Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Musicule breakdown the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees (Part 1)

Hall worthy? Really?

I take pride in knowing a thing or two about music and knowing a thing or two about halls of fame. In college, I wrote a paper on the cultural significance of the Baseball Hall of Fame (it seemed worthy at the time). Once a week, for three months, I would hop in my little red Nissan Pulsar in the middle of a godawful Syracuse winter and drive nearly two hours to Cooperstown, NY to do research (pre-internet, folks). Armed with a pile of notes, I'd drive back to my little apartment in Syracuse and slowly cobble the paper together on an Apple IIC (green monochrome screen, folks).

Don't laugh...a car that looked just like this one survived me driving it through three Syracuse winters.
So, armed with that Hall of Fame expertise, my love of music and the fact that I've also visited the Basketball Hall of Fame, I thought it would be worth looking at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees for 2011, their legacies and their worthiness.

Alice Cooper
Layman's history: Best known for his hits in the 70s, gothy makeup and love of snakes

Notable songs I own: None, although in preparing for this article, I sorta wish I had School's Out and I'm Eighteen.

Factoid: Alice was involved in a bit of a rock urban legend: A la Ozzy Osbourne, he's credited with biting the head off of an animal on stage. The truth is a bit different. According to Wikipedia:
A chicken somehow made its way on stage during Cooper's performance; not having any experience around farm animals, Cooper presumed that, because the chicken had wings, it would be able to fly. He picked it up and threw it out over the crowd, expecting it to fly away. The chicken instead plummeted into the first few rows occupied by disabled people in wheelchairs, who reportedly proceeded to tear the bird to pieces.

The next day, the incident made the front page of national newspapers, and [Frank] Zappa phoned Cooper to ask if the story, which reported that he had bitten the head off the chicken and drunk its blood on stage, was true. Cooper denied the rumor, whereupon Zappa told him, "Well, whatever you do, don't tell anyone you didn't do it", obviously recognizing that such publicity would be priceless for the band.

Worthiness (on a scale from 1-10) and why: 1 He had a couple of good hits, but is mostly known for his persona, rather than his music. I'm not sure paving the way for Marilyn Manson warrants a pass into the Hall. Although I do give him points for his music being featured in Freaks and Geeks:

Beastie Boys
Layman's history: One of the earliest and most successful white rap acts with an amazing ability to adapt with the times and styles.

Notable songs I own: Hey Ladies, Fight For Your Right, Brass Monkey, Sabotage, So What'cha Want

Factoid: One of their early songs, Cooky Puss, is named after a Carvel ice cream cake.

Worthiness and why: 10 I have to confess that I missed the boat with these guys when they were starting to get big with License to Ill. I wrote them off as a novelty act, which they sort of were at the time, but they managed to put together a great career that has stood the test of time. If being innovative, successful and resourceful over a long period of time are significant criteria for admission into the hall, the Beastie Boys deserve to be there. In addition, they can rock out with Elvis Costello:

Bon Jovi

Layman's history: If you don't know Bon Jovi, you've been living under a rock for the last 25 years. For you rock dwellers, Bon Jovi came on the scene around the time of, and was lumped with, hair metal bands. They quickly transcended that musical fad to be New Jersey's second most important musical export.

Notable songs I own: Livin' on a Prayer, Wanted Dead or Alive, Bad Medicine, You Give Love A Bad Name. As an aside, I first heard of Bon Jovi in 1985, sitting in high school world history class...I sat next to a guy who doodled Bon Jovi's 7800 Fahrenheit album cover on his textbook book cover.

Factoid: I was never a fan of theirs, but my respect for them was iced when I saw this:

Triumph the insult comic dog - bon jovi
Uploaded by AC310DC. - Discover more animal videos.

Worthiness and why: 8 They go in based on an arsenal of catchy tunes, longevity and their ability to transcend the genre they started in.


Layman's history: Best known for their work in the late-70s, Chic brought to disco enough funk to bridge the gap between disco and pop into the 80s.

Songs I own: Le Freak, Good Times

Factoid: Originally, the "Awwwww, freak out!" lyric in Le Freak was recorded as "Awwwwww, fuck off!"

Worthiness and why: 7 I'd normally be loathe to put a band in the Hall based only on a handful of successful singles, but with so few disco songs that have stood the test of time, you have to give a bunch of credit to Chic for impacting disco, pop and early rap (a lot of Chic's music were faves for sampling DJs). Besides, Nile Rodgers produced some damn good Duran Duran songs.

Neil Diamond
Layman's history: A great songwriter, Neil is known for a variety of hits from the 60s, 70s and 80s....and writing a song on the back of a Dixie Cup:

Songs I own: Too many to mention here, but pretty much every one of his hits.  My favorite Neil Diamond song? It's a toss-up between Solitary Man and A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You (a song he wrote for the Monkees). Speaking of Solitary Man, check out Chris Isaak's great cover:

Factoid: He may be the only person to have hits in more than three decades with the exact same hairstyle the whole time.

Worthiness and why: 11 C'mon! It's Neil Diamond...he gets a free pass. 


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