The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame gets clowned on more than most institutions, and with good reason—it’s never going to honor all of the most interesting or influential bands in rock history, and it barely scratches the surface of deserving artists tangential to the genre. (Nina Simone should have been inducted maybe 20 years ago?) Popularity reigns supreme—why else would Journey and Bon Jovi get in before Sonic Youth and The Replacements?
But crucially, its induction ceremony is one of the few award shows that’s actually pretty fun and watched by almost no one (a shame.) I’ll take it a step further: The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony might be the blueprint for how we can make almost every other award show (specifically the Grammy Awards) more enjoyable. I’m not alone in this.
John Mulaney, the great comedian and host of the upcoming Independent Spirit Awards, told Seth Meyers on Wednesday night the Rock Hall induction ceremony is his dream hosting gig. “Think of it like a wedding if every speech was given by the bride’s ex-boyfriend,” he said. “Like, every band comes in with some old grievance and all their speeches are just filled with bile from 30 years before.”
He’s not wrong, as legendary producer Quincy Jones proved earlier this week, the most interesting time to hear from someone is when they aren’t worried about getting invited to shit anymore and have limitless grievances to air out. As Mulaney points out, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame may never produce a moment of television as thrilling as Moonlight winning Best Picture at last year’s Oscars, but it certainly lends itself to more crotchety, off-script moments than your average slice of primetime. Think of what that could do for the Grammys!
While it’d be kind of crazy to suggest that the Grammy Awards take away the surprise of who’s actually winning the awards beforehand (Rock Hall inductees are announced months before the ceremony), I would be in favor of giving each Album of the Year winner a seven-minute block for accepting the award. Every collaborator or bandmate would get their time, without much fear of being played off, and their speeches might even go beyond the same old “thank you” gesture. It sounds arduous, I know, but now imagine if this was the only time they’d ever be able to win the award, with the Recording Academy eliminating the chance for repeat winners?
By doing this, there would have been no Taylor Swift over Kendrick Grammy moment, no Adele over Beyoncé Grammy moment, and no chance of an old man Bruno Mars win 20 years down the road. It’d restore a smidgen of importance to an award that’s never really had that, by treating it as a true one-time coronation. And since artists would never really get that same platform again, there’d be less incentive to come across as eager to please to the voting body, less incentive to sanitize your thoughts about the Grammy voters who’ve disrespected urgent work for decades, and a guarantee that the same faces don’t keep winning the same award.
The Rock Hall doesn’t necessarily dispose of past inductees either, allowing them to return for future presenting or performance spots. (They also don’t dabble in forced gonzo genre mashups like the Grammys, too.) This does little to address institutional issues that have plagued the Grammys forever—and until they release voting demographics, we may never know how far they are from addressing them—but this wacky idea might be a start.