When making their list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, TIME usually likes to throw a couple bones the way of pop music, as they do with sports, film, and most other forms of popular entertainment. This year, they named three musicians to their list, and two of them made perfect sense. Adele, that’s cool, she was by far the biggest performer of the last year, and is currently the most unassailable figure in all popular music. Rihanna, that makes sense too, since there’s probably nobody that represents what pop music in 2012 is better than Ms. Fenty. And Raphael Saadiq, that’s a slam dunk, because he was probably one of the 20 most popular R&B musicians of the mid-’90s and still finishes in the lower regions of year-end Best Of lists and occasionally gets nominated for a Grammy.
Waaaaaiiiiiit a minute. That doesn’t make sense at all!
Indeed, as when TIME threw a curveball with their list last year by including Sting along with Justin Bieber and Bruno Mars, the mag has again gone off the board with Raphael Saadiq, ex-lead singer of ’90s R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné! and current fixture of the nu-soul movement. Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re all about “If I Had No Loot” and “Let’s Get Down” and such, and we’re even fairly into more recent Saadiq jams like “Love That Girl” and “Good Man.” But…is he really in the top three right now of important musicians? Is he more important than Nicki Minaj? Than Kanye West? Hell, than Fun. and/or Janelle Monae? We’re skeptical.
Not helping Saadiq’s case is the too-personal, too-preachy blurb written in his tribute by rock/pop legend Elton John. Basically, Sir Elton’s case for Saadiq being one of the 100 Most Important People in the World (!!!) is three-pronged:
1. His last album was really good.
2. He dresses well.
3. He played on Elton John’s last album (and it was a lot of fun).
All very good reasons why Saadiq should be on Elton John’s list of 100 Most Awesome People That I Like and Hang Out With, but less than convincing for TIME‘s purposes. Making things worse is John’s claim that Saadiq’s live show “confirmed that great black music is alive and well and not just a string of hip-hop monotony.” Uggggggh, Elton. Somebody cut the mic.
We wonder what Saadiq’s reaction was to hearing about this news. Was he surprised? In disbelief? Did he think it was a prank? Or was he just relishing how jealous K-Ci and JoJo were gonna be when they found out? Let us know, Raph.