes come in a couple months, and a percentage of how much I think they should get in when the final votes come in a couple months. Feel free to argue, agree, leave a comment or six, complain about how Rush or Kiss still aren’t in the Hall, or offer your own suggestions in the comments section. Why? Because we love you and we value your pretty opinions.

Now, without further delays…

Alice Cooper

This isn’t the first time the shock rocker has made it this far in the voting process, and because this year’s class is a bit weaker than in previous years, it’s hard to argue him getting in this time around. I mean, come on. This guy was at the forefront of a lot of musical theatrics we see today. Granted, I’m not the biggest hair metal fan, but if Cooper hadn’t done what he had done in the ‘70s, I’m not so sure the road for Bon Jovi, Van Halen, Motley Crue and all those boys would have been as easy. Plus, the dude always had a snake. That’s rough. Snakes are scary.
Percentage he gets in: 75 percent.
Percentage he should get in: 90 percent.

The Beastie Boys
If you are going to put in Grandmaster Flash (which the voters did) and Run DMC (which the voters did), you have to put in the Beasties. I’ve long rallied against hip-hop being in the “Rock And Roll” Fall Of Fame (even though I am a gigantic hip-hop fan. Hey, get your own Hall Of Fame, people), but if we are going to carve out a spot for this type of music, these guys have to get in. Huge pioneers of the music, the Beastie Boys can say they once wrote one of the classic hip-hop albums…ever: “Paul’s Boutique.” And not a lot of people can say that. Just ask Sisqo. Still not enough? Try getting this out of your head…

Percentage they get in: 78 percent.
Percentage they should get in: 90 percent.

Bon Jovi
Ugh. I knew this day would come. They’ve sold over 120 million albums and have had a tremendous second act as a group with “It’s My Life” and that silly song they re-released with the lady from Sugarland. Anybody who has ever tried to learn how to play guitar somehow tries to master “Wanted Dead Or Alive” before even learning how to tune the thing. I understand they’ve had an enormous impact on pop rock, and for that, they should be saluted. But man, I hate these guys. There’s just something so inherently cheesy about them, and this comes from a dude who likes his cheesy music. Those things said, I can’t deny their legacy within popular music over the last three decades. And, well, I like Jon’s hair. That counts for something, right?
Percentage they get in: 60 percent.
Percentage they should get in: 65 percent.

When are Nile Rodgers and his boys finally going to get in? Goodness, you have to feel for the man. They’ve made the cut so many times, but just can’t seem to get over the hump. How many times has “Good Times” been sampled? Somewhere between five and 10 billion. Chic should get in. Important. Funky. Influential. And they brought a bit of soul to disco music, thrusting the genre into a more credible sounding music. Come on, friends. Give the band a break and let them through.
Percentage they get in: 64 percent.
Percentage they should get in: 79 percent.

Neil Diamond
He’s got to go, right? Don’t believe me? This ring a bell…

Percentage he gets in: 80 percent.
Percentage he should get in: 89 percent.


This is sort of tricky. It just kind of feels as though some of the other artists on this list should get in before him. But that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be in, all together. Goodness, legend has it, he taught John Lennon and Paul McCartney how to play guitar. He seems to be the definition of “love him or hate him” to a lot of people, and from what I understand the “hate him” faction is bigger than I would think. Sure, he’s folksy and maybe a bit too mellow for listeners at times, but he was a pretty big part of the meditation, “let’s all feel really good” movement that had a stranglehold on the late 1960s. I don’t think this is his year, but let’s hope he gets back to have another shot at it.
Percentage he gets in: 52 percent.
Percentage he should get in: 59 percent.

Dr. John
If there was a sentimental favorite of mine this year, it would have to be Dr. John. “Right Place Wrong Time” is one of my favorite songs ever written, and the influence I feel he’s had on southern soul/R&B music is immeasurable. And in addition to all of that, he bleeds New Orleans, a city that is in desperate need of a victory, even after the Saints won the Super Bowl. Oh, and his magnum opus of a record, “Gris-Gris,” needs to be in every rhythm & blues music fan’s orbit, or else he or she really isn’t a rhythm & blues music fan. I’m just glad this gives me the opportunity to show this…

Percentage he gets in: 42 percent.
Percentage he should get in: 79 percent.

LL Cool J

If we have to get a hip-hop artist in this year, we already established who that should be. Not that James wasn’t influential in his own right – he’s been behind some of the most classic hip-hop tracks music has ever seen. But that’s just the point: Classic tracks. Not classic records. And the Beasties were behind a rap masterpiece. This may not be your year, LL, but don’t fret. As long as you keep starring on that CBS show, you should sway voters your way in no time.
Percentage he gets in: 29 percent.
Percentage he should get in: 34 percent.

Darlene Love
I don’t know how many years I’m going to have to write about her before she gets in (Because I just know all those important rock and roll people hinge on my every word, you know. I kid. I kid). I don’t really know what more I could say that I haven’t already said. But if I’m not mistaken, Letterman still has her on each year to sing “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” on Christmas night, and if you haven’t seen it, it’s certainly something to check out. She’s been in this position so many times, and because of the others surrounding her, she hasn’t been able to seal the deal. Sadly, it seems this year will be no different.
Percentage she gets in: 54 percent.
Percentage she should get in: 81 percent.

Laura Nyro
Remember everything I just wrote about Darlene Love? Substitute the words “Darlene” and “Love” in with “Laura” and “Nyro,” and you’ll get my point. My goodness, she’s one of the most influential singer/songwriters…ever. She died young, she had more passion in her voice than five Lady Gagas and six Keshas combined, and everyone from Elvis Costello to Elton John has been stumping for her to get the recognition she deserves. But will it happen this year? Unfortunately, and unjustly, probably not.
Percentage she gets in: 49 percent.
Percentage she should get in: 89 percent.

Donna Summer

I thought she was getting in last year, so silly me, eh? She has all the numbers and she has all the record sales. She even has an iconic hit or two - “She Works Hard For The Money” is inescapable. Four No. 1 hits. Twenty Top 40 singles. It’s just hard to justify putting her in while ignoring the previous two women. She was a Disco Duck, and someone who was a product of how powerful the music industry can be. That’s not to say she isn’t talented. That’s just saying if you can’t put Ms. Nyro and Ms. Love in, you can’t feasibly argue for Ms. Summer to be amongst music’s best and most legendary artists.
Percentage she gets in: 39 percent.
Percentage she should get in: 46 percent.

Joe Tex
How's this: The pallbearers at his funeral included Wilson Pickett, Ben E. King and Percy Mayfield. This is a neat nomination, actually. While I must say that of the 15 finalists this year, this particular artist is the only one I didn’t previously know much about (though a quick Google search and a few YouTube visits later, I now know enough to at least form an opinion), I have to follow that up by mentioning how much I love whatever I hear. The giant Jerry Wexler was behind a lot of his career (or so the Inter Webs say) and that alone inclines me to think highly of him. Will he get in? Doubtful. But if he would have made his way to Stax Studios, rather than FAME studios, he may have a bigger part of my heart.
Percentage he gets in: 32 percent.
Percentage he should get in: 39 percent.

Tom Waits

All the indie darlings and hipsters will cringe at the thought of him not getting in. And the reality is that, well, he probably should be in. Will he make it this year? Well, if Bon Jovi happens to make it through while Mr. Waits is left on the outside looking in, let’s just say there will be riots by all the thick-framed glasses and ugly sweater-wearing misfits in the world (and that includes me). Just think of the dude’s voice. I mean, come on now. It’s just so darn recognizable, a voice fit for something like a Hall Of Fame. Still not sold? He wrote this…

And that was the theme song to the second best television show ever. EVER!
Percentage he gets in: 70 percent.
Percentage he should get in: 82 percent.

Chuck Willis
“Hang Up My Rock And Roll Shoes.” “What Am I Living For.” “It’s Too Late.” Classics. Nothing but hits. His songs were covered by everybody. Ray Charles. Jerry Lee Lewis. Buddy Holly. Otis Redding. He sang these songs before the legends did. He just died too young. Thirty years old is a tragedy, really. Imagine if he would have made it through the classic, timeless soul music of the 1960s. He could have been mentioned with all the others – Pickett, Redding, Sam, Dave, Charles, Gaye, Wonder, Robinson, Mayfield, Brown, Booker T. But alas, his was cut short and we are left to wonder what could have been. No doubt he should get in. Oh, wait. I forgot Bon Jovi was up this year! Goodness, these voters can be so stupid sometimes.
Percentage he gets in: 63 percent.
Percentage he should get in: 91 percent.