Football has Canton. Baseball has Cooperstown. Rock and roll has Cleveland. Pop music may soon have ... Canonsburg?
A collection of community leaders in the small Pennsylvania town of Canonsburg, located 20 miles from Pittsburg in the southwestern corner of the state, have plans to open the world's first Pop Music Hall of Fame in the 9,000-person town.
Why Canonsburg? It all comes back to the tiny town's most famous son, crooner Perry Como.
A group of music lovers in the town had long considered erecting a museum to memorialize Como, but critics of the plan were skeptical of the singer's historical importance.
"The comeback was, 'Well, then, why [isn't Perry Como] in a hall of fame?'" Canonsburg Borough Manager Tarry Hazlett told Popdust by email. "The truth is that hardly any pure pop artists—including Frank Sinatra!—are in a hall of fame, because none exists to cover that broad genre."
The idea was born: Erect a Pop Music Hall of Fame in Canonsburg, to add to the town's stable of tourist attractions. (It's currently known for hosting the second-largest Fourth of July parade in PA.) A group that includes Hazlett and Canonsburg mayor David Rhome is currently raising funds to construct the hall, and if all goes well, the first class in the Pop Music Hall of Fame will be inducted on July 4, 2013.
Voting opened Thursday for the first inductees into that class, with a list of nominees that runs from Paul Anka to Stevie Wonder. As in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the definition of pop music will be kept purposefully loose: Any artists with a on hit the Billboard Hot 100 is eligible. (Start crossing your fingers for the class of 2040, Rebecca Black!)
But to avoid an overlap with its more famous counterpart, in its early days the pop hall has settled on a narrow range of "pure" pop acts, with a special emphasis on the pioneers of the '40s and '50s.
That means seemingly "middle-of-the-road" artists like the Carpenters will finally get their due, alongside classic crooners like Sinatra and Tony Bennett. The Rolling Stones are out (they've had their fair share of attention), as is Chicago (they're technically "jazz-fusion-rock," says Hazlett). Inductees for the first class are limited to artists from 1945 to 1975, so the King of Pop will have to wait a few years before taking his rightful place in the Hall of Fame.
In the true spirit of the genre, the Pop Music Hall of Fame is opening up its voting to the public online an AmericanPopMusicHallOfFame.org. Are you a Beach Boys man or a Bee-Gees fella? Rep your choice right here!
The full list of nominees is below:
The Beach Boys
The Bee Gees
The Dave Clark Five
Nat King Cole
The Everly Brothers
The Four Seasons
Les Paul & Mary Ford
Simon & Garfunkel
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Three Dog Night