As you’d expect on a website written by a bunch of pop culture junkies, we have some fun email exchanges on a myriad of topics. Sometimes, we’ll go back and forth on a topic for days. Some of these conversations aren’t necessary to post about, but some of them are. Welcome to “Poptificating”. This column will be a collaborative effort where many of our writers just riff on a topic.
The topic for the first column is the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Big Money Mike posted about the 2012 class last week (The Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Guns ‘n Roses, Donovan, and Laura Nyro). Originally, I was ranting on the fact that Eric B. & Rakim and LL Cool J missed the cut and the discussion turned into something else.
GG: The fact that LL and specifically Rakim aren’t in the Rock & Roll Hall just shows that hip hop music is still not really respected. If Eminem makes it, and you know he will, both of these guys who paved the way for him better be in there. Without Rakim, there’s no Eminem. Rakim is a pioneer and when you ask today’s rappers who is the greatest of all time, more often than not, their answer is Rakim.
Jay: The Hall sucks. Similar exclusions exist for acts like Rush, Deep Purple, KISS, etc. How do the Chili Peppers get in before bands like that? And I like the Beasties, GNR (1987-1993), the Faces (who were AWESOME) and even the RHCP.
Big Money Mike: This is Rakim’s first year of eligibility, so I can see why he got skipped.
LL will get in for sure; I think the reason he’s not a first or second ballot guy is because of the last 10 or so years of his career. His recent success is almost detrimental. No one remembers the shitty albums Run-DMC made because enough time has passed. LL was putting out shitty albums as recently as two or three years ago. His crappiness is still fresh in peoples’ minds.
In the case of Rakim, I also think he might get held back by spotty albums and the albatross that is Eric (No One Knows What He Did Except Glare At People) B. P.E. and NWA will probably both get in before them. I think Public Enemy is eligible next year.
Yeah, let’s not get into Hall & Oates, Chicago, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Duran Duran…the list could go on. It’s an Old Boy’s Network. Which just about any similar organization is. Doesn’t make it right. Just makes it what it is.
Stephen: The fact that the man responsible for Chinese Democracy is getting in before a dozen other far more worthy bands (Hall & Oates, Rush, and The Cure to name a few) should be an automatic clue-in for how absurd these inductions have become. I love the Beasties and enjoy RHCP, but it’s like they’ve missed two entire decades of worthy music.
Nick: Being responsible for Appetite For Destruction far outweighs the sin of Chinese Democracy which was ultimately not horrible, just not nearly as good as one would have hoped after such a long wait.
Zack: I really don’t give a fuck about the Hall of Fame. It’s a pretty meaningless institution that simply reinforces the whims of the corporate music industry. It’s a joke. I don’t even know that there’s value in the concept of a hall of fame. Unlike sports where there’s at least some sense of data to drive inclusion, to have such an institution for the arts is incredibly subjective.
Drew: Whether or not we hate Chinese Democracy (I don’t HATE it), I’m not sure that an artist’s latter-day sins should cancel out their moments of excellence. I mean, the Stones have been phoning it in for years, but we’ll always have Let It Bleed.
The conversation immediately turned into a discussion on Guns ‘n Roses and whether or not one album late in their career should curtail their Hall Of Fame chances.
Here are some of the highlights:
Nick: The build-up (to Chinese Democracy) was so intense that people eventually wanted it to fail. People were basically expecting it to be the greatest hard rock album since Use Your Illusion II and when it wasn’t, everyone jumped on their high horses, put on their rock critic hats and said it was awful. If you actually spent any time listening to the record, it isn’t really bad at all. I’m not saying it is great, but it is far from bad or terrible and is still better then the majority of crap that got released that year.
Stephen: I actively hated the album, but then again I’ve never been a big GNR fan outside Use Your Illusion, so it may state more about my views on the band than its actual quality.
Drew: All this to say that I approve of GNR, of course. Hell, Appetite alone could absolve them for a thousand Spaghetti Incident(s).
Zack: Oh, I was certainly not suggesting that CD renders GnR’s history irrelevant. But I think it’s a horrible album. The production is compressed, the songs sound like songs from 1995, and Axl’s vocals are crap. People thought Use Your Illusion was bloated!
Were it released in the context of the time (mid 1990s) it probably would have been better, especially if it had been with the UYI lineup. I just felt that if you’re going to spend 12 years on a record, at least make it sound contemporary.
And don’t call it a Guns ‘n Roses record.
Stephen: And I’ll continue to piss and moan until Rush gets in. Though, so long as we pretend GNR split after Spaghetti, I don’t think there are any arguments about their induction. I just hate crazy current day Axl.
Zack: Seconded. Guns ‘n Roses was the first group that I really devoured. The first group that my parents didn’t listen to that really meant something to me. The way that Axl has treated the group since the breakup (i.e. as a “brand” rather than a “band”) irks me greatly, not to mention the album itself.
Drew: I don’t know how many people are gonna agree with this, but I didn’t actually hate The Spaghetti Incident. It’s not a great record, but without it I never would’ve investigated the New York Dolls.
Nick: Let’s put it this way, the fact that Chinese Democracy (not unlike St. Anger) caused such strong reactions and opinions and outrage because it wasn’t on par with Back In Black in terms of important rock albums speaks volumes to the band’s previous output.
If The Black Keys new album was just “OK”, then people wouldn’t be terribly fired up about it.
And then, we all took a breath, forgot about this and decided to discuss another topic. On to the next one …