The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the last decade has turned into a bizarre melange of “artists” seemingly harmonized only by being in the music business at some time.  Madonna, the Ramones, and last year’s questionable “long overdue” inductee Chicago are indeed strange bedfellows.

Then again so were Leonard Cohen and Janis Joplin – but turns out they were real bedfellows. Pretty rock and roll.

The general feeling from rock music watchers is whatever great intentions started the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Inductees Hall and Oates, Abba and a slew of darlings with nary a hit or much broad exposure/appeal have tarnished whatever nobility the Hall had at its inception.

Now each year, there is a seeming scramble to find truly worthy inductees, that can meet the new requirements of making an entertaining HBO awards show.

Even this has become a challenge. Evidence Chicago’s inability to get their schmaltzy lead singer Peter Cetera to come collect his award and sing at least one hit for old times sake.

With this backdrop, here are the 2017 inductees:

  • Joan Baez
  • ELO
  • Journey
  • Pearl Jam
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Yes
  • Nile Rogers – Special Award for “Musical Excellence.”

Do any of these acts actually belong to be alongside Chuck Berry, Dylan, and the Beatles? Except for Tupac, I don’t think so. I have serious reservations about all of them

Baez and ELO aren’t Rock and Roll. Neither is Yes, but their contribution to progressive rock and influence upon other inductees is undeniable. BTW, couldn’t you have inducted them last year before founder and bassist Chris Squire passed?

I get Nile. He’s awesome, well-liked and inducting him solo saves the hall of the shame of bringing in his disco band Chic who have been passed over year after year.

I get that Pearl Jam was ground zero grunge, but they are no Nirvana. Plus, if rabid fandom is the new criterion, who’s next, Phish? Plus, anyone who saw Cameron Crowe’s documentary “Twenty” with Eddie Vedder providing a tour of his home is likely still throwing up.

Tupac was an icon and was murdered, so probably best not to comment anymore on that.

That leaves Journey.  Steve Perry is arguably one of rock and roll’s greatest voices. Thier early albums were terrific explorations of progressive rock whose hallmark was virtuoso playing and good songwriting. When Perry joined, however, the band began a slow turn to bathos. Before crap like “Be Good to Yourself” and “I’ll be Alright Without You” was coming out, Journey pioneered “arena rock” effectively walking the tightrope between rock and pop. Songs like “Wheel in the Sky” and “Separate Ways” have undeniable rock and roll bona fides.  But hits like “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Open Arms” are more Celine Dion anthems than rock and roll.

So what to do? How about tapping David Foster to build a new wing of the hall, where Perry can sit alongside Cetera, Abba, Hall and Oates, Billy Joel, Madonna, and other not-yet-inducted mega-sellers like Dion and Mariah Carey.  ELO might fit in there too. See, everyone can be happy.

The good news for this year is that tributes to Prince and Bowie have the potential for a great HBO show.

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