Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Foreigner

There are a lot of genres that have a beef about being neglected by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, like Electronic/Dance and Progressive Rock, among others. Yet Arena Rock, the album-oriented rock of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, with its undeniable influence in terms of catchy radio-oriented singles, and successful albums supported by large tours, the picture of success as a contemporary Rock & Roll band, has been notably absent from the inductions to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for reasons that are surely not accidental. Bands like Journey [1], Boston, and others, along with Foreigner, have created songs that have endured for three or four decades through constant radio play and live performance, along with karaoke status, covers, and the like. Foreigner is one of these bands, and a band that is hungrier for critical recognition than most. From its initial naming of itself as Foreigner because as an Anglo-American band, it would always be a foreigner wherever it went [2] to the anecdotes recorded in one of their several successful best-of albums (The Very Best…And Beyond) that demonstrated how Sting [3] supposedly stopped his “Dream Of The Blue Turtles” session to hear Foreigner record their only #1 hit “I Want To Know What Love Is,” and that Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols once made his girlfriend at the time dance all night to “Hot Blooded,” Foreigner has always sought to be given the recognition they have deserved from their popularity, but that critical recognition has often been lacking, even among those who recognize that their success was on the level of such bands as Led Zeppelin and Van Halen [4], both of whom have been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and despite the fact that they are still one of the best selling bands in the entire world, with over 80 million albums sold, and even if their music is considered “a wonderful document of what ‘70’s rock looked like in a landscape that was already being shaped with album-oriented acts and AM radio stations that pushed for a much more self-serious brand of pop music [4].”

The Influence Of Foreigner

The influence of Foreigner can be understood in several ways. First, the influence is in the music, whether one looks at the ornate pop of “Cold As Ice,” the edgier fare like “Urgent,” and “Hot Blooded,” or the ballads like “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” “I Want To Know What Love Is,” or “I Don’t Want To Live Without Your Love.” Their songs are regularly played on ‘70’s and 80’s radio, and remain enduringly popular to this day as covers. Bands and singers as diverse as Tina Arena (“I Want To Know What Love Is”) to Soul Asylum and Jorn Lande (“Break It Up”) have covered their songs. The second level of influence is in the way that their career has served as a template for many bands to follow after them—record successful and well-crafted singles aimed at a variety of formats, including a balance between mainstream rock and adult contemporary, support these albums and hit singles with long arena tours, and continue touring even after the hits stop coming, and frame the titles and songs of albums around matters of personal drama (this is similar to the behavior of bands like Yes [5] and singers like Taylor Swift) to ensure interest in the personal drama that is behind the music. A third level of influence is in the fact that the band itself, and its music, is a chronicle of the tension between a longing to be respected as a macho and muscular man (“Rev On The Red Line,” “Urgent,” “Hot Blooded”) and the desire to find loyal love among the societal collapse of trust and marital/relationship fidelity (“Dirty White Boy,” “Say You Will”), as well as the harm to one’s peace of mind and health that come from being too driven as musicians (“Long, Long Way From Home,” “Blue Morning, Blue Day,” “Juke Box Hero”). Here we have a band with popular and enduring songs, a sustainable career model that continues to bring them a solid income and catalog sales, and a worthwhile place as commentators of contemporary pressures on musicians and men. Together, that is a picture of strong influence, for if their music reflects the influence of time, their ability to sing about it so well influences others in turn.

Why Foreigner Deserves To Be In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

For one, the bands of the caliber of Foreigner during their heyday: Chicago, ELO, Journey, Led Zeppelin, and Van Halen are either in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame or deserve to be. There is no question here that we are dealing with an elite band with close to a dozen enduring songs that remain mainstays on classic rock radio. Not forgetting that they almost had a top 40 hit in 1996 with “Until The End Of Time [6],” they hit the Top 10 of the Pop, Mainstream Rock, and Adult Contemporary charts with songs like “Feels Like The First Time,” “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Double Vision,” “Urgent,” “Juke Box Hero,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” “I Want To Know What Love Is,” “That Was Yesterday,” “Say You Will,” “I Don’t Want To Live Without You,” “Heart Turns to Stone,” “Lowdown And Dirty,” and “Soul Doctor.” Many of these songs remain popular on the radio even today. Turning aside from the hit singles, there is the reality of their stellar album sales, with two multi-platinum and one platinum compilation albums, along with five multi-platinum and one platinum studio album. This is the sort of career success that ought to be a shoe-in for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, regardless of what one thinks about power ballads [7]. Foreigner deserves induction for their music, for the fact that the music touched a nerve with the public and has endured, and for the societal importance of their music and their model being a template of success in the music business.

Why Foreigner Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

It’s clear that a lot of the people responsible for nominating Rock & Roll Hall of Fame acts do not like AOR and Arena Rock acts of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, deriding such popular and influential and enduringly loved bands like Foreigner, Journey, and others as “corporate rock.” Clearly, it is only prejudice that stands between Foreigner and everlasting glory of being played in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s jukeboxes in Cleveland, which is where they deserve to be. A band that tries so hard and works so hard, despite a career filled with all kinds of fluke accidents, including a reunion effort cemented by the LA riots in 1992 and band personnel issues due to brain tumors and colorectal cancer, deserves at least some recognition for sheer grit and determination.

Verdict: This is a no-brainer. Foreigner deserves to be in. Specifically, the original six members of the band (Lou Gramm, Mick Jones, Ian McDonald, Ed Gagliardi, Dennis Elliott, and Al Greenwood, along with replacement bassist Rick Willis [8]) deserve to be inducted, which would include all of the core members from their first album in 1976 to 1991’s Unusual Heat, except for temporary replacement singer Johnny Edwards. Again, it’s not that complicated. If one wanted to throw in inductions for Bruce Turgon and Jeff Jacobs as well, who were with the band for 1994’s Mr. Moonlight and the next decade after that, that would be fine too. I’m sure they wouldn’t mind. The core seven of the band’s most popular period, though, definitely merit induction.

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-journey/

[2] http://web.archive.org/web/20120321191538/http://www.foreignerfiles.com/overview/faq/part1.htm

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-sting/

[4] http://www.popmatters.com/review/188289-foreigner-the-complete-atlantic-studio-albums-1977-1991/

[5] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-yes/

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreigner_discography

[7] For the record, I happen to like them a lot:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/02/10/giving-credit-where-credit-is-due-the-power-ballad/

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreigner_(band)

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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15 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Foreigner

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  11. Mary Miniard says:

    I saw forenger at Nashville Tennessee ampitheater
    40 th Anneversary tour and these boys have not
    Lost their touch!! They are all accomplished musicians and deserve to be in the rock and roll
    Hall of fame ! It was the best concert I’ve seen in years and these boys played continuously without
    A break the ampitheater echoed their music perfectly and brought us back to our hay days!!!
    WELL DONE FORENGER !!!!!!’

  12. Patricia Vincent says:

    Foreigner sincerely deserves to be in the RRHOF!! Please, please make this a reality!!!!

  13. Pingback: The Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings: The Eagles vs. Michael Jackson | Edge Induced Cohesion

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