Today, country singer Dolly Parton revealed she will be bowing out of the nominations list for consideration for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
While Parton didn’t exactly say she didn’t fit the ‘rock’ bill, she did hint that the prerequisites to be considered ‘rock’n’roll’ just weren’t there.
“Even though I am extremely flattered and grateful to be nominated… I don’t feel that I have earned that right. I really do not want the votes split because of me, so I must respectfully bow out.”
Those votes can now go to other nominees, in a varied list that includes Kate Bush, Eminem, Beck, Duran Duran and Dionne Warwick.
As you can see by these nominees alone, music that fits into the rock genre is now rather far from the academy’s panel members’ minds. Bush and Beck would be better placed into a category like ‘alternative pop’; Eminem in ‘rap’; Duran Duran in ‘pop’; and Dionne Warwick in, I don’t know, something along the lines of ‘classic balladry’.
What this varied list reveals, and what Parton’s pulling out of the nominations list has highlighted, is that rock’n’roll is running out of top contenders to add to its Hall of Fame, especially since alternative music genres such as R’n’B and rap are now taking over the charts.
If you look at the top 10 artists that currently feature in Ranker’s ‘Best Rock Bands of 2022’, you’ll see there’s nary a new name in sight. In fact, most of the bands have been around since the 1990s. These include Foo Fighters, Muse, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day and Weezer. Even Imagine Dragons, who formed in the late noughties and sit at number 3 on Ranker’s list, would fit more snugly into a pop category than a rock one.
Don’t get me wrong. Rock and roll is an awesome genre of music. Many classic acts – from The Beatles and Rolling Stones, through Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin, to AC/DC and INXS – have been worthy of classification in this revered category of music. Much of these bands’ discographies feature traits of rock music, and even when a band has digressed into other styles of music (The Beatles into psychedelia; INXS into balladry), there was usually enough heavy bass and lyrical grit to keep them safely contained as ‘rock’.
But your Jimi Hendrixes and Janis Joplins are a thing of the past, now that Autotune and easy music-making software have taken over in production technique.
Mind you, there are some acts that use easy electronic means to make very good music – from Jay Z and Beyonce to Nicki Minaj, Megan Thee Stallion, Dua Lipa, et al – but ‘rock’ this music certainly ain’t.
And when you see the likes of white rapper Eminem and quirky country-alt artist Beck making this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame noms list, you realise Dolly is onto something.
The 9 to 5 singer/songwriter said in her statement: “I do hope that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame will understand and be willing to consider me again – if I’m ever worthy. This has, however, inspired me to put out a hopefully great rock ‘n’ roll album at some point in the future, which I have always wanted to do!
“My husband is a total rock‘n’roll freak, and has always encouraged me to do one. I wish all of the nominees good luck and thank you again for the compliment. Rock on!”
If other artists begin to bow out of future Hall of Fame nomination lists, the organisation will likely be inclined to change its name. Perhaps the old Hall would be best cordoned off and sealed with a plaque that reads Rock and Roll Museum of Fame as the co-op begins to seriously consider newer musical styles and artists to receive recognition in a more modern, hallowed space.
It might surprise you to learn that there actually does exist a ‘hall’ – located in a building in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and packed with some awesome and awe-inspiring music history. If the building is to remain home to the best that classic rock and contemporary music have to offer, it might be better off switching to a more relevant moniker.
I’m going to suggest the simple but appropriate ‘Music Hall of Fame’. It won’t have to stick to the rock genre and will allow for broader artist entry considerations, from R’n’B to EDM.
Photography by Mike Ruiz.