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Critics' Choice
WHY CHEAP TRICK BELONGS IN THE HALL OF FAME
12/10/15

By Simon Glickman

I love a lot of the bands and artists now being considered for induction into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but my teenage self can’t help but root for Cheap Trick.

The formula seems simple: melodic pop-rock modeled on The Beatles, played with the stomping hard-rock verve pioneered by Led Zeppelin—the fundaments of the “power pop” subgenre lovingly tended by nerds everywhere. But Cheap Trick delivered it with unsurpassed charisma, wit and commitment.

Two glamour pusses and two comic-book mugs whose esprit de corps was as effortless as it was undeniable. Robin Zander possessed (and still possesses) one of rock’s great voices, vaulting and vulnerable, androgynous and elastic. Rick Nielsen, meanwhile, fired off (and still does) riffage to rival any preening, tousle-haired rock god, though he styled himself like one of the Bowery Boys. Tom Petersson and Bun E. Carlos, meanwhile, were an impeccably tight rhythm section, balancing showmanship and precision.

And those songs: of course there were the big hits, like the rollicking, delectable “I Want You to Want Me,” the gloriously weird anthem “Surrender,” the sparkling “Dream Police” and the enthralling “Top of the World.” And there are their celebrated, ballsy covers of “Ain’t That a Shame” and “California Man.” But dig into the albums and anthologies and they yield gem after gem: “Southern Girls,” “Clock Strikes 12,” “He’s a Whore,” “Everything Works If You Let It,” “Downed." 

Though I’m no big fan of the ‘80s power ballads, it’s oddly satisfying to see them step up with “The Flame” and simply clobber the form—like watching the debate champ win a prizefight.

A million screaming Japanese girls—and discerning pop-rock freaks from sea to shining sea—can’t be wrong: Cheap Trick is all the power, joy, menace, mischief, melody and liberating noise that rock and roll is supposed to be. They belong in the Hall of Fame as sure as you’re born.