Rock Hall Aficionado John Mulaney Breaks Down This Year’s Class Of John Varvatos Pirates

John Mulaney loves the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Early this year, during an appearance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Mulaney called the Rock Hall induction ceremony “the only truly fun awards show” and went on a very entertaining rant about everything wrong with it — starting with how all of the ungrateful old rock stars, “dressed like John Varvatos pirates,” blow their induction speeches every single year. “Think of it like a wedding if every speech was given by the bride’s ex-boyfriend,” he joked. “Every band comes in with some old grievance and all their speeches are just filled with bile from 30 years ago about, like, equipment vans or something.”

He apparently watches the ceremony every year and can rattle off his favorite speeches, like the Beach Boys’ Mike Love in 1988: “That was like an uncle giving a toast at a wedding and the uncle hadn’t been invited. He dressed like he rents speedboats. He had that hat with a tux and he thinks Brian’s the unstable one.” And so, of course, Rolling Stone decided that John Mulaney would be the perfect person to break down this year’s class of inductees. The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame just announced the bands that will be inducted next year, including Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music, and Def Leppard, and this is what John Mulaney thinks of them.

Stevie Nicks:

I love Stevie Nicks for several reasons. One, I love all of her music. Her voice is beautiful. She’s a great songwriter. Two, I heard an ad that she did on Sirius satellite radio for The Bridge, channel 32, where she said in the ad that if she gets into a car and they don’t have Sirius satellite radio The Bridge, she gets out of the car. Picturing that is very funny to me. [Imitates Stevie Nicks] “Do you have Sirius satellite radio The Bridge?” “No, sorry.” “Pull. Over. Immediately.” On the way to the award show in Brooklyn, if they don’t have Sirius satellite radio, she’s going to get out and take the train.


I love Radiohead. I saw them in concert twice and I love them. Why is this a polarizing choice? Because they make beautiful music? People say they’re just an instrumental band that has a singer. Well, yeah, that’s what a band is. OK Computer alone uses computer voices and plays with the idea of technology and it smacks you upside the head and says, “Get your head out of your computer and tell your computer to get lost!” Put them in. If they didn’t get in, I would’ve showed up with muddy cowboy boots and stood on Jann Wenner’s coffee table.

The Cure:

I’ve loved the Cure since I was very young, so I’m most excited about this one. “10:15 Saturday Night” meant a great deal to me when I was 12. It was the first time I realized, “Oh, I bet a lot of life is lonely and frustrating.” I listened to [1986’s] Staring At The Sea constantly and “Catch” from Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me is one of the most underappreciated love songs. I waited on line to get tickets at Tower Records in Chicago on Clark St. — which is not there anymore, folks, so don’t go looking for it. But it got so late, I had to go home for dinner and I didn’t get to go. The poster alone of Robert Smith from behind holding a guitar should be in the Hall Of Fame.

Def Leppard:

I think Hysteria, the 2001 biopic that starred Anthony Michael Hall, pretty much says it all. I don’t know if I could do a better job. I mean, the movie’s so famous, I don’t know if it’s worth me rehashing. You know how there’s a lot of people in music who go, “Don’t make too much noise” and “Unplug those guitars and just sing, ‘Happy Birthday’”? That’s a lot of what the suits want. Def Leppard showed up and said, “We’re gonna play electric guitar with drums and other instruments and we’re gonna be loud and we’re gonna play absolute rock.” You can imagine a granny knitting and hearing how loud the music is and being jolted out of her chair and that’s what the establishment was like. So they said, “We’re Def Leppard and if you don’t like it, you can get lost.”

Mulaney doesn’t seem to care much about the snubs this year — “What’s the MC5 gonna do? Play ‘Kick Out The Jams’ and then get arrested?” — but “You know who should be inducted?” he says. “The friendship of Joe Walsh and Ringo Starr. They are together so much, it warms my heart… It’s ridiculous the Smashing Pumpkins aren’t in. The Hall Of Fame clearly has an anti-Chicago bias. Anyone from Long Island is in — even just regular people — but no one from Chicago.” And although he doesn’t care about LL Cool J, who was nominated this year, he thinks “there needs to be more representation of hip-hop. Tribe Called Quest. Induct them.”

Read the whole interview here.