I still can’t get over the shit show that was the final segment of the 2022 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. I’m kind of on the same page as Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, who said in 2018 that the Hall was “an utter and complete load of bollocks … run by a bunch of sanctimonious bloody Americans who wouldn’t know rock ‘n’ roll if it hit them in the face.”
It’s nice that the trustees have recognized the early criticism that the Hall was biased against female acts — this year they inducted six women, but female artists still represent less than 10 percent of members. But more than that, the Hall can’t seem to settle on the definition of rock and roll which has led it to some odd decisions, the most ridiculous of which was this year’s induction of Dolly Parton.
There is no doubt that artists like Pat Benetar and Annie Lennox, both of whom were inducted this year, belong in the Hall. And I fully agree with adding rhythm and blues artists who paved the way for rock, like Robert Johnson and Ma Rainey, and even folk rock artists like Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. But at some point, you have to decide if you’re the “rock and roll” Hall of Fame, or the “music” Hall of Fame. If you’re truly the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame then you cannot induct Janet Jackson, NWA, Miles Davis, and Dolly Parton.
Rock and Roll exists on a spectrum, which is why Carly Simon and Judas Priest can be inducted on the same night and I have no complaints. Rock is The Who and The Smiths. The Stones and Cat Stevens. Led Zeppelin and ABBA. But rock is not hip hop, bluegrass, jazz, or country. The Hall needs to define what qualifies and stick with it or change the name to the Music Hall of Fame.
This has been an issue for years, but the Dolly Parton situation has turned the Hall into a mockery. Don’t get me wrong, Dolly Parton is a musical legend and genius who deserves all the accolades possible. But it was clear from her speech at the Hall that she doesn’t think she belongs in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and frankly she proved it with her awful attempt at writing and performing a song she called rock and roll at the ceremony.
A month after being nominated for Rock Hall consideration for the first time in February, Parton declined the nomination.
Parton finally relented and accepted the nomination and induction, but even she knew it was a mistake. To her credit, she attempted to write a song to perform for the night to show she could rock if she wanted to, but all that song did was prove beyond a shadow of a doubt she didn’t belong. It was awful, and the Hall should have declined to let her play it after hearing it. See for yourself:
I’ll be rockin ’til the cows come home? Did she really sing that? Oh for fuck’s sake. It’s a mockery I tell you.
I’m not disparaging her as a singer. She’s great. I like Jolene. I enjoy 9 to 5. I think she’s a great person and a humanitarian. But she has no business being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Frankly, neither does 2022 inductee Eminem. Or 2022 inductee Lionel Richie. Nothing against them either — they’re just simply not rock and roll.
I think music industry executives are so afraid of being accidentally racist that they’ve erred so far on the side of wokeness that they’ve forgotten about common sense. The Rock Hall is guilty of being so inclusive they’ve muddied the waters on the very thing they set out to celebrate — rock and roll.
Look, the fix here is simple. Change the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to the Music Hall of Fame and get on with it. You get no qualms from me inducting Dolly Parton and Lionel Richie into the Music Hall of Fame…hell they are both first ballot inductees in my mind.
But stop insulting our intelligence by trying to fit square pegs in round holes in the name of inclusivity. It cheapens the whole institution.