Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2024 inductees make us ask (2024)

In a bustling ceremony of some kind, the esteemed-yet-maligned announced its latest inductees, marking a milestone in music history...for some. However, the question emerges: How many of the nominees/inductees actually belong under the banner of rock? How seriously should we take it? Should it just be something we shrug off, or does it matter at all?

Among the luminaries celebrated in 2024 are icons such as Mary J. Blige, Cher, and Ozzy Osbourne, alongside the likes of Foreigner, A Tribe Called Quest, Kool & The Gang, Dave Matthews Band, and Peter Frampton, each leaving an indelible mark on the sonic landscape.

John Sykes, chairman of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation, is quoted by NBC News as saying: "Rock ‘n’ roll is an ever-evolving amalgam of sounds that impacts culture and moves generations...This diverse group of inductees each broke down musical barriers and influenced countless artists that followed in their footsteps."

While no one disputes the artists listed above having influence, some people inevitably scratch their heads over the inclusion of some who are decidedly (or at least mostly) outside of the conventional genre characteristics of rock. To be fair, the debate is complicated by the existence of "soft rock" and all the artists who have shifted genres or made gentler ballads over the years. Then you have the fact that rock music sprang from musical forms like blues.

In fact, here is Muddy Waters addressing this topic in song form:

But what about rap music being in the Rock Hall? Well, rapper/actor Ice Cube, during N.W.A.'s 2016 Rock Hall induction acceptance speech, defended it like this: "Rock & roll is not an instrument; rock & roll is not even a style of music. Rock & roll is a spirit. … It's been going since the blues, jazz, bebop, soul, R&B, rock & roll, heavy metal, punk rock and, yes, hip-hop. And what connects us all is that spirit. …Rock & roll is not conforming to the people who came before you, but creating your own path in music and in life."

Not everyone buys that argument, but it's worth considering. To some degree, rock and roll indeed seems to be a spirit. In fact, none other than Mojo Nixon seemed to acknowledge that. Then again, Mojo also had critiques of the Hall of Fame that may be deemed offensive in some circles:

More on the 2024 Rock Hall and commercially viable rock and roll

Adding to the 2024 honors, the Musical Influence Award was bestowed upon Alexis Korner, John Mayall, and Big Mama Thornton, recognizing their profound impact on shaping musical genres. Meanwhile, the late Jimmy Buffett, MC5, Dionne Warwick, and Norman Whitfield were honored with the Musical Excellence Award, acknowledging their lasting contributions to the industry.
That award was initially created as a "Sidemen" award, to recognize seldom acknowledged people in the music industry who nevertheless made an impact.

Even non-musicians are getting in on the fun. Suzanne de Passe, a trailblazing music executive, was presented with the prestigious Ahmet Ertegun Award for her outstanding achievements.

On that note: Such inclusions might make someone wonder if the business side of things should be celebrated, and it's a little questionable that the inductees were announced on a special Rock Hall episode of "American Idol." To me, and I think anyone wwith awareness, sees that as literally symbolizing the "American Idol-ization of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

It will surely make the fallen Mojo Nixons of the world roll over in their graves, while some living rock fans cringe (and may increasingly see, in real time, that the genre's been whittled down and marketed away as a "dying genre," as any even vaguely commercial music is increasingly smooshed and hom*ogenized into an awkward, often-not-even-catchy ball of bubblegum pop).

Reflecting on that quote about the diverse array of inductees, courtesy of Rock Hall chairman John Sykes, it's hard to disagree that "Rock ‘n’ roll is an ever-evolving amalgam of sounds that impacts culture and moves generations." Still, it seems that including practically any style or form in the Hall is not much better than being ultra-exclusive.

Rock and roll for mighty, money-making mice

The ceremony is slated for October 19th at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio, with live streaming on Disney+ and subsequent broadcasts on ABC and Hulu. That's right, folks: Mickey Mouse will be in on the fun, and maybe he and his entourage will even show up to do a sick rap verse or two:

Notably absent from the inductee list are esteemed artists like Mariah Carey, Lenny Kravitz, and the late Sinéad O’Connor, underscoring the highly competitive nature of the selection process.
John Sykes said of the list of nominees: "Continuing in the true spirit of rock ’n’ roll, these artists have created their own sounds that have impacted generations and influenced countless others that have followed in their footsteps..."

So why didn't some make the cut? Could it be controversies in their careers? In one case, there may be a temptation to say so, though I am oddly skeptical. Though Sinéad O’Connor generated controversy back in the prime of her career, it's not likely that her critiques of the Catholic Church led to her being denied the induction. After all, Rage Against the Machine is in the Rock Hall, and they are one of the most openly political and outwardly leftist bands in rock history. Instead, Sinéad's omission is probably due to some quirk of their induction system, or maybe they just deemed her not having enough hits, or some such thing.

Though some may be skeptical, NBC News maintains the choices are made like this: "Nominees were voted on by more than 1,000 artists, historians and music industry professionals. Fans voted online or in person at the museum, with the top five artists picked by the public making up a 'fans’ ballot' that was tallied with the other professional ballots."

It's also apparent that, in some cases, you need people on your side to get inducted. For example, a notable push was made for the inclusion of Foreigner, supported by industry heavyweights such as Mark Ronson, Jack Black, Dave Grohl, and Slash, highlighting their influence. Ronson said: "Want to know what love is? Love is putting Foreigner in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."

Other reasons for being nominated

Whatever the method emplyed, there are some specialized reasons some artists win favor more than others. For example, Ozzy Osbourne, revered for his boundary-pushing solo career and earlier work with Black Sabbath, enters the Hall once again, solidifying his status as a rock icon. Plus, Sabbath actually sort of invented the genre of metal (or at least put a lot of its key elements together).

Cher, with a string of hits spanning six decades, and Mary J. Blige, who is typically not considered rock, nevertheless comes adorned with Grammy Awards and multi-platinum albums. They both stand as powerful symbols of female excellence in the industry. Also, Cher is at least nominally rock. Plus, hey, she did that reasonably funny duet with Beavis And Butt-Head, so I won't personally go after her too much with "She's not actually rock" critiques.

With four of the eight nominees making their debut on the ballot, including Cher, Foreigner, Frampton, and Kool & the Gang, this year's induction celebrates semi-diverse, seasoned veterans in the musical panorama, with a fresh coat of Disney+ paint to give them the appearance of vibrant and fresh, smiling faces. So maybe it should just be called "Rock Hall+" at this point, to more accurately reflect what's going on and reduce confusion. Just say it's rock, plus [insert commercially viable artist here].

As the industry evolves, Mickey Mouse does as well, getting bigger and stronger, and now he has officially added the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to his ever-expanding rat's nest. And you know what? I'm fine with it, at this point. I, for one, welcome our bloated, for-profit rodent overlord, and think he rocks, raps, and does everything else just fine.

In fact, let me be the first to sing: "Oh Mickey, you're so fine
You're so fine, you blow my mind, hey Mickey, hey Mickey!"


Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 2024 inductees make us ask (2024)
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