Thursday, October 24, 2013

Kiss them Goodbye

A Campaign to Keep Kiss Out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

So Kiss has been nominated a second time for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As their first nomination was in 2009, this marks their first time since the creation of the “fan ballot” which allows fans to have some limited input into the selection process (the five bands with the most votes on the fan ballot will each get one additional vote on the official ballot). I will, of course, be casting a vote to try, in my small way, to keep Kiss out. I urge all people who truly care about music and rock and roll to join me in my efforts.

Sure, they have recorded a good party rock song or two, and I think I might actually like Kiss if they were just some hard working New Jersey or Long Island bar band, but it is their “you wanted the best, you got the best” arrogance combined with a stage show seemingly designed more to sell comic books than albums that makes me abhor their unwarranted combination of mediocrity and bombast.

I do not want the Hall of Fame sullied by their presence.

I recall being at a Springsteen concert in 2009, and while waiting for the Boss to take the stage, I was talking to my friend about the Hall of Fame nominations. I said to him that I thought it would be outrageous if Kiss were inducted their first year being nominated and the Stooges got snubbed again (they were finally inducted that time after seven prior losses). Suddenly, this little guy who had been standing next to us got right up in my face (or as close as he could given his stature) and started making his case as to why Kiss deserved to be honored. It was something like: “Kiss has sold 40 million albums. How many did the Stooges sell?”

I calmly explained my admittedly rather na├»ve and idealistic notions of the Hall of Fame, that nominees should be judged based on a mix of quality, integrity, and influence, and that sheer popularity, while a factor, should not be the only criterion by which a band should assessed. He responded by barking the album sales again, and some shit about the “Kiss Army.” I calmly looked at him and told him that we would “agree to disagree. One of us is right, and one of us is you.”

I know that all Kiss fans are not necessarily as obnoxious as the little creep next to me at that concert (and he liked Springsteen, so his taste wasn’t all bad), but I have had some bad experiences with Kiss fans. I do freely admit that, like many people who dislike the Grateful Dead because of their hatred of the hippies who love them, my disdain for Kiss has a tremendous amount to do with my first encounter with a hard-core fan. You see, years ago, on my first day at a job working at a music store,  my manager, who was a brusque, abrasive, diminutive, goateed, stringy-haired… just straight-up unpleasant little man, subjected me to a lengthy lecture as to why Kiss was the best band on earth, walking me through the catalog and giving me bios of the band members. I can imagine my old boss and this little creep at the Springsteen concert getting into it over stale Budweisers, comparing their collections, talking about how long they had to wait in line at a Kiss convention to get Paul Stanley’s autograph, and giving each other high fives in a ritual resembling a cross between male bonding and ‘roid rage. At any rate, in spite of those events, I will allow that liking Kiss does not make you a bad person.

Yes, I am aware that my reasons for not wanting Kiss to be inducted into the Hall of Fame has a lot to do with my own pretention, idealism and hypocrisy. I am fully aware that I am frequently guilty of subjecting people to pontifications about music similar to that of my old manager. I know that, based on my own predilections, I am trashing something that brings other people joy. I also recognize the fact that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is hardly an unimpeachable organization.

But so what? Sure, it may be a bit perverse, but not surprising that my contempt for Kiss actually brings me a hint of joy, and I’m sure Gene Simmons isn’t crying over it. So I am mounting this campaign purely for fun and with the hope that I can do my small part to make sure that (what I consider to be) more worthy acts are inducted into that (somewhat dubious) institution.

The Meters are good. You should vote for them.
So go to and vote. Vote your taste. Vote your conscience. Or just close your eyes and point. But whatever you do, just don’t vote for Kiss.

By the way, in the end I voted for Chic (brilliant musicians who never get enough credit), Deep Purple (snubbed long enough), Hall and Oates (saw the on the Big Bam Boom tour in 1985), The Meters (legendary funk), and The Zombies (underrated legends). As a prog rock geek, I feel bad for not voting for Yes and Peter Gabriel. However, Gabriel got in with Genesis a couple of years ago and can wait a few years to get in as a solo artist. As for Yes, I’m sure I’ll vote for them next year.


Michael said...

You are correct. Kiss is not exactly a band, as such, but it may fairly be judged as a successful band-like substance that sells lunchboxes and memorabilia. If there were a commemoration of that other awful second thing, I would support their induction to that constellation enthusiastically.

Also, while we're discussing such things, Bruce Springsteen is a bad folk singer who had one good album.

To your notes: I've never heard of Chic, Deep Purple were one-dimensional and dim-witted, Hall and Oates was a folk/pop act, I've never heard of The Meters, and was only dimly aware that the Zombies exist (because musicians mention them, so let the musicians gang up and vote them in). I actually voted before I noticed you said Genesis had been voted in. But honestly, if you'd vote for the band, vote for the main guy. We're all friends here.

Yes was a quasi-pop / rock act, and I don't think they matter for much.

I'll be in my office.

Michael Fetherston said...

Couldn't agree more about Kiss. In fact, I think they're the epitome of style over substance. But I don't think they're really the problem here- the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame is. How did an art form born of rebellion, irreverance and outside the establishment ever come to allow something as silly as a 'Hall of Fame' to matter at all? Radio stations, corporate labels and PR machines have already done their part to limit our appreciation of an ocean of talent to a limited club of elite acts. Do we really need the RARHOF to add to the status quo? As you said, record sales aren't a good measure of a bands worth. I ask, why should accolades matter either?