Thursday, April 7, 2022

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Vote '22: Beck

Joining the ballot for the first time this year is Beck, the son of a Warhol superstar. Like all of the original Replacements, Beck does not have a high school diploma. Hey, do you know which of Beck's album won a Grammy for Album of the Year? I'll tell you later.

THE SONG: I think Beck's secret weapon has always been his sincerity. He does all this ridiculous stuff in his po-faced manner, but he really believes, for example, that guys with big belt buckles ought to be line-dancing to "Where It's At," as this video shows. I can't find the quote now, but someone asked him if he was being serious with his outrageous love-man album Midnite Vultures, and Beck complained that nobody ever asked R. Kelly if he was being serious. Anyway, in addition to the line-dancing, "Where It's At" has a sweet tribute to the William Shatner cover of "Rocket Man."

THE CASE FOR: Beck was living in a tool shed when he burst on the scene in 1993 with the remarkable "Loser," a mix of hip-hop and slide guitar that somehow came out sounding like a modern-day Bob Dylan song. Nothing has ever come across more like a one-hit wonder than "Loser," but Beck followed that up in 1997 with Odelay, a multi-platinum smash and critical fave that still sounds more like the Nineties than anything this side of Spacehog's "In the Meantime."

After that, like David Bowie or Joe Jackson, Beck continued reinventing his sound with each album - sex-drenched R&B with Midnite Vultures, introspective folk on Sea Change, radio-friendly pop on Guero. The sales were variable, but the accolades were consistent; Beck in the 2000s became one of Grammy's favorite artists. Six of his albums have gotten nods for Best Alternative Music Album (Mutations and Odelay were both nominated as Best Alternative Music Performance, which may or may not be the same thing). His album Morning Phase won the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2014, and I couldn't tell you a single thing about Morning Phase

THE CASE AGAINST: For all that acclaim, Beck has had a marginal at best influence in the culture. He hasn't had a Top Forty hit since "Loser," and hasn't even cracked the Hot 100 since "Girl" peaked at No. 100 in 2005. Sea Change was hailed as the new Blood on the Tracks, but hardly anyone actually listened to it. 

Simply put, his career feels a little thin since Odelay. A lot of original and fun work that doesn't necessarily leave a mark, except with Grammy voters. Are there a lot of artists who claim to be influenced by Beck? I could be wrong but I'm not aware of any. 

Plus, I have it on good authority that Beck rarely showers.

THE VERDICT: Beck is to the 1990s roughly what Warren Zevon was to the 1970s, and Zevon hasn't even made it to the ballot yet. I'd probably vote for Zevon if the ballot was right, but for now, I'm voting NO for Back.

No comments:

Post a Comment