Rock Hall’s Class of 2018 and the never-ending pop dispute

CLEVELAND, Ohio – It may take the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame years to go full 1990s. But our “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Remixed” series is already there. The series looks back on every year of Inductions, correcting mistakes and re-evaluating resumes.

[See previous remixed classes: 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017]

We instituted a Legends Committee in 1996, allowing us to honor acts past our self-imposed, 10-year eligibility cap. That leaves us room in our Remixed Class of 2018 to move on to acts from the past 20 years or that made a massive impact on pop culture:

  • Mariah Carey
  • Radiohead
  • Rage Against the Machine
  • Soundgarden
  • Nick Drake*

Fiction vs. Reality: Rock Hall voters passed on inducting both Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine as first-ballot Hall of Famers in 2018. We didn’t. To us they’re two of the best and most influential acts of the last 25 years.

The Rock Hall’s actual Class of 2018 was heavy on classic rock with The Cars, Bon Jovi, Dire Straits and The Moody Blues all getting in, along with Nina Simone. We’ve already inducted The Cars and Nina Simone. Bon Jovi and Dire Straits are a different story.

We’ll start with Dire Straits and The Moody Blues, two bands that actually had a pretty decent case for the Rock Hall. Dire Straits has the album sales, especially with 1985’s “Brother In Arms,” are there, along with an influence on no-so-terrible artists like Dave Matthews, The War on Drugs and Niall Horan. The Moody Blues turned pop and rock music into art and dove into more advanced recording techniques before the Beatles.

Yet, none of that really excites you about either act. Dire Straits wasn’t all that inventive and The Moody Blues are just kind of unexceptional in some ways. Of course, just because a band is boring, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be in. But it does push Dire Straits and The Moodies to the back of a line of inductees we have yet to put in.

Then there’s Bon Jovi, a band that has hits and a massive following but did nothing to change the course of Rock and Roll. Which is why we’d much rather induct Soundgarden, a pioneer of grunge, influencer of hard rock and a band fronted by one of the greatest rock voices (Yes, better than Jon Bon Jovi) in history.

Biggest debate: As you’ve seen with this series, we’re firmly on board with the Rock Hall’s own parameters when it comes to eligibility, which has included pop artists.

So here’s Mariah Carey’s credentials. She has one of the greatest voices in the history of contemporary music. She’s sold more records than The Rolling Stones, AC/DC, The Eagles, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen and Metallica. She fused pop and R&B for the modern mainstream era and influenced just about every pop singer you hear on the radio.

*Legends Committee: It may seem odd to choose Nick Drake over singer-songwriters who came before him and, ultimately, influenced him.

He was by no means a commercial success during his time. But his catalog (three very impressive for someone who died at age 26) becomes more revered every year.

Not only did Drake influence artists like R.E.M. and The Cure, but to look at current folk musicians influenced by Drake is to examine the entire indie-folk landscape of the past 20 years, from Jeff Buckley and Elliott Smith to Bon Iver and Iron & Wine.

What’s next: Who will make the real life (and our) Class of 2019.

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