Over the last couple of years, I’ve become more uneasy and disengaged with who is being nominated and inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I couldn’t quite articulate what I was feeling, but it got a lot stronger when Nina Simone was elected for induction this year.
I have nothing against Ms. Simone–I’m actually a fan–but she’s not exactly what you’d call rock’n’roll. Or soul. Or R&B. In fact, Nina bristled when anyone tried to categorize her as anything. What, then, was the criteria for inducting her?
Then this item appeared at EW.com
The greatest trick of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is in its ability to listen to the cries of those who feel an artist has been slighted, and then cede ground to those artists, one by one. It started when rap stars like Grandmaster Flash and Run D.M.C. began trickling in – something purists saw as a desecration, despite the fact that the Hall had become malleable around the idea of strict genre rules years earlier, when soul and funk acts including James Brown and Sam Cooke were inducted. Everything can be rock & roll so I suppose nothing is truly rock & roll.
Still, it feels like the Hall — which will hold its 33rd induction ceremony this weekend, in Cleveland – roots through its list of eligible bands and artists that have been undeservingly snubbed for years, and puts one or two in, not only as an attempt to satisfy the cries of those who are frustrated with the process, but to win them back for another cycle or two.
This year, the inclusion is for Nina Simone, which doesn’t feel particularly satisfying to me, largely because she would likely balk at the honor.