Wednesday, September 10, 2008

With Metallica's new album coming out this week, I started wondering why they were not first-ballot inductees into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Which got me thinking about the Hall, and how arbitrary it seems to be. So even though it was a major waste of time, here are 10 eligible artist I think should be inducted (in no specific order), based more on merit than on my actual taste:
1) Metallica: This is the "rock and roll" hall of fame, isn't it? And over the past 25 years, there have been few "rock and roll" bands to make as big an impact, both commercially and stylistically. They started as one of the "Big Four" of thrash metal, then evolved into heavy metal, and then just hard rock. They're one of the biggest bands in the world. They've sold almost 100 million albums worldwide. They've won 7 Grammys. Master of Puppets and their self-titled albums are considered classics. I think it's a pretty clear-cut case.
2) Janet Jackson: As far as R&B singers go, she may not pack the same punch as Aretha. But according to Billboard (via an unlinked Wikipedia note), she's the 9th-most-successful artist in rock and roll history (I find that kind of hard to believe). Despite her train-wreck moments, she did pave the way for Whitney, and later Mariah.
3) Weird Al Yankovic: Hear me out. The Hall should be honoring artists who revolutionized or defined their genres. As far as musical parody goes, nobody comes close to Weird Al.
4) The Cure: The godfathers of goth rock. And they're still releasing solid music and playing sold-out arenas around the world. They've had their lulls, but who hasn't?
5) Neil Diamond*: Sure, he may be a total ham, and his version of The Jazz Singer is a travesty, and I friggin' HATE when people yell "so good! so good! so good!" during the chorus of "Sweet Caroline." But his longevity and output are almost unmatched, and you can't deny how good his early material is. "Solitary Man"? "Cherry Cherry"? "Girl You'll Be a Woman Soon"? Killer songs. Maybe his Rick Rubin-led revival will cause voters to give him a second look.
6) T-Rex: Again, this is about an artist that revolutionized a genre. They may not have been as successful as Bowie or Alice Cooper, but they ushered in the era of glam rock. Give them the same respect given to punk pioneers the Sex Pistols.
7) Genesis: I never understood how Traffic made the cut while Genesis didn't. Is it because Traffic disbanded while Genesis turned pop? I don't think that's fair. Genesis simply evolved with the times. Releasing another The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway instead of Invisible Touch in 1986 would've been a disaster. Plus the fact that they made the "Land of Confusion" video should gain them access in and of itself.
8) Heart: While I love their music, this pick is less about that and more about the fact that they are women. Sounds sexist, sure. But few women were able to break into the male-dominated rock world in the 70s, and I think that deserves some credit.
9) The Zombies: Here's where it gets a bit personal. Cause yeah, I've come to think of Odyssey and Oracle as the greatest album of all time. Their success was short-lived, and not very big commercially. But if the Dave Clark Five can get in without releasing anything that comes close to O&O, so should The Zombies.
10) Sonic Youth: Would the alternative movement have happened without them? I say no.

And here are 5 more that I wanted to put on the list, but just couldn't justify…
- Def Leppard
- Joan Jett
- The Smiths
- Willie Nelson
- Iggy Pop
Now feel free to rip me a new one.

* Note: I went to see Neil Diamond play at the Garden a few weeks ago*… I got (ridiculously good) seats through my seat-filler program. My friend and I were surrounded by about 16,000 of my parents, including an older woman who shushed us because she was "trying to listen to the music." I bet Neil could've had his way with any single woman in the arena that night. The show couldn't have been hokier, and it ranked up there with the funniest experiences of my life. But he certainly sounded great. And these days, he sort of looks like a cross between Billy Bob Thornton and Bob Dole.

* Note on the note: On my way home I was racing to catch the subway at Penn Station and got trapped behind an old couple lallygagging up the stairs. I managed to get around them and get my foot between the doors just as they began to close. They reopened, and I made it on the train, along with a few other people, including the old couple. As the train left the station, it lurched a bit, and the old couple tumbled to the ground, with the man hitting his head on the metal door between cars and his wife landing on top of him. The wife started sobbing (more out of shock than anything else) and was helped up, but the husband lay dazed on the floor. When he finally got up, blood was pouring from his scalp. Somebody asked him if he was okay, and when he answered, blood started pouring from his mouth. His wife was screaming "Oh my god, he's a diabetic!" When we got to Times Square, people told him to stay on the train while they got help, but he insisted on walking onto the platform, followed by his wife. Some onlookers managed to track down an MTA employee, and the paramedics were called in to help. Meanwhile, a woman on the train began yelling at the other passengers, saying most of us were just "standing around starin' at the guy like a fool."
Anyway, the whole thing was basically my fault, because if I hadn't caught the train, none of this would've happened. Sorry!

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