Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Crock and Roll Hall of Shame

I ask, do these people belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?



You may have heard the news that ABBA was one of this year’s inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And if you’re like me, your gut reaction to that had to be WTF? I love ABBA as much as any girl who grew up during the 70s and 80s, but you don’t have to be a genius to know that their body of work in no way, shape, or form can be defined as rock and roll. This head scratching choice is nothing new for the Crock and Roll Hall of Shame, as I affectionately love to call it. Other unusual nominees throughout the years have included Madonna, Michael Jackson, Herb Alpert (!), Miles Davis, Etta James, Louie Armstrong, The Bee Gees (Barry and Robin Gibb are responsible for nominating ABBA, by the way) Jann Wenner (who is best know for composing the “Miami Vice” theme), and Hank Williams, just to name a few oddball choices.

While these people certainly made important contributions to music, it’s pretty obvious that the HOF’s definition of rock and roll is looser than Tiger Woods. At the rate they’re going, they might as well induct Liberace next year. I can see the crossover in country, but why pop, jazz and disco? One wonders how some of these old time classic rockers such as The Rolling Stones and Aerosmith feel about sharing the honor with the bell bottom wearing quartet that gave us “Dancing Queen”, “Lay All Your Love on Me”, and “I Have a Dream.”

I’m in no way criticizing or degrading ABBA’s music – I think they’re marvelous musicians in their own genre, and “S.O.S.” was admired by John Lennon and Pete Townsend, who both felt it was one of the most beautiful pop songs ever written in the 70s. You may ask what the harm is in letting groups like ABBA into the HOF – and there’s no harm, really – until you consider that they’re taking valuable space away from true rock legends who deserve it more. People and bands like…

*Steve Miller
*Eddie Money
*Heart
*Kiss
*Yes
*Pat Benetar
*The Cars
*Alice Cooper
*Foreigner
*Boston
*Jan and Dean
*Jethro Tull
…and so many countless others

Why is Madonna in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but Steve Miller is not? Heck, even Neil Diamond is more deserving of the honor because of early hits such as “Cherry Cherry.” I could go on and on, but you get the idea. Perhaps the HOF needs to split off into different halls for different genres. Or maybe they need to rename themselves in more general terms as simply the Hit Music Hall of Fame.

If you want to see all this madness for yourself, you can find the entire list of inductees here. And don’t be too surprised, come 2011, you see Neil Sedaka and The Captain and Tenille added to their site.

12 comments:

Retro Hound said...

Good grief! Jan and Dean aren't in the HOF? That is ludicrous. And Boston? Steve Miller? I need to start my own HOF.

Mimi said...

ABBA is one of my favorite bands ever... but Hall of Fame?? No way. What a crock! I wonder what exactly the criteria is and who does the selecting?

Anonymous said...

The Monkees,Todd Rundgren,Laura Nyro,Leon Russell,The Pretty Things,Mott the Hoople,The Move,Dr.John and the Guess Who should all be in the hall of fame instead of ABBA.

CLM in ND said...

Jan Hammer wrote & recored the "Miami Vice" theme. Jann Wenner was the co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine.

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

Blimey, I love ABBA but never let it be said that they looked good in photos!

Where on earth did you did that marvellous picture up from??!! :D

Juanita's Journal said...

I have no problems with ABBA in the Hall of Fame. I'm not saying they were one of the greatest groups of the 70s, but rock or pop . . . it's all the same to me. And they were successful.

Jacko said...

Very nice looking place you have here. I just found it this evening, along with this post which touches a nerve with me.

I both agree and disagree with your basic premise. Firstly, you can't realistically separate pop from rock. The two have been intertwined from the very beginning. I believe there is an inherent rock bias against 'pop', 'disco' and certain other strands of popular music that fall under the entire rock n roll umbrella, and a lot of well-meaning people with otherwise sound arguments against the induction of people like James Taylor and the 8th best Doo Wop group tend to undercut their own basic good sense with this bias without even realizing it.

The only thing really separating pop from rock is popularity, and in the heyday of the rock era, much of the very best 'rock' music was also very popular, unlike today. Sure enough, much of the stuff that follows a chorus-verse-chorus formula and is more predictable for it tends to be the more successful/popular music, but that doesn't make it inherently the lesser for it.

On the contrary, that very fact makes artists as diverse as Buddy Holly, Madonna, Sweet, ABBA, The Buzzcocks, The Shirelles, Hall and Oates, The Beatles, The Ramones and the Bee Gees fundamentally the same. They're all exceptional practitioners of pop 'formulas', cosmetic differences aside. So you can't really judge pop vs rock. Pop music changes from time to time. The real question is, is it great pop music for it's time? For all time?

Does ABBA rock as hard as Hendrix, The Stones or Zeppelin? No. Neither did the Beach Boys. But they are no less 'rock' artists because of it. ABBA is legitimately to be considered one of the great pop groups of all time, in a long line of greats from the Everly Brothers to the Beach Boys, Beatles, Zombies, Bee Gees, Kinks, Hollies, Big Star, Cheap Trick, and on and on down the line.

I agree fundamentally when I hear people griping about someone like Bonnie Raitt versus someone else who seems more deserving. The thing for me is, most people aren't mentioning the correct alternative deserving candidates.

This is where the Baby Boomer 'popularity contest' problem comes in. Everytime a poll is taken or people are listing their own nominees, you hear lots of names like Kiss, Boston, The Guess Who, Heart, Alice Cooper, Genesis, Jethro Tull, etc....who realistically are mostly second or third-tier artists themselves. But they 'rock' harder and got played more on the radio, so everyone knows them. This does not make them the best or most deserving!

Jacko said...

I always ask, where is Dick Dale, the father of Surf Guitar? Where is Gram Parsons, the father of Country Rock? Think about that for a minute...The originators of two of the most important, vital genres of the music are missing and no one even discusses them. Instead, it's always, 'where is Foreigner?' Why are none of the original great guitar instrumentalists inducted, people like Link Wray and Duane Eddy and The Ventures? Elvis was not a great guitar player. The Beatles and everyone else learned their instruments by playing those 'Play Guitars With The Ventures' albums until they wore out.

They give you your Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Hendrix and other figureheads because they have to, but where are all the other real trailblazers? People who changed the music, even if it wasn't all over the radio in '59 or '68 or '75.

The New York Dolls, Kraftwerk and Captain Beefheart did more to influence the subsequent 30 years in rock music than Styx or Boston, but they weren't on the radio and most haven't heard the records, including the people who vote for the Hall Of Fame. That's what gets me. The people deciding are ignorant about the music, though not in the way that most people think they are.

Entire genres are dismissed or ignored. Everyone knows about the years of snubbing that Black Sabbath endured, as the first classic Metal group. Where is Glam Rock represented, other than Bowie? Where is the Art/Progressive Rock, other than Steely Dan? There's no Surf. There's little Punk or New Wave. The Avante Garde element isn't represented, other than perhaps Zappa and the Velvet Underground.

They push and push for people like James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt because they're now considered industry 'insiders' and they're buddies with the Jan Wenners and Erteguns, but arguably better and more important singer-songwriters like Richard Thompson, Randy Newman, Laura Nyro, Michael Nesmith, Tim Buckley, Emmit Rhodes, Townes Van Zandt, John Prine, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Phil Ochs, Tim Hardin, Nick Drake, Marshall Crenshaw and others get ignored. Why? Taylor and Raitt became stars and sold records for the record companies. They've 'earned' their glory. As for the rest, both the voters and the general public give a collective 'huh? who?' and justice is not served by common ignorance about the music.

People need to get more educated about the music. This is not a popularity contest. I love Motley Crue, Gary Glitter and Culture Club. They're guilty pleasures that I really enjoy, but subjectively I know that they do not deserve a spot. Most people can't differentiate that way. They want their favorites, period. Or they're inherently more attached to that with which they are familiar.

Well, i'm positive i've gone on long enough about this subject. Thanks for letting me share. My vote? ABBA is 1st ballot all the way. And add the Fathers of Surf and Country Rock in there pronto, for all that is sacred about rock n roll. Again, nice blog. Thanks.

Pam@GoRetro said...

@Jacko - thanks for your comments and for visiting my blog. You make a convincing argument about pop being a closely related offshoot of rock; however, I still don't think ABBA and other softer groups belong in the same category as rock and roll because the music just doesn't fit the bill. If you let them in, then you have to let everyone in which is exactly what's been happening for the past few years. And to induct them before people who have written rock music such as Steve Miller and Eddie Money makes no sense to me. Just my two cents.

BTW, The Ventures were inducted a few years ago...I did find them on the R&R HOF's site. But good point about the whole thing being a popularity contest. I don't think it's based on guitar playing ability, BTW...Elvis most definitely should be in there, one could argue he started it for a lot of other guys including the Beatles. Maybe he was not the greatest guitar player (but at least he could play, unlike many of today's singers) and the music he sang most certainly was rock and roll.

Anyways, thanks again for your insightful comments...and glad you found my blog!

Pam@GoRetro said...

@CLM - thank you! Well, those are two names that are easy to mix up.

Jacko said...

You're welcome, and thanks. I know that first one was awfully long, but I stumbled in here and you had some great topics. Hope they haven't already petered out. It's a great subject.

I think people in general, and voters, have trouble with the context in light of how things change with the times. Buddy Holly, Rick Nelson, The Everly Brothers, The Shirelles...these are soft acts! And what are ABBA, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell and even to a degree people like Elton John and Billy Joel but their 1970s era equivelents?

But most people don't think of them in that light because by then, there was Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, and much harder acts. But there were in the 50s too, it's just that people have forgotten. Or it was 50-60 years ago now and most people today don't know first hand anymore.

ABBA rocked harder than The Shirelles did, haha. They were really a more well-rounded group than people remember them for. They did their hard rock, glam, new wave, electronic pop...but all people remember is the disco tunes and the ballads. Same with the Bee Gees. It's a bum rap. 'I'll Follow The Sun' and 'Till There Was You' never kept the Beatles out, and no one made a case against them about it! And Paul was guilty of writing a lot of songs like that (as much as I do like them).

I agree with you about Elvis. I love Elvis. I was just saying that the figurehead gets all the glory, while the real people responsible for the sound and innovation (Scotty Moore, Link Wray, etc) get ignored. Isn't that who belongs in a Hall Of Fame? Whether it's the softer stuff, harder, weirder, faster, slower, louder, it should be the best of the best. The best at each of those things are who should encompass the hall of fame.

I'd rather have the greatest 'soft rock' artist represented than the 23rd or 46th best typical mainstream rocker, like an Eddie Money or a John Cougar. They weren't the best at what they did. Not even close. That's not hall of fame worthy, regardless of what kind of music. There was no innovation there.

And if that (harder rock) were all that should be in the hall, then you should close the books right now, because there's no one else who's earned it by that standard. Once you've inducted your Elvis, Chuck, Buddy, Dylan, Beatles, Stones, Who, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Clapton...what have we reduced our standards to once we're considering Heart, Styx, Boston, Blue Oyster Cult and the like? That is clearly a few steps down from the best of the best, but we're still looking for people to induct. So who should it be now, if anyone? And the great debate has begun!

I'm glad to hear about the Ventures, and i'm totally with you about modern music (mostly). Most of the modern music I do like is 'retro' in nature, or heavily influenced by sounds from greater times.

Anonymous said...

I have considered myself the anti-ABBA. The fact that I cannot stand their "music" is not the basis for my objection to the rock n roll hall of fame. There are other artists who at no time in their career played anything close to rock n roll Michael Jackson, Prince and others. It's not just the disco bands but the country bands. I love Chet Atkins and consider him to be one of the best guitar players ever, he certianly didn't play anything aproaching rock n roll even considering his colaberation with Mark Knopfler who's band Dire Straits incedently has not been inducted. There are countless real rock n roll artists overlooked many stated in previous posts. It is obvious it's record company executives making the choices here based on how many sales they can get out of it. The museum should be renamed or the real rick n roll artists should have enough pride to asked to be removed. Of course they wouldn't do that to due to contractual obligations. I am just very happy that I had a look at the list of inductees before I wasted my time and money to travel to Cleveland. Thank you fo letting me vent.

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