Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Perpetuation of Rock and Roll

This is old news, and it doesn't really matter, but last year Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Strange and stranger still is the list of groups that are "eligible" for inclusion this year:

Afrika Bambaataa
Beastie Boys
Dave Clark Five
Donna Summer
John Mellencamp
Leonard Cohen
The Ventures

Read it again. And again. I will now list the nominees respective genres.

Hip hop/Rap
Hip hop/Rap
Folk Rock
American Rock
Rock and Roll

Notice anything? Yeah, so did I. Two straight up Rock acts. Two.

What the fuck is going on here? It pissed me off when they opened this supposed "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame", honoring a completely ridiculous and seemingly random number of artists. Also, could the idea of a Hall of Fame be any more embarrassingly American? In driving to my new home town of Outside of Chicago, myself and the Cleverest One passed the "RV Hall of Fame" in Indiana. They have Halls for everything. It is not a grandiose place of legends, it's a capital-driven tourist attraction, located in Cleveland, the Fertile Crescent of Rock and Roll that spawned such great groups as...well, not many great groups, I don't have time to cherry pick here.

This is besides the point. Has Rock and Roll really run out of useful candidates to induct? Or is Rock really trying to stake a claim for all other genres? Again:

Africa Bambaataa-in the mid to late 70's, he spurred a cultural movement in the Boogie Down Bronx, DJing block parties to give the youth something to do. He later teamed up with Renaissance man Arthur Baker and Funk and Soul pioneer James Brown to name a few collaborators. He and the Zulu Nation helped shape the early age of Hip Hop as we know it.

Nothing to do with Rock and Roll. Nothing.

Beastie Boys- one could make a claim that their marraige of hardcore rock ideals and aesthetic with the booming bap of Rick Rubin's 808 drum machine could make them semi-suitable candidates. I semi-agree. Only semi-wise, though.

Chic- The music was funky and made you dance like nothing else. Unless you were white, because white people dance like uncomfortable robots with self esteem issues. But that's the core of the issue. This music is not rock and roll. It spans several genres, but last time I checked Rock and Roll wasn't defined as any music played with a guitar, bass, drum and singing.

Dave Clark Five - Sure, why not. It would get the naysayers like this guy off of your collective back, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

"They were a hard driving group who played with all their heart and soul. Their music is still played today by a lot of people. Mike Smith had one of the best voices of the time and maybe in all of rock and roll. They sold over 50 million records as a group and they should be in the Hall of Fame."

Playing with their heart and soul? I'm sure that's easy criteria to assess. There has to be some universal gauge for heart and soul lying around. And no, their music is not played by a lot of people. Only old codgers and indie bands doing Garageband remixes. Also, when was the last time you read or heard anything about Mike Smith being a great vocalist? Never. That's right, never. Howling Wolf, Chuck Berry, John Lennon, Robert Plant, Harry Nilsson, the list goes on. And it usually does so without Mike Smith. Fuck you.

Donna Summer - What the fuck? What the fuck is going on here? Seriously, like, what the fuck? She did a disco cover of "The Wanderer?" I just...fuck. Is this...where am I? I'm blinded by this...Wait, seriously, I'm writing about Donna Summer and Rock. No. Disco. She did disco. Instrumentally, there were some...nevermind, it's fruitless.

This hurts too much to even finish the list. The real kicker is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's criteria for a candidate:

"Criteria include the influence and significance of the artist's contributions to the development and perpetuation of rock and roll."

Awful. Rock has been teetering on the brink of extinction for a while now, but that perpetuation line is a kick in the crotch of the movement itself.

The idea that a form of music that was so alive is now dead is sad enough. To state that other genres are mere perpetuations of Rock is just wrong. If it was true, and we're basing this on honest to god chains of influence, rock came out of the Chicago and New Orleans Jazz scenes, which were in turn birthed from the New Orleans brothel house music. So really this should be the New Orleans Brothel House Music Hall of Fame, and it should encompass all music everywhere.

A message to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: No need to be pathetic. Why not choose from any number of great bands out there who deserve a ridiculous and arbitrary award? Husker Du, Minor Threat, Black Flag, Television, New York Dolls, etc. Rock and Roll is great, and you don't need to grab other genres to make yourself feel good.

Unless you're Madonna. There was supposed to be a humorous drum shot there. Nevermind.

No comments: