Monday, October 12, 2015

For Those About to Rock: Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame 2016, part 1

(Editor's Note: My buddy Michael Drinan is back to predict the 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductions.  Take away Mike!)

It’s that time of year again!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently released their list of 15 artists nominated for the 2016 Induction class and, just like every year, I’ve obsessed over the list trying to predict who will make it in.  Some people feel Hall of Fames are pointless and a waste of time, but whatever man, it's fun and always leads to a great discussion.   This year we have a decent list of contenders where, for some fucked up reason or another, Pat Benatar is STILL not included. What is also interesting is last year’s nominee Kraftwerk inexplicably did not receive a nod this year, but who needs a highly influential German electronic group that was decades ahead of its time and spawned an entire genre of music, along with influencing a countless number of artists across ALL genres anyway? (I digress.) Last year, I got 4 out of 6 predictions correct!  Let’s see what we have to argue about this year…

The Cars - One of the premiere new wave bands in the late 70s and early 80s, The Cars’ influence spans from Nirvana and The Melvins to Alkaline Trio and The Strokes. They took punk minimalism and combined it with pop aesthetics and synthesizers that gave them thirteen Top 40 hits and six incredible albums (Their seventh album, Move Like This, was good and had the redeeming charms of their previous work but the movement was over and music moved on). Their eponymous debut was a classic pop album and probably their best. They followed that up with another classic, Candy-O, which has one of my favorite album covers of all time (Shouldn’t that be a factor in this discussion?)!  Fun Fact: artist Alberto Vargas came out of retirement to do that cover and the model’s name was Candy Moore (the more you know).  We all know the hits “Best Friend’s Girl”, “Drive”, “Just What I Needed”, “Good Times Roll”, “Shake It Up” and “Let’s Go” but their deeper cuts are equally as good. “Bye Bye Love” would’ve been a hit if released as a single and “Night Spots” is a fantastic rock-pop song. This is their first nomination despite being eligible since 2003. They’ll get in, if not this year then another year.

Chic - Last year, I wrote that Chic’s influence in the hip hop genre is pretty difficult to overlook and I still think that is true. What I also think is still true, and remains a cornerstone of my argument not to induct them, is that they didn’t distinguish themselves from the other disco artists at the time. Disco was important to the progression of rock music as well as hip hop, but the classic usual suspects (Bee Gees, Donna Summer and *gulp* ABBA) have already been inducted. I still don’t think any more disco groups should get in.

Chicago - Could we just induct the first ten years of Chicago and not include their output from 1978 to the present day? Is that an option? Like have “Chicago 1969-1977” written on the wall of the hall of fame with all of their autographs underneath? Their first album Chicago Transit Authority is such a great album and a ballsy move making their debut a double album. Their fusion of jazz and rock with that album practically wrote the book for Steely Dan, and their subsequent albums proved that they were legit artists, visionaries and instrumentalists. Hell, even Hendrix himself claimed Chicago’s guitarist was a better player than he was. Talk about a compliment! Then, 1978 arrived and their guitarist Terry Kath died. It changed the course of the band and they began making shitty albums, and leading into the 80s they changed their sound completely, from jazz rock to a more pop oriented, power ballad type sound. They had hits like “You’re the Inspiration”, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” and “Hard Habit to Break” that made them unavoidable throughout the decade. Peter Cetera’s solo hit “The Glory of Love” only extended the nails on the chalkboard. Okay, so we can’t split up their career for the Hall. I get it. Chicago is probably going to get in based on the strength of their work from 1969-1977, as they should. Will it be this year?

Cheap Trick - Psuedo-punk band responsible for some classic rock tracks like “I Want You to Want Me”, “Surrender”, and “Dream Police”. They were HUGE in Japan (Who isn’t huge in Japan, amirite?). As far as I’m concerned, that’s all they’ve got. Look, I’m not saying they're bad. They’re a good rock band and a lot of fun in concert, but what have they done to deserve induction? Three hit singles? Forget it. Inducting a band for three songs is like inducting Matt Prater because he set the record for the longest field made in the NFL. Let’s not kid ourselves here.

Deep Purple - When it comes to bands who help start AND define a genre of music, I’m all about them getting in and Deep Purple is absolutely no exception. When Metallica was inducted into the Hall in 2009, James Hetfield read a list of hard rock/metal bands that should also get inducted, in hopes that it would “plant a little seed” amongst HOF voters. Deep Purple was the first name on that list, and why shouldn’t they be? They influenced the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement that in turn influenced a whole slew of American hard rock/metal bands. Their album Machine Head is one of THE classic hard rock albums of all time! The most popular and arguably greatest guitar riff OF ALL TIME belongs to them. “Smoke On The Water” is one of the first songs people learn when they begin playing the guitar! Hard rock and heavy metal have been largely ignored by the Hall, barring a few exceptions (Sabbath, Zeppelin, Metallica). Influential bands like Motorhead, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest have all been passed over for nominations. Deep Purple has been nominated before in 2012 and 2013, each time finishing 2nd in the Fan Vote Ballot and the HOF voters keep ignoring them. It’s time to right the wrong HOF!

Janet Jackson - It’s hard to argue against Janet Jackson getting inducted. The woman is an icon of R&B and pop. She’s the only Jackson sibling NOT overshadowed by her brother Michael. She proved that in the late 80s with albums such as Control and Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814. Then in 1993 she solidified this standing with the release of the classic R&B album Janet. This album not only defined herself and her career as her own (as opposed to piggybacking on the success of her family) but it helped define the era of 90s R&B with classic hits “That’s The Way Love Goes”, “You Want This” and the incomparable “If” (Not to get too personal here but that song is one of the hottest songs around. If I were to ever be given a lap dance, I’d like it to be done to “If.”).  Her 1997 release The Velvet Rope solidified her icon status. Her influence can be seen in a number of pop and R&B artists of the 90s and even in today’s music. There’s no sense in fighting her induction.

Up next in Part 2: The J.B.’s, Chaka Khan, Los Lobos, Steve Miller, Nine Inch Nails and N.W.A.

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