And here we are: 61 days of voting are in the books, and now it’s all we can do–stand in the hallway and wait for the RRHOF Class of 2018 to be announced.
As noted in my last post, voting was fun this year (Thanks again to the Hall and Votem for the much improved interface and for instituting a midnight reset to replace the pain-in-the-posterior 24-hour rule).
While we’re all standing here, here’s something to ponder. Every Hall of Fame does things that are inexplicable and maddening. Let’s not start on the Songwriting Hall. But here’s something: The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga, NY (Thoroughbred racing’s temple), does not induct race announcers. No Chick “He’s moving like a tremendous machine!” Anderson or Tom Durkin. Go figure.
Despite an exciting effort by Judas Priest to overtake the Cars for the fourth spot, and a truly impressive push by The Zombies to overtake Priest for fifth, those top slots stayed the same, and so Bon Jovi, the Moody Blues, Dire Straits, the Cars and Judas Priest will be the beneficiaries of that one extra vote apiece.
I expected Bon Jovi to win the fan vote, but I’m taken aback by the numbers and the drive that got them. It’s an impressive benchmark, I’ll give them that. It’ll be interesting to see if Def Leppard can come anywhere close next year. (Yup, early prediction there). It’s actually funny to me to see the anxiety over the possibility that they’ll be the first fan vote winner to not be inducted. Guys, the Hall wants you for ceremony ticket sales and ratings, and as immune as it seems to be to criticism, it’s not going to risk the massive ill will that would result from keeping you out just to make a point about artistic merit, however valid. Just chill.
I think the Moody Blues will be officially selected, but even if they aren’t, they racked up a staggering vote total themselves–almost 950K. That in itself may make the Hall might think hard about the potential gains to be won by being generous.
There’s a little bit of leeway for generosity this year, since Radiohead, the anointed ones going into voting season, have with British understatement made their feelings known by booking themselves south of the Equator during the ceremony date. Their performance in the fan vote was a bit of a surprise itself, at least to me; I expected something similar to Pearl Jam’s sixth-place finish from last year. Instead they stalled at 11th, and in the last two weeks of the vote were overtaken by Kate Bush. The tour announcement likely took whatever wind was left in their sails, but the truth is that Kate was on the move even before that, slowly by steadily chipping away independently of any promotion or fanfare, in a way that seems so appropriate for her. I checked her Facebook and Twitter accounts and wasn’t at all surprised to see that they hadn’t been updated since last year, and that the fan accounts had maybe one quiet “Oh, by the way, this happened” sort of mention.
I don’t know why the Radiohead scenario played out this way. I have to admit to just not knowing enough about the band, their era or their fan base to know if it’s just that their fans don’t vote, and if so why, or if there isn’t the support everyone thought. Looking on social media, they’re still presented by some as the most important potential part of this class, but have enough younger voters been added to the rolls to balance the older factions out?
So even if Radiohead is inducted and don’t perform, that frees up some ceremony time to at least entertain the thought of a larger class, with or without the bonus categories. It’s been argued that the majority of the votes are in, which was my first thought in initially continuing to predict them, but I don’t think the vote is sacrosanct. It’s not just an oversight that there’s no audit. I agree with Alex Voltaire: there are some forces that the Hall will listen to. They will not make the mistake again of having an all-male class, for example. (I hasten to point out that Nina Simone will get in, on merit). In these cases, I think the vote becomes, like the Pirate Code, “guidelines.”
Thinking strategically, there’s potential for so much good press by having a big class, with the triumphant inclusion of multiple (highly publicized) snubs, that this reverse snub may be a blessing in disguise. I don’t know if Thom and the guys can be sweet-talked, but if the Hall wants their fan base demographics, it may be worth trying for next year and ignoring any criticism they get for not putting what’s billed as the most important band of the past 25 years in as a first-ballot act.
If there is a larger class, it could be a windfall for Judas Priest, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the Hall to go ahead and add some metal. Or, it could work in favor of Dire Straits. Despite their quality, and knowing that Mark Knopfler probably has a Who’s Who of the industry in his phone, they just don’t strike me as a first-ballot band. But then neither did Green Day.
The past two years, I’ve seen the leaked ballots and known well before this point that it wasn’t happening for the Cars, but right now I’m still cautiously optimistic.
And while I still don’t understand what she’s doing on the performer section of the ballot, the level of support for Sister Rosetta Tharpe has been gratifying to see, with her inclusion in the 100K+ club, something that Link Wray, Rufus/Chaka and the Meters were unable to crack. There’s a lot of willful ignorance on the part of fans, but maybe enough of them watched her bio clip, realized her importance and used their votes for her. Whether or not that was the Hall’s plan, who knows.
If I ruled the world, it would be the Cars, the Zombies, Link Wray, Kate Bush, the Eurythmics and Judas Priest, with Sister Rosetta under the Early Influence banner and the Meters or LL Cool J as a seventh. Since I don’t, I’m predicting Bon Jovi, the Moodys, the Cars, Nina Simone, the Zombies, Judas Priest, Link Wray as a seventh and Sister Rosetta as an EI.
So again, a packed ballot that will no doubt yield a lot of rejoicing, head scratching and frustration–all at the same time–come next Wednesday. Meanwhile, I already kind of miss the voting routine and the contrived situation that actually makes for utterly bizarre statements like “Hey, Kate Bush is sneaking up on Radiohead!” The fan vote really is a strange construct.
Until then, here’s to next week.