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

I must admit that in stark contrast to many bands, I am not as familiar with the music of Hüsker Dü, which is Norwegian for, “Do you remember?,” a somewhat popular childhood game in those parts from what I have heard.  Nevertheless, the band itself is part of a scene that I am fond of, the Minneapolis independent scene that is responsible for such bands as The Replacements, their friendly rivals on the hardcore scene, as well as later bands like Soul Asylum (most famous for “Runaway Train”) and Semisonic [1].  We may therefore say that at least part of the importance of this band is in its support of a fertile local rock scene that encouraged and helped inspire later acts, all of which makes the band itself more significant despite its absence of hits.  Despite the fact that the band did not last that long and had no hits, they were an immensely important part of the hardcore scene of the early 1980’s and they had an important but often neglected role that was critical in paving the way for the grunge and alternative scenes that would blossom into mass consciousness in the early 1990’s.  If Hüsker Dü did not enjoy the mainstream success that later bands did, they helped make that success possible and for that they deserve credit.

The Influence Of Hüsker Dü

What is it that Hüsker Dü did that was so significant to the success of alternative and grunge despite their own lack of mainstream success?  What they did was go mainstream.  We may not think that was a big deal, but the early 1980’s were a time of underground rock music where there were artists like the Minutemen, Black Flag, Bad Brains, and The Replacements who made short songs and lived in truly spartan circumstances, recording music and touring and living in extreme poverty as a way of showing resistance to the corporate music of the time.  Hüsker Dü was part of that scene as well, and though they began by making short and fast songs like others, from the beginning they appeared highly interested in careerist ambitions as well as musical and artistic ones, which included making certain song choices and pushing for certain songs to be singles in the hope of achieving a larger degree of success than many of their peers.  And for them, that hard work paid off when in the mid 80’s they were signed to a major label and released a couple of albums that managed to sell more than 100,000 units, by no means a lot but far more than underground acts managed.  By showing other artists a way out of the independent labels and the hardscrabble life of an underground band, and showing labels that there was money to be made in signing underground bands and giving them the support and production of the big time, Hüsker Dü made it possible for the grunge and alternative music boom to reach the size and scope it did because the infrastructure of the music industry was able to support music that had previously been known only in the underground, and that deserves to be recognized, whether or not one considers it on the balance to be a good thing.

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

From 1983 to 1987, Hüsker Dü released six studio albums, the first four of which were on the Minutemen independent label SST and the last two of which were released for Warner Brothers.  None of their singles were particularly successful, although three of them managed to at least slightly chart in the UK:  “Eight Miles High,” “Makes No Sense At All,” and “Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely [2].”  Where the band truly shined, though, was in their influence on other bands that has been recognized by those bands and others.  Nirvana pointed to them as trailblazers who did what they did, and bands like the Pixies and Metallica have openly expressed their appreciation of the band [3] and their approach to music that combined hard rock sensibilities as well as a focus on melody, things that have not always been combined together in rock and roll.  By showing college rock and independent rock where to go, the band made their type of music commercially viable, and that is worthy of appreciating in an age where the gulf between corporate rock and “authentic” rock music seemed yawning.

Why Hüsker Dü Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

It’s fairly obvious to see why the band has yet to be inducted despite their influence, and that is twofold.  For one, the band had no hits and very modest commercial success even after going mainstream.  It is easy to champion bands when they have been successful and one can point to their hit singles and albums.  Although Hüsker Dü has had an influence on many bands, their lack of commercial success has hurt them.  Ironically enough, the fact that the band is most notable for having paved a way to commercial success and mainstream viability for rock acts may work against them because there are many people who found find that to be something to mourn rather than celebrate.  For those who do believe that a rock artist should be able to look forward to a decent standard of living, though, the band certainly should be appreciated for their ambition.

Verdict: Put them in, perhaps with the Replacements.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2016/11/29/you-cant-hear-it-but-i-do/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2013/11/13/all-about-chemistry/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/01/14/book-review-so-you-wanna-be-a-rock-roll-star/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCsker_D%C3%BC_discography

[3] See, for example:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H%C3%BCsker_D%C3%BC

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2011/02/03/book-review-the-secret-history-of-rock/

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.

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