Last week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced their list of inductees for 2015.
After two months of voting by an international body of more than 600 artists and music industry insiders, the votes were tallied and the resulting winners will be celebrated at the official ceremony on April 18th, 2015.
And while some of the inductees feel nearly inevitable (Ringo Starr), or even sentimental (three posthumous inductees: Lou Reed and the leads of both the Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble), some of the people left out feel like a statement of purpose.
Of the nominees — a list that is comprised of people who, amongst other things, must have released their first record at least 25 years ago — the most notable snubs were to iconic Compton rappers, N.W.A., and seminal British lads, The Smiths. Both of these acts defined an entire generation of disgruntled and alienated youth and changed popular music in the process.
Without the pioneering work of N.W.A. there is no West Coast Hip Hop sound to follow: no Snoop Dogg, no East vs. West rivalry (though arguably you still get Tupac who came out of California Bay Area group Digital Underground, the rift and talent pool would certainly be more one-sided, tilting Eastward). Similarly, without the legendary influence of The Smiths, there is no Oasis: no Gallagher brothers rivalry, potentially no Blur or likely Travis, either.
For Green Day, a band that through numbers of hits alone certainly deserve to be there, some think they may be cutting in line a bit. A recent article at Spin.com suggests that Billie Joe Armstrong would likely himself “find it quizzical” that they made it in before The Smiths or Nine Inch Nails.
For his part, Ian Scott of Anthrax thinks that it’s currently a popularity contest when it doesn’t need to be. In a recent NY Daily News article, Scott says, “When you talk about sports, you look at the stats, it’s all maths…Babe Ruth hit x average and x home runs and so he gets in. Numbers don’t lie. When it comes to music it comes strictly down to taste.”
There does seem to be some large bias against Heavy Metal, Dance Music, and Hip Hop too, perhaps based on the feelings of some who believe that only “Rock” with a capital R acts should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. By such narrow definitions, bands should literally be forced to roll as well.
Until that happens, we can probably assume that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is working to be inclusionary of major movements in modern music and respect that. Still, if that is the case, it takes more than the occasional genre act as lip-service to prove it.
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