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

Her career blazed like a meteor in the sky, starting out bright and ending far too soon, and leaving behind a body of work that any artist, much less one who died at the age of 22 in a plane crash after recording the music video to her posthumous hit “Rock The Boat” [1].  Besides being a musician whose restrained soprano blended well with the quirky beats of Timbaland in hits like “Are You That Somebody?”, becoming almost part of the music, and whose neo-soul masterpieces helped make the world safe for dubstep and for artists as diverse as Beyonce and The xx, and who as an ingénue whose dark fashion sense helped to establish a ghetto goth sense of fashion.  She was a singer of immense popularity, with three multi-platinum albums released during her life and a posthumous platinum album, and she was also a noted dancer and an actress whose roles in Romeo Must Die (itself a successful soundtrack album which gave her a #1 hit in “Try Again” and on which she was an executive producer) and Queen of the Damned suggested significant acting as well as singing chops, potential that was unrealized.  By the time of her death she had produced a body of work that was immensely influential and worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  It is tempting to imagine what would have been the case had she been able to record freely in the years since then, how many more worthy albums and singles she would have crafted, how many worthy film roles she would have sunk her teeth into, and we can get an idea of what was missed by looking at the short but immensely productive career she had before it was cut short by death.

The Influence of Aaliyah

With the help of producers like R. Kelly and Timbaland, worthy inductees in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame themselves, Aaliyah was immensely influential in setting a template for post-R &B and neo-soul with a focus on heartfelt lyrics, a refreshing and bracing honesty (except about her illegal marriage with the aforementioned R. Kelly), and a focus on both smooth as well as funky beats in which the singer’s voice was not always the star of the show but also a musical instrument that blended with everything else.  Equally adept at erotic slow jams and sassy upbeat tell-offs, Aaliyah’s impressive range as an artist and the cinematic scope of her interests was an encouragement and an inspiration to many, both during her short life as well as after her death, when an outpouring of grief led the obscure name to be a popular name for children in the same way that Taylor Dane made the world safe for namesakes like Taylor Swift.  She was a young woman of undeniable sexiness but who did not crassly market herself after that sexiness, someone who, like Janet Jackson [2], was a multi-talented woman who sought control in her personal and professional life, and set an example for others to follow, one that was followed after her death by many successful artists who are effusive in their open acknowledgement of her inspirational role.

Why Aaliyah Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Although her career was short, it features both a solid selection of albums and singles that remain vitally important in music, long after her death.  Albums like “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number,” “One In A Million,” and her self-titled third album have all gone multi-platinum [3], as did her executive produced soundtrack for the film Romeo Must Die, and her posthumous compilation “I Care 4 U” has gone platinum.  Singles like “Back & Forth,” “At Your Best (You Are Love),” “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “The One I Gave My Heart To,” “More Than A Woman,” “Rock The Boat,” “Miss You,” and “I Care 4 U” remain stellar singles and worthy and fondly remembered tracks.  In addition to these singles she had immense success on soundtracks with songs like “Journey To The Past,” “Are You That Somebody,” “I Don’t Wanna,” “Try Again,” and “Come Back In One Piece.”  All told, she had 1 #1 hit, four top ten hits, and an additional 7 top 40 hits in an age where many of her songs were airplay-only singles.  She had 4 #1 hits on the R&B charts as well, and was immensely successful in the United Kingdom as well, where “More Than A Woman” went #1.  She collaborated well with artists like R. Kelly, DMX, Drake, Nas, Ginuwine, Missy Elliott, Slick Rick, Timbaland, Kriss Kross, Chris Brown, and the Junior M.A.F.I.A..  That is not even to mention her acting and dancing, and her immensely popular music videos.  She was an R&B artist of immense cultural importance in a wide variety of areas, certainly worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

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

She just became eligible for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2019, almost two decades after her death, but given that she has been gone for so long, there is the danger that she will be out of sight and out of mind since she cannot release any new music to keep her name in the public eye, which means it is important to honor her as soon as possible, and make sure that she is not forgotten by those whose tastes in music were influenced by her career.

Verdict:  Put her in, and have an all-star cast perform her memorable songs.  Her music will be a pleasant addition to Cleveland’s jukeboxes.

[1] See, for example:


[2] See, for example:


[3] See, for example:



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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