The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame – the entity that honors ABBA over Ted Nugent – announced this year’s inductees today. While the lineup includes some obvious first-ballot choices among its mid-’80s nominees, like Guns N’ Roses and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, it also honors Nuge-baiting acts like the Beastie Boys and lite-rock songstress Laura Nyro, so it’s sure to be a controversial year. Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers of the Class of 2011.
Golden age of hip-hop loser: Eric B. and Rakim helped transition hip-hop from the “I went to the hat store and I bought myself a hat” style of lyricism in its early days into the sophisticated form we know today. Even so, they’ll have to continue resting on the plaudits of the huge number of contemporary artists who cite them as an influence — in their first year of eligibility, the Hall’s voters opted to pass on the duo.
Golden age of hip-hop winner: The Beastie Boys have demonstrated more staying power than anybody else in rap, so it’s not a shock that they stormed into the Hall the first time their name came up. Their influence on the direction of the genre can’t be traced as directly as that of Rakim, but isn’t it time we gave something to white people?
Iconic ’80s hard rock loser: Soundgarden’s Screaming Life EP was released in time to make them eligible for this year’s class of inductees, but that did not interest the Hall’s voters, who probably didn’t start paying attention to the music coming out of Seattle until a few years later. Soundgarden is an eventual inductee for sure, but they’ll have to sweat it out for a few years first.
Iconic ’80s hard rock winner: If there are any no-brainer inductees left as this process ages, Guns N’ Roses are it. The voting process probably just consisted of somebody on the committee shouting “You’re in the jungle, baby, now you’re gonna dieeee” and a room full of hands shooting up to the sky.
Band that at least started out pretty weird loser: Nerds love They Might Be Giants, and while that’s not enough to earn them entry into the Hall, the band’s influence and impact on the development of the music video — as well as the surprising number of hits that they’ve scored, for a cult act — really can’t be ignored. Unless you’re the Hall’s voters, who did ignore them even though they’re now eligible.
Band that at least started out pretty weird winner: These days, the Red Hot Chili Peppers make very professional-sounding rock and roll songs, but during their early days, the Chili Peppers were a genuinely weird funk/metal/reggae mash-up act at a time when those weren’t things that got mashed very often. Combine their innovation with their massive commercial success, and it’s pretty obvious why they made it in on the first ballot.
Passed over again losers: No Cure, no LL Cool J, no Peter Gabriel, no Janet Jackson, no New Order, no Motörhead, no Joan Jett — all of these acts have been eligible for years, and most of them, except the Cure and Joan Jett, weren’t even shortlisted this year.
Passed over again winners: Nineteen years after first becoming eligible, Laura Nyro made it into the Hall, so she’s got that going for her. Donovan had to wait twenty years to find himself inducted, and the Small Faces / The Faces finally got in for the work they did collectively (even though Faces members Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood have been Hall of Famers forever). So there’s hope — eventually — for Robert Smith and Joan Jett. It’ll probably just take a while.