After appearing on the ballot three times, heavy metal legends Judas Priest will finally be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not in the traditional way. Instead, the Hall honored them with an award for “musical excellence”, which is actually a backhanded compliment and a by-product of a system of checks and balances for seriously out of touch and backward ideological thinking. of the Hall’s standard voting committee.
Wow, where to start?
First off, whatever their entry point (zing!), congratulations to Judas Priest, whose name will forever be inscribed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame alongside countless icons, all of whom have had an impact variable on the music as a whole, not regardless of the definition of rock ‘n’ roll, as defined by the Hall and its voting body.
This is a big deal once the dust settles, as any visitor for decades to come will be confirmed by Priest’s status and musical contributions. But something is wrong…
What is an award for musical excellence anyway?
As stated in a press release issued by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Music Achievement Award is “given to artists, musicians, songwriters and producers whose originality and influence in the creation of music have had a dramatic impact on the music”.
But isn’t that the whole point of this establishment in the first place when considering the most suitable candidates of each year?
The award for musical excellence is also determined by a committee separate from the one that votes for each year’s nominees. As Cleveland.com reported, “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation chief Joel Peresman told the Ordinary Merchant the category “gives us the opportunity to delve into certain things and recognize certain people who would normally not be recognized”.
We’ll give credit where it’s due: at least there’s a mechanism to correct course.
Each year’s class is divided into several categories and is defined by Rock Hall as follows:
- Performers — artists who have created music whose originality, impact and
influence changed the course of rock ‘n’ roll.
- Musical Excellence Award — given to artists, musicians, songwriters and
producers whose originality and influence in musical creation had a dramatic effect
impact on music.
- Early Influence Award – artists whose music and performance style have directly influenced, inspired and evolved rock ‘n’ roll and music impacting youth culture.
- Ahmet Ertegun Award – non-performing industry professionals who have had a
major influence on the creative development and growth of rock ‘n’ roll and music that impacted youth culture.
By Hall’s own definition, Judas Priest is a better fit for the performer category than the award for musical excellence, but we’ll explain why that’s a bit later here.
Are there other metal artists who have received an award for musical excellence?
Only one, but this time it’s different.
A quick scan of all the artists who have received the Music Excellence Award makes it very clear that it’s not something that’s typically geared toward a full-fledged band, let alone one that has come to define the sub- most popular genre of rock, which is heavy metal.
Last year, Randy Rhoads received this award posthumously and it made a lot of sense. He was a groundbreaking guitarist who helped set the tone for ’80s metal guitar playing and also helped the style gain popularity through enduring hit songs with Ozzy Osbourne, namely “Crazy Train”.
In short, it was part of a larger whole.
Why is this award given to Judas Priest? They are there and that is what counts, isn’t it?
Unlike Randy Rhoads in Ozzy’s group, Judas Priest, however, is the whole entity.
It would seem more fitting that the iconic guitar duo of Glenn Tipton and KK Downing could be honored with this award for their pioneering contributions to the genre. Rob Halford would also deserve individual recognition in this category for his lyrical genius and breathtaking vocal range.
Four platinum albums and six gold albums in the United States should be enough to check the committee’s most important box for popularity through proven album sales, estimated at around 50 million records sold worldwide.
Yes, Judas Priest will officially and officially be written into the Rock Hall annals, but the committee isn’t getting off so easily. There is no absolution for past sins and transgressions against heavy metal and, more specifically, Priest.
This is a reckless loophole to keep outraged headbangers off the committee’s back and, sorry, it’s just not good enough.
To quote “Breaking the Law” and address the Rock Hall committee directly, “You don’t know what it is, you have no idea / If it was, you’d find yourself doing the same too.”
Wait, Judas Priest was eligible for How? ‘Or’ What long?
“To be eligible, artists must have released their first record 25 years prior to induction,” states Rock Hall States, meaning Judas Priest first became eligible in 1999.
We’ll freely acknowledge that by 1999 the heavy metal popularized in previous decades was out of fashion, especially with Halford out of the Priest lineup for several years at that time. So, no, an induction didn’t make much sense at that time.
In the early 2000s however, classic metal received a massive jolt when Bruce Dickinson joined Iron Maiden in 1999 and Halford returned to the Priest front in 2003 and since then both bands have built their mark on levels that rival and even surpass their 80s peaks.
Judas Priest was first ever nominated in late 2017 in consideration for the Class of 2018. Their second nomination came for the Class of 2020 and, again, the Hall failed to recognize their historical significance.
On the contrary, it undermines the value of induction for all other participants. If the committee is so excruciatingly clueless and out of touch (it took them forever to induct Deep Purple, after all), how genuinely can these performance inductees feel validated for their work?
But didn’t Judas Priest basically invent heavy metal?
The historical narrative will point the finger at Black Sabbath and for good reason – the band played a style of music so obviously different from the hardest rock of the era that it had to be branded otherwise. But the term “heavy metal” wasn’t mainstream and when it comes to the style of metal that has been popularized and is now commonly associated with the term, we can reorient that finger and point it squarely in the direction of fucking Judas Priest.
Screaming twin guitars? To verify. Shrill vocals and a capable dynamic vocal range or heaps of expressive emotion to reflect lyrical imagery? To verify. Energetic drums? To verify. Bass driving? Check – Ian Hill is the king of root notes.
The Black Sabbath style took about a decade or more to really catch on and become the staple of what is now mainstream doom metal played by early Candlemass and Pentagram artists.
Another critical factor here is Judas Priest’s impact on the United States. The band have focused on their career to break into one of the toughest markets in the world and through rockier tracks such as “Living After Midnight” and “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” they are in largely responsible for helping heavy metal gain traction in the United States, which perfectly set up the upcoming glam metal bands, which built on this success in the marketplace.
And there’s this whole thing about the band creating the fashion style that defines heavy metal – leather studs. This speaks for itself.
So that’s it, huh?
Yeah. Judas Priest will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame when all is said and done, but without the fanfare previously enjoyed by Black Sabbath, KISS, Deep Purple, Metallica and Guns N’ Roses. Judas Priest’s name can easily be mentioned in the same breath as all of these acts, not feeling like an outlier at all, but the room doesn’t give a fuck.
It’s an open admission from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that Judas Priest is simply unworthy of the most meaningful type of induction.
Going back to Priest’s 1978 album, it’s fair to call this year a Tinted class. What a load of bullshit.
Thanks for reading. Rock hard, roll free and keep on defending the faith.
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