Let’s be fair: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is never going to satisfy everybody.
When it comes to the annual griping over the list of acts it enshrines — actually, two rounds of griping, the short list of nominees in the fall and the final list of inductees in the winter — some grievances are fairer than others.
Complaining about the Hall’s overemphasis on a certain strain of blues-based, Boomer-friendly guitar act? Legit. Bitching that Madonna or Grandmaster Flash don’t belong, because hey, it’s not called the Dance Hall of Fame or the Rap Hall of Fame? That attitude is even lamer than the Rock Hall at its lamest. (And those who claim rock ‘n’ roll shouldn’t be in a hall of any kind? You have my sympathies, but come on — that ship’s sailed. Let’s at least make them get it right.)
Still, most of the Rock Hall’s perception problems are of its own making. Acts become eligible 25 years after their first record release — a reasonable cutoff, but then certain acts coast in during their first year of eligibility while other, greater acts are left cooling their heels. Die-hard fans of a band keep close tabs on when they become Hall-eligible (heads up, fellow Pixies lovers: Come On Pilgrim just turned 25 last month), and every year past that date adds to the mounting fan resentment.
Moreover, by creating a voting system whereby only six to eight acts get in annually, the Hall has generated a huge backlog of snubbed artists they’ll never catch up with. You can understand why they don’t want to start inducting 15 to 20 acts a year; it would make the award less special, and the televised induction ceremony would be eight hours long. But it also means KISS fans are going to be waiting a long time before the Rock Hall has worked its way through enough overlooked acts to let Gene Simmons strut across the ceremony stage.
All this leaps to mind when perusing this week’s announcement of the 2013 nominees, 15 acts in total. It’s one of the better lists of recent years, with no outright howlers like the Red Hot Chili Peppers last year. (Inducted on their first ballot — and The Replacements remain un-nominated? Insanity.)
But that doesn’t mean the list isn’t littered with grievances. In fact, the tally of 2013 nominees mostly reads as an effort to right past Hall wrongs. Fewer than half of the nominees are first-timers; there’s a lot of long-overdues here. And even some of the first-timers are long, long overdue — including one Canadian trio that has arguably been the biggest subject of fan derision against the Hall in its history. More on them in a minute.
Let’s break these artists down into categories, themed around Hall predilections and biases. In most of these categories, only one or two acts will make the final list of inductees next January; I’ll offer my modest predictions.
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