If you didn’t notice, it’s time to get hysterical again over Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selections. I don’t get a say in the critic’s vote, which I accepted a long time ago. One doesn’t give Metallica’s St. Anger a positive review for a relatively large newspaper and live to vote about it, even 18 years later.
Since we’re here, this year’s list of nominees are: Mary J. Blige, Kate Bush, Devo, Foo Fighters, The Go-Go’s, Iron Maiden. Jay-Z, Chaka Khan, Carole King, Fela Kuti, LL Cool J, New York Dolls, Rage Against the Machine, Todd Rundgren, Tina Turner and Dionne Warwick.
Let’s stomp around some and work up some mock outrage about some trivial stuff during a pandemic while the insurrection dust settles. Because if someone doesn’t finally give a band willing to make a walking corpse its mascot its due after 40 years, I may try to overthrow Cleveland.
Let’s get a few rules out of the way: No more arguing something isn’t rock and roll because its performers were Black, didn’t feature electric guitars, or didn’t play in the background of a “Happy Days” episode. If that’s your definition of rock and roll, we’re done here. You’re still stewing about the election and I’m too busy feeling fuzzy watching videos of Joe Biden walking the dog.
And no more arguing about the legitimacy of the RRHOF. Despite what the U.S. Senate says, words do matter. Instead of showing up for their induction, the Sex Pistols sent a hilariously nasty letter saying it was all bloody rubbish and other things old British people say. Acknowledging something’s existence is legitimizing it.
Back to my point about rotting corpses. The RRHOF was founded by very old people at Rolling Stone and record labels believing they should have final say on rock and roll greatness. That’s fine. They’ve done more for rock and roll than I ever did, though Keith Richards once spilled paint all over my copy of Exile on Main Street and apologized, saying “Eh … it’s artistic” (which, you have to admit, is pretty rock and roll).
Against my better judgement (like every year) I waded into the silliness last week when a better known music critic said something ridiculous on social media (I know that sounds impossible, but…). He basically said Motörhead deserves being in over Iron Maiden and something about The New York Dolls being better than the Rolling Stones.
Uh … what?
That last part isn’t worth the space, even for a guy who sometimes wore eyeliner in the ’80s. Before I could stop, I was yapping about Iron Maiden being more influential than Motörhead. I think I also said something about Lemmy and Dave Grohl (who wasn’t in Motorhead, but I was on a roll) being lying monsters dressed up as everyone’s favorite crazy drunk uncles to con us all into believing they were better than they were. Or something like that.
It’s kind of true.
I like Motörhead. Everyone likes Motörhead. They should be in (they are in). But name me your favorite Motörhead song besides “Ace of Spades,” Iron Fist” and “Overkill.” Right. You didn’t even know they weren’t the same song! You thought it was called “Ace of Space” and might be KISS. That’s OK. I love someone who voted Trump in 2016. Sometimes life makes no sense.
Iron Maiden could easily be called the greatest metal band not named Black Sabbath. That encompasses its superb playing as a group, powerful songwriting, and longevity. For decades, entire South American countries shut down every time they showed up and plugged in. They perfected the oft-overlooked rock and roll quality of expertly replicating thunderous horse hooves charging into battle. They became worthy the day the Killers sleeve rolled out (you know you remember where you were when you saw it). Do I really have to explain this?
It’s OK to believe some acts (Joan Jett) deserve to be in the RRHOF based on spirit alone, which is why I’d vote for the New York Dolls. Not voting for Iron Maiden is delegitimizing some of the most legitimate music in rock history. I don’t particularly care for Jay-Z’s music, but his impact also makes him a no-brainer. Almost everyone on this year’s impressive list had an argument (I admit I’m still not getting the Dionne Warwick thing).
Inductees will be announced in May and fans get a vote. Vote early and vote often (I fan-voted for the Foo Fighters, so get off my back). Up the irons!
Follow music critic Tony Hicks at Twitter.com/TonyBaloney1967.