Friday, October 24, 2014

For Those About to Rock: Part 2

From contributor Michael Drinan......

Welcome to Part 2 of my 3 part series, For Those About to Rock, where we go over the 2015 nominees for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame and predict who gets in and who gets the shaft.  You can read Part 1 here if you need to catch up.  For the rest of you, let’s tackle the next 5 nominees!

The Marvelettes -  I can already tell that this nomination is going to piss me off.  Groups from previous generations tend to do well once they finally get nominated because the people who get a vote for the Hall of Fame tend to go with groups with whom they grew up listening to while they were popular on the radio, even though they really don’t deserve induction.  (yeah, I’m looking at you The Hollies)  These Motown ladies had a huge hit with “Please Mr. Postman” and helped write songs that were covered by future music legends such as The Beatles, Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Garcia, Mitch Ryder and Blondie.  Having a lasting presence speaks to their talent, but being overshadowed by Hall of Famers The Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas also speaks to their exclusion in the Hall of Fame thus far.  As much as I love their songs, I just don’t see them as a group that set themselves apart from the groups of the day.  Nothing about their songs, style or performances broke any new ground or influenced their genre of music.  Plus, haven’t we inducted all the Motown artists that need to be in there?  Is it necessary to induct every single Motown artist?  This is a no go for me but it wouldn’t be the first time (or last) that the voters will usher in an undeserving nominee.

N.W.A. - I don’t care if you have a problem with hip hop being included in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, I don’t and N.W.A. should be in.  They redefined their genre, became a super group before they even knew it, had awesome production and helped set the table for hip hop to become a major player in the mainstream music scene, just as much as Run-D.M.C., The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy.  They are one of the most important and influential groups in hip hop, helping to establish the west coast hip hop sound and the “Gangsta Rap” style that became huge in the 90s and influenced seminal acts such as Tupac, Snoop Dogg, Nas, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem, as well as cement the solo careers of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube.  If you want to have a cry baby party, whining about how rap isn’t rock n roll and all that madness, go ahead.  Just do it somewhere else.  This is the third time on the nomination ballot for them and this should be it. 

Nine Inch Nails - There is absolutely no case to be made for Nine Inch Nails NOT getting inducted.  This is their first time on the ballot and they should get in on the first ballot.  I’m saying “they” or “them” but what I am really saying is Trent Reznor.  All his stuff is genius but he should be enshrined simply for The Downward Spiral.  He really broke industrial music into the mainstream, ushered in the “goth” trend of the late 90s, helped establish and influence Marilyn Manson (even through it helped introduce a slew of awful imitators and wanna-bees) and is now creating some of the greatest, sonically perfect film scores intoday’s movie industry.  I first learned of the band by seeing the music video for “Wish” and was just blown away by the ferocity of Reznor’s vocals.  The guitar work combined with the synthesizers is mesmerizing and hypnotic.  His immortal “Happiness in Slavery” was probably one of the most hauntingly beautiful tracks I’ve ever heard.  “Closer” and “March of the Pigs” should be required listening.  I would be very surprised if they don’t get in this year.  If they don’t, next year but they shouldn’t have to wait.

Lou Reed - He’s already in the Hall of Fame as a member of The Velvet Underground but he should get in for his solo work as well and probably will this year.  Critics and journalists love Lou Reed, and though he’s been eligible since 1997 and this is only his third nomination, the fact that he passed away a year ago should be the push he needs to get inducted.  For some morbid reason death makes a much more convincing argument than actual contributions.  Reed was challenging to listen to and he was always willing to branch out and experiment.  I was never much of a Lou Reed fan but his Metal Machine Music is probably one of the biggest “fuck you” that any musician has ever made since its nothing but guitar feedback.  Yep, he recorded an album’s length of feedback as a way to tell his record label to fuck off while fulfilling his contractual obligations.  The attitude and unwillingness to conform is what made Lou Reed great and I think voters will put him in based on that.  Its hard to have a complaint against it since he embodied the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll even though it was through his actions more than his music.

The Smiths - Its hard for me to talk about The Smiths without feeling depressed.  I’m all for emotional songs, but man, The Smiths were the most depressing band ever!  (sorry Staind.  At least you tried)  However, its not to say that they weren’t influential.  Johnny Marr should be noted as a guitar genius, giving the band a very distinct sound and catchy rhythms.  You heard a Smiths’ song, you knew right away who it was.  Morrissey’s lyricism during his time with the band is unmatched, writing about a variety of things: deconstruction of love, politics and vegetarianism.  Its difficult to ignore their influence.  They set the table for the wave of British alternative music that blew up once grunge died with Kurt Cobain.  Bands like Oasis, The Stone Roses and Blur owe The Smiths a huge debt for their style and sound.  They’ve been eligible since 2008 but its their first time nominated.  I see them getting inducted in the future because for some reason people LOVE The Smiths.  Ever since the movie (500) Days of Summer where both characters connected over The Smiths and the soundtrack kicked ass, people have just attached themselves to this band.  Its unfortunate because I can only stand so much depressing music.  Also unfortunately, there are too many strong artists on this ballot that will eventually leave them waiting for induction, but they’ll eventually get in.  People fucking love The Smiths.

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