Few bands have changed the course of music in a more dramatic way by being largely undramatic about it as Matchbox 20. Before the arrival of their massively popular debut album Yourself Or Someone Like You, alternative music prided itself on being unusual and quirky, but after the album’s success, and the further success of the author’s later work, acts came out that showed the success of fairly ordinary singers and their stories, often with tales of grim realism. It is hard to see the success of bands like 3 Doors Down or Nickelback as “alternative” rock artists without the prior success of Matchbox 20 having opened the radio stations and pocketbooks of millions of listeners to fairly straightforward post-grunge rock. The influence of Matchbox 20 may be compared in this way to the influence of Boston in the 1970’s  in making the world safe for a commercially accessible rock & roll, and similar to the fact that the band is far more notable for the quality of their material than the quantity of it. There are some people who may not consider this sort of an influence–in making alternative music far more mainstream in its appeal–a good thing, but it is most certainly influence in the highest order. For those who, like me, appreciate the music of Semisonic, Matchbox 20 has further credit for giving them the opening slot of their first headlining tour.
The Influence Of Matchbox 20
The influence of Matchbox 20 has been recognized by Allmusic  in the way that they redirected the course of alternative music through their accessible and mainstream and award-winning approach . That alone, whether one likes it or not, should make them worthy of induction. An additional area of influence comes from the work of their lead singer Rob Thomas, who himself is worthy of induction as a solo artist, especially in spurring the revival of Santana through the success of “Smooth.” Not only did Matchbox 20 pave the way for artists, but the work of Rob Thomas made it possible for Santana to enjoy an amazing late-career resurgence that gave them an even better and more Rock & Roll Hall of Fame-worthy resume. The assist that they gave added to their own sales number and influence over other rockers within their generation makes them an obvious choice for induction among the post-grunge alternative rockers of the mid 1990’s.
Why Matchbox 20 Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
Aside from their influence on the music of their era and the career of Santana, their own body of work is worthy of induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Their first album went 12x platinum, one of the best selling debut albums of all time, and their next two albums went multi-platinum as well. Their compilation album has almost gone platinum and even their later effort North went gold after years of hiatus. With a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Bent”), three additional #1 hits on the Adult Rock charts (“3 AM,” “If You’re Gone,” and “Unwell”) and a further #1 hit on the alternative char (“Push”), alongside a solid body of work that remains in heavy rotation on adult alternative and adult rock stations (including songs like “Real World,” “Back 2 Good,” “Mad Season,” “Disease,” “Bright Lights,” “How Far We’ve Come,” “These Hard Times,” and “You’re So Mean”), this is a resume that far exceeds their peers in terms of lasting reputation as well as airplay success. Given the broad multi-format aspect of their appeal, their mainstream success, their sales, and the quality of their work, inducting Matchbox 20 is not a particularly difficult decision.
Why Matchbox 20 Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It is likely that a significant issue with Matchbox 20, like that of many commercially accessible bands like them throughout history , is that their music was considered bland and boring because of its accessibility. This music was all over the radio for years, and remains a stable of adult rock, and in retrospect the band was focused on making the best music and not on putting out mediocre material, which has only made their music more noteworthy and worthy of appreciation as time has gone on. Even in their later material they showed a social conscience and a sense of humor that is worthy of appreciation.
Verdict: Put them in. This is a band whose rock music was essential to the period between 1995 and 2005, and continues to be well-regarded, popular, and influential. Given that it is difficult to conceive of the mainstream rock music of their era without their music, that alone is reason to rock out to their music in Cleveland, and to induct their original lineup.
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