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

[Note:  Depeche Mode was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2020.]

If your music had sold more than 100 million records according to your label, which would make you among the best-selling bands of all time [1], if magazines like Q Magazine had said you were among 50 bands that changed the world [2], if you were a band that had seen profound success on both the dance and alternative charts in the United States, and placed fifty singles on the charts in Great Britain over the course of a career that has lasted almost thirty-five years, you would probably think you were a shoe-in to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as the “most popular electric band the world has ever known [3].” Given that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame claims that it bases induction on the grounds of influence, if your own band drew influence from such obviously worthwhile and notable bands like Kraftwork [4], David Bowie, and the Velvet Underground, and had in turn served as an influence for bands like the Pet Shop Boys, Linkin Park, Shakira, A-Ha, Nine Inch Nails, and The Killers, some of whom will have very strong cases for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame themselves in the future [5], it would appear as if the criteria established for worth by influence, regardless of how that influence is determined, would be met. Yet not only has Depeche Mode not been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but it generally does not even make it among the most significant snubs, given that electronic musicians of any stature, including the highest, have had a very difficult time being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, even ones with music as dark and rocking as Depeche Mode.

The Influence Of Depeche Mode

The influence of Depeche Mode rests on a few grounds. For one, their focus on questions of sex and religion, decadence and corruption with a gleam of hope, is a focus that has greatly influenced some important genres and subgenres of music, not only within electronic music, but also indie rock and industrial music. They are considered one of the most significant British influences on American music [6]. As far as their sales and chart positions are concerned in the United States, they have one multi-platinum album, five other platinum albums, and five other gold albums [7]. This is not even to include their sales in the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe, where they regularly go platinum and multi-platinum. Aside from their albums, they have multiple #1 hits on the Dance and Alternative charts, a rare achievement, and have even managed a top ten hit and four other top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 despite not being a singles-oriented band. Of course, in the United Kingdom, they have thirteen top tens and 29 other top 40 hits, making them among the most successful bands on the UK charts of all time, regardless of genre. Their music has been covered by artists as diverse as Johnny Cash, Keane, and Tori Amos [8]. This is a record that calls for immediate induction, especially since they have been eligible for about a decade now.

Why Depeche Mode Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

Depeche Mode has recorded important albums like Black Celebration, Music For The Masses, Violator, and Songs Of Faith And Devotion. They have recorded enduring classic songs like “People Are People,” “Enjoy The Silence,” “Policy Of Truth,” and “Walking In My Shoes” that remain popular on the radio, aside from all of the bands who record their songs anew for audiences often unfamiliar with the originals. They are well-respected by their peers, popular with record buying audiences, and have a great deal of critical appeal as well. This resume, when put together, is that of a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, without question. On top of that, there are only five people that would need to be inducted for all of the main members (and an additional two touring members to induct all of the secondary members) of the band throughout its entire long history. One of those band members happens to have been part of a few other notable bands as well, like Yazoo and Erasure. The band made some of the most serious and thoughtful music of the 1980’s, and if Lou Reed isn’t too dark for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, there is no way that Depeche Mode should be.

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

I have no idea. Perhaps Jan Werner has something against electronic music?

Verdict: Put these guys in. In fact, one could put them in with Kraftwerk [4], Joy Division/New Order [9], and help cover several of the neglected Electronic musicians, as a way of demonstrating to the larger community of musicians in that genre that their music and the music of their peers and influences is taken seriously. Even Rolling Stone, after all, called them the “quintessential eighties techno-pop band [10],” and given that the 80’s had a lot of worthy techno pop bands, few if any of them who have endured to the same level of commercial and artistic achievement as Depeche Mode, this seems like a total no-brainer as an induction. If the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame wants to be taken seriously as a gatekeeper of popular music, especially electronic music, this is a band whose resume is too compelling to ignore.

[1] http://www.emimusic.com/news/2009/new-depeche-mode-album-number-one-in-20-countries/

[2] http://www.rocklistmusic.co.uk/qlistspage3.htm#50%20Bands%20That%20Changed%20The%20World

[3] http://www.whatrecords.co.uk/items/39061.htm

[4] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-and-roll-hall-of-fame-kraftwer/

[5] See, for example:







[6] http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2006/06/05/atlantic-crossing?currentPage=2

[7] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depeche_Mode_discography

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cover_versions_of_Depeche_Mode_songs

[9] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-joy-division-new-order/

[10] http://www.rollingstone.com/music/artists/depeche-mode/biography

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Depeche Mode

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