CLEVELAND – Like many awards shows during the pandemic, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame hosted a virtual induction ceremony in 2020. Saturday night at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, where the organization’s museum is based, the The event returned with a powerful lineup to salute its 36th annual class: Former United States President Taylor Swift and a Beatle.
A video intro for Jay-Z that flaunted the New York rapper’s wide reach opened with a tribute from Barack Obama. “I’ve looked to Jay-Z’s lyrics at different times in my life, whether I’m getting rid of the dirt off my shoulder during the election campaign or sampling his lyrics on the Edmund Pettus Bridge on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Selma’s march to Montgomery, ”said Obama, who spoke in the package alongside Beyoncé, Chris Rock and LeBron James.
Comedian Dave Chappelle, who delivered Jay-Z’s official induction into the arena, opened with, “I would like to apologize…” – an apparent reference to the controversy surrounding his recent Netflix special, “The Closer” – before sticking to the topic at hand: Jay-Z’s eternal calm and how he has remained loyal to his community over the decades.
When he said it was Jay everyday. When he told us he would never change. You heard that and you probably said as a white person, ‘Well, maybe this guy should focus on his development, “said Chappelle.” But what we heard is that he will never forget us. He will always remember us. And we are his point of reference. That he will never forget us. will show us how far we can go if we seize the opportunity. ”
A tuxedoed Jay-Z, who didn’t perform, followed with a charming, at times twisty, 10-minute speech in which he referred to the mentors and peers who guided him: LL Cool J (who received an award for musical excellence on Saturday after he was not elected on his sixth nomination), KRS-One, Rakim and Chuck D, among others. “Growing up, we didn’t think we could be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,” Jay-Z said. “We have been told that hip-hop is a fad. Just like punk rock, it gave us that anti-culture, that sub-genre, and there were heroes in it. Hopefully, he added at the end of his remarks, that he shows “the next generation that anything is possible”.
Jay-Z has joined one of Rock Hall’s most diverse recent classes: Carole King, the singer and songwriter who was honored by the organization in 1990 along with songwriter partner and former husband Gerry Goffin; arena rockers Foo Fighters, whose frontman Dave Grohl attributed the group’s longevity to the family bond developed between the musicians; the indefatigable powerful singer Tina Turner, eventually inducted as a solo performer after being part of Ike and Tina Turner in 1991; 1980s power-pop group Go-Go’s hailed as the sound of “pure possibility” in a big-hearted introduction by Drew Barrymore; and classic rock writer Todd Rundgren, who recently told TMZ he “never cares much for the Hall of Fame” and stuck to his word, skipping the event to perform a solo at Cincinnati. HBO will present highlights from the ceremony on November 20.
Jay-Z’s farewell and memory-filled speech aptly demonstrated how, despite the multitude of great personalities crammed into one of Cleveland’s largest venues, the event often centered around more intimate moments.
Swift helped set the tone more personal, recalling in her induction speech to King how, at the age of 7, she used to dance around her house with her feet shod while listening to the musician’s records. “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know Carole King’s music,” said Swift, who went on to describe the seemingly magical way King’s songs could be introduced by a stranger – a relative, a brother, a lover – only to become an integral part of a person’s inner world.
Swift embodied this idea in her opening performance, sliding through “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, which Swift reimagined as a sweetly pulsating synth-pop ballad that wouldn’t feel out of place in her own discography. King, who could be seen onscreen in the hall wiping away tears as Swift finished the song, thanked the pop star for “carrying the torch” in her own speech.
“I keep hearing it, so I guess I’m going to have to try and make it my own, that today’s singers and songwriters stand on my shoulders,” said King, who did not long in drawing attention to his own ancestors. “Let’s not forget that they also stand on the shoulders of the first woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. May she rest in power, Miss Aretha Franklin!
In his speech for the Foo Fighters, Paul McCartney jokingly pointed out how Dave Grohl followed in his own footsteps. The two were swept away by music at a young age, McCartney said, landing in popular groups that ended prematurely. Both rebounded by making albums and playing all musical parts (Grohl with Foo Fighters’ self-titled debut album in 1995; McCartney with his 1970 solo album). “Do you think this guy is harassing me?” The Beatle cracked.
On stage, Grohl, born about 100 km east of Rock Hall in Warren, Ohio, praised the influence of the Beatles and in particular McCartney, describing him as “my music teacher”. After the Foo Fighters mused through a trio of battle-tested rock songs – “The Best of You,” “My Hero” and “Everlong” – McCartney repaid the favor, joining the band for a galloping cover of “Get Back” by The Beatles. “
In other performances, HER, Christina Aguilera, Mickey Guyton and Keith Urban have teamed up to pay tribute to Tina Turner, who did not attend the event. During the in memoriam segment, Brandi Carlile joined her bandmates Phil and Tim Hanseroth for a low-key version of “All I Have to Do Is Dream” by the Everly Brothers in honor of Don Everly, who passed away in August.
The Go-Go’s captured all the sunny, sneering urgency of their 1981 debut album, “Beauty and the Beat,” the first and only album by an all-girl group to ever land No. 1 on the Billboard charts, in starting with “Vacation,” Pogo-ing in “Our Lips Are Sealed” and ending with a bouncy, bass-rich “We Got the Beat”.
In Janet Jackson’s 2019 induction speech, she spoke about Rock Hall’s well-documented gender imbalance, asking voters to “please induct more women.” Go-Go bassist Kathy Valentine echoed the comments while the band were on stage.
While Valentine credited Rock Hall for her progress, she also urged the organization to do more. “By honoring our historic contribution, the doors of this establishment have opened wider,” she said. “Because here’s the thing, there wouldn’t be fewer of us if more of us were visible.” “