Yes, Journey, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Salon

A central casting too-cool-for-school hipster looks at this year’s nominations for the Rock and Roll hall of fame and asks “Why celebrate Journey and Yes? He concludes that the Hall of Fame has hit “a new low”.

Journey stands, alongside REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, Styx, and a handful of others as an exemplar of one of the worst, least inventive periods of rock history — the corporate rock movement that was marked by bland playing and generic songwriting. Of all of them, Journey may have had, with Steve Perry, the most annoying lead singer. “Don’t Stop Believin’ ” is lodged permanently on AOR radio, television shows like “Glee,” and in the karaoke and covers repertoire. Forget ear worms — it’s the musical cockroach we’ll never kill. But please, can’t we just agree that this band’s career was a big mistake, try to forget about them, and just leave it at that?

Yes, on the other hand, is a band that once had real musical ambition as leaders of the “art rock movement.” But their classical-rock fusions sound studied now; they never had the imagination or drive of, say, King Crimson. And they are, like Journey, led by an awful lead singer. Can we remove “Owner of a Lonely Heart” from radio forever and just pretend that ‘80s comeback never happened?

Because if you really think Yes are defined by “Owner of a Lonely Heart”, you should not be employed to write about them. But it’s Salon, which is really a leftist-hipster version of The Daily Express, a publication that exists to confirm and reinforce the prejudices of its narrow-minded readership.

There is a wider question, of course, of why exactly does anyone take the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame seriously in the first place.

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7 Responses to Yes, Journey, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Salon

  1. Abahachi says:

    Not sure; I’d read this as saying that he recognises Yes’ early work as having some originality and so doesn’t want it erased from history (even if he prefers King Crimson) but really really hates ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’ – and of course that’s the one that gets played on radio. Agreed, taking the Hall of Fame seriously in the first place is the cardinal error.

  2. Tim Hall says:

    It’s a bit ambiguous, I’d have to admit. But judging the band on one big hit a decade after they made the music on which their reputation rests is like judging Jefferson Airplane on “We Built This City”.

  3. Synthetase says:

    I would argue that if a song still receives plenty of airplay, and people still want to belt it out while hammered at karaoke bars over thirty years after initial release, that it is exactly the sort of song that should be put in the rock and roll hall of fame.

    Whether you like it personally or not, you can’t deny that others certainly do like it and it’s clearly had an impact on the wider culture.

    This guy slams Journey for not being inventive enough, then Yes for not being inventive in The Right Way[TM]. After reading the article, I found that exactly how inventive one must be will remain forever undefined.

  4. Tim Hall says:

    Though the Hall of Fame is supposed to be about the body of work as a whole rather than one late-career hit they wasn’t typical of their work.

    But as a friend said on Twitter, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is “heavily tilted towards a particular idea of “rock” perpetuated by the old guard of US rock journalism”

  5. Synthetase says:

    “Though the Hall of Fame is supposed to be about the body of work as a whole rather than one late-career hit they wasn’t typical of their work.”

    Yeah, you can tell I don’t know anything about the Hall of Fame from my “song should be in it” comment ;)

  6. John Hunt says:

    It’s been a bone of contention on the T.Rex forums for years that they have continually been ignored by the Hall of Fame. Some are arguing, that because T.Rex are considered a ‘credible’ artist by some ‘cool’ publications, and websites, that’s enough, and we shouldn’t be bothered.
    I’ve been shouted down on there before, for daring to defend Queen, by one poster, who used the same old ‘boring old fart’ and punk arguments. so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised.

    Don’t know if the link to the forum discussion will work.

  7. John Hunt says:

    Ironically, the same week, as the Salon article being discussed above, they published an article which praised Marc Bolan, which illustrates perfectly the argument I am presently trying to make on the forum, that it’s only in niche publications that he gets any credit.