Earlier this week, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the five acts to be honored this year. They were surf-guitar combo the Ventures, '60s hitmakers the Dave Clark Five, roots rocker John Mellencamp, poet/singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen and pop culture icon Madonna. While each act is certainly notable and deserving of this honor, more interesting is the act omitted -- the Beastie Boys.
The New York trio, known for exploding and exploiting the barriers between rap and rock, had made the short list of possible inductees and, from my cheap seat, seemed like the easiest of inductees. Not only have the Beasties spent 25 years producing infectious hits, but they have also understood and embraced the role of real artists, expanding what they do and how they do it with a sense of sonic experimentation.
But clearly this was not their year.
Here's the thing about the Rock Hall. Similar to the professional sports Hall of Fames, it works off a fairly simple system. Each act selected must have been in the business for 25 years, measured from the time of their first release. A short list is developed every year, usually comprised of previously spurned vets and first time nominees, and from that five inductees are chosen. It's rare for an act to make it from initial list to inductee the first year, and this time there were two strong possibilities -- the Beasties and Madonna. While it might be argued that Madonna isn't exactly rock, her place within the pantheon of popular music is secure. Although I don't rock much Lady M during my daily commute, given the opportunity I probably would have voted the same way.
The good news is that the Beastie Boys remain eligible for induction. Sure, it won't happen this year, but both the Dave Clark Five and the Ventures (a personal fave) sat out for a long time before they got the call. Much longer, in all probability, than the Beasties will. In fact, if I were a betting man, I would wager that this time next year we'll be talking about some other act that was eschewed in favor of the the Beastie Boys.