Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2018: Our Writers Answer Five Big Questions
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently announced the class of 2018, and once again the list of incoming artists has us asking some questions.
Four of this year's five inductees fall under the classic-rock umbrella, so we certainly have some opinions on who's getting in, who was left out and how Rock Hall voters are handling a dwindling talent pool.
We asked six of our writers to answer five big questions about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2018.
Who is this year's most surprising inductee?
Michael Gallucci: The Moody Blues. They've been eligible for more than 25 years, mostly ignored by the rock elite and filed away with all those other old bands nobody but their most devoted fans thought would ever get in. So why now?
Nick DeRiso: You wouldn’t think I’d say Bon Jovi, since they led fan voting the entire time. Yet, despite the popular push for the band, I can think of a whole raft of candidates I’d expect to get in there first.
Matthew Wilkening: It's a tie between the Moody Blues and the Dire Straits for me. They both should have been in years ago, but why now? Especially when there were two very deserving candidates from a younger generation in Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine left behind. You'd think the voting committee would want to spread out a bit rather than focusing almost exclusively on classic rock. The Moody Blues followers went into overdrive to get them nearly a million points in the fan vote, so maybe their word has more of an impact on the "real" voters than we thought?
Dave Lifton: Dire Straits. I love them, but the fact that they've always been low-key and unassuming -- one of their greatest strengths -- often made them seem like an afterthought to the rock cognoscenti. And that's the induction ceremony reunion I'm hoping for.
Martin Kielty: The Moody Blues. An incredibly influential and important band, and I have no intention of suggesting they’re not entitled to induction, but they’ve never seemed like they embrace the kind of world that the Rock Hall epitomizes. It’s a good result, though.
Bryan Wawzenek: Bon Jovi. Well, actually, I’m not surprised that they got in, due to the massive amount of fan support for that band. But I’m always surprised that anyone likes Bon Jovi, so that’s on me. I’ve always thought that Bon Jovi is music for people that don’t like music very much. Outside of merely being popular, their impact on rock ’n’ roll seems negligible, dwarfed by the influence of 2018’s other inductees (and, arguably, all of the other balloted artists who didn’t get voted in this year).
Who got snubbed the worst this year?
Gallucci: Radiohead. How did the best band of the past quarter century not get the nod?
DeRiso: Radiohead, and it’s not even close. This year, in some instances, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame appeared to take an approach similar to the one used in beauty pageants and political nominations: It was suddenly someone’s “turn” since they’d waited so long. Meanwhile, Radiohead – unquestionably this era’s gutsiest, most important band – are passed over.
Wilkening: Another tie: Radiohead and Judas Priest. The anti-metal bias the Hall of Fame has demonstrated over the years is just ridiculous. Radiohead are the best new band of their generation. How do Green Day get in but not them?
Lifton: Radiohead and/or Rage Against the Machine. Both had the requisite credentials that the Hall looks for in alternative bands. Maybe the voters listened to Radiohead's protestations about not wanting to be involved, but I would have thought Rage could have easily made it.
Kielty: It’s astonishing that an awards body that finally got round to considering (if not inducting) Judas Priest would dismiss Radiohead. From a non-American perspective, the bands could be said to occupy a similar space, despite being massively artistically different. So all those points accumulated for having nominated Priest are canceled out by not inducting Radiohead.
Wawzenek: Radiohead and Rage Against the Machine both seemed like first-ballot inductees. That’s not just because each band brings a balance of influence and commercial success, but also because as the Rock Hall rolls deeper into ’90s acts, there are fewer consensus picks. These seemed like safe bets, but obviously not. I’m sure Radiohead were damaged by their aloof, snotty response – also known as “acting like Radiohead.”
Do you think Bon Jovi will perform with Richie Sambora at the Induction Ceremony?
Gallucci: Yes. Their relationship has thawed since their spat a few years ago, so there's no reason why he wouldn't be there. I bet he's already packed.
DeRiso: Both sides seem open to it, so maybe this provides an opportunity for the detente so many of Bon Jovi’s fans have been waiting for.
Wilkening: Sure, why not? Based on recent interviews they seem friendly enough.
Lifton: I don't think so, if for no other reason than the fact that the Hall has a lousy history of trying to force reunions of critically hated bands by inducting them: Kiss, Guns N' Roses, Journey.
Kielty: It will be very sad if he doesn’t. Whatever you think of awards, when you’re presented with a moment to celebrate a career’s worth of achievement while the world watches, you should grab it tight. It would be a great way to demonstrate that there’s no hard feelings, and that artists can move in different directions without it having to be personal. My only question is, “Will Jon Bon Jovi actually ask him to do it?”
Wawzenek: What else is he doing? He isn’t slated to open for Radiohead in South America on the night of the ceremony, is he?
Should Denny Laine have been inducted as a member of the Moody Blues?
UPDATE: Denny Laine, along with Bon Jovi bassist Hugh McDonald, has been added to the Rock Hall's induction list of members. "Once the inductees were determined, the members of the Nominating Committee reviewed the list of artists and made the decision to add Denny Laine of the Moody Blues and Hugh McDonald of Bon Jovi to acknowledge their significant contributions," said the spokesperson via email. "We’re honored to induct them at the ceremony in April."
Gallucci: Yes. The band's best and most representative work was made without him, but he was an integral part of their early sound. Lesser artists with similar situations in other bands have made the cut, so this omission doesn't make much sense.
DeRiso: Of course. A co-founding member, Laine sang their first – and only – U.K. No. 1 song. “Go Now,” also a Billboard Top 10 hit, later became a key part of the live repertoire during Laine’s stint with Paul McCartney in Wings. Before he left the Moody Blues, Laine sang them into the U.K. Top 40 two other times, as well. How soon we forget.
Wilkening: Of course. The Hall of Fame is way too restrictive about this in general. Even though the Moody Blues evolved into something quite different without Laine, he was a key part of their initial success, and the hardest thing for any band to do is to make that first breakthrough.
Lifton: "Go Now" is lovely and one of my favorite songs by them, but the Moody Blues are being inducted as a prog band. So he shouldn't be in.
Kielty: Laine got the band to record “Go Now,” and sang lead vocals on their version. “Go Now” influenced the Moody Blues, and the Moody Blues influenced everyone with any kind of prog tendencies. The answer is yes. The Rock Hall’s policy of policing which members of a band are inducted is the most hideously corporate part of the whole circus, and as long as that policy remains in place, they’ll never avoid accusations of purely commercial motivations.
Wawzenek: Sure, but singing “Go Now” apparently wasn’t enough. With Paul McCartney’s solo induction taking the place of any sort of Wings honor and now the Moody Blues snub, Laine’s best shot of getting into the Rock Hall is with Ginger Baker’s Air Force. Let’s go to the fan poll … oh, still zero votes. I’m sure they’ll still let Laine visit the museum, if he pays the admission fee.
What Are Your Overall Thoughts on the Rock Hall Class of 2018?
Gallucci: The voters have totally given up on credibility. No Radiohead but Bon Jovi? Ugh. Every single one of this year's inductees has been eligible for years. There's nothing new or even all that exciting here this year.
DeRiso: I guess I shouldn’t complain about make-good choices from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, not with so many truly deserving acts still on the outside looking in. For far, far, far too long, the Cars were among them. It’s a shame Benjamin Orr isn’t here to receive these accolades, but they remain as well deserved as they were too long in coming.
Wilkening: I'm really surprised they went so heavy on classic rock. Very happy about the Cars -- that was insanely overdue. In past years, it seemed highly possible that they were trying to appeal to fans of different genres. But this year, with no Radiohead, no Rage, no rap and no metal, they're pushing all their chips onto one very narrow spot on the roulette table. Maybe they've been voting with their hearts and not thinking of ratings all along -- or maybe they think Bon Jovi are all they need for a successful show.
Wawzenek: A potentially interesting list of nominees (including Judas Priest, LL Cool J, Rufus, Rage and Radiohead) is whittled down to a ho-hum batch of deserving, if not necessarily exciting, choices. I’d bet that the average fan would guess that the Cars, Dire Straits and the Moody Blues were already in. Though worthy, they’re not the most thrilling of selections, which is probably why it took until 2018 to happen. Along with true groundbreakers such as Nina Simone and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, that makes this a catch-up year for the Hall of Fame.