In March, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will see the induction of Patti Smith, R.E.M., Van Halen, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and the Ronettes. These blessed few will be inducted in an extravagant ceremony full of hirsute paunches, stale pot smoke and enough Ben-Gay to choke a donkey. Expect an abundance of popping and locking, with episodes of howling and corrosive political spoken word. Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth are supposed to have a bare-knuckle boxing match as the finale. (Smart money is on Diamond Dave.)
One of the qualifications for nomination to the Hall is that your debut album must be at least 25 years old. Next year, Sonic Youth, Madonna and the Beastie Boys will all become eligible. When the Beasties released Licensed to Ill, no one among us believed that one day these guys could share the throne in Cleveland with the likes of John, Paul, George and the other guy. Ain't it amazing what two little decades can do?
So far, the Hall is inhabited by all your standard meat-and-potatoes artists like the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The punk-rock infiltration has already begun, with the Ramones, the Clash and the Sex Pistols coming in sticky with gob and smelling of Carbona a few years back. Hip-hop will almost certainly begin its inevitable march inside the hallowed museum, now that Grandmaster Flash has made the leap. So who will be next? We dusted off our crystal ball and got to gazing, and here's what we came up with:
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
2009 -- The Smiths, Metallica and Slayer (I mean "Slayah!!")
Can you imagine the dreadful mandatory award-ceremony jam session with this group of incongruent artists? Metallica teaming up with Morrissey for an aching and pleading dirge through "This Charming Leper Messiah."
2010 -- Depeche Mode, The Cure, Duran Duran
Makeup-smeared forty-somethings finally get their own prom tonight, with no rich, snobby high-school quarterbacks there to set fire to their frilly lace tuxedos.
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2012 -- The Pixies, Jane's Addiction, Soundgarden
In which every salt-and-pepper-goateed Gen X-er worth his Starbucks stock will be selling his children for a bootleg ticket. Expect a lot of Bluetooth, flannel and even more of Frank Black.
2014 -- Nirvana, Green Day, Nine Inch Nails
Each musical anchor of every late-twentieth-century subculture will be honored this year. Bangers, punks and goths of yore will all grudgingly share the same auditorium, but not the same table -- sort of like the high-school cafeteria.