2018 RNRHOF Nominees: Nice Choices, But You're Still A Sham(e)

Dear Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

How can I put this? In the lexicon of artistic redemption, you remain forever tainted. And not just because of your bullshit concerning why The Monkees aren't worthy of induction, but Madonna and Run DMC are - although that's as good an example as any. I notice your 2018 nominees list includes some aesthetically worthy names, but your modus operandi remains unchanged, and until the voting body of your nebulous 'foundation' actually rights past wrongs, no amount of lofty acknowledgment and praise will tame the stench of your politically-motivated, inconsistent, and thinly-veiled biases.

This announcement (serving as a precursor to who will actually be deemed worthy to enter your (s)hallowed halls) is little more than a teaser, for just because an artist is nominated, it doesn't insure the majority of music industry illuminati will agree upon giving such recognition - after all, repeat nominees appear on this year's roster, as has been the case in years past. Some of those 'always the bridesmaid' nominees include Bon Jovi, MC5 (who are to garage bands what Nirvana is to '90's alt-rock), J Geils Band, The Cars, The Zombies, and LL Cool J - because apparently, the lines between rock and rap are so intrinsically fused, any quantifiable differences in genre are immaterial.

In an effort to perhaps eclipse the utter inscrutability of past inductees, we find this year's nominees include four powerhouse names: blues mama Sister Rosetta Thorpe (an influence on everyone from Elvis to the Rolling Stones to Led Zeppelin), R'n'B/jazz songstress and pianist Nina Simone, art-rock auteur Kate Bush, and alt-rock-turned-art rock chameleons Radiohead. Granted, there was never any doubt that Radiohead or Rage Against The Machine (also on the list) would not get their props, for the very reason Nirvana wound up being inducted the same year they were nominated - they met the criteria of having their first recording dropped 25 years prior to being considered for induction. So what if The Monkees dropped not one, but two Number One, multi-million dollar releases in the same year (1966), or that they revolutionized "music television" almost two decades before MTV, or that their tv show was an Emmy-award winning success? The 'scandal' of not being allowed to play their own instruments on those albums makes them a fraud - on the same level of subterfuge as Milli "Girl You Know It's True" Vanilli. But rappers Run DMC can sample The Monkees' "Mary Mary" (written by Mike Nesmith), and turn it into a bonafide chart hit, as noted on their rock'n'roll resumé.

Kate Bush, we love you

I think we can safely assume Bush, Radiohead, RATM, Sister Thorpe and Simone will make the cut, and it will be interesting to see who (if any) of the repeat nominees will finally get their moment in the sun. But the shade's already been thrown, rather unfairly and egregiously, toward those artists who, by the RNRHOF's own criteria, deserve to be there. And while the list of musicians who endorse The Monkees' induction continues to grow (which includes members of Buffalo Springfield, Guns N' Roses, The Sex Pistols,  Oasis, Pearl Jam, XTC, Run DMC, The Replacements, Death Cab For Cutie, Fountains of Wayne and countless others), this year's omission on the nominees list seems particularly deliberate and downright juvenile. Even former Rolling Stone contributing writers David Wild and Kurt Loder (Loder was also a music news correspondent for MTV in the early years) have gone public with their assertion that the time is long past due for The Monkees to be inducted.

I don't mean this commentary to be all about The Monkees' exclusion, and yes, there are many other groups I'd like to see inducted as well, as much as I question the dubious non-rock inductees who also grace their 'museum' of arcana, but the point I want to make clear is that the RNRHOF ruined their own reputations from the outset, through prejudice, ulterior agendas and just plain snobbery. Just because they now see fit to present a more inclusive, eclectic musical scholarship, doesn't detract from nor even excuse the highly questionable selection process. No matter who gets in or doesn't get in, it is the institution itself that's in need of dismantling, with the emergence of a more legitimate entity taking its place. Because when it comes to so-called 'integrity', rock'n'roll has much to answer for.

Next installment: From "Pet Sounds" to "The White Album": Exposing Rock'n'Roll Frauds Everyone Ignores


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