The Rev’s got some hottakes on this year’s nominating class whether you like it or not!
Okay, so the official 2022 nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame have been announced, and like a thousand other rockcrit critters, the ol’ Reverend has ‘hot takes’ to share whether y’all wanna hear them or not (why should this year be any different?).
As usual, this year’s list of nominees includes a number of talented artists that, to their detriment, have had little to do with rock music over the course of their careers. At least one of these folks is going to weasel their way into an induction because the Foundation that picks ‘em gave up any vestige of importance and influence in the world of rock ‘n’ roll long ago in favor of being all things to all people by honoring artists who have no business even buying a bus ticket to Cleveland.
I’m an unabashed rockist, which some people think I should apologize for…sorry, Bunkie, but it just ain’t going to happen. Although somewhat of a rock purist, I nevertheless have no problem with Rock Hall honorees like Muddy Waters, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and even Hank Williams, among others, all inducted as invaluable early influencers. But I have to draw the line at dubious HOFers like Madonna, Whitney Houston, Jay-Z, and especially Bon Jovi, as they have nothing to do with rock ‘n’ roll (except for Bon Jovi…they just sucked).
For your ease of use, I’ve broken down this year’s list of nominees into the following categories:
NOPE. NO WAY JOSE!
VIDEO: Lionel Richie “Dancing On The Ceiling”
Lionel Richie had a distinctive career as both a member of the Commodores and as an extremely successful solo artist; he’s a bona fide R&B legend but skews closer to pop than rock. Nix.
Dolly Parton is a wonderful person (yes, I’ve met her) and a talented singer and songwriter who has had some influence on the rock world. However, she’s a country music legend, not a rocker, which is why she’s in the Country Music Hall of Fame. But plan on visiting Dollywood when you’re in East Tennessee!
Dionne Warwick is another R&B legend and a worthwhile inductee into the R&B Music Hall of Fame; her career consisted mostly of recording saccharine Burt Bacharach songs, selling lots of records, and becoming a shill for psychic hotlines when she went broke. She’s recently reinvented herself as everybody’s favorite Twitter grandmother but, again, she’s a pop artist with little or no relevance in the world of rock.
VIDEO: Carly Simon “Coming Around Again”
Carly Simon was one of the holy trinity of trailblazing female artists who, along with Joni Mitchell and Carole King, helped influence a generation of singer/songwriters to follow. Although she was really a pop singer, she hung around a lot of rockers and, since the other two women have been honored with induction, it wouldn’t surprise me if Simon got in.
Eminem was a groundbreaking rapper and one of the few exceptions to my no-rap rule for the HoF, along with previous inductees the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. You could possibly blame Mr. Mathers for Fred Durst, Limp Bizkit, and that entire “rap-metal” silliness but, still, not rock…maybe rock adjacent.
Kate Bush is an interesting case, a trailblazing female artist and U.K. rock legend that had little beyond cult success in the U.S. Still, she’s a left field choice, an innovative artist who explored the fusion of pop and rock music with the avant-garde not unlike her one-time duet partner, Peter Gabriel. He’s in the Rock Hall twice (solo and with prog-poppers Genesis), so while Kate is a long shot, her induction wouldn’t surprise me….besides, Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour loves her, and who am I to question his tastes?
The Eurythmics were part of a class of 1980s-era pop-rockers that owe their fame and fortune to MTV and the innovative use of music video. They had a lot of success in both the U.S. and the U.K., chalking up four Gold™ and Platinum™-certified albums, a slew of hit singles and radio airplay, and Annie Lennox has one of the most underrated voices in rock music. Nominated twice before, I personally wouldn’t put them in, but I’d give ‘em the nod before those pretty boys in Duran Duran.
IT’S ABOUT TIME
VIDEO: MC5 Live at Tartar Field 1970
The MC5 were vehemently anti-commercial, only released three albums (of high-octane Detroit rawk), and flamed out before audiences outside of the Motor City could discover them, but it’s way past time to induct them into the Rock Hall. The band’s enduring influence on rock music started with punk in the ‘70s and has extended into the 2020s as each generation of hard rock and heavy metal artists discover “The Five.”
Judas Priest has long been overlooked by “serious” rockcrits, but their influence on the 1980s-era ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’ was enormous, and not only are they still influencing hard rock and heavy metal bands today, they’re also still making records and touring. Jann Wenner and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation’s anti-metal bias is well-documented, but with Black Sabbath and Rush both (finally) making it into the Rock Hall, it’s time for the third of these innovative ‘70s bands to get their due…
The New York Dolls might be a reach…they only recorded two albums, and they sold less than squat, but much like their godfathers the Velvet Underground, there’s a legion of rock ‘n’ roll miscreants that were hipped to the Dolls and carry on their musical legacy decades later. The Dolls were a significant influence on bands like the Clash (inducted in 2003) and the Sex Pistols (2006), so it wouldn’t be beyond the pale to go ahead and put ‘em in.
FORGET ABOUT IT…
Devo, Fela Kuti, A Tribe Called Quest, Rage Against the Machine, Duran Duran, Beck, Pat Benatar…the Rock Hall shouldn’t just induct everyone, or else it’s not really honoring rock music as an art form. These artists are all either too commercial (without the artistic influence to carry their argument for induction), too obscure (ditto), or something other than rock ‘n’ roll to really consider…
No matter your choice, get over to https://vote.rockhall.com and vote!