Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Men At Work

They weren’t here for a long time, but they were here for a good time.  Exploding on to the pop scene in the early 1980’s with their pleasant songs with a strong base in Australian music and culture, Men At Work had a career that started strong but simply could not continue past the third album.  In fact, by the time that work on their third album began the band was already falling apart with only the lead singer and a diminished presence from one other band member at all.  Is it worth praising a band and inducting it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on such a slender basis?  I think that Men At Work did just enough to be worthy of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and that is thanks to the strong songs of theirs that have survived.  More longevity would have helped, to be sure, but what they provided was, at least in my opinion good enough for them to be worthy of a spot in Cleveland.  Others may disagree, but even given the general lack of attention that the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has given to the rock & roll of the 1980’s, Men At Work stands out as a band worth appreciating.

The Influence Of Men At Work

Beginning their career immediately with a couple of signature tracks that have stood the test of time, Men At Work had the sort of career that demonstrates the problems that some acts have when they begin with material that is so strong and so widely appreciated.  It is easier to appreciate a band if it takes more time from them to move from joining together to hitting the big time, so it that the paying of dues can be celebrated.  With Men At Work, they became successful so quickly that the lead singer had to struggle to build his own reputation as a solo singer after the band broke up and found himself playing to small crowds after he had been an international superstar.  That said, the influence of Men At Work is pretty obvious–they carried the torch for Australian pop rock and certainly broke into the United States in a big way and performed in Live Aid and left behind a strong body of work that is still appreciated today.

Why Men At Work Belong In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Men At Work only put out three studio albums while they were together, the third of which went gold and the other two of which went multi-platinum in the United States off the strength of multiple big hits.  It is really their songs, though, that have made them remembered despite the small number of songs that they released as a group.  Their debut album Business As Usual shipped more than 6 million copies in the US (a strong debut) off of “Down Under”, “Who Can It Be Now?”, both of which went #1 in the United States, and to a lesser extent “Be Good Johnny.”  Second album Cargo brought more hits with “Dr. Heckell & Mr. Jive” and “Overkill,” both of which still receive plenty of airplay, as well as the US top 10 hit “It’s A Mistake” that showed off considerable Cold War paranoia.  That alone would be enough for them to get in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame given their widespread success in the US, Australia, UK, and Canada, but their third album Two Hearts went gold and had a minor hit in “Everything I Need [1].”  And then, after that, the band broke up, to have live albums and compilation albums made to sate the longings of fans for music from a band that flamed out way too soon.

Why Isn’t Men At Work In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

There are a few reasons.  The band didn’t last long.  Their success was in the 1980’s.  The band still has a lot of songs that people know and recognize and the fact that so many of their few songs ended up lasting as classics of their time speaks highly in their favor.

Verdict:  Put them in.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men_at_Work_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 History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Men At Work

  1. mothfire says:

    I hate to say this, but I disagree. While I would like to see more diversity from other countries, I just don’t think they have actually done enough to get in. I was not a big fan of “Down Under” although I recognize it as being above average. “Who Can It Be Now” is an excellent song and I thought it was going to be their turning point to success. I was really rooting for them. Unfortunately that was not the case.

    • I think Men At Work is certainly a boundary case, as they only released three albums ever. The 80’s as a whole have a lot of underappreciated acts, though, so they are among the ones I wrote about.

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