You can rip the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for a lot of things: thin archives, a staid treatment of a wild art form, the fact that it’s in Cleveland. But you can’t trash the foundation’s taste in popular music: Peruse its honour roll, and while you might find a few omissions, you won’t find any folks who don’t belong.
Early next year, however, that might change.
Twelve nominees for 2010 induction were announced Wednesday.
There are six first-timers: KISS, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Genesis, the Hollies, LL Cool J and Jimmy Cliff. There are six returning candidates: ABBA, the Chantels, Darlene Love, Laura Nyro, the Stooges and Donna Summer.
Five of those 12 will be tapped for induction.
The announcement will be made in January, and the ceremony will go down March 15 at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. As far as I’m concerned, KISS is the only obvious choice here. Its contributions to rock, showmanship and totally awesome Halloween masks are considerable.
Gene Simmons & Co. also have a ton of great songs. KISS advanced the art form of rock ’n’ roll, and that should be the main criteria for inclusion.
If I had to pick four more, I’d go with Jimmy Cliff, the award-winning Jamaican who took Bob Marley’s reggae and gave it bladed edge; ABBA, the Swedish pop icons with a talent for dancey hooks; Darlene Love, the soulful mouthpiece for Phil Spector ; and the Stooges — led by the shirt-averse Iggy Pop — who were instrumental (and nuts) in the rise of punk.
No offense to LL Cool J or the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but the crotchety old critic in me sees their names and thinks of the steroid era in baseball.
I love Genesis, but I just don’t know if Phil Collins’ crew qualifies as royalty. I’d rather see such famously ignored bands as Journey and Rush finally get into the hall than the rest of the noms.
The Rock Hall celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. There’s a big two-day party at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 29 and 30, where the alums will be playing one another’s songs.
Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin, Metallica and Simon & Garfunkel will all be there. Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder, too.
Now I ask you: Do Donna Summer and Genesis belong in that company?
Sean Daly is a writer for the St. Petersburg Times. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.)