Comment of the week

This comment was posted by Matt on 9/29/07 in the 2008 Nominees thread. It has a number of astute observations about the realities of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction process:

From paying special interest to the nomination process over the past few years, I've been able to draw several conclusions about the selection process.

If you have any insight or theories of your own, please share.


1. Being a larger than life figure.
The Rock Hall wants to grab headlines, and will need to fill seats and get ratings from the ceremony. Madonna is an enduring pop culture phenomenon, and can be seen as the home run, marquee talent. Only Michael Jackson is really comparable here.

2. Being critically acclaimed AND commercially successful.
Critics and the masses are two distinct camps. If you have favor with both, your chances are excellent. Beastie Boys have sold very well over the course their career--Licensed to Ill was the top-selling rap album of the 80's, and check the wikipedia entry for its accolades. Paul's Boutique, huge critical favorite. Ill Communication topped the charts.

3. Continued success and longevity.
Just because your band is still together, doesn't mean it's relevant. If you've been in the game for decades, and get radio airplay with artists 20 years younger, you have a great chance. Avoid being labeled a nostalgia act.

4. Survival in the face of changing tastes.
Grunge destroyed hair metal. Bands like U2 and R.E.M. adapted and even elevated their careers. Survive cultural sea changes.

5. Have friends in high places.
If you're buddies with Jann Wenner, Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen or Dave Marsh, you will probably get in.

6. Be old.
The selections are made by crusty dinosaurs. Sonic Youth didn't stand a chance with this committee.

7. Affirmative Action.
The nominating committee will always select several black candidates of wildly varying qualifications. Soul, Blues, R&B, Funk clearly have favor over some guitar-based, predominantly white sub-genres.


1. Being prog, hard rock or metal.
Clearly these are not committee favorites. Much of the artists classified as such are boring, pretentious, overly indulgent, or polarizing. Still, many others are great. But it doesn't really matter.

2. Lots of filler.
If you have several essential recordings, but lots of misfires, your legacy will be watered down. Concise and impactful careers, and consistenly good artists will be viewed more highly than low-percentage hitters (3 strikeouts for every home run).

3. Confusing history.
Deep Purple probably has 30 current and former members, denoting by Mach I, II, III, IV, V etc. You do you nominate, who do you exclude? Nobody, it makes your head hurt just thinking about it.

4. Being overtly commercial at the expense of your art.
Bon Jovi and Journey, you lowest common denominator power balladeers, you don't stand a chance.

5. Enemies in high places.
Jann Wenner hates the Monkees. So they won't get in. Dave Marsh hates Kiss, so they won't get in either.

Can anyone think of any others?

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