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Friday, 16 January 2009

Rock n Roll Hall of Fame

This year's inductees have just been announced for the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, and they are Metallica, Run DMC and Jeff Beck.

The whole idea of the Hall of Fame is an interesting concept, arguably as frivolous as every magazine poll there's ever been, but like those polls it has a certain amount of fun about it, and it certainly interesting for most music fans even if you don't agree with the choices.

Metallica are probably the heaviest band to get in so far, with only some of the proto-Metal bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin so far representing for the heavy side of music. Title of heaviest band in the Hall of Fame may have gone to The Stooges had they been inducted, but they still remain absent (despite Madonna's protest at her own induction last year, where to make a point about The Stooges absence she asked them to perform Ray Of Light instead of her doing it - you can watch it here).

Great to see Run DMC getting in, as the list of existing inductees is very light on the hip hop side with only Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five present so far. Hopefully it won't be long until Public Enemy and the Beastie Boys get their invitation, to name a couple.

The whole hip hop debate raises a question as to what genres exactly are, or should be, eligible. "Rock n roll" as a phrase is completely out of date on the one hand (tending now to just be shortened to 'rock' for most people), but it's still hugely evocative, especially across the Atlantic. A list of inductees during the first few years of the Hall of Fame (it started in 1986) is populated almost exclusively with 'legends' of the rock n roll scene - Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Elvis, Little Richard, The Beach Boys etc etc. Hard to argue that they don't fall into the rock n roll bracket, but then what of some of the later inductees such as Miles Davis (about as jazz as you can get), Bob Marley (reggae of course) and the aforementioned Grandmaster Flash? It's all semantics, but if you let only the biggest acts from a musical genre in (such as Marley), it's in danger of looking like it's determined just by sales alone.

My guess will be that as the years go by and all the 'classic' acts of the 50s, 60s and 70s are safely inducted into the Hall, the remit will have to grow wider, which is only right. In a few years time, it will be ridiculous to not have approached Nirvana (Dave Grohl on his own as well?), Guns N' Roses, Beck, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Jay-Z. Come to think of it, I can suggest some other less-recent acts that haven't yet made it like Jimmy Cliff, Randy Newman and The Velvet Underground.

There you go - I told you it was interesting. And if you fancy testing your knowledge of who's already in the Hall of Fame, my trusty old friend Sporcle can provide you with some good Friday distraction here.

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