Ask A Music Critic: Will Oasis Be Voted Into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame?

Welcome to another installment of Ask A Music Critic! And thanks to everyone who has sent me questions. Please keep them coming at

I was thrilled to see Oasis nominated for the Rock Hall recently. In reality, though, how likely are they to actually get in on this first nomination? They have so much rock ‘n’ roll cred that I feel they’re a sure thing. But I’m still worried, especially given the relative lack of actual rock bands inducted into the Hall lately. Not to mention the fact that no one in the Oasis camp has acknowledged the nomination, barring Liam tweeting about how the Hall is full of “bumbaclarts.” At least I know you’ll be voting for them! — Brianna in Kansas City

First things first: Congratulations on the Super Bowl! I hope you celebrated the win with a hearty platter from Gates Bar-B-Q. (I have fond memories of that place from the last time I was in KC.) For the rest of the country, there was simply nothing better than watching inevitable winners win yet again. Sunday was a big day for your team, Taylor Swift, death, and taxes. Cheering for the Chiefs was like rooting for my skin to slowly wrinkle before completely wasting away. At least I know I won’t be surprised!

Now that I have those jokes and KC references out of my system, let’s talk about two of my favorite subjects, Oasis and the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. I am a Rock Hall voter, and I normally don’t like to tip my hand on who I am voting for until I write my annual Rock Hall Ballot column. But I did already announce my intentions to vote for Oasis, since anyone who cares at all about my musical opinions knows this is a foregone conclusion. Though I am also inclined to support all alt-leaning rock bands from the 1980s and ’90s, as these groups have struggled to get inducted over the years, even the ones (like Oasis) that sold millions of records and garnered billions of streams. As you suggest, Brianna, there’s been a focus in recent years on inducting artists from genres outside of rock with the (noble) intention of broadening the Rock Hall’s scope. There’s also a (factually inaccurate) belief that all of the significant rock acts have already gone in, so why not induct Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson? These trends obviously hurt Oasis’ chances.

I’m going to save my case for why Oasis should go in for my Rock Hall Ballot column. For now, I’ll stick to the specifics of your question and focus on whether Oasis will make it. I’m going to keep my opinion out of it and dispassionately prognosticate the hell out of this.

Let’s start with what Oasis has in their favor.

No. 1, the Rock Hall has a heavy bias in favor of commercially successful acts, and Oasis ranks among the best-selling rock bands of their era. They have sold more than 100 million records worldwide and currently have 20 million monthly listeners on Spotify, a solid showing for a rock band of their vintage. “Wonderwall” alone has 1.8 billion streams on the platform, making it one of the most popular rock songs by that metric ever. Voters who care about that sort of thing — and it seems like many of them do — will see this as a huge plus.

No. 2, Oasis has remained relevant for younger generations. Contemporary rock stars regard them as an archetype for a bygone era of coolness that nobody now seems equipped or even interested in emulating. They have aged into being a classic rock band without diminishing their “working class cocaine freaks” mystique. If they reunited next week, they would likely play arenas in the United States and stadiums in Europe. Voters will care about that, too.

No. 3, in terms of the historical “museum” aspect of the Rock Hall, Oasis are an important part of the British rock lineage. A case could be made that, along with Radiohead, they are the most important British rock band that didn’t originate in the ’60s or the ’70s. Certainly, it’s hard to argue against Oasis being the link between The Smiths (who are not in the Rock Hall and maybe won’t ever make it?) in the ’80s and Coldplay (who I suspect will eventually make it, probably?) in the ’00s. (Admittedly, voters might not care about this.)

No. 4, perhaps most crucially, there aren’t any slam dunks on the ballot this year. Mariah Carey and Sade seem like near-locks, but I don’t think there is any single act that on paper looks like a unanimous “must vote” choice like Tina Turner was a few years ago. That could open up a lane for Oasis to sail on through.

Seems like a strong case, no? Not so fast, Brianna. Let’s talk about what Oasis has going against them.

No. 1, there’s a common perception about Oasis that they put out two great albums in the mid-’90s and then fell off a Grand Canyon-sized cliff. Now, I happen to think that’s wrong, but I’m keeping my opinion out of it for the moment. Less-educated voters — which is a sizable voting bloc, I’m afraid — might even classify Oasis as one-hit wonders based on how “Wonderwall” towers over the Oasis catalog in the public consciousness. This might cause some to think that Oasis doesn’t have the resumé to deserve induction.

No. 2, the Rock Hall has a very weird bias against alt and indie-leaning rock bands. This is an under-discussed blind spot for the institution, because the focus (deservedly) has been on the lack of representation for women and artists of color. But the fight to fix gender and racial prejudice shouldn’t completely overwhelm the still-prevalent generational prejudice that hampers the Rock Hall. This year, Peter Frampton and Foreigner are nominated, two just-okay classic-rock acts that were never considered the best or even the most popular acts of their era. (Frampton Comes Alive! sold tons of copies, but so did a lot of other live records in the mid-’70s.) This falls in line with the ongoing trend of nominating B and C-tier artists from the ’60s, ’70s, and early ’80s rather than honoring A-listers from later eras.

I’ve banged on this before but it’s worth doing it again. Consider that not one band written about in Michael Azerrad’s definitive tome about ’80s indie rock, Our Band Could Be Your Life, is in the Rock Hall. Not a single one! That’s 13 bands: Black Flag, Minutemen, Mission Of Burma, Minor Threat, Hüsker Dü, The Replacements, Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, Big Black, Dinosaur Jr., Fugazi, Mudhoney, and Beat Happening. All nada, zip, nope.

It gets worse! For the ’90s, here’s a partial list of very successful and/or critically acclaimed alt-rock acts not in the Rock Hall: Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, Fiona Apple, Hole, Blink-182, Blur, Ween, Tori Amos, Stone Temple Pilots, and Tool. On the indie side, there’s Pavement, PJ Harvey, Björk, Fugazi, Wilco, Liz Phair, Guided By Voices, Modest Mouse, Sunny Day Real Estate, Flaming Lips, Built To Spill, and Yo La Tengo.

The worst part of this mass-snubbing is that it’s self-perpetuating. Even for people who like voting for rock bands, there seems to be a tendency to not vote for a new nominee because “X band that preceded them” is not already in. For Oasis, this might mean a voter doesn’t cast their ballot because The Jam or The Stone Roses (or The Smiths!) haven’t already been inducted. That kind of thinking is fine in a vacuum, but it ultimately keeps rock bands out of the Rock Hall. And it’s a very real problem for Oasis’ chances.

To sum up: Oasis is a very successful band that people still care about! But the Rock Hall still seems only fitfully interested in rock bands that started their careers after 1983! Good and evil are evenly matched in this arena!

So, what’s my verdict? I’m going to say that Oasis will make it, but it will be closer than it should be. Take that, bumbaclarts!