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

One of the funniest moments of Devo in popular culture, at least to me, occurred in the Todd In The Shadows song review of the Willow Smith song “Whip My Head” to the crisis of having Devo songs sung by child musicians. Given the rather child-inappropriate content of Devo songs, including their one top 40 hit, “Whip It,” but certainly not only that song, it is remarkable that the band should have desired to further their legacy by having their songs sung by people who, it can be hoped, do not understand what it means to “be stiff” or to be a “jocko homo” or to engage in “jerkin’ back and forth,” and so on and so forth. The disconnect between the crudity of Devo’s song titles and song material and the high concept thinking of the interest in human devolution that formed the name for the group is only one of the aspects of Devo as an act that is worthy of pondering and reflection and accounts for why they are considered to be worthy of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame despite their modest popularity as a group.

The Influence Of Devo

What is the legacy of Devo? Though often labeled as a new-wave group, they were more a link in the chains to alternative and electronic music, as the serious concerns of the group in their songs was combined with a desire to test the role of technology in music. Though their music was not quite mainstream, and perhaps because of it, they have remained popular to cover both by alternative artists as well as those outside the beaten path. Their visual influence on modern culture as well is notable, as is the work that Devo artists have done in film and television score work after being in the band, a natural process for such artists who always had a strong degree of interest in the visual aesthetic of their music. If one looks at those groups that covered their music as being inspired by it, then one could say that Devo marks an important way station in the path from Captain Beefheart to later acts like Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine, Arcade Fire, and LCD Soundsystem, has some [1] have argued.

Why Devo Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame

While Devo only had one top 40 hit, the ubiquitous “Whip It,” with its catchy and pop-friendly lyrics about sadomasochism, it is the fact that the group managed to have a lot of other songs and material that was moderately popular and covered by others that make Devo’s career noteworthy. The group had a platinum album, a gold album, and made numerous soundtrack songs besides live albums that demonstrated a great degree of cultural influence [2]. The fact that the band’s music remains regularly covered by a large variety of groups (including Devo 2.0) indicates considerable and lasting cultural influence, and that should be enough for induction even with only one hit.

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

I’m not sure why Devo isn’t in the hall of fame yet. Then again, Captain Beefheart [3] isn’t in it either, so that’s something.

Verdict: Put them in. Maybe Devo 2.0 can play at the induction ceremony.

[1] See, for example:

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devo_discography

[3] https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2017/07/01/why-arent-they-in-the-rock-roll-hall-of-fame-captain-beefheart/

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: Devo

  1. Brian Schonour says:

    Devo were one-hit wonders and their one hit was a song called “Whip It.” I learned that on VH-1 100 list shows and one of the shows was 100 songs that were from one-hit wonders.

    • Yes, “Whip It” was their only pop hit, though they do get credit for their influence. As is common, though, they did have other songs that those who are fans of early 1980’s rock would be familiar with, even if they weren’t hits. Just as a framework, because you are a frequent commenter, the RRHOF celebrates acts based on their influence, and having a host of successful songs is only one route to influence. It was said, for example, that only 100 people bought the first Velvet Underground album, but all of them started a band–that is influence, even if it never shows up on any album or singles chart.

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