The ballots have been counted and it’s been announced that this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees will be Nirvana, KISS, Hall & Oats, Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt and Cat Stevens. While it’s hard to argue with the quality of work of these fine artists (they’re all well deserving of recognition), I still keep coming back to the same question - Do we really need a rock and roll hall of fame?
For one thing, the merits of the arts are nearly impossible to quantify. Many a movie, television show, album or piece of artwork that does big sales numbers may not have what’s widely believed to be much in the way of artistic merit, but then again, who’s to say? As the proverb goes, “One man’s treasure is another man’s trash.” What I might see as art might have you shouting it down as crass hackmanship, or vice versa. And when it comes to affecting the art of others, what influences you might have absolutely no effect on me.
So if you can’t quantify it or judge it by the moving target of influence, how about longevity? Here again, just because you’ve managed to survive in the business for 25 years (as is the requirement of all Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees) doesn’t necessarily mean that you were great, only good enough to survive. You may wind up being an influence based on a volume of work and the fact that you’ve grown or maintained your visibility over time, but does that qualify someone for any kind of hall of fame?
Actually hall of fames in general are fraught with problems and all are filled with controversy. Perhaps sports is best equipped to handle a hall of fame since induction can be based on performance statistics. In baseball, for instance, if a pitcher has 300 wins or a batter has 500 home runs in his career, his entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame used to be automatic before the steroid era skewed the numbers. Can you do the same with music? Not as easily. Read more on Forbes.
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