Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Tears For Fears

Tears For Fears is not a band that many people would automatically think of as having produced among the most significant music of the 1980’s. But so it was. In a decade dominated by one-hit or one-album wonders, as well as with a seeming inattention to depth and a focus on flash and superficiality, Tears For Fears showed themselves to be daring without being overbearing in their approach to music. Eschewing either flash or appeals to the fears and loathing of their time, Tears For Fears drew on their lives for authentic and passionate music that has stood the test of time far better than most of their flash in the pan contemporaries. One of their songs in particular, “Mad World,” has become a dark and iconic representation of insanity, ironically enough proving to be the catalyst for reuniting the band after a decade’s estrangement. With lasting and massive success on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as significant social importance for the relationship of their music with child psychology [1], Tears For Fears deserves a spot in Cleveland’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Tears For Fears’ Contribution

The contribution of Tears For Fears to rock & roll is primarily in two areas. First, there is the music itself–four excellent albums (three of them in their period of core popularity in the 1980’s), which remains popular as well as an enduring part of the fabric of pop culture. This includes songs that have been endlessly covered, showing an influence to musicians as diverse as Gary Jules and Adam Lambert (like “Mad World”) as well as other songs that remain tied to Tears For Fears (“Sowing The Seeds Of Love,” “Shout,” “Head Over Heels,” and especially “Everybody Wants To Rule The World”). Second, there is the close connection that Tears For Fears has with child psychology, in their debut album (as well as subsequent work) mining the horrors of a difficult childhood for therapy through creativity, an approach to dealing with trauma and abuse that is appealing to many artists (myself included), and an influence for the confessional approach of many musicians today. For these two contributions, Tears For Fears has an enduring influence on rock & roll history.

Why Tears For Fears Is A No-Brainer For The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Tears For Fears has had an enduring influence on Rock & Roll. Their first album, The Hurting, helped bring primal scream therapy to the mainstream (along with John Lennon) and spawned such enduring songs as “Mad World,” “Pale Shelter,” and “Suffer the Children.” Their second album, Songs From The Big Chair, provided massive hits like “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” “Shout,” and “Head Over Heels,” which hit the top 5 on both sides of the Atlantic and showed that the band’s high concept focus on examining a patient at a mental institution did not necessarily mean music that was inaccessible to audiences. Third album, Seeds of Love, introduced the music world to Oleta Adams (providing another example of their influence) along with enduring and popular songs like “Sowing The Seeds Of Love” and “Woman In Chains [2].” After a less popular period when the core brand broke up, the band reunited in the 2000’s to record the excellent album Everybody Loves A Happy Ending, which demonstrated their taste for accessible and thoughtful music had not in any way diminished over a decade of separation.

Concerning statistics, Tears For Fears has had five gold albums in the United States (including three platinum and one multi-platinum album), and the same level of success in the United Kingdom as well. Of their songs, seven hit the US top 40, four of which hit the top 3, and two of which hit #1. In the UK, their singles were even more successful, with 17 top 40 hits, including 7 top 10 hits (all of which also hit the top 5, though none of them hit #1 there). One of their songs hit the #1 of the UK dance chart, and two hit #1 on the US Dance charts, even though Tears For Fears was not a dance act at all [3]. In addition to their own hits, they encouraged and nurtured the career of Oleta Adams, and a sample of their song “The Hurting” was included as the intro for the charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas,” one of the many Band Aid charity efforts they participated in. Their generosity as a musical act along with their enduring popularity and excellence give them a strong case for recognition in Cleveland.

Why Tears For Fears Is Not In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

It’s hard to say. Perhaps Tears For Fears has been thought of as a bit of a one-album wonder for Songs From The Big Chair, with the larger context of their body of work (including a three-album heydey of massive popularity on both sides of the Atlantic). It would seem that Gary Jules has gotten more credit for “Mad World” than Tears For Fears, which is a shame, since it is their song in the first place. Perhaps Tears For Fears suffers for being part of a synth-pop movement that has largely been under-recognized and under-appreciated for their excellence as well. Ultimately it is futile to divine the mind of Jan Werner.

Verdict: Tears For Fears is one of the most obvious candidates from the 1980’s that managed to combine sustained popularity and excellence, along with larger cultural significance. An induction would be an obvious seal of approval on their high-toned course of musical action, and would help provide a balance to the Hall of Fame in helping to overcome its seeming disdain for the popular music of the 1980’s.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/suffer-the-children-tears-for-fears-and-musical-therapy/

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tears_for_Fears

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tears_for_Fears_discography

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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