When the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame presented its nominees for the class of 2021, the reactions were as they always tend to be: some were excited, others were pissed, the usual suspects used it as their annual opportunity to disparage the entire concept of the Hall of Fame, and - last but not least - the most vocal fans of the artists who were nominated immediately launched into lists of why [INSERT ARTIST’S NAME HERE] should absolutely among the honored few to secure their spot in the Hall this year.
Have you figured out which demographic we’re in? If you haven’t, don’t worry, you’ll have time to contemplate it while we dole out five reasons why Devo deserves to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Read them all and make sure you cast your daily fan vote for our favorite Akronites.
1. They invented their own sound while also reinventing other people’s songs.
Devo's cover songs were as revolutionary as their originals. You can argue about which is their best, but their most revolutionary and most successful one has to be their take on The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.” If it weren't for the song’s lyrics being virtually as iconic as its music, you might not even identify it as a Stones song. There are few more definitive examples of an artist taking someone else’s song and making it their own than this one.
2. Their synthesizer sound has influenced generations.
When you think “new wave,” you generally think keyboards and synthesizers - but Devo kicked off their recording career in 1977, well before MTV launched and definitely before quirky, herky-jerky time signatures were regularly heard on the airwaves. Make no mistake: they were a big deal, and they still are. Ask just about any band that heavily features synthesizer to name their three favorite Devo songs, and they probably won’t have to hem and haw after “Whip It” (if that one’s even in their list).
3. They made it cool to be weird.
From the very beginning, Devo seemed to go out of their way to be as abnormal as possible, turning yellow jumpsuits and red flowerpot hats into fashion statements as they preached on the concept of “De-Evolution.” Yet without dramatically transforming their sound, they somehow managed to deliver live and studio performances that so successfully swayed audiences into accepting their eccentricities that they earned a Top 20 single.
4. Success hasn't spoiled them yet.
The unparalleled uniqueness of Devo’s 1978 debut album, Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo!, had rock critics running out of adjectives to describe just how much they loved this band. But it's not like they suddenly decided to do a creative 180 and seek out a hit single. They just continued to be themselves, and listeners came around even as critics continued to support their creative endeavors. Rest assured, that’s a rare commodity in rock and roll.
5. They’re from Akron, so the commute would be a breeze.
All right, we admit it: we really just wanted to leave you laughing. That said, you take I-77, and if the wind and the traffic are both with you, it’s only about a 45-minute drive to Cleveland, so any old-school Devo fans from Akron who might want to pop over and see their exhibit once they’ve made the cut won’t even have to make an overnight stay out of the trip.