And there you have it: The RRHOF Class of 2018 has been announced. (Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues, Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe as an Early Influence, for the record).
I’m still digesting all the takes on the class that have come out since last Wednesday and definitely want to look at them soon, but first, just some random/fandom thoughts:
Hell yeah, the Cars are in. Now that the moment’s here I can’t even describe how it feels, but I guess it’s like something clicking into place at last. Thrilled that David Robinson is up for getting his drums out of storage and that they’re going to play. Alex Voltaire at The Northumbrian Countdown had some excellent thoughts about potential inductors for the entire ballot, and while Weezer is definitely a possibility, Billy Corgan seems to be the frontrunner. The band did not replace Benjamin Orr on their 2011 Move Like This tour and is highly unlikely to do so here, but the mere idea of Corgan taking Orr’s vocal parts for the performance…oh hella no. Gwen Stefani’s been mentioned but she seems an odd match, which is why it will probably happen, but I’d be cool with seeing Jarvis Cocker of
Pulp, Julian Casablancas and/or Albert Hammond of the Strokes, Brandon Flowers of the Killers or, as unlikely as it is, Black Francis of the Pixies–all artists who’ve acknowledged a debt. I do know it won’t be Car Seat Headrest.
I’m just unabashedly thrilled about Sister Rosetta’s induction, even if the method to the Hall’s madness in the process is hard to fathom. Maybe her inclusion on the performer really was a way to get people to learn about her, and there actually are people out there who did: One of the coolest things I saw during the fan vote was a comment on the Hall’s Facebook page that read “I know nothing about Sister Rosetta, but this is how I learn.” Such a wonderful contrast to the willful ignorance surrounding it. But again, the Hall has managed to make the honor look for all the world like an end run it pulls out when an artist can’t get in on votes.
I haven’t seen a response from Nina Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly, but it’s fun to imagine Nina’s no doubt pithy reaction to her own inclusion.
I’m looking forward to seeing who does the induction and acceptance honors for both of these ladies. The suggestion by Shrek on the FRL page that Rhiannon Giddens pay tribute to Nina was inspired, and it’s worth noting that Giddens has also recorded an incandescent version of Tharpe’s “Up Above My Head,” a song she’s also performed live many times. The thought of one of the most revelatory artists of our time paying tribute to either of these revelatory women and reaching a new audience in the process is just electrifying.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I’m not a Moody Blues fan, but things are still in a bit of a rosy glow and some of it’s rubbing off: Justin Hayward has one of the finest voices in the business, and there’s no doubt they’ll be able to power the Cleveland Public Hall that night on the sheer rapture inside when these guys take the stage.
And then there’s Bon Jovi, the least artistically deserving, with the biggest persecution complex and the smallest sense of humility. No doubt both Jon Bon Jovi and the fans view this as an epic victory over a hostile establishment straight out of one of the band’s songs, but the truth is that they’re in there to make use of their biggest talent: making money. If one child gets to take part in the Rockin’ the Schools program as a result of the ticket sales that result from this, it’s worth it. But to think of all the worthy acts still not in, and the graciousness of some on this year’s ballot–Eurythmics, Judas Priest, the Zombies and Link Wray come to mind…it grates.
I have to mention that Donnie Dunham has made a valid point on Twitter that 80s hair metal, if you can call Bon Jovi metal, is a part of rock history and should be represented in the narrative, and I’ve long agreed with Alex Voltaire’s zeitgeist principle (should that be capitalized?), so I’ll grant that and say “artistically deserving.” I always felt Kiss should be inducted on that principle–you can’t really talk about the 70s without them–but Kiss also actually inspired artists that became important later, if indirectly. Artists from Dave Grohl to Garth Brooks have said that seeing Kiss as young children told them that “Hey, you can grow up and be in a band,” even if their actual musical cues came from elsewhere. Have never heard anyone say that about Jon and Co. And that’s way more pixels than I wanted to spend on this.
The fact remains that a lot of brilliance was on that ballot and destined to not get in, and that’s where the meat is when it comes to analysis. Of course the most glaring case is Radiohead; you could write multiple posts about that one alone. FRL was actually correct twice by initially saying that they wouldn’t be inducted in absentia, and then later reversing that prediction, saying that the optics would be terrible for the Hall if that came to pass. Whether the omission is due to simple lack of voter support, a desire to try to bring them around, or a fit of Wennerian pique is as yet unknown, but the answer is the key to much about the Hall’s philosophy and future.
At any rate, it’s still a bummer that metal is almost entirely absent from the rolls, as are some genuinely progressive artists like Kate Bush. And unless he’s named as the recipient of the Musical Excellence award this year, Link Wray is still not given his due. (something I’m not even sure the Wray family wants). I don’t think that will be forever by any means, but it remains a bigger snub than virtually any other you’d care to name.
Another bummer is confirmation that the Hall is set on a class size of five, despite the recent value-sized ballots and the backlog. It could be worse: The Country Hall mandates three, and like heaven, it’s easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than into the NFL HOF.
What do I think will happen? I’m likely done with the full-on predictions game, but the trend to populist acts is pretty clear, and if we’re going to work through my personal Top Three That Shouldn’t Be In list, next would be Def Leppard. (Like Bon Jovi, I think they’re fun but ultimately inconsequential, and also like Bon Jovi, I saw them live and thought it was terrible). Also, next year may see Paul Rodgers in the guise of Free or Bad Company and it just seems like it’s the time for Warren Zevon. I’ve seen Todd Rundgren’s name mentioned, and he was at the Hall chatting up Greg Harris earlier this year, but I’m not sure if he and Zevon would be on the same ballot. Judas Priest made a splash, so the NomCom could try again there, and I’ve been saying Big Star for a couple of years now. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Janet and Eurythmics again as well.
But a lot is happening in the meantime. I hope everyone finds something to enjoy–I know I will.