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

Viewed in certain respects, Michael Bolton is an underdog sort of choice for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  And Michael Bolton has an underdog story–of Eastern European background, he long toiled as an unsuccessful rock musician and a successful songwriter before achieving success as a white soul performer of passionate romantic ballads and even gaining some credibility with critics thanks to a self-aware collaboration with the Lonely Island as well as an advertising campaign that played off of his exuberance.  All of this suggests that not only did Michael Bolton manage to gain a great degree of popular success but also demonstrate his awareness of the expectations of others as well as his own more complex musical character.  In looking at the career of Michael Bolton we have to see how an obscure songwriter working in the dark satanic mills of the music industry managed to achieve several layers of popularity while maintaining his own good nature, and that is not something that every musician can say about their careers.  How many people can sell many millions of copies of albums, have some seriously romantic hit singles that are both self-penned and covers, and maintain the goodwill of others and one’s own sense of humor?  Not many, that’s for sure.

The Influence Of Michael Bolton

The Influence Of Michael Bolton is a complex and multifarious one.  For one, Michael Bolton first achieved success as a songwriter, and it is little surprise that he penned serious hits for such artists as Cher (“I Found Someone”), Laura Branigan (“How Am I Supposed To Live Without You”), Kiss (“Forever”) and even Kanye West (“Never Let Me Down”) [1].  When you add to this the way that he was able to parlay his enthusiastic singing persona into collaborations with the Lonely Island (“Jack Sparrow”) and a national advertising campaign, this is a powerful amount of influence used for the good.  And when you add to this his own career and the way that he was able to not only collaborate with such artists as Kenny G (“Missing You Now”) and help give them additional chart success but also to have a great deal of chart success for himself over the course of the fifteen years between 1995 and 2000 in particular, you have a clear example of a varied talent who is worthy of respect and induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  To be sure, Michael Bolton is an unusual choice for the Hall of Fame, but an obvious one when you look at his career achievements.

Why Michael Bolton Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

We have previously discussed the way that Michael Bolton had a great deal of success as a songwriter helping a diverse group of musicians achieve greater popularity and success, from the early career of Kanye West to one of Cher’s several comebacks to songstress Laura Branigan and noted rock group Kiss.  This alone is enough influence to justify Michael Bolton’s induction under the Laura Nyro rule of helping others to succeed.  And then on top of that one can add Michael Bolton’s own hit singles and album sales, notably six straight multi-platinum albums (starting with 1987’s the Hunger and 1989’s Soul Provider, then continuing with 1991’s Time Love And Tenderness, 1992’s Timeless:  The Classics and 1993’s The One Thing, and then a multi-platinum greatest hits compilation released in 1995).  Add to that platinum albums with a 1996 Christmas album and two gold albums with 1983’s eponymous effort as well as 1997’s All That Matters, and you have a solid period of massive popular success [2]. During that time Michael Bolton ended up with 2 #1 hits (“How Am I Supposed To Live Without You” and “When A Man Loves A Woman”), five additional top 10 hits (“How Can We Be Lovers?,” “When I’m Back On My Feet Again,” “Love Is A Wonderful Thing,” “Time, Love, And Tenderness,” and “Said I Loved You…But I Lied.”  Add to that 9 additional top 40 hits on either the Hot 100 or the airplay only charts, including such standbys as “That’s What Love Is All About,” “Soul Provider,” “To Love Somebody,” “Missing You Now,” and “Can I Touch You….There?,” and you have an immensely successful career that is worthy of induction.

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

Let’s admit it, Michael Bolton’s career arc is not the kind that tends to lead to induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in a speedy fashion.  Songwriters are grossly underrepresented in the inductees, for one.  For another, those who were performers of soft rock during the 1980’s and 1990’s are particularly poorly recognized as well.  And Michael Bolton is not what most people would consider to be a cool choice from his era, and that is usually enough to keep someone from being inducted.

Verdict:  Put him in.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Songs_written_by_Michael_Bolton

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.

4 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Michael Bolton

  1. Catharine Martin says:

    It’s cool to be uncool when it comes to Michael Bolton. He’s too talented to be left out. Put him in already.

  2. Pingback: Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Rick Astley | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Album Review: Greatest Hits: 1985-1995 (Michael Bolton) | Edge Induced Cohesion

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