The names of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 2020 inductees were released this morning. With it came the usual arguments about what is and is not rock, who got in, who got snubbed…the usual.
The inductees are Depeche Mode, The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Nine Inch Nails, The Notorious B.I.G., and T Rex.
Four of the inductees – The Doobie Brothers, Whitney Houston, Notorious B.I.G. and T Rex – were on the ballot for the first time.
My specific thoughts on this: Haven’t we been here before? By now, we should know that in this instance, “Rock and Roll” means “Pop” in the sense that these artists were huge pop stars in the frame of the ’60s-’90s. Houston and Biggie Smalls fit in organically when you think about it that way.
It also makes greater sense when people raise the counterargument that metal artists have been rejected. Soundgarden, Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest, and Motorhead deserve recognition, but none of them dominated the pop chart (and Motorhead never even placed on the pop charts in the U.S.). Of course, they weren’t getting in this time.
Pat Benatar was trending on Twitter, as she was not chosen either. Benatar’s pop success certainly supported her bid, but she was being backed against Whitney Houston, one of the biggest pop stars of all time and – cynically – deceased. Her induction would bring the show that sad, bittersweet moment that these shows insist upon. Benatar’s would not.
The 35th Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be May 2 at Public Auditorium in Cleveland. The ceremony will be broadcast on HBO on May 2 at 8 p.m. Performances and special guests for presentations have not yet been announced.