The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. To quote Neil Gaiman, “ah, there’s a conundrum.” Partially that’s because of its of paradoxical existence as a hallowed institution for an unruly artform that doesn’t do hallowed very well. The Hall’s annual induction ceremony will be on Thursday night, April 18. I know, don’t all of you get excited all at once out there.
At least the good news this year that this year has a couple of artists that we can all agree qualify as rock in Rush and Heart, the long overdue induction of musical genius Randy Newman (whom, along with his classic albums 12 Songs and Sail Away, went on to score The Natural and all three Toy Story films), the very necessary recognition of Public Enemy, and posthumous induction for disco diva Donna Summer, and blues legend Albert King.
Of course with those honorees comes all those bands the Hall has still not gotten around to inducting yet. Sadly, KISS is still getting the raspberry treatment from the Hall, and The Raspberries aren’t doing any better themselves. The nominees who missed making the cut this year included N.W.A., Chic, Procul Harum, and Deep Purple. Even worse, the Hall still hasn’t gotten around to honoring many of the artists that truly need to be honored.
Possibly the most glaring snub of the HOF are The Cars. This is odd considering they were one of the biggest bands in the late-70’s and 80’s. The best band to come out of Boston (take that, Aerosmith!), The Cars powered the Top 40 charts with hits such as “Just What I Needed,” “Shake It Up,” and “Drive.”
A quartet consisting of two pairs of sisters (one of them a set of twins), The Shangri-Las had a gritty, streetwise sound and style that contrasted sharply with the other girl groups of the early-to-mid Sixties (such as HOFers The Shirelles and The Ronettes). They are best known for the teenage tragedy kitsch-classic “The Leader of the Pack,” a song that’s darker than it’s status as a novelty hit paints it out to be. Their other hits included “Walking in the Sand” (later covered by Aerosmith), “I Can Never Go Home Anymore,” and the non-Top 40 cult classic “Out in the Streets” (which was covered by Blondie).
Seriously, Jimmy Bufffett isn’t in the HOF? The man took “Margaritaville” and turned a song into a lifestyle. Not to mention one of the most successful efforts at branding in rock history.
Salt-N-Pepa paved the way for women to be taken serious in rap music. Tragically, Nicky Minaj has done everything to undermine this, but that’s never here nor there. Classics such as “Push It” and “Let’s Talk About Sex” proved the trio could hold their own against their male counterparts, and expressed sexual liberation where other female rappers just rapped about sex.
The Replacements were always the enfants terrible of the eighties college rock scene, a band that swung from absolute punk grossness to absolute heartfelt lyrics that nailed where you were in life at the time. Most of the credit of course goes to lead singer and lyricist Paul Westerberg, who mixed both to create something more closer to the truth of young adult life than the John Hughes movies of the time.
Do I really need to explain why Cheap Trick need for be in the HOF? “Surrender” Live at Budokan, and the theme song to That 70’s Show? Cheap Trick managed to create rock that busted through the barriers that divided punk, hard rock, pop rock, and whatever dribble was on the AM radio at the time. Their only negative, the over-sappy power ballad “The Flame,” which wimped its way to number one in 1988.
The ultimate goth band? Say The Cure and I’ll throw the bright and sappy “Lovecats” in you face. Bauhaus managed to stay dark and edgy throughout its existence, presenting the world with such dark classics as “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” and “She’s in Parties.” Bauhaus spawned the solo career of Peter Murphy, as well as both Love and Rockets and Tones on Tail. Bassist David J also co-wrote “This Vicious Cabaret” with Alan Moore for an EP inspired by V for Vendetta.
The late Warren Zevon has been grossly been ignored by the Hall of Fame. He’s best known for “Werewolves of London,” but his catalog includes much more twisted mind blowing music such as “Lawyers, Guns, and Money,” and “Detox Mansion.” The later of which he recorded with the members of R.E.M. not named Michael Stipe.
Where would the eighties be without hair metal? I mean besides a more better place. Well, okay, Def Leppard didn’t quite count as a hair band, as it generally avoided the over the top fashion and ozone-depleting hairspray more than hair bands like Motley Crue and Poison. What Def Leppard did so was raise the stakes in hard rock by producing classic albums like Pyromania and Hysteria. Maybe they got a little more help than necessary from producer Robert “Mutt” Lange, but don’t hold that against them.
The synth-duo of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart broke out with the classic “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and launched into a series of singles that defined New Wave music. Then they ditched the synthesizers for all out rock songs like “Would I Lie To You?” and “Missionary Man.” Lennox went on to a solo career and a Best Song Academy Award for “Into the West” from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
(Note: If you didn't see you're favorite snubbed rock act on the list, check this list from 2011 here.)