Earlier this week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its nominees for 2010, with the stipulation that only five out of the twelve are going to actually make the final list and get invited to Cinderella’s Ball at the Waldorf Astoria – another antiquated institution which actually makes it the perfect venue for a Rock and Rock Hall of Fame event.
Don’t get me wrong…wanting to honor the Great Ones of Rock is a fine idea. Other music critics deem the whole idea of a music Hall of Fame as antithetical to the spirit in which rock music was created in the first place. Maybe so. Of course, if there was a category in the Hall of Fame for Most Influential Music Critic Demi-God, I have a feeling that criticism would wane as fast as the special effects smoke at a Motley Crüe concert.
Alright, so here’s the list of nominees and why these artists should – or shouldn’t – be graced with the golden ticket to New York for the awards:
I know it’s hard to believe, but ABBA are one of the biggest-selling acts in pop-history. This late-1960s Euro-hippie trash became an outed guilty pleasure when dinner theaters all over the country staged versions of ‘Mamma Mia’ and Meryl Streep decided to go commercial with the film version. I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive her for that, but whatever. Anyway, it’s only because of Mamma Mia that this kitschy act is even on the list.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: Not a Fucking Chance in Hell.
Ok, I didn’t know who she was either. So, I did a little research for y’all. Turns out her father’s church in East L.A was where she got her start. At 16, Darlene sang at a wedding where two of the bridesmaids asked her to join their vocal group, The Blossoms. They quickly established a major presence in the L.A. session scene doing backgrounds for artists such as Sam Cooke. Darlene caught the attention of pre-felony days record producer Phil Spector and he made her one of the cornerstones of his “Wall of Sound” under various names (The Crystals, Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, and of course, Darlene Love). She sang lead on a string of hits, earning an important place on the landscape of 60’s rock & roll. She continues to have a prolific singing career, having starred on Broadway, and in recent years has returned to her gospel roots.
But what this Generation Xer thinks really rocks is that she starred as Danny Glover’s wife in the Lethal Weapon movie series ;-)
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: I love her, but the competition’s just too great this year. A reluctant, no.
She’s the QUEEN of friggin’ DISCO. How can you not let her in? Say what you want about the era, its fashion, and the vacuous nature of the movement, but Donna and her disco ducks lay the foundation for the whole dance/electronica genre and embraced multiculturalism (albeit under the umbrella of what Studio 54 deemed as mixed race ‘cool’) years before a nation would be ready for it – and helped legitimize gay culture on par with the Stonewall revolt. And front and center was this liquid-voiced lady of the night…singing about last chance hook-ups, working-class heros, and even about cakes left out in the rain (yeah, no one understands what the fuck that song was about). She’s a pioneer and I love her.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: Let her in or I’ll cut you, bitch.
Believe it or not, Genesis began as a cult art-rock band in England in the late 1960’s with Peter Gabriel before he left (he’s in the freaky-freak picture above). Then, Phil Collins came front-and-center, and went on to pack stadiums across the globe in the 1980’s, 1990’s and on their 2007 reunion tour. I had the misfortune of growing up during the 1980s and knew even then that most of their stuff was pop schlock squill. Just because these guys used to sell a lot of records doesn’t mean they were any good.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: I May Have Been High, But You Still Sucked.
For once, the R&R Hof Fame got it right, and wrote, “Very few single albums can be said to have changed music forever. Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come is one. The album – and the movie that spawned it – introduced reggae to a worldwide audience and changed the image of the genre from cruise ship soundtrack to music of rebellion and inspiration. “Sitting in Limbo,” “The Harder They Come,” “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” and “Many Rivers to Cross” made Jimmy Cliff the first international reggae superstar and created the model that Bob Marley would soon follow. A beautifully gifted singer and a uniquely influential songwriter, Jimmy Cliff has made a profound impact on rock and pop music all over the world for 40 years.”
I couldn’t have said it better.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: Absolutely yes.
Yes, they were one of the most popular bands of the 1970’s – scoring countless hit singles, sold-out tours and appearing everywhere from comic books to lunch boxes to their very own TV movie. They continue to perform sold out concerts around the world. But they’re a Vegas act, nothing more and a hell-of-a-lot less. This band owes its legacy to Maybelline, not to Metal.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: Not a chance in hell.
Most of you reading this won’t know who she is, but singer, songwriter and pianist Laura Nyro (1947-1997) was a true original – composing intricate, haunting songs which found a vast audience when recorded by other artists. Elton John acclaimed her influence to Elvis Costello: “The soul, the passion, the out-and-out audacity of her rhythmic and melody changes was like nothing I’d ever heard before.” She’s at the silent heart of the singer/songwriter movement and the lo-fi groove of the 21st century, and I always love bringing the behind-the-scenes stars to the spotlight.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: Yes, yes…a thousand times, YES.
LL COOL J
I fell in love with LL Cool J when I heard him sing “…cause it ain’t the glory days with Bruce Springsteen/I’m not a virgin so I know I’ll make Madonna scream.” A year earlier LL had made his debut on Def Jam, which was also the debut of the label itself. He’s part of my 80s soundtrack loop, and continued his presence in all of our lives with such hits as “Going Back to Cali,” and “Mama Said Knock You Out,” along with countless TV and film gigs. He’s one of the most charismatic figures in hip hop, and I still don’t think we’ve come close to seeing his best. That said, as much as I love him, I think this nomination is a bit premature, even though it makes the Hall of Fame time cut out.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: With a heavy heart, I gotta say no. But come back in another few years, and I promise to say yes.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS
The Red Hot Chili Peppers are one of the most flamboyant, commercially successful and musically influential bands of rock’s last quarter century. They were high school pals who combined their passions for Jimi Hendrix, Seventies R&B and hardcore punk with sexual exuberance and local skateboard culture, immediately becoming famous for their outrageous (often near-naked) live shows and incendiary jamming. The Chili Peppers broke through with 1991’s BloodSugarSexMagik, a multi-platinum fusion of metal and rap that was pivotal in bringing modern black street culture and music to the Nirvana generation. The band’s 2006 two-CD set Stadium Arcadium went right to Number One and is their most ambitious collection to date.
Besides, I have a reoccuring sex dream starring Anthony Kiedis. He’s not my usual type, but I always wake up smiling.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: You betcha, baby.
They were not the first all-girl R&B group, nor the last, but The Chantels were the first to achieve a consistent run of chart records, thus paving the way for The Shirelles, The Crystals, The Supremes and all the other “girl” groups that followed. The Chantels’ distinctive, choir-like sound, with its classical and gospel overtones, featured the soaring lead of Arlene Smith, who also wrote much of the group’s material including its signature song “Maybe,” which has been covered many times over the years, most notably by Janis Joplin.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: Sorry sugar. Not this time.
Their wide-open three-part vocal harmonies of original members Allan Clarke, Graham Nash, and Eric Haydock, inspired by the Everly Brothers, gave the Hollies a sound apart from other British Invasion beat groups. They had such hits, including “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress,” “Long Dark Road,” “Magic Woman Touch,” “The Air That I Breathe,” and others. That said, I don’t know…this nomination doesn’t excite me.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: Nope. That simple.
The “Big Bang” that became punk, alternative, heavy metal, new wave, grunge, hardcore and industrial music, could very well have been the advent of Iggy and the Stooges in Ann Arbor in the late 1960’s. Confrontational, out of the mainstream and the complete antitheses of the hippie movement, the Stooges were adopted by those on the margins of rock. Their debut Elektra LP was produced in four days by the Velvet Undergound’s John Cale and contained at least three landmarks: “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” “No Fun” and “1969.” Immediately embraced in New York, London and Los Angeles for the nuclear-powered simplicity of their music, the ironic nihilism of their lyrics, and the persona of Iggy himself, the Stooges have become icons in the history of modern music.
Ms. Mix & Bitch’s Rock the Vote Verdict: A must-have.