Hed: That’s rock?
Most people are gluttons for punishment on one thing or another. We know we’re going to be irritated by it, but we can’t help coming back.
For me, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees fall into that category.
I don’t take music as seriously as I used to. I don’t listen to nearly as much, either. When I was growing up, I might spend 10-12 hours per day listening to the radio or tapes I had. It helped that my parents had usually barred me from watching television because they thought my grades were too low. My argument that I got an A on the tests so homework shouldn’t matter didn’t fly very well.
Music also changed when I was in high school, and I didn’t much like the direction it went in. Most of my friends liked Nirvana. I loathed their songs. I wasn’t alone in that, but those of us who found “Oh well, whatever, nevermind,” an underwhelming sentiment were in a very distinct minority.
Initially, I didn’t have much of an argument with the artists getting into the hall of fame. I grew up on classic rock (back when that meant 50s and 60s) in large part because that’s what my parents listened to when we were in the car. British Invasion, Motown, surf music, it didn’t matter. I can still recite a fair portion of the Big Bopper’s “Chantilly Lace,” though there’s a bit of audio whiplash if I go from that to “November Rain” too fast.
The issues have cropped up in more recent years. One of this year’s nominees is The Notorious B.I.G. I’m not going to debate his musical ability or influence, but I will question how in the world that’s considered rock. I’ll raise the same objection to ABBA’s induction in 2010.
Another of the nominees this year is Judas Priest. I get that they’re not everyone’s favorite, but it’s hard to deny their influence and longevity. Rob Halford’s voice is one of the most recognizable in rock, and their more than 50 million albums sold compares pretty favorably with other inductees (looking at you, Hall & Oates).
But guess which band is in.
I get that sales aren’t everything, and that the hall is trying to appeal to a broad swath of people. But there’s a point where the designation as the rock and roll hall of fame seems to be a misnomer. Call it the popular music hall of fame if that’s what it is. I won’t object to the change. But the decisions being made on nominees and inductees seem about as sensible as the ones being made last week by NFL officials or batters for the St. Louis Cardinals.
In some ways it’s another get-off-my-lawn moment. I’m getting used to the blank stares I occasionally get in the newsroom when I reference an event or figure from the Cold War. And I’d be surprised if any of my coworkers recognized Bryan Bower’s best-known song, which I learned from Dr. Demento. That last is probably a good thing, now that I consider it.
This probably isn’t going to get better. I’ll probably recognize fewer and fewer nominees in the coming years, as acts that began after I dropped out of popular music come up for consideration. But I’ll probably keep reading the list, and keep getting annoyed by it.
At least I have iTunes.