The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Is Worthless

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Could Hall and Oates be your next Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees?
Whatever illuminati votes on inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is undergoing its deliberations for the class of 2014. The process apparently includes much backstage lobbying, as induction can lead to a real spike in sales of back catalogues and "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee" looks good on the obituaries some of these people are no doubt expecting to be written soon. But the fact is, entry into the Rock Hall is the most worthless music honor this side of a Grammy Award. Luckily, there's a way to fix that.

See also: 10 No-Brainer Rock Legends Never Nominated For The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock Hall is a nice enough as a tourist destination. If you are a certain kind of person, it's hard not to get a nerd boner in the presence of a real Beatles drumhead or the remains of the bass smashed on the cover photo of London Calling. Particularly affecting is the Hall's chronologically ordered wall of Jim Morrison artifacts, starting with a birth certificate, ending with a death certificate and including in between a Cub Scout uniform, a few arrest warrants and a letter from his dad telling him to get a job. The Rock and Hall of Fame is pretty cool as a physical place in the world. And what else is there to do if you're visiting family in Cleveland?

Yet, as an honorific, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee has been watered down. It's way too easy to get in, especially for a certain kind of act. Over the years, 295 artists have been inducted. The first class included Elvis, James Brown, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles and Sam Cooke. This year, the Hall's voting body is considering Deep Purple, Hall and Oates, The Zombies, LL Cool J and Chic. Those are all respectable artists, but the Hall used to be for legends among legends.

As with most things in life, the fault lies with baby boomers, the most nostalgic generation ever. In the Rock Hall's first decade or so, of course most inductees came from the boomers' prime record-buying years. The marquee names of the '50s, '60s and early '70s were the only ones who met the edibility requirement of 25 years since an artist's first release. But more recently, it seems like two or three unavoidable acts that debuted in the '80s get in shortly after they become eligible (this year, it will be Nirvana and maybe The Replacements) and then the no-doubt middle-aged music industry insiders who make up the Hall's voting body throw in a bunch of semi-forgotten leftovers from their own wonder years. Case in point: The non-backing band performers of 2012 were the Beastie Boys, Guns 'N Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donovan, the Small Faces and Laura Nyro.

There are now a glut of second-tier doo-wop acts, soul singers, British invasion bands and folkies in the Hall. Really, all it takes is one song oldies stations love. How else do you think Percy Sledge got in? And the Hall even passes up hugely influential people from the '60s and '70s that are more popular today with 20-something hipsters than they are with 60-something twice-divorced winos. The Hall has ignored Nick Drake, Roxy Music, Big Star, The New York Dolls and Lou Reed (as a solo artist) for acts that lack their lasting appeal and multi-generation influence--like The Dells and The Young Rascals--but who made it into baby boomers' prom memories.

See also: Live: Hall & Oates Do The Hits (And A Few Christmas Songs!) At Beacon Theatre


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47 comments
johnholtzer
johnholtzer

Doing a little research on the RRHOF selection, I am actually very disturbed at what I see and the way selections are made. I am specifically looking at the reason why certain musicians have not been selected or even nominated. One such artist was recognized by the Hall for having one of the top 500 songs that influenced Rock and Roll. However it wasn't his song that should catapult him into the Hall but his early influences. Problem is he does not predate Rock and Roll, I am speaking of none other then the father of Shock/Horror Rock himself, Screamin' Jay Hawkins. Seems that his peers have seen fit to recognize his contributions but not those experts who know the history of Rock and Roll and control the induction process. You would think that someone who directly influenced groups/inductees such as Alice Cooper, KISS, Black Sabbath, etc.. on their stage appearance, would have spot in the hall. Anyone having an idea on how to get the selection committees ear on what we as enthusiast would like to see please let me know.

gumpchun
gumpchun

Look, I am an aging boomer who straddled the 60s/metal/punk/new wave era, so I have feet in all camps. 

I loved Aerosmith and Ted Nugent (yeah, he was actually good for five minutes) but was so bored with rock music by 1977 I wanted to vanish up my own unkempt hairdo. I told a friend rock music had come to suck and was dying or dead.

Then, BOOM, I came across the New York Dolls in college and quickly discovered the Ramones, Television, the Sex Pistols, and all the New Wave thereafter, especially Joy Division and New Order. totally reviving my interest. Rock was about more than posing and preening and self-indulgence. It could be edgy and speak to life as lived in the 70s -- a rough time, Chicago had twice the murder rate back then.

But one thing I NEVER wanted anything to do with music was nostalgia and Vegas level junk like Halls of Fame. The very concept has always made me want to summarily retch, like I did when I accidentally watched the Grammys, which we all laughed at as hopelessly MOR and insipid as Wonderbread. 

The RRHOF is a pathetic self-indulgent clown act that has no value. Just like a big Hard Rock Cafe filled not with helium, but the hydrogen sulfide coming off Lake Erie. Talk about dead from the neck up. It is an abysmal embarrassment people are too polite to call out. No surprise it is a marketing device now. What a sham and virtual embalming of a vital art form that wants no such memorials.

I hate the Rock Hall of Fame and the humiliating spectacle of aging rock music wreckage, paunchy and balding, stuffed into violet suits and ruffled shirts confirming their inarticulacy with sodden and daft acceptance speeches that would embarrass even their mothers. Rock and Roll? Are you kidding? Rock has nothing to do with this. I vote yes for blowing the whole thing up.

  Today I listen to Hocico and Psyclon Nine and some Indie stuff, but I have to say, popular music looks as bad now as it did in 1977. Rap? Nearly worthless musically. Lots of indie music sounds the same. Rock acts seem utterly at sea in total mediocrity. Songwriting is amateur. The void is filled with fake acts created by producers. Time for a change. Come on, Gen Y, I am counting on you.

Tom Lane
Tom Lane

....and so is this article.

Eric Eddy
Eric Eddy

Remove The Hollies and The Small Faces? Surely, you jest. I do agree in principle that the Hall has been watered down tremendously. (Hall & fuckin Oates? Are you for real?!) I'd say the only legit inductees this year would be: Nirvana, Brian Epstein, and Andrew Oldham. (Maybe the E Street Band should have been inducted with Bruce all those years ago.) It's all become a bit frivolous, hasn't it?

William Boyd
William Boyd

Remember, it's not an award bestowed by critics, but by old record industry types.

cantuii
cantuii

You guys are so angry over there , just stop writing

Ty Gill
Ty Gill

I KNOW y'all not talking shit about Hall & Oates! ...I can't go for that.

Joe12
Joe12

It is so obvious that Jon Landau, Springsteen's manager and head of the nominating committee, is setting the agenda and calling the shots in an opaque process revealing his own bias.( A failed performer yet a passionate, devoted fan, Landau championed the straightforward rock & roll that he loved, and wrote scathing reviews of what he saw as the overblown, pretentious San Francisco scene. Landau's writings eventually made their way to a young student in California named Jann Wenner who was forming a music magazine called Rolling Stone. Landau debuted as a writer in the first issue, submitting a negative review of Jimi Hendrix's debut album. The young critic saw the psychedelic movement as pretentious and without merit and, instead, preferred the straight-forward, frankly commercial rock of the '50s.) The choices are dominated by Landau and those connected to him--Tom Morello, lately performing with the E Street band, apparently lobbied heavily for his idols--Kiss, and what a surprise, the E Street Band is being inducted by Springsteen. 

Joedee
Joedee

The biggest disgrace is the way post-punk period has been completely ignored while being one of the greatest influences on modern music. The fact that acts like Joy Division, The Cure, Devo, and New Order, havent even come up for a vote says volumes about where the heads of those voting are. Even though Nirvana got in first time out, which was a given, it will still be a cold day in hell when their major influences and alt giants in their own right, The Pixies, and Sonic Youth, get in. 

Dan Grossman
Dan Grossman

The one thing in this that I disagree with is that there is nothing else to do in Cleveland. As a lifelong resident, you come to my town. I'll show you myriad things to do not involving the rock hall.

Janet Holowka
Janet Holowka

wasn't the village voice started, supported and nourished by baby boomers. It appears that the midstream angles didn't begin until 2005 when a purging of creative minds took place and now, oh mercy the voice resides in the financial district, a far cry from the village, ain't it! Ah, how soon we dismiss our roots. Guess it's time to abandon the Voice after so many years .....That's what happens when the voice abandons it's roots.

Christian Juan Caulfield
Christian Juan Caulfield

I thought the Village Voice's audience were people who knew better than this. Guess not. Honkeys will be honkeys.

fdog9
fdog9

What or who does or does not belong in a hall of fame is entirely subjective.  While I too disagree with some of the people and bands that have been inducted, I realize I share this planet with other people with other opinions.  I actually think the Hall generally gets it right.....there seems to be a mix of different genres every year.  Hip, hop, Disco, Reggae, Soul, Heavy Metal, Punk etc. have been recognized.  I seem to share tha authors taste in music---although I was happy Heart got in.  Women are woefully under represented in the Hall of Fame.

Foaf Ian
Foaf Ian

It was a farce from the beginning. Award shows, in general, are just PR/marketing tools. What are the criteria, ultimately, for placement in a 'Hall of Fame'?

zyzxyzxy2784
zyzxyzxy2784

The "Rock and Roll" hall of fame will always be a joke until Paul Revere and the Raiders are included. 

bcompton77
bcompton77

Way to not even mention KISS among the nominees. Very responsible journalism portrayed here.

bvarvaris
bvarvaris

man you lost me.i thought you would rail against worthless s*** like kiss and rush.also,what's with the glass pyramid?is this the freaking louvre?

rdl114
rdl114

Not The Rascals? The writer mustn't have listened to much of their music. They were serious a-level rockers. Anyway,... the big problem is that there is no definition of what Rock And Roll actually is. The place in Cleveland is more like the Pop Music Hall Of Fame. I love Laura Nyro, but she's scarcely Rock and Roll. I can't imagine her shredding off a Bo Diddley riff, for instance. Hall & Oates fall into the same category, Donovan, a host of others. It's like inducting football players into the baseball hall of fame. Yeah, they're both sports, but one doesn't cross over to the other. 

tNYC
tNYC

Did this person really insinuate that Beastie Boys and Laura Nyro don't deserve to be in Rock & Roll hall of fame? 

ibivi56
ibivi56

I was totally underwhelmed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  When you enter there is a huge floor with lots of dead space and you have to take an escalator down to the exhibit area.  One display is a darkened room with autographs in blue neon on the walls.  Huh?  They should stop giving out awards every year.  Once every 5 years might save us having many, many people who have no business being honoured.      

wescarr91
wescarr91

Without my reading any of what you have to say, after, "The Rock and Roll hall of fame is worthless", I totally agree with that sentence. And there's no doubt in my mind that all bluesmen and jazzmen who've been tossed into that worthless piece of s***, are totally embarrassed.

Angie Esposita O'Dowd
Angie Esposita O'Dowd

just think about who will be eligible in 20 yrs, think about it......scary shit

RandomThought
RandomThought

You doubt the influence of Chic?  You are not to be taken seriously as a music journalist.

Robert Peters
Robert Peters

In retrospect, Hall & Oates' music is rather timeless.

Shawn Wolfe
Shawn Wolfe

When are they gonna let Pete Rose in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Also: this piece has way too many typos to be taken seriously by anyone.

kidz40567
kidz40567

While I agree with some of what you say....Hall and Oates does not fit your argument!  They are TRUE legends and DESERVE to be in the Hall...they have been overlooked for whatever reason, while other worthless music acts have gotten inducted.  They are 2 individuals who constantly inspire and mentor up coming artists...they continue to write and tour on their own projects and as a duo.  They ARE TRUE legends in the music industry...I believe it to be a disgrace that Nirvana is even up for induction.  Hall and Oates deserve their place in the Music Hall!

Clay Walker
Clay Walker

But what if Hall & Oates come out with a new album and Banksy does the album cover artwork for them - wouldn't the VV then declare they were the greatest living musicians ever ?

Miguel Perez
Miguel Perez

While you can argue here & there about some acts all in all it is worthless!

Marlena Bond
Marlena Bond

thanks for your opinion piece, but I totally disagree, Hall and Oates is not a good example of your argument, they had many hits

Pamela Brown
Pamela Brown

When they put lame nerds like Rush in forget it .

Luis Orozco
Luis Orozco

Buit they are rappers not rock and rollers!

Christopher Brown
Christopher Brown

this was done to prevent race riots. you know they would all call it a racist act if they were not included.

jonathan.nyc
jonathan.nyc topcommenter

I agree there are undeserving acts in the HOF.  Mystified about some of the particulars here.   

Remove Laura Nyro, seriously?  Listen to some of her best albums on a decent system.  You'll wonder why Dylan is in the same Hall she's in. 

Mary Beth Gowdy
Mary Beth Gowdy

I mostly agree. But the bitch-and-whine tone of the writing is a real turn-off.

Luis Orozco
Luis Orozco

If they put rappers in a rock and roll hall of fame they can put anyone in it.

epac666
epac666 topcommenter

You're just realizing it's a joke now??? It's been a Jann Wenner vanity operation since day one. The only ones I have any respect for are the Pistols and (I guess) Axl Rose who told them to go shove it.

Joedee
Joedee

@kidz40567 Please, Nirvana revitalized a completely dead rock radio besieged by awful hair bands, and turned music culture completely on it's head. It's amazing how myopic their detractors are. 

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