what’s in a name? Well, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame needs a new one


With Eminem entering Rock Hall and others knocking on her door, it was time to consider a name change for what this institution really is.

Eminem has sold gazillion albums, he’s done it and said it all, there are few musical milestones he hasn’t achieved in the past two and a half decades.

But is it a rock?

He’s doing by the standards of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which announced this week that he’ll join its ranks, along with the 2022 class that includes Duran Duran, Dolly Parton, Pat Benatar, Eurythmics, Lionel Richie and Carly Simon.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the premier institution to recognize lifetime achievement in recorded folk music. Artists are eligible to be extrapolated 25 years after their debut album, and instigators are chosen by a voting body of more than 1,000 artists, historians, and members of the music industry.

There is no doubt that Eminem has earned his stripes and deserves to be honored alongside the greatest of times in his field. However, the question is whether the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is still the best name for this thing.

more: Eminem headed to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. See Class 2022 Recruits

more: Best Shady: 10 Tracks That Made Eminem a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer

In terms of popular music, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has not been around since that time; It’s just as old as Dion Warwick’s “That’s What Friends Are for,” which was no. One song in America at the time of the first induction concert, in January 1986.

The first induction class included Elvis Presley, James Brown, Little Richard, Fitts Dominoes, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee Lewis: All men, you’ll notice – Aretha Franklin won’t even get in a year later – And some have credentials when it comes to actually vibrating it is doutable.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was founded three years ago by legendary CEO Ahmet Ergun, co-founder of Atlantic Records, who helped shape the careers of the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and many others. (He himself entered the rock hall in 1987; he might have been seen as a vulgar if he put himself first.)

The institution included a board made up of top executives, music industry professionals and Rolling Stone publisher Jan Weiner, who had long been the face of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, for better, perhaps, but mostly for worse.

Now, if this painting had disappeared with a different name from the beginning, it could have saved itself some grief in the future. But rock ‘n’ roll was alive and well at the time, and who could have predicted a future where rocking isn’t everything, the end of everything?

Fast forward two decades later, and here we are. Rock’s dominance of popular music has waned dramatically – the best-selling rock album of 2021 was 40-year-old Queen’s group “Greatest Hits” – and “Rock and Roll!” It’s something parents enthusiastically tell themselves when the installer they’re looking for is available at Home Depot.

There is a long-running argument that the “rock and roll” part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame embodies the spirit of rebellion rather than defines an individual’s musical style. And while it can be shown that figures like Madonna (introduced in 2008) and Tupac Shakur (introduced in 2017) certainly epitomize rock star attitude, rock star personality or idealism holds less cultural influence or importance today than it did in any other country. time ago. presence, especially since MGK’s recent transformation into a rock star.

Some recruits still rock. Bat Pinatar rocks, Duran Duran rocks. (Well, maybe they are synth.) But Lionel Richie and Carly Simon aren’t so much, and Dolly Parton doesn’t swing so much that she asked to have her name removed from this year’s ballot, because she didn’t consider herself a rock ‘n’ roll “in any sense of the word.” (She has since retracted her statement, soon as it was clear the day she was entering.)

As the sands of time continue to fall through the watch glass, artists now enter the rock hall who got their start in the late ’90s, a time when rock was rocking a lot, and it won’t get any better from here.

In his popular 2000 movie The Way I Am, Eminem complained about his songs being played on rock ‘n’ roll stations. Hip-hop icon Jay-Z, who was inducted last year, said he had never dreamed of being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, mainly because of his name. “They may have to change that name very soon,” He said.

Sooner rather than later: Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Drake will all be Hall of Fame eligibles over the next decade and some change, and it’s important for the hall to maintain its relevance by continuing to recognize young artists.

But since fewer and fewer of them have anything to do with rock ‘n’ roll – and some have a view hostile to the very idea of ​​”rock” – why not change the name to something more representative of what the Hall of Fame really stands for?

So what do we call it? The Music Hall of Fame appears to be undercooked, and names such as Popular Music Hall of Fame or Hit Music Hall of Fame invite problems: Who will say what’s popular, and why does something have to be successful to be influential or worth recognizing? (Just ask Tom Waits, who never charted a hit, but was inducted into Rock Hall in 2011.)

The Recording Artists Hall of Fame is public but it gets the job done: It’s an umbrella term for artists who work in the music business, and there’s no way Dolly could say she doesn’t consider herself a recording artist.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame certainly has other issues, especially in terms of who’s there and who isn’t, and how they get there. It is difficult to solve, but the name is not. jealousy. Nothing will shake more.

agraham@detroitnews.com

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