Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for iHeartMedia
The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its nominations for 2019 on Tuesday, and in what has become an annual tradition, the list came with the usual pile of opacity in the Hall and a bit of acrimony.
One candidate has already been admitted, two are receiving their fifth nominations and one said earlier that he would reject the honor before changing his tone on Tuesday morning.
In alphabetical order, this year's nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame are:
To be nominated, groups or artists must have released their first commercial recording of 25 years or more before. Each year they decide on "more than 1,000 [previous] inductees, historians and members of the music industry, as well as the aggregate results of online voting by Rock Hall fans, "Rock Hall explains on its website.
This year's list includes just three women, one of which, Stevie Nicks, has already been incorporated as part of Fleetwood Mac. Three notable top-notch nominations are Roxy Music, Def Leppard and John Prine, the last of which could be considered a shoo-in, given his advanced age, prolific production and high esteem in which many of his peers have.
The nomination strategy of the first, induced and second Hall is, of course, intentional, for at least two reasons. It generates a lot of publicity (for example, the piece you are reading at the moment) and allows its voting members to take the temperature of the audience into their possible inductions before issuing their decisive votes, which gives a measure of control over their public reputation . It is a win-win, without "real" losers.
Except, that is, for those who place little value on the whole shebang, they are even nominated, as Def Leppard became today. Speaking to the Huffington Post in 2015, singer Joe Elliot said his band would reject the induction if it ever came to that and that the recognition of a platinum record is much more meaningful to him, "because it's a representation of a million people. that "I bought your album, and those millions mean a lot more to me than some people who decide if you fit into the Hall of Fame." Billboard However, on Tuesday after the Hall announcement, Elliot turned a little, and told the trade publication that "it's definitely not Groucho Marx, & # 39; Any club that has me as a member that I do not want to join." When you think that all the bands that mean something in the world, from the Beatles and the Stones and any artist that has influenced them (your Chuck Berrys, your Little Richards, etc., etc.), of course, you want to participate. you would not do that? "
When considering the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, its nominees and the broader importance of both, it might be useful to look at its roots. The history of the music industry is, in large part, a backroom operation, and the Hall is no exception.
It is a story of classic duplicity. In Sticky fingers, the biography of Rolling Stone Founder Jann Wenner, Joe Hagan, writes about the conception of the Salon by Bruce Brandwen, who first imagined it as a pay-per-view television event. Brandwen and his lawyer approached Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic Records and many executives of totemic records of the twentieth century, to direct the operation, which then signed a five-year contract with Brandwen's television production company, Black Tie Network. Hagan describes how the magnates of the record industry that Ertegun recruited to direct the fledgling operation saw greater potential for the Hall after the city of Cleveland, where the Salon is now, launched them on funding and the start of a museum . He advanced a few years, and Brandwen had sued Hall for breach of contract after having stalled at the transmission of the induction ceremony, eventually settling outside the court and breaking the ties he and his company had. "The elimination of the Black Tie Network did what the men on the album intended: it gave the non-profit institution the leaf of grapevine it needed to protect itself against the reputation of the music industry itself," Hagan wrote. It was a "beautifully designed stall," Brandwen told Hagan.
But the dark side is never the only one, and Hall is not defined by its history of origin, since it is linked to a mostly white and masculine circle of agents of power. The process of nominating and inducing artists to the Salon may be sadly opaque, but it is not. wrong, either. "Even though I was only 43, I always considered the launch of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a rite of passage," writes another legendary recording man, Seymour Stein, in his memory, Siren song. "We all had to do our own private research, prepare notes, make debates and, basically, trace the history of popular music, both behind the scenes and musically."
So in December, when the show returns to pick up headlines to announce who of the 15 nominees this year will be invited to their ceremony in Brooklyn and will be broadcast on HBO next spring, it may be worth trying those ads with the same duality which is in the center of the institution itself.