New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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The futility of the 2024 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominations

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s choices for new inductees this year are raising an increasing number of eyebrows — especially since they don’t track with the industry’s actual success.
An+illustration+of+Ozzy+Osbourne+with+long+hair+and+glasses+forming+a+fist+in+different+shades+of+purple.
Alisia Houghtaling
(Illustration by Alisia Houghtaling)

Forty-four years since his debut solo album, Ozzy Osbourne finally made the shortlist of nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It’s quite confusing that it has taken this long, especially considering the fact that Osbourne’s hit tracks like “Crazy Train” and “No More Tears” have garnered tons of popularity online. After winning a Grammy Award in 1994, he would go on to win two more in 2023 — nearly 30 years later. With more than 100 million albums sold, Osbourne’s longevity and cultural influence over the past few decades must be taken into account in conversations about prestigious — albeit remarkably futile — award nominations.

Year after year, a group of industry insiders sit in a room and nominate who they seem to favor. A nominating committee narrows down several potential artists to the roughly six actual nominees. There are several steps in the process, and the final nominees passed through many rounds of consideration. Otherwise, would it really have taken Osbourne this long? Would they have waited until Sinéad O’Connor died to nominate her? One would think that with a name like the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the organization would actually be a beacon of rock ‘n’ roll’s soul — but it’s not.

What exactly is the soul of rock ‘n’ roll, anyway? Loudness? Sex? Drugs? Some would say it’s bulldozing a beautiful statue and rearranging the shards into something new. Like Bruce Springsteen sang, “We learned more from a three-minute record than we ever learned in school.” Screw the man, screw the institution.

If that’s the soul of rock ‘n’ roll, why is there an institution dedicated to the genre in the first place? By the same token, why is there an institution dedicated to the genre that only enshrines some greats that a handful of industry suits pick?

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame seems to only exist to have an obscenely lucrative television broadcast and be a revenue stream for Cleveland, Ohio. It may be a nonprofit, but that is such a misleading term. In 2022, the hall of fame made $16.9 million in net profit for itself after expenses with millions being paid out to its board, while also generating $199 million for Cleveland in 2018.

The hall of fame brings in huge amounts of money for local businesses and tourism. That being said, aren’t money-driven institutions what rock ‘n’ roll so fervently stands against? It seems like the hall of fame has lost the point of the genre it is dedicated to. Since rock ‘n’ roll’s inception, rockstars have protested the economically focused endeavors of governments, the Catholic Church, you name it. The hall does not have massive world power, but it’s still a hypocritical, money-driven machine.

As far back as 2006, the Sex Pistols didn’t even bother to show up to their induction and released a statement saying, “Next to the SEX-PISTOLS, rock and roll and that Hall of Fame is a piss stain … Fame at $25,000 if we paid for a table, or $15,000 to squeak up in the gallery, goes to a nonprofit organisation selling us a load of old famous.”

KISS stirred up loads of controversy regarding its 2014 induction as well. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons blasted the hall of fame for ignoring them for years until they couldn’t anymore, only to nominate them for their theatrical stage shows — shows which were ironically the very reason the band was overlooked in the first place. Most recently, 2024 nominee Liam Gallagher of Oasis summarized all past and present gripes perfectly: “Fuck the Rock n Roll hall of fame its full of BUMBACLARTS.”

The number of artists that have been snubbed far surpasses those that have targeted the hall. Household rock names Motörhead, Iron Maiden, Pantera, Megadeth, Living Colour and Mötley Crüe aren’t recognized. Moreover, there’s more non-rock artists than not inducted. I am not knocking their greatness — but why is Cher on this year’s nominee list? Why is Michael Jackson in the Hall of Fame? Their music, while successful in its own realm, is not rock.

That being said, celebrate the Prince of Darkness. Ozzy’s already a legend, and he doesn’t need some plaque or a spot on a television broadcast to cement his status. The same goes for his fellow nominees Sinéad O’Connor, Oasis and Lenny Kravitz, among other huge names. We don’t need a money-grubbing institution to give our favorites their flowers. Still, destroying it would screw over an entire community for whom the physical Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a cornerstone of their economy. We can honor that the soul of rock ‘n’ roll lives in us, not some building or a small circle of industry suits.

Rock may be anti-institution, but perhaps it wouldn’t hurt to create a temple of our own.

Contact Joe Paladino at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Alisia Houghtaling, Illustration Editor
Alisia Houghtaling is a first-year in Applied Psychology in Steinhardt and one of WSN's Illustration Editors. In her freetime, you can find Alisia drawing, painting, reading, eating pasta or autopilot walking around SOHO to window shop or stare into windows and say "I want to live there." You can find her on Instagram @_alisiart_ and send Italian restaurant recommendations or ridiculous real-estate listings in the city.

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