With any hall of fame, there are always going to be arguments about who belongs in and who doesn’t, and there will typically be outrage about people who have been overlooked. Every hall of fame has its mysterious choices (baseball has Phil Rizzuto and Jim Rice, basketball has Adrian Dantley, football has Rickey Jackson), but this year’s batch of inductees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is pretty confusing. The new class includes Alice Cooper, Tom Waits, Neil Diamond, Dr. John and Darlene Love.
Taken in a vacuum, that’s not a horrible group of musicians (Waits’ inclusion is especially inspiring, considering he has been consistently turning out great work for decades without a lot of mainstream recognition). But when you look at the nominees that got denied (especially LL Cool J, Beastie Boys and Bon Jovi) and the groups who continue to get overlooked (Kiss, Rush), it seems especially insane that this is the group. By rule, the Hall of Fame can only really induct old guys (you’re only eligible 25 years after the release of your first album), but these picks seem especially tired and distant. Neil Diamond is a particularly ridiculous inclusion. Sure, the guy has had some hits and is a “legend,” but was there ever a time when he was considered a vital, cutting-edge artist?
Meanwhile, people like LL Cool J got left out in the cold. It’s impossible to underestimate the man born James Todd Smith and his influence on popular music. Unlike a lot of early hip-hop crossovers, LL came from a background that was heavily focused on lyricism (rather than samples or one-off novelties). He showed the world just how well hip-hop can work in a live setting (Beastie Boys also made waves doing this, but they always had arena-rock moves to fall back on), and he was at the forefront of the integration of rap and R&B. His latter-day work has been less planet-moving (he has focused more on acting in the past few years), but there are still gems buried in albums like G.O.A.T., The DEFinition and Exit 13. Plus, the dude wrote that amazing song for the “Deep Blue Sea” soundtrack and Diamond didn’t.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame generally lack integrity, but a guy like LL should have been automatic and not left on the outside looking in.
Who do you think should have gotten into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Let us know in the comments!