The Rock Hall of Fame last week announced its class of 2023 and after first glance, it would appear that the nebulous organisation has really only created more problems for themselves.
Here are the inductees:
Performers: Kate Bush, Sheryl Crow, Missy Elliott, George Michael, Willie Nelson, Rage Against the Machine, The Spinners
‘Musical Influence Award’: DJ Kool, Link Wray
‘Musical Excellence Award’: Chaka Khan, Al Kooper, Bernie Taupin
‘Ahmet Ertegun Award’: Don Cornelius
The Performers category is the one that matters mots here, but I would like to say it’s nice to see Chaka Khan get into the Hall, even in a consolation category.
All in all, this is a weak class that pushes the Hall further away from its ‘rock’ origins and more into the general classification of music it has catered to in recent years. There are so many problems with the Hall - who gets nominated and how, the voting process in particular, why there are so few women inductees compared to men etc etc - that it’s hard to just focus on one.
But looking at this list, it’s hard to see the Hall doing anything to fix its mistakes. Instead it’s making new ones by shoe-horning solo artists who don’t fit in (George Michael, Willie Nelson), thus leaving behind legitimate rock-and-roll acts like the White Stripes whose music reached the top of the charts, sold millions worldwide and shaped the course of the genre. Their exclusion was a particular stumper.
Then there’s The Spinners, a Motown group that seemed to be largely forgotten and probably more fitting for an Early Influencer award like Link Wray.
Sheryl Crow too is deserving, but I don’t quite accept that she deserved to get in ahead of Cyndi Lauper, an equally successful vocalist who changed the way women are allowed to represent themselves in music.
The only three acts that do make sense are Kate Bush, Missy Elliot and Rage. Even still, Rage’s inclusion likely came at the cost of leaving out longtime snubs Iron Maiden and Soundgarden.
The Rock Hall finds itself in a difficult spot, mostly because of its own doing. There’s an increased backlog of artists that should have been inducted in recent years, but because the Hall now focuses on ‘diversity’ (diversity in what, exactly, when male inductees still far outnumber women) their odds of entering grow smaller and smaller.
The solution (if you ask me) is to just make the induction classes bigger! The Hall’s doing itself no favours by limiting the inductees to only seven performers when there are dozens still waiting to get in, with hundreds more to be eligible in the coming years.
Instead of what could have been a strong class that would have worked towards rectifying some of the Hall’s past sins, the organisation instead chucked up a hodgepodge of a big-name solo artists who will be able to sell tickets.
With the Hall reframing its mission statement to identify rock and roll as an “inclusive and ever-changing spirit” that “celebrates the sound of youth culture and honors the artists whose music connects us all”, it appears that it’s a hodgepodge that we’ll get from now on.
** NB: The RRHOF is pretty ridiculous to begin with and should not be taken seriously.
Fitzie’s track of the day: Renegades of Funk, by Rage Against The Machine
And now for your links:
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