Starting from those formative toddler years, I soaked up everything that my parents enjoyed. When it came to music, I was stuck with what they liked. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered all of the music out there. I appreciated the revolutionary musical groundwork laid by The Beatles, all while blasting Run-DMC in my car. I love the Dixie Chicks for their lyrical candor, and I thank The Black Keys for introducing me to the world of alternative music. Needless to say, my interests in music are no longer confined to the classic tunes my parents play.
As a lover of many music genres, I’ve learned to recognize the brilliance of artists that have paved the way for changes in all facets of music. I’m thankful that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame praises various artists each year for their historic contributions because I believe that this recognition sets a high caliber for music. Each year, a selection of musical acts, reviewed by an elite review board, is inducted into this Hall of Fame, representing the movers and shakers in rock music. On April 10, Cat Stevens, Hall & Oates, Kiss, Linda Ronstadt, Nirvana, Peter Gabriel and three others solidified their standing in the musical world. Unfortunately, these achievements by some of my favorite bands revealed some startling limitations to this honor.
First, the criteria of this members-only club for determining who should be considered one of the greats is very rigid and limiting. According to The New York Times, the selection committee that grants artists entrance into this prestigious club is controlled by six individuals. To me, these few individuals don’t represent popular opinion. Rather, they seem to shape popular opinion about music. Music is interpreted differently by everyone for its meaning, and certain bands draw a special connection to specific listeners. This selection committee, without really exploring what certain bands mean to all people, manipulates what is deemed the greatest. It is very hard to measure, especially in this subjective context, which musical acts have rippled the music industry or impacted culture in a grand way. It’s no wonder that certain bands such as Guns N’ Roses and the Sex Pistols have famously boycotted the ceremony even though they were inducted.
Though rock music finds its roots in rhythm and blues, it has expanded and adapted to different styles of music over the years. Rock music is no longer fenced around Elvis Presley or James Brown, and many more artists have made significant contributions to the music world, even if they skirt around the conventional conception of “rock.” According The New York Times, legendary hip-hop groups such as N.W.A. were passed over once again. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band was also omitted from the list, even though it has influenced many of today’s leading acts today. Music is a fluid institution, and even though it boasts clear rankings, these genres are interweaving webs, feeding into one another. This induction ceremony is a celebration of music. By excluding acts because they don’t fit the mold is to do the opposite of that. There needs to be an inclusion of all types of music in this setting.
That said, the new inductees to the Hall of Fame are legendary in their own right. “Beth” by Kiss and “Smells like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana are two of my personal anthems. I vow to someday recreate that scene from 500 Days of Summer with “You Make My Dreams” by Hall & Oates. Maybe I’ll become Vine-famous.
The bottom line is, music is great; music completes who we are. Having a seemingly dominating presence set the standard of what should be interwoven in our lives is absolutely ludicrous. So, like Axl Rose, I shake my head at the Hall of Fame for ignoring the range of artists out there.
Danni Wang is a freshman majoring in psychology. Her column, “Pop Fiction,” runs Tuesdays.