Built on Hope

Now I can see the big idea

Just when you think you’ve seen enough popularity contests for a while, another pops up!

Last week, while ruminating on the nomination list for the RRHOF, there was a poll for the greatest album of 1982. This very serious, scientifically accurate poll by @RickMayer_Vinyl, pitted 1000 albums from that year against one another, bracket style. Each bracket was whittled down to the final four, which consisted of Rio, Signals (Rush), Number of the Beast (Iron Maiden), and Never Surrender (Triumph).

At first, Rio was losing, and badly at that. But we Duranies got out the vote, and eventually came out on top at 44% to Rush’s Signals at 36%. To those who are unaware, Rush has a fantastically strong fan community, not unlike our own. They are connected, they have get togethers all over the country, and they do fan conventions that in turn, inspire me to do more. To beat such very dedicated fans was not a small feat, and really – in this situation, that’s what it is about. Whether you’re a Rush fan or not, I think it is prudent to acknowledge that polls like that aren’t really about the quality of the music, but the strength of numbers in voting. Signals is a fantastic album, and I wouldn’t have been too upset had it won. These polls amount to a popularity contest, but then – many things do.

The feeling that I’m moving on

However, participating in things like that, while fun from time to time, also reminds me of where this fan community, as well as the band, sits in the world of music. There was certainly some good natured shade thrown between fans. Most of it, as I said, was good natured ribbing. No harm, no foul. However, there’s always someone who feels it necessary to take it a bit farther. It is a shame that in 2019, that we need to still be reminded that a good portion of the world – the “rock” portion of the music-listening world, mind you – believes that only girls ever listened to Duran Duran. Unfortunately, this thinking still prevails amongst a certain segment, and does little more than remind me how much of an uphill battle we have when even fellow music fans cannot give credit where it is due without a backhanded comment This doesn’t come down to critics and music journalists gathered in a room, determined to snub bands like Duran Duran. I wish it did.

You walk the line

This morning, yet another popularity contest of sorts reared it’s head on Twitter, although this one had already been decided. Rolling Stone published a list of the 100 best singers of all time, and the results are between tweeted. If you haven’t seen it yet, you most likely will see it being retweeted at some point. There is a full article about it here at Rolling Stone, too. It is worth reading if you can manage the time because it goes into full detail about each person and their ranking on the list. Otherwise, here’s the full list:

I don’t know why they bleeped out Joe Cocker’s last name, but whatever. In some ways, it plays to the childish sort of dumbassery that goes into creating a list like this to begin with. Content is content, I suppose.

I waited long enough

My problem isn’t so much with the list, although any list that contains Bono and not Simon Le Bon is just stupid, although I wonder why this needed to be done to begin with. Do we really need to rank singers?? Isn’t it all just opinion anyway? While I am fairly certain that someone out there has devised some sort of scientific method to break down what is most pleasing about voices combined with how influential each voice has been over time – my argument is simply that none of it matters, unless you happen to agree that Axl Rose (64) deserves to be on this list, while Chris Cornell (or Simon Le Bon for that matter), does not.

I’ve had so many people respond directly and indirectly to me that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame just doesn’t matter. I’d say the same about the Oscars, the Grammy’s, even the Tony’s. None of it matters, yet for some reason, a lot of people pay attention – even if it’s just in passing. For example, I know more than a few people who make a point to go out and see the movies nominated for Oscars each year. Nick and Katy dedicate a full Katy Kafe to talking about the nominees! Yet, I couldn’t care less. I rarely watch the show in full, and I almost never see all of the nominees each year. I don’t have time, and I don’t make it a priority. Yet I sit and watch the Hall of Fame induction every year as soon as it airs, and I know I’m not the only one. If I were, there would be no show each year.

Happy to watch it fade

It doesn’t matter that Duran Duran hasn’t been nominated, and it doesn’t matter that Simon hasn’t been included on this list. After all, Rolling Stone magazine was started by none other than Jann Wenner, who in fact was the head of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame until this past August! I still think Simon is far and away a better singer than Axl Rose, Bruce Springsteen (36), or Bono (32). Sadly, I wasn’t consulted, so Patty Labelle is at 95, and Stevie Nicks is at 98, while Kurt Cobain is at 45.

Suffice to say, it is all a popularity contest. The list doesn’t need to exist at all, but somehow – it does. Is that the real problem though? I’m not sure. There are some very widely and tightly held beliefs about what sorts of bands and people are most worthy – and THAT, my friends, is the problem. It isn’t about whether or not the list matters. Too many people pay attention, and too many eyes see the list and allow it in as an influence for that argument to hold water. Until we are able to speak plainly and truthfully about what this constant snub means in context, it will continue – whether you think it matters or not.

-R

2 thoughts on “Built on Hope”

  1. In general I think the list is good, but like you mentioned, way too many artists over rated. Don’t get me wrong, I do like Guns N Roses and Nirvana but neither Cobain or Axl Rose is as good as people thiNk they are. Yet the fact both bands are in the HOF while DD isn’t is goofy in my opinion but it’s a popularity contest.

    Strangely, I compared Duran Duran the other day to a popular movie classic Grease. Like DD, Grease was very popular but little critical acclaim. It was only nominated for best song but lost to Last Dance from a forgotten movie (Thank God It’s Friday). Grease when it was released was either the second or third highest grossing film of all time and certainly of the 70’s, and the top grossing film of 1978 and the top grossest musical for many years (and might still be). When it was released on VHS it became one of the top sellers and same thing on DVD. However, every year the Library of Congress inducts movies into their hall of fame called the National Registry and so far Grease hasn’t been added but they add a lot of movies that got critical acclaim but not even popular. I remember seeing the list with movies from the 90’s that won Oscars yet were horrible movies and are in the registry.Why these movies and not Grease? Critical acclaim unfortunately. I love movies almost as much as I do music and always go to the show and have seen many Oscar winning films. Some truly deserved to win but others were a snore fest and I questioned why they won. One of the best movies I’ve seen in the last few years was the Greatest Showman and yet it wasn’t nominated for any Oscars.

    It might seem odd to compare DD to movies but it really makes sense. Often the most popular aren’t the best of anything and often what is considered the best really isn’t, it’s often reliant on what “important” people think.

  2. While there are some amazing people on that list, I can’t take it seriously right off the start. In what world is Freddie Mercury @ #18 and Paul McCartney @ #11? I mean, I enjoy Paul and he has a pleasant voice and has written some damn fine songs, but COME ON! Freddie! I mean seriously. He had a voice. Simon should definitely be on that list, as should Cyndi Lauper. Have you ever heard her live? She has some serious chops and when she gets going and hits a note, she can hold it out seemingly forever. Yet it’s Madonna people are paying over a grand for a pair of tickets to see!! WTF?

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