What may very well be thought of a golden ticket to ensure an artist’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame? If the Class of 2021 is any indication, the reply may very well be the discharge of a brand-new, feature-length documentary that paints the act’s profession in a glowing mild.
Take Tina Turner and the Go-Go’s, two artists who’ve been eligible for induction for over a decade however lastly obtained the nod in 2021, simply after each artists had been the topic of a brand new film. It’s unattainable to say whether or not the HBO Max movie Tina or Showtime’s The Go-Go’s (neither flick has a compelling title, it needs to be stated) had been decisive components of their inductions. Voters for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame fill out their poll based mostly on their very own style, historical past, and perspective, a mix of components that fluctuate voter by voter. Having a brand new documentary celebrating a Rock Hall nominee actually helps refresh the reminiscence of a RRHOF voter, providing a reminder of why an artist is worthy of induction.
Besides, there are some robust indications that the presence of a documentary has helped push sure musicians into the Hall of Fame. The Canadian prog-rock trio Rush made it into the Hall in 2013, a number of years after the discharge of Rush: Beyond The Lighted Stage, a documentary that defined the band’s idiosyncratic attraction and enduring friendship to audiences who might not have identified a lot about them outdoors of “Tom Sawyer.” A extra direct line between a documentary and induction will be seen between the Oscar-nominated 2015 movie What Happened, Miss Simone? and the 2018 induction of Nina Simone, a jazz vocalist who might have been a towering determine of the 20 th century however who not often entered discussions about artists missed by the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.
What Happened, Miss Simone? elevated Nina Simone’s presence in trendy popular culture, which is what music documentaries are supposed to do. Cult favorites like Simone aren’t the one beneficiaries of a brand new doc, both. Whitney Houston made the Rock Hall class of 2020 not lengthy after the 2018 launch of Kevin Macdonald’s acclaimed Whitney. The distinction with The Go-Go’s and Tina is that they really feel as in the event that they had been designed with the tip aim of ushering their topics into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The Go-Go’s even begins with a thesis assertion delivered by Jane Wiedlen: “We are the first all-girl rock & roll band that wrote their own material and played our own instruments to be really successful.” It’s an announcement with historic weight that the remainder of Alison Ellwood’s movie helps (you may read Decider’s review here). For any potential voter who seen the quintet as a enjoyable relic of the New Wave period, the documentary reframes the group as rock & roll survivors who captured the zeitgeist. It’s a vivid portrait of a breathless run to the highest of the charts, spinning off tales at a speedy clip and providing sufficient pressure–notably with regard to how issues of finance can tear aside a band–to provide an look of candor. Ultimately, The Go-Go’s is a piece of advocacy, a movie designed as a lot to win over skeptics as it’s to attraction to longstanding followers. That it really works so properly is a credit score to Ellwood and to the band themselves. All 5 members of the Go-Go’s are nice interview topics, possessing a eager sense of self-awareness and humor, qualities that enliven the movie as a lot because the classic movie footage.
Tina Turner can also be an amazing interview topic, one thing that’s made plain on the very begin Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin’s Tina (read Decider’s review). The filmmakers open with Turner and journalist Carl Arrington reminiscing concerning the People profile he wrote about Tina in December 1981, an article the place she publicly revealed the abuse she suffered on the hand of her former husband Ike Turner. It’s a narrative that’s been repeated many occasions since 1981, together with Turner’s personal 1986 autobiography I, Tina and its 1993 big-screen adaptation What’s Love Got To Do With It, however it’s by no means been advised in addition to it’s in Tina. That’s as a result of no different print or movie iteration of the story has relied a lot on the very factor that turned Turner right into a famous person: the magnetism of Tina herself, a charisma evident in previous movie and new interviews alike. The kitschy clips from the wilderness years between Tina’s breakup with Ike and Private Dancer comeback in 1984 are revealing in a quantity of methods. They present that even when Turner now not was tearing up the charts she nonetheless was a showbiz presence, enjoying Las Vegas with Tom Jones and popping up on corny tv selection reveals with Olivia Newton-John. Her fame might have light however she nonetheless radiated star energy when vamping it up on The Brady Bunch Hour, a herculean activity for many performers.
Tina illustrates that Tina Turner all the time carried that dynamic aura: that attract, greater than the information she lower, is the explanation why her reputation endured for many years and why she wound up within the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this yr. Looking at her discography, she doesn’t have many nice information outdoors of Private Dancer and a handful of hits she lower within the decade after its blockbuster success. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame isn’t strictly about inventive high quality, nonetheless. It is an establishment that celebrates “fame” and there could also be no higher option to seize the vagaries of fame than movie, which may spotlight the kinetic power of an artist’s peak whereas additionally putting a musician in a historic context.
Tina Turner and the Go-Go’s had been fortunate — and maybe canny — to have movies that did exactly this whereas Rock Hall voters had been deliberating on which artists to put on their poll. Maybe if Iron Maiden, Chaka Khan, Fela Kuti or Dionne Warwick had their very own shiny new documentary this yr, they’d’ve made it into the Hall, too. Either approach, one factor is for sure: from this level ahead, it’s a protected wager that extra Rock & Roll Hall of Fame contenders shall be armed with a glorifying movie as they enter the consideration interval for induction.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine is a Senior Editor of Pop Music at Tivo.com, the place he’s written 1000’s of artist biographies and file critiques. Tivo’s music database is licensed all through the web—Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes, I Heart Media, Pandora and Tidal are all clients—and is well seen at www.allmusic.com. Additionally, he’s freelanced for Pitchfork, Billboard, Rolling Stone, Spin and New York Magazine’s Vulture.