I have pondered the case of the Go-Gos for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for a while. They clearly have a lot of fans–the group has been frequently recommended to me by readers in lists of acts I have not covered yet, and the group was recently named the winner of a poll for the group that is most worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame over far more successful acts . Yet the group has never been seriously considered for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame despite the fact that they have a few songs who have endured particularly well. Sometimes it is worth considering why and how there is such a wide disconnect between a group which has enduring popular support on the one hand, and songs that have stood the test of time, and the statistics and opinion of the RRHOF nominating committee. Are the Go-Gos a snubbed group? Or is it the fact that the band has maintained at lest some place in the limelight with songs that have endured blind us to the marginality of their case for hall of fame induction over bands that have a much stronger case than they do? Or is it, as it often is, a little bit of both?
The Influence Of The Go-Gos
As a successful all women’s rock & roll group, the Go-Gos can certainly claim a fair degree of influence when it comes to demonstrating the capacity of such groups to have successful careers where the group writes their own material. This is worth what it’s worth, which will depend a great deal on the person (it has not seemed to matter a great deal to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee, alas). The second obvious case for the Go-Gos involves their songs, which have had a modest degree of chart success (more on that below) but which have survived particularly well. To the extent that having songs that have really lasted well even with somewhat modest chart rankings matters, the Go-Gos have done well, and they are a live act that has won a fair degree of support as well, including with at least one well-regarded concert at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. With songs that other bands and artists have covered and a template of all girls rocking that has obviously and successfully been imitated, this is a band that certainly has a case for influencing others.
Why The Go-Gos Belong In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Unlike a great many acts, this particular group is rather thin when it comes to popular albums. Their debut album went multi-platinum but follow-up Vacation was a comedown at gold and none of their other albums has been certified at all. It can certainly be argued that Talk Show should be certified at least gold as well as one of their compilations, and that would give them a better case for induction than they have, but as it stands, two certified albums is a bit thin. Where the band is not thin in terms of its record is in lasting songs, for almost all of their popular singles, “We Got The Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “Head Over Heels” have endured as classic pop-rock songs of the 1980’s, a troika of hits that anyone would be happy to have in their discography. In addition to that, “Vacation” was a top ten and “Turn To You” was a top 40 hit . This sort of record is certainly good enough to put the band in consideration for a rock & roll hall nomination, and if the band had released this sort of career in the 1960’s they would have as good a case as the Mamas and the Papas or another group of that stature.
Why The Go-Gos Aren’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Ultimately, the Go-Gos have never been considered seriously for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for a variety of reasons–they weren’t around for a long time, they didn’t acquire a huge record of success in album sales, and they had their success in the 80’s, a decade that has dozens of artists with more hit singles and albums than they had that have never been seriously considered for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. If the RRHOF nominating committee has any reluctance nominating a girl group for the Hall of Fame, it’s not like that has to be the only reason why they would be reluctant.
Verdict: While a case can be made for the induction of the Go-Gos, at the same time as a group they have some serious holes in their case. To the extent that their back catalog increases in certifications and their songs are recognized and covered to an even greater degree, this band might rise in the queue in a stacked group of snubbed 80’s acts.