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

When I think of Soundgarden, a few thoughts come to mind.  For one, there is Chris Cornell’s fantastic singing voice along with some driving guitars.  For another, I think of their songs, especially “Black Hole Sun,” their classic alternative hit from the early 1990’s.  Except, in terms of the Hot 100, it wasn’t a hit because it was never physically released as a single.  Soundgarden is one of those cases where a band had obvious influence on rock and roll, had a compelling body of work and some classic songs, and yet did not have any hit singles on the mainstream charts.  In fact, Soundgarden only placed one song at a measly #96 on the Hot 100 (“Black Rain” in 2010).  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter.  This is not a band whose influence and importance depends on having pop hits, but rather one whose albums and whose approach and whose legacy is of far greater importance than the pop hits that I usually listen to and watch.  In fact, the band did have several songs which achieved a substantial amount of airplay, but it was the band’s career and especially the singing of Chris Cornell that have made this band and its music well regarded and well remembered over the course of the past 30 years.

The Influence Of Soundgarden

Let us look at this in two ways.  At the time of Soundgarden’s peak in the 1990’s, the band was arguably the third most important alternative band after Nirvana and Pearl Jam.  Chris Cornell was a massively influential rock singer in his own right as part of Temple of the Dog, Audioslave, and his own solo career when not in Soundgarden, and this whole body of work helps to understand the importance of Soundgarden as a whole.  Chris Cornell deserves at least one spot in the RRHOF and it makes sense to include his work in Soundgarden as that was his most notable work, even if Audioslave may deserve an induction themselves as well, or Chris Cornell can be considered for the award for musical excellence because of how he made a lot of bands better aside from having a notable solo career.  At any rate, Soundgarden’s career was not a particularly long one but it was one that had a lot of musical excellence and one that remains very relevant in understanding the alternative scene of the 90’s as well as the way that legacy has been only increased in light of the rock music of later times.

Why Soundgarden Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

We have already mentioned the importance of Soundgarden’s music as a way to demonstrate how powerful singing as well as fine instrumental work could create a compelling career with some dark music, something Chris Cornell was able to maintain throughout his entire career.  As far as Soundgarden’s songs go, “Black Hole Sun” was the one that has lasted the longest in the public consciousness, but “Pretty Noose,” “Burden In My Hand,” and “Blow Up the Outside World” ended up in top 40 airplay and/or as #1 mainstream rock hits.  Late in their career they added some hits on the rock charts with “Live To Rise,” “Been Away Too Long,” and “By Crooked Steps.”  Despite their modest singles success (except on the rock charts), their albums were of greater importance.  1991’s Badmotorfinger and 1996’s Down On The Upside have been certified double platinum and 1994’s Superunknown has been certified 5 x platinum [1].  In addition to that, the band has platinum and gold compilation albums, which is a solid body of work for a short career, even though their first two and last albums have yet to be certified at all.

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

It appears as if the RRHOF waited to nominate them until after Nirvana and Pearl Jam were in the Hall, and now that they have been nominated it looks like they have a good chance of gaining a substantial share of the fan vote.  Given their lack of hit singles, their enduring popularity and critical appeal and the sympathy the band has received over Cornell’s premature passing all seem to indicate that the band doesn’t have long to wait before being inducted into Cleveland.  We can only hope so.

Verdict:  Put them in.  This is an obvious case for induction.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soundgarden_discography

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 American History, History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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